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With Buhari And Tinubu, APC Is The Party To Beat — Gidado

| May 31, 2013 More

Engr. Nuhu Gidado, a chieftain of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), won the Bauchi State governorship primary in 2011 and was to fly the party’s flag in the general election, but was substituted at the last minute. In this interview, he tells GEORGE AGBA what went wrong and how General Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s leadership of the new All Progressives Congress (APC) can instill internal democracy in the new party.

From the records, you were a huge success in the civil service before venturing into the private sector where you achieved even more in terms of your profession and other businesses. Why did you choose to venture into the murky waters of Nigerian politics?

It is a common notion in this country that politics is murky. It couldn’t have been better than now. I was engineered to see the need and the reason to abandon all else and to turn deaf ears to the definition of politics in this country, that it is murky and dirty. One would have continued sitting on the fence and decide to let it continue in this mode.

But who, rather than me, you and our likes that believe in the credibility of politics, would change the situation that we are going through? The more we run away from partisan politics, the more it gets murky, the more it gets dirty and the more it destroys the fabric of the nation. So, I was engineered by the fact that where you have credibility and you mean well for your country, there is nothing that bars you from joining partisan politics.

Before 2010, I was having the same notion; I was tempted several times to join politics but I vehemently refused to do so under the guise of what you are defining now as being murky, dirty and so forth. But later on I saw wisdom in sacrificing all else. At this my age today, I don’t see what I stand to gain or lose if I join politics, rather than contributing the utmost best you can to change the situation for the better.

By and large, I was also inspired by no other person than General Muhammadu Buhari. If you talk about credibility, forthrightness, gentlemanliness and experience, it boils down to one single representation in the person of General Buhari. Whatever made that man to sacrifice all else to go into politics, I think every right thinking person who means well for this country shouldn’t be afraid to join and to contribute in the utmost best one can. That is my inspiration.

In the build-up to 2011 general polls, it appeared you were the candidate to beat in Bauchi governorship poll under the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).  But all that went sour when the case of wrongful substitution of your name by your party marred your chances of contesting the gubernatorial election in the state; what really went wrong?

Here, I must confess that the relative absence of internal democracy was generally the bane of CPC in 2011, I guess, not only in Bauchi but in so many other states like Katsina, Kano among others. Internal democracy was not the best of what we ought to have seen in CPC, particularly under the umbrella of one person, General Muhammadu Buhari. Such things were happening in parties like the PDP, but we were so shocked and embarrassed that it reared its head in the CPC.

In the case of Bauchi, the story was that at the end of the primaries, almost everybody was running to INEC and the press, saying “I won”. At least, four candidates declared they won the election. We didn’t;  Nuhu Gidado group did not declare any winning. We waited for our national headquarters to do what they would do. Ultimately, people like Hon. Yusuf Maitama Tugga who first went to INEC in Bauchi, not even the national INEC, to beat the gun, he declared himself winner and then followed by Abdullahi Sarki Danchina who incidentally was returned by the committee that went to Bauchi to conduct the primaries, and then followed by Muhammad Dewu who went to court to get an exparte motion returning him as the candidate.

Up until  then, Nuhu Gidado and his camp didn’t make any pronouncement saying that we won. We were waiting for the natural events to unfold and to see what our national headquarters will do. The story might be too long, but because of that confusion, the CPC board of trustees decided to set up what they called Eminent Persons Harmonisation Committee. They called all of us;-, the candidates in Bauchi. We sat down and for five hours, we could not agree amongst ourselves before that committee to concede to one single individual. What they did was to take us into confidence and asked us to sign an undertaking that from the discussion we have had for five hours, whoever they recommend to the party would be acceptable to all of us, and we agreed.

They wrote a memo which we all signed and went ahead to thumb print and they went away to do their assignment. That was on the 25th of January 2011. They returned their report to the board of trustees, and I was recommended through some criteria they used to filter out.  So, they now came up with their own criteria and unanimously zeroed in on my person and returned this report to the board of trustees. General Muhammadu Buhari had it, our national headquarters had it, and everybody had it.

Unfortunately along the line when our national secretary, Engr Buba Galadima summoned me to say, I have been nominated and it has been approved by the board of trustees as well as the party; take your form, go and fill it and return it to me. And so I did it. I filled the form, returned it to him in the presence of a lot of my supporters who escorted me. They took the forms to the national headquarters of INEC that same day – January 31, 2011.

