In this interview, controversial member of the House of Representatives, Abdulmumin Jibrin who was once suspended for exposing some alleged corrupt dealings by his fellow lawmakers, speaks on the gale of defections in the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC), expressing confidence that the party would come out stronger.
Defections and fear for 2019
Personally, I think if the APC would be presenting another candidate other than President Buhari, I would have been a bit jittery but there is this consensus within the party and we are just waiting for the timetable just to do the formalities and adopt Buhari as the candidate.
With Mr. President as the candidate of the APC, we are not threatened by all the people leaving the party.
For so many reasons, we are so lucky that we have Comrade Adams Oshiomole as the Chairman of the party.
He has been doing extremely well; he has been reaching out to everyone, holding series of meetings and persuading people to stay.
During election period, these problems are normal. It is not unique to APC alone. That was the case in 2011, 2007, and 2015.
All the time, when there is a buildup to general elections you have these kinds of problems.
To say that the APC would disintegrate or crumble is absolutely false. As people are going, people are also coming in.
But because it is news that people are leaving the ruling party, they make it big news.
A lot of other people from even the opposition are coming in. At the moment, not less than four to five PDP governors are working in a cross-party arrangement, working to support the APC.
There has been a lot of inflow from the Southeast.
You have people like Orji Uzo Kalu and a lot of prominent people in the region that are coming.
They also understand that it is an opportunity for the Southeast to put up a good show for the APC and stand a chance of competing for the presidency after Buhari serves his second term, so I am very confident that APC isn't going to confront any challenge.
PMB and massive electoral value
I am not jittering for some reasons. There are certain things that will help the APC to retain power and ensure that President Buhari wins.
He has massive electoral value and his stronghold states are still there like Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa, Katsina, Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Plateau, Kogi, and of course the Southwest is a no-go area for the opposition.
This is because the Southwest have positioned themselves to take the presidency after 2023 so they don't want to make any mistake about that.
Do you hear any party making any noise in the Southwest?
Lagos, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Ogun, and Oyo are all for Buhari.
Edo is already there, in Delta, we are making a significant move and very soon you would hear a lot of people that would decamp into the party.
You know we lost Rivers State just by a whisker.
We have strong people like Amaechi and Dakuku and I can assure you that Rivers would also come home.
The APC is standing firm and President Buhari is also standing firm.
The President is naturally connected with the masses and nothing has tampered with that.
Buhari is a man of the masses particularly in the North where he has a stronghold.
Those who are against Buhari in this country are just a section of the elites. They don't have any electoral value.
The next election would be an election of the section of the elites versus the masses.
On the area of governance, Buhari has done tremendously well.
The reality of the matter is that the capacity of Buhari setting up a team, giving power to the Central Bank, giving power to the Ministry of Finance, setting up an economic crack team to battle the economic recession that would have brought Nigeria to ground zero, is enough for Buhari to contest the next election.
That was what gave Obama a second term when he came back in 2012. After the economic crisis of 2008, Obama was able to bring USA back on board.
When that happened, it was all he used to get his re-election.
People are suffering and it isn't Buhari's fault.
The previous government didn't save and this country relies on crude which determines the value of our currency and the foreign reserve of our country. By the time crude went down, there were no savings.
When Buhari came, crude oil price went down and he went into the purse of the country and discovered that the government didn't save.
When the price of crude went down, it gave a hard hit on our currency.
The foreign reserve went down and it gave rise to inflation.
These things affect every aspect of the economy, commodity, infrastructure, banking, everywhere is affected.
Buhari has been able to ensure that at the level of the state where we have civil servants, we would continue to give bailout to states to stabilize them.
No government has ever done that but because of the economic strategy to ensure that the country stands on its feet. that was done.
Today, inflation has gone down. In the last one and a half years, from about 18 percent, inflation has gone down to 12.5 percent. What indices are people using to say that the economy is bad?
In Q1 2018, we have registered growth of about 1.95 percent and these things would be sustained. We have reduced domestic borrowing to loose all the resources in banks for the sectors to be able to borrow.
