Buba Galadima, a former political ally of President Muhammadu Buhari and leader of the Reformed All Progressives Congress (R-APC), in this interview with PREMIUM TIMES' Festus Owete and Nasir Ayitogo, speaks on the future of the new group, his relationship with the president and other sundry issues; Excerpts:
PT: At what point did you conceive the idea of forming the R-APC?
Galadima: We had always thought that the party and the government we formed was drifting away from our original concept of putting together a political party that will give the citizens of this country a lease of life, protect their lives and properties, give good constitutional democracy, provide an enabling environment to the rule of law. This is because throughout our 16 years of sojourn in the opposition, we had suffered those kinds of deprivation which we believe no Nigerian should be allowed to go through. We had told the nation several times as an original concept that when we come in, we will provide security, economic development, empower people and curtail youth restiveness which was becoming a menace within the society, which led a lot of people into crimes, especially the Boko Haram. And Nigerians believed us because we felt presenting a retired general who ought to be schooled in the art of security architecture, it would just have been an easy thing to do. Unfortunately, when we took government, we discovered that the man whom we thought would give that leadership just appropriated power to himself and his family. We cried and cried. He even thought that there was no need for him to appoint a minister or any adviser because he won election on his own popularity and that to him, nobody has invested in this project, forgetting those of us who invited him to join partisan politics for reasons that I have enumerated before. But we continued to give him the benefit of doubt and for those who have followed me, I complained and said we ought to be doing better than we are doing which forced him to appoint ministers against his wish and will. He was quoted on record several times that he doesn't need politicians and that they don't matter and that they are only noise makers. Not many people understood that he was referring to me and my likes. When he eventually formed his cabinet, they were people of no fixed address, they were people that were never ever seen during the struggle. They were on the other side. So, that annoyed a lot of people that invested in the movement in terms of money, blood, sweat to bring about the reality of this government. As a Nigerian, I believe that every right thinking Nigerian knows that this government and the party are a disappointment because the way we painted the picture before the emergence of this government was that in three days' time after the swearing in of the president, Nigeria would be completely a place. Here we are, the economy has gone down the drains, security you can't even say anything. Nigerians are the best judges. Unemployment is on the rise, crime. You can't even afford to go to farm. If you can't go to farm, how does the ordinary man survive? He can be kidnapped or killed. The generality of our people don't even have the platform on which they will be speak and be heard. They recruited about 300 social media warriors, Anything you say, they just descend on you and your personality. They are not looking at the message, they are only looking at the messenger. They are trying to bastardise your name and do whatever they can to rubbish you. This is a way to dictatorship where courts give judgements, it will now be the will and caprices of the president to decide whether the judgement will be followed or not. That is not what we bargained for.
PT: So clearly, you are disappointed?
Galadima: Not only me. Many Nigerians are disappointed, maybe including yourself if you will confess. You should have been disappointed that this is not where we expect to be. There is a saying in Hausa that it is not what we thought it will be that the junior brother of the husband is more handsome.
PT: You worked with him from your days in the defunct CPC, where you were the national secretary. Are you saying this is not the Buhari you used to know?
Galadima: Definitely he is not the Buhari I used to know even though I have my own reservations. I didn't work with him from CPC. I called the first meeting in Kaduna at Bashir Dalhatu's house. Bashir Dalhatu is a former minister of transport and Abacha's-in-law; 34 of us; myself, Bashir Dalhatu, Sule Hamma, Wada Nas (the supposedly Abacha's inner cabinet) were in attendance. We discussed what Obasanjo was doing to the North and to Abacha's family. This is what gave birth to Buhari's entry into politics. As I explained, it's a long process. Out of the 34 of us, only two of us remained with him till today. I and Sule Hamma who was the director-general in the project. Every other person was thrown away. That is our disappointment. And of course even if he has done that, why can't he perform on ground - curtail security, give employment, provide infrastructure so that the ordinary man whom we have persuaded to accept him and vote for him will give a sigh of relief that at least today is better than yesterday.
PT: You said 34 of you brought Buhari into partisan politics, and only two of you are with him currently...