That was the deadline of return of forms of candidates to INEC. By 11.15pm to be precise, somebody called me to say “your name was entered into the computer, but as I am talking to you now it has been substituted with that of Yusuf Maitama Tugga”. I didn’t take it as something bad because my politics is not one a do-or-die affair. It was for the party, it was for the nation and it was for a change.

So, whoever the party would have decided at the dying minutes would have been okay, but naturally because of my supporters, I wrote a letter instantly which I submitted the next day, February 1, to both then INEC national headquarters and our national headquarters asking them what could have gone wrong and what could have happened. I told them I had a pulse that my name had been substituted with that of somebody else; what could have happened because that would have been illegal as far as section 33 of the Electoral Act is concerned.

There was no response, and two days later, I wrote a reminder; again no response. By the time, we went to the national headquarters with about five of our candidates in attendance – Sadiq Mahmoud, Yusuf Maitama Tugga and Mohammed Dewu and I; before the national chairman of CPC, Prince Tony Momoh, to discuss what could have happened. All the other candidates that were there said there was a process which was signed and endorsed; if it is Nuhu Gidado, they have no qualms, but they wanted to know what made them  return Yusuf Maitama Tugga. It was an innocent question.

For five hours, there was no clear response and there was no explanation. Even Yusuf Maitama Tugga was there; there was no clear response. We all left the venue and the next day what I saw on the national network news was a  high ranking official official of the party – Engr. Buba Galadima, saying “the party has the right to nominate anybody. So be it!” But the caveat there was that “whoever was not satisfied should go to court”.

Of course, my supporters came around and said this is a slight on our integrity and on our fight; so, we should go to court, and we did. In the court, they returned me and said what the party did was illegal. That was on April 8, 2011. We went round with the court verdict to INEC and the party, and nobody was ready to listen. It ended up in the Supreme Court, but then the election had taken place and PDP was returned.

So, ours turned out to be “academic” because our party and candidate didn’t win. You would agree with me that this could as well have caused the CPC to lose the governorship election of Bauchi State in 2011. So, I am talking about internal democracy. Where the people have shown interest in an individual, in the name of God almighty, allow that to take its course because whoever you are – a president, a governor or a legislator – you are representing the interest of the people; you are representing the interest of the common man. That was what was wrong with the former CPC. But we hope and pray that, this time around, we will get it right.

From what you just said, there seems to be manipulators within the CPC. Have you now made up your mind to fight dirty this time around; if not, what has been done so far to cleanse the party internally?

With due respect, I would want to make a little correction here. Nuhu Gidado and whatever I represent do not fight dirty in everything I do in this world. At over 50, I have absolutely nothing to gain worldly. I don’t crave material things. All my life, I have been living for other people, not even my family. So, I don’t fight dirty because of power. Just like I told you, my inspiration in politics starts and ends with General Muhammadu Buhari.

He is an inspirational leader. He is not doing whatever he is doing for worldly gain: he doesn’t fight dirty; he is almost making a sacrifice to this nation at this age. Ordinarily he should have retired to his farm in Daura and have a peaceful end. But he is here being torn left right and centre, yet he is still dogged, he is still there. That is the kind of inspiration I am taking in my political sojourn.

To repeat myself, I don’t fight dirty in politics. It is not a matter of life and death. I’m only there in the political arena to contribute nationally by aligning with any integrity group that would play out to contribute solutions to the national problem.

You talked about the reason why I am there despite what transpired in 2011. It is just to contribute my utmost. It is true, I went through a lot experiences – the vices, the lack of internal democracy and the negative things, but the most painful is when you have to deal with people who are not sincere in everything they do. They come into the political arena just for selfish interest.

Otherwise, why is everybody now castigating the PDP? It is simply because of what they represent and portray. PDP is such a clique and union that know themselves only at the expense of the nation in general. This current movement of the APC, as presented by General Muhammadu Buhari, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and a host of others, has shown signs of credibility and sacrifice required for us to take this country out of the doldrums we are facing.

And if I can contribute in whatever form I am able to, believe me I am ready to use all my energy, every resource, even my life, to contribute. I am ready to align with that movement. However, we should be wary of the negative things that played out in my party, the CPC, in 2011. You will find people that will come and infiltrate the party just to hide under the umbrella of General Muhammadu Buhari or Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s popularity for selfish gains. I’ll give you so many examples here. In my state, Malam Isa Yuguda won the governorship seat under the ANPP in 2007 in what we then termed as the “Bauchi revolution”.