Look at the massive growth in the agricultural sector. Agricultural export has recorded about 500 percent growth.
Also, on the issue of anti-corruption, which President on an election year, 7 months to the election would sit down and not try to lobby the judiciary to ensure that they stepdown on the issue of anti-corruption or the EFCC?
The EFCC is still arresting prominent Nigerians everywhere.
Two members of our party were jailed. People are asking if Buhari knows what he is doing, he cares about the next generation and not just the election.
On insecurity, today, everybody looks happy and bright because there is security.
In Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, and other places, several bombs have exploded in the past.
Buhari came, motivated the army, invested heavily in equipment and expertise, and we were able to decimate Boko Haram.
On the issue of killings, everybody is angry including me. I would disagree where people are laying blame on Buhari.
When there is crisis, he is deploying the army, the DSS, the police and the rest.
But the responsibility of preventing all of that lies in the hands of politicians. It is high time we told ourselves the truth.
I don't agree with trying to make the President take the fault.
When you come to the preventive level of that crisis, it is the fault of politicians.
They are the ones instigating these crises.
What are we telling ourselves in mosques and churches? It is high time we tell ourselves the truth.
These are the things that incite people and create the crisis that we see. Who has more army, DSS or police than the politician?
There is the preventive stage and there is the reactionary stage, the most important stage is the preventive stage and the responsibility of preventing it is not the DSS, police or the army but we the people led by politicians, community leaders, youth leaders, women leaders and religious leaders. We are the ones instigating these crises.
When such happens, it is what the politicians want and they take it to the press and rub it on the President's face because some incompetent people do not want him to win the next election.
I can tell you that President Buhari would win the 2019 elections; I do not have any doubt.
Defectors and their values
In politics, everybody has value and Oshiomole has never said that they don't have value.
Buhari has never said that they do not have value.
In politics, you have electoral value and political value.
Electoral value is when you have the votes and political value is someone who has access to the media, one who can network with the people, who mobilizes resources. So, everybody has his value.
You cannot compare the electoral value of Atiku and Buhari, but Atiku has political value.
We have not seen the kind of defection by all the prominent people that are leaving the party that can affect the fortune of APC or that of Buhari because the strategies that we have to make up for whoever we lose or whatever we lose is far more effective.
When you talk of electoral value, there is nobody that has the electoral value of Buhari.
Tell me one person that can match the electoral value of Buhari among all the people contesting the presidential election.
When it comes to the little thing they can have in terms of political value, the party has its own way.
In Kano, we are going to give not less than two million votes to Buhari.
Assuming Saraki would go with his 300,000 votes in Kwara which is practically impossible, we have the extra two million votes in Kano.
Our strategy in APC now is to work extra hard to ensure that more of our supporters come out to vote.
Without Buhari, can APC win election?
We are facing reality. Buhari has said that he would contest and we have all adopted him, the governors have all adopted him, the party and youths have also adopted him.
By the grace of God, Buhari will rule this country until 2023 and he would leave a good legacy.
There is an aspect that people tend to forget.
When we take the aspect of governance out, politically there is the issue of zoning and that of generational shift that would work naturally for Buhari.
The issue of zoning is not a joke. If anybody other than Buhari is elected from the North as President, they are going to do 8 years.
The Southeasterners have woken up and it is time for them to have the presidency.
This country must be one. They have realized that the fastest way they can get that is through a Buhari second term.
They would support Buhari and the APC to be able to compete for power. The Southwest believes that naturally, it is going their own way.
For now, they are ahead in the race.
By the time you give Buhari a second term, power leaves to the southern part of the country, spends 8 years in the south and by the time it comes back to the north, the whole generation of leaders have retired.
That is why you see the whole tension going on now.
Even after 8 or 12 years when power comes back to the north, some of them may be in their 60s.
Those who are 25 or 30 today would be the ones in the House of Reps, Senate and Governors.
They have more chances to take a shot at the Presidency than you who is already out of the system.
The issue of Buhari's second term has a monumental implication on the issue of generational shift.