Galadima: I'm not with him now, none of us are with him. Up till the time he became president, during his swearing in, he gave a directive that we shouldn't be allowed to attend the ceremony. But his enemies who were jailing us before were all there and people who even sat down at Transcorp Hilton Hotel in 2007, I know them very well... ... . Today one of them who sat down and wrote results without election is called a Buharist. Today they are all Buhari's friends and we are his enemies according to him. In my tribe, my people always say "if you want to measure the depth of a river, take your bearing from the man in front." If Buhari could do this to us that have suffered deprivation, humiliation, and whatever negative vibes, whoever is supporting him should be careful because he would have no reward.
PT: So he has not reached out to you on a personal level?
Galadima: It's not personal. What we are doing is based on principles, I'm a man of principles.
PT: Some say you turned against the president because he never gave you an appointment, is it true?
Galadima: Let me start by accepting what they have said. Do you remember one man called Gen. Abdulkarim Adisa? He was asked by journalist a certain time when he was minister of works that there was an allegation that all contracts in the ministry of works were given to his friends. He told them 'fine, thank you I'm wrong, I give jobs and contracts to my friends. Wait for your time, when you become a minister then you give it to your enemies. As far as I'm concerned, I will only give it to my friends.' that's what he told them. And I want to say that even if you assume that I am against the General because he did not give me an appointment, don't we deserve an appointment? Doesn't the laborer deserve his wages? Wait for your time that if you work for someone for 16 years, when he strikes the goal then he sends you away and you clap for him. Me, I will not.
Senator Abdullahi Adamu
PT: Senator Abdullahi Adamu (former Nasarawa Governor) said last week that the idea of R-APC was conceived by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. What is your link with Saraki?
Galadima: Thank you very much, I was looking for a way to reply Abdullahi Adamu because all of you are strangers to this project. We are the foundation and we know the history. Abdullahi Adamu who is now the chief campaign officer, defender and chief warrior of General Buhari, did he also forget that when we went to Nasarawa on political campaign, he instructed every chief and Emir in Nasarawa not to welcome Buhari and whoever receives Buhari in his palace should consider himself deposed. Because today Buhari is in power, he is now a Buhari man and we are not. He is 'every government in power.' We know those that he maltreated and got arrested and to a certain extent people alleged so many things. I wouldn't want to libel PREMIUM TIMES. So he is now today a Buhari man because he thinks that Buhari can't remember or think of what had happened yesterday or think of his enemies. Abdullahi Adamu of all people, calling us names because he is looking for Buhari to protect him, because he had to run to all the traditional rulers in Nasarawa to prostrate and cry with tears that they should prevent one Barrister Mohammed Abdullahi from contesting his senatorial seat. That is a prostitute! For me, these are the kind of things that will annoy a decent, honest, straight forward, patriotic citizen like me. I will never talk double. If I like you, I like you until you do yourself bad for me to reject you.
PT: So what you are saying in clear terms is that you (R-APC) have no link with Bukola Saraki?
Galadima: Is Bukola Saraki not a Nigerian? I am leading a political movement, don't I need people? I would wish to go and persuade Bukola Saraki to join me in this fight, it will make my job easier. If he does join, I would welcome him with open arms. Let him today declare that he is a member of the R-APC, I will lead a delegation of the executives to go and meet and congratulate him and thank him for identifying with us.
PT: So Bukola Saraki was not part of those that formed R-APC?
Galadima: Have you seen his name there?
President Muhammadu Buhari
PT: You talked about 16 years of PDP in power and curiously, these are the same people you are going into a coalition with. How would you justify that?
Galadima: Tell me, in Buhari's government, apart from the ACN people, who was not a PDP man? Just mention two people who had no links with PDP, from the lowest man to Buhari himself. Who are the people running this government today? Why should people be hoodwinked by propaganda and deception? Everybody in Buhari's government except the few ACN people were in PDP or has PDP origin. Ninety percent of his ministers were PDP people. Every rogue, every thief, every filthy, every criminal that the PDP were called, all of them have migrated to the APC. Tell me anyone that is afraid of EFCC arrest that has not gone to the APC. As far as I'm concerned, anybody that is remaining in the PDP today is a clean person that I can do business with because any filthy man that has doubts about his sources of income would run to seek refuge in the APC and will be received with open hands, including those that established kidnapping and Boko Haram. All those that are alleged to have a hand in these things are in the APC. Those of us who are clean will also migrate and link up with the clean people in PDP if the need arises to bring about clean government.
PT: You mean this administration does not have the moral ground to criticise the 16 years of PDP administration?