Buhari contributed about 90 per cent in that movement. But what happened? After a year, he defected  back to his PDP. In 2011, we had yet another nasty experience – Adamu Aliero, the former FCT minister and a distinguished Senator – was extended every bit of respect and welcomed into the CPC. Everybody believed and trusted him. At the eleventh hour, before the gubernatorial re-run election in Kebbi State, this man defected and went back to PDP.

Now, such experiences are there and we seem to be allowing such things to be rearing their heads. We have to be extremely and exceptionally careful. When you see them, you know them; we don’t have to pretend; we don’t have to mention names. In my state Bauchi, we have them. At the national level we have them and so many other people are almost getting set to also join the new movement, the APC. But I am calling on everybody, particularly my mentor, General Buhari, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, to be very, very careful and wary.

Yes anybody can come in, but please dine with them with a very long spoon, take their words with a pinch of salt and caution. We know our people and we know those people that are sincere. Let us  allow natural events to unfold. Let’s work for the people.

Some politicians in Bauchi have come out to indicate their intentions for the 2015 general elections and you have not said anything in that regard; have you chickened out of the gubernatorial race?

I want to assure you that such people and many of their like are nonstarters. I know what I am talking about. Yes, some of these renown opportunists are already at play trying to pull a fast one but we know them and people are prepared for them. Indeed, it was by the time the merger talks were being nursed that some of them quickly jumped ship and joined the CPC. Cross carpeting has been synonymous with their form of politics.

Is it all about grabbing position and power? As for me, the issue is not for Nuhu Gidado contesting and winning any elective position at that: it is about bringing change; it is about working for the people; It is about establishing credible circle of individuals that can bring about positive change for our country, for our states, for our local governments and everywhere else. That is what I am talking about. I am not chickening out, but I am not telling you I am contesting any seat. I am in politics and I remain in politics to align with the aspirations of people like Buhari and Tinubu in trying to bring out such a formidable force that can end the misrule of this clique called the PDP that operates more like a cultist.

And if that is it, count Nuhu Gidado in. I said I am going to sacrifice everything that God has endowed in me to fight for the progress of this nation, to fight for the progress of my state and to fight for the emancipation of my people. You can count on us and by the grace of God we are not going back. We are solidly on the ground and Nuhu Gidado is not afraid of any individual or group. In 2011, there were two things that played out against our aspiration collectively.

When I went out to declare my intention and contest the governorship seat, everybody was laughing because they felt Nuhu Gidado didn’t have the money to finance his campaign. They said Nuhu Gidado was not identified with any godfather, unlike so many other candidates. That was the game that was in vogue. If you think you have a godfather, Nuhu Gidado doesn’t have one and if you think you have money, Nuhu Gidado doesn’t have any. But one thing Nuhu Gidado has that cannot be disputed and discounted is my integrity and my close relationship with the commoners – the Talakawas.

This, I’m proud of! Godfatherism, in the name of God, if I wanted it I had every opportunity. Long time ago, and that was the beginning of my personal acquaintance with General Buhari, this gentleman trusted me with his house to renovate on contract. He gave the contract and packed every member of his family out of the house and went on a holiday for three weeks. He handed over everything to me, including the key to his bedroom and not a pin was moved out of that room. I renovated his personal house in Kaduna just as my company also renovated his house in Daura.

Therefore, for anybody to trust you with the key to his bedroom and not even a pin was removed, you would agree with me that the trust is unprecedented. But believe it or not, in my political sojourn in 2011, I visited General Buhari only once. Even at that, it was just to say hello; I never told him I was contesting. Why didn’t I go out of my way to make a godfather out of him?

If the time comes, if there is a need for me to contest and my people say come out and contest, I will do so. I am not scared of anything. I saw love in 2011 and I humbly  respect that. I have been honoured by my people and there is no going back.

With the CPC and the ANPP dissolving into the APC in a grand ceremony recently along with the ACN, it is no longer a CPC affair. What are the chances of APC in Bauchi and Nigeria in general? 

I will start with my state. Put it down on record that CPC won the gubernatorial election in 2011. There was a curfew in the state on the day of the election -what a misnomer – but we still got the votes. The CPC won the election, but we were rigged out. This time around it is going to be different by the grace of God. At the national level, even the PDP is rattled. They have almost lost the 2015 elections even before 2015.


Category: Bauchi State News

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