From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Ahead of the 2019 general election, a member of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Bala has said he would advise President Muhammadu Buhari to seek reelection.
The lawmaker, who represents Ikara/ Kubua federal constituency of Kaduna State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), said that Buhari’s second term would enable him consolidate on the achievements so far recorded by his administration.
How would you assess the two years administration of President Muhammadu Buhari?
I can say the President has done excellently well. We inherited an obsolete government. The system was not working. We have to start from the beginning. Assuming Buhari is not the President now, if PDP had continued, Nigeria would have been nowhere to be found by now. Not that the country is going to split, but the situation we met on ground was very critical. If you are not a capable person you cannot fix the country, the way it is. As far as I am concerned, the President has done excellently well.
Presidential liason officer, House of Representatives, Hon. Kawu recently said President Buhari will run for a second term in 2019, but many Nigerians think the President should resign now, due to his health challenges, and not to seek a second term. Where do you stand on the matter?
As long as the President is alive and healthy, let him contest and continue with the good work he started, otherwise, we will have a problem in the country. It is sustainability that matters. He has a lot of initiatives, but people might not feel the impact immediately. If he has the opportunity to continue, the impact will be felt by Nigerians.
So, I am in support of his reelection if he decides to continue. And I will give him the maximum support I can muster. I am in support of him seeking a second term.
The well being of a nation is said to be tied with the well being of its leader, and in the last couple of months the President has not enjoyed the best of health probably due to his age. In the light of the above, do you think it is right for anyone to ask him to continue in office?
I don’t know what you mean by the right thing. I have told you that I am going to support his reelection as long as he wants to re-contest. We are all humans. We are mortals. You can fall sick. I can fall sick. My child of one and half years was admitted in the hospital recently. We are human beings. Sickness is something that we can’t avoid. It can happen to anybody. That angle as far as I am concerned, doesn’t matter.
The President is doing well. What we are after is his performances. Even you, you can attest to the fact that Mr. President is doing well. We are used to money politics, throwing money all over. This one will steal one hundred million naira, they give you contract of one million; they jack it up to one hundred million. This is what people are used to. That is why people are complaining. At least the President has tried to bring that to the barest minimum. This is what people are against. But we must save the face of the country, this is why I am in support of the President’s second term bid, should he show interest.
In the event that Buhari decides not to seek a reelection, will you support power shift to the South?
(Cuts in) Even when the Vice president is said to have done very well when he held brief for the President?
I don’t see the Vice President doing anything well. There is this Hausa proverb ‘he who speaks more, people will listen to him more. ‘There is a lot of hatred. The President has a lot of enemies, particularly from the southern region of the country. So, when Mr. Osinbajo took over as acting president, you people in the press were projecting him, saying he had done this. What had he done? What? He has not done anything, as far as I am concerned. And all those initiatives were done by Buhari. Osinbajo has not done anything as far as I am concerned. People are trying to create division between Mr. President and Osinbajo. As far as I am concerned, Osinbajo has not achieved anything.
There is a lot of sabotage here and there. When Buhari was around, militants were striking. But when Osinbajo took over (as acting president), they stopped it. It is all there, saboteurs trying to see that Buhari government is brought to its knees. We should look at things objectively. But if the party says he won the primary, after the primary election I will support him. But for me, I will not cast my vote for him during the (presidential) primary.
You said you won’t support power shift to the South if Buhari does not run. What are your reasons?
I don’t support zoning. And I will never support it. Let’s get the best. I don’t support power shift. This is what is creating division in the country. If you are qualified to be president, be you professor, be you school leaver, so long as you are a good person ,and you can pilot the affairs of the country, just take over whether you are from the north, south, or east, that is what it should be. I don’t mind who emerges the candidates, I will support him.
If the President decides to run again, how do you think the election will be financed, this is against the backdrop of complaints by some of those who supported him financially in the last election that they have not gotten the anticipated political patronage?
I was in Saudi recently, one of the Islamic scholars was preaching, saying the problem of Nigeria was those who see politics as a business. That is the problem of Nigeria. When you invest in politics, what you should be after is good governance: adequate security of lives and property and to provide you basic amenities. Not to get something in return. This is what it should be.
You choose people to govern the affairs of your government because you want them to provide good services for you. If you say you invested money and you are expecting something back in return, then it means nothing has changed. We are still going the same old way,’ PDP, share the money ‘ that was the slogan by the masses. Do they want us to come and do what PDP was doing? The answer is no. What we are after is to give you good roads, and regular power supply. This is what APC is after.
When you invested your money, you sponsored me to be a lawmaker, he the President or a governor, and you are expecting me to give you something in return, it means you made an investment and you are expecting profit. APC does not consider that and will not consider it.
Anybody who thought that he has spent his money, funded our campaigns and he is expecting something, I am sorry for him. I am sorry. I am sorry.
How do you think the President’s reelection will be funded if he decides to seek a second term?
What does it take? With the little money we have we can sponsor the President’s election. We have good citizens who are seeing the good work the President is doing; they are there ready to support the President and not anticipating anything in return from him, just calm down. Nigeria will move forward. If the President decides to run, we are going to sponsor him. And we are going to take all the necessary measures to ensure that Mr. President secures a second term successfully.
Do you think Nigerians will be willing to entrust their mandate to Buhari and the APC in the next election, given the current hardship in the country?
The elite are the ones complaining. The Talakawa, the masses are used to these things, their lives are normal. It is the elites that are complaining. We say let everybody endure. We cannot see change immediately. Nigerians will vote for Buhari if he decides to re contest. And I will support him.
What is your take on the clamour for restructuring of the country, so that we can have a true Federalism?
(laughs)I don’t know what they mean by restructuring. My brother, you see people are just doing things the way they like. When a Hausa is governing, they say restructure. When Jonathan was there, nobody called for restructuring. Why? You see this is problem we are facing.
We should see ourselves as Nigerians. Not Southerners, Northerners or Easterners. No. Nigeria first, that is my take on it.
And for restructuring if they say they want the country to be divided I don’t see anything bad there. Anybody who wants to go, if I am the President, I will say okay go. What is special there? Me, I don’t bloody care. I am telling you from the bottom of my heart. Anybody who wants to leave this country let him go. Biafrans are agitating for Biafra. If they want to go let them go. If Niger Delta wants to go, let them go. We are going to survive it. All the regions will survive. No region is a liability on the other region. We used our groundnut money for oil exploration. Go and read history. It is the groundnut money from the north that was used to even pay salaries in the East and in the South in the early 60s. Go and find out.
It is the groundnut money they use to discover oil. It is the groundnut money they used to do exploration and production. People do forget history. Now, you are in position people respect you, when you are no longer in position, nobody respects you, that is the problem we have. When the North is funding the economy of the country, we were not called liabilities.
That is why when the emir of Kano said if the country is split, the north will he poor, Professor Ango Abdullahi told him to go and read history. We have all it takes in the North to survive if the country is divided. (The Sun)