Galadima: Tell me what PDP did wrong that is not happening now in the APC; just mention two.
PT: Some say the level of stealing now is not same as we had under the PDP.
Galadima: Who told you? Did they leave government for us to expose them for you to know?
PT: Do you have elected public office holders in the R-APC?
Galadima: Do you see what is happening in the National Assembly? If someone in the National Assembly will have the courage to stand up and say he belongs to R-APC, it means there are others, he's only testing the ground.
PT: Does the R-APC have a national secretariat?
Galadima: Where are you meeting me? Where the king is, is the palace.
PT: Do you have offices across the country?
Galadima: All the other states.
PT: Do you think the CUPP has a future?
Galadima: It was because I thought it would work that we congregated. If anybody says it will not work, let time tell. I want to tell you that you can make an American president with the difference of one vote. So, if out of the 39 parties, we can even get one to make the difference, we are there.
PT: As it is today, can you beat APC if your coalition contests against it?
Galadima: What brought you here to interview me?
Galadima: Which means that we are important. If we are not important, you needn't be here at this hour. Didn't we make members of the APC relevant now? They said Buba Galadima is irrelevant but because of me, they don't sleep, even if they travel. If we are not important, why are they talking about us? Why are they planning to arrest some of us and put in detention? Why are they toying with the idea of eliminating some of us? It means we are a threat to them. If you don't understand, go and engage them on a private discussion, they don't sleep. As I'm talking to you, they are already talking to elders from my state to come and disown me. I didn't say I'm looking for the governorship of Yobe, I didn't say I'm representing Yobe people in what I'm doing but they are congregating people, giving them money. The other day they sent N250,000 to each chairman of (defunct) CPC to come and disown me but only four turned up. If I'm inconsequential, why will they bother? Let them allow me make my noise, but it was the noise we made that made Buhari known and what he is today. Where were they? They were fighting us on the other side. I didn't want to join issues with Adams Oshiomhole because he is just a filthy rat. He so forgot that in 2003, he was commissioned by Obasanjo to produce a false public opinion as Labour leader against Buhari and abused the hell out of him. He so forgot that he gathered everybody including an Oba of Benin to tell them that they should vote for their brother, Jonathan, against 'this useless Fulani man.' So, today he is a Buhari man? Oshiomhole should come clean and tell us where he got the money to build his house, the palace in Abuja and the university and palace in his village. He is a public officer, let him come out and tell us. He told me he would crush me, meaning he will kill me. He said it and his welfare secretary also echoed the same thing on BBC. We are not a trade union so he can't behave like a trade union leader. This is not labourer and herdsman palaver. It's because Buhari and Tinubu don't know the ambitious guy they brought into power. He will betray them. In 2023, if we are alive, you will see that Oshiomhole will deal with the Tinubu who brought him because all their eyes are on one thing.
APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole
PT: You are saying clearly now that your life is under threat.
Galadima: Of course, but I'm not afraid to stand for the people and for my country. I've always done that. I was arrested, detained, questioned 38 times during my sojourn with General Buhari and I was arrested and locked up for treason in trying to overthrow the government of Nigeria and put underground, chained from toe to head. I wouldn't know when it's Sunday, Monday or Friday, I wouldn't know whether it is night or day, all because of Buhari. So if today I will be killed by a government that I helped bring about, by a party that I'm a signatory to its formation, so be it.
PT: Do you have any personal grouse with Buhari?
Galadima: It is only Buhari that will answer that because he was the first person to fire the salvos. He said he doesn't need my vote or that of any of my supporters.
PT: But you were close, how did both of you fall out?
Galadima: I don't know, you ask him.
PT: Up till the time you came to APC, you were still working for him... .
Galadima: (cuts in) I say up till the election. I was instrumental to winning this election and I can challenge anybody. If I didn't force the idea of the card reader, Buhari couldn't have won the election. If I didn't do what I did during the day of the election and the day after, he wouldn't have been president, whether he knows it or not, God knows it and I don't lie and I don't speak double.
PT: Do you have any presidential material that can match Buhari from the CUPP?
Galadima: It's because you and them in the APC are not democratic and you don't know your constitution nor the constitution of any party. What I could have wanted you to say is - if there is a free, fair, transparent and level playing ground, could anybody defeat Buhari and I will say you (this interviewer) will defeat him because the perception in the country is ABB, that is "Anybody But Buhari." That's the slogan and if the opportunity presents itself, Nigerians are smart, wise and intelligent to pick a candidate that can defeat him.
PT: if you are asked to pick a candidate from CUPP now, who would you pick?
Galadima: Why should I, as a leader pick a candidate for them? I can't let the cat out of the bag. We would have conditions and regulations on how to produce a candidate and because I am a democrat, I will follow through that, whether that candidate conforms to my personal wish or not. Even if he is my enemy, if he is produced through a transparent, fair and whatever condition, I will accept and work for him.
PT: You know that Buhari is very popular in the North...
Galadima: Who are those who made him popular? Is he eloquent to sell himself? So fine, it's ok, I have answered your question.
PT: But it's not about eloquence...
Galadima: (cuts in) can the ordinary man say that his life is better off today than when Buhari came in? Has he performed? Can you please tell me a single project Buhari has done in your place for him to have your vote? Just tell me one and I will vote for him.
PT: The R-APC went to court, if you knew you were going to court, why did you need to break away? Why not stay in the APC and fight from within?
Galadima: We didn't break away, we formed an executive to reform the party because Adams Oshiomhole and others are usurpers. They were not properly elected. I don't want to say much because it is subjudice.
PT: We are aware that some of the members of your executives who could not return as officials of the APC are part of your executive.
Galadima: Like who?
PT: For instance, Bala Gwagwarwa.
Galadima: Bala Gwagwarwa did not contest an election because the processes were defective. I could have wanted to contest. You mean I don't want to be anybody? I want to be somebody. I could have contested and I'm popular enough. Today by God's grace, I'm one of the most popular people in Nigeria. Even you now know me. That is why we formed the R-APC. If everything was correct, why should we waste our time and form this? And risk our lives? We know the risks involved in this. You don't know what the court case may lead to.
PT: In clear terms, is Buhari your target or APC?
Galadima: It is the APC. Now we are targeting Adams Oshiomole, we have to get him out. He has to be thrown out by the court.
PT: Is the R-APC likely to collapse into any other political party? Is that the plan?
Galadima: We have already formed a coalition.
PT: There are some of these parties in the coalition that are very insignificant and cannot pull weight even in their localities... .
Galadima: (cuts in) you see, you are just behaving like the APC people. You are a fascist dictator. You mean you can call somebody known to the law of Nigeria inconsequential?
PT: You are very close to the president? If he calls you today to serve in his administration as a minister, would you accept?
Galadima: I will reject. But if he calls me to come, as an elderly person and as the President of Nigeria, I will go and listen to him. And if he asks me why I'm doing this, I will tell him because we deviated from our agreed roadmap. And if he tells me; "can we go back?" I will tell him no, until all the processes leading to the elections of Adams Oshiomhole are nullified.
PT: Is that your major grouse?
Galadima: Of course because we promised to give Nigerians constitutional democracy. It's part of our covenant with him. Give them security.
PT: You (APC) have three major things as your agenda - security, economy and anti-corruption...
Galadima: (cuts in) which one is being fought? Let me tell you something you don't know. PDP are just gullible people. If I was in the PDP, the APC and their government will not sleep. You know the reason? The two former governors that were recently jailed, Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame. They are members of the APC but who started their prosecution? PDP. So who is fighting corruption?
PT: What is your advice to the APC-led federal government? One last thing you want them to do correctly.
Galadima: Let them go back to our original roadmap. I don't need anything from anybody.
PT: That original roadmap includes restructuring. Do you support restructuring as part of your...
Galadima: (cuts in) I have always fought restructuring in three consecutive conferences - 1987 Constituent Assembly, 1994 National Constitutional Conference and 2014 National Conference, and for a different reason. Somebody needs to define the restructuring. For example, restructuring to certain people mean that they need one additional state in their zone; to the South-outh, restructuring means that they need to withhold all revenues from what is being manned from their soil; to the South-west, restructuring means a confederation or reducing the powers of the federal government and to the north. It is neither here nor there because nobody knows what they are talking about here except some few of us who ask questions. We have to define restructuring and how do we bring about it. Is it the rhetoric of few people or we will agree on the modalities of how to make a representation that will discuss the future of Nigeria. Unless all those things are on ground, you can't just begin to talk about restructuring, frightening people. Those who don't know start shivering. That is my take.