The purchase of a nomination and expression of interest forms for President Muhammadu Buhari had recently led to a debate on the appropriateness of the action of the group that purchased the forms and the decision of the president to accept it. Saturday Vanguard took up the issue with the group that purchased the forms for the president.
Barr. Sunusi Musa, is the National Coordinator of the Nigeria Consolidation Ambassadors Network NCAN, the group that recently purchased the Expression of Interest and Nomination forms for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari. In this interview with Omeiza Ajayi, he speaks on the mandate of his group, how they raised the money to purchase the forms as well as on issues surrounding the legality or otherwise of their action.
What motivated your group to buy the forms for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari?
I think the main reason has been stated when we were received by the National chairman of the party, that it was purely out of conviction, that the President of the country, Muhammadu Buhari has done so well, and there is need to consolidate on the gains so far, that was why we decided to put the necessary resources together to obtain the forms for him.
As a show of our commitment towards his re-election for the benefits of this country, we have said some of the achievements. All of us are aware how we used to live in apprehension then. When you go to market, places of worship and you would be thinking that you might not go back home alive. We were being subjected to searches everywhere we went. A journey that would take you three hours, you would end up in seven hours because of the checkpoints, all because of terrorists' activities that were going on. Fourteen Local Governments were seized from the Federation. A flag was hoisted there by the terrorists but President Muhammadu Buhari's commitment to securing this country and protecting its territorial integrity led to the driving of the terrorists away; there is no part of this country or a single local government that is under the control of the terrorists.
Even though, the good people of Niger-Delta who were forced to be called militants because of the neglect of the previous governments to the region... we have seen commitment in President Buhari as he has started to give peace a chance. When they started from the beginning, they thought it would be the same system but when they realised that we have a different President, who is committed to the welfare of people of Niger-Delta people, we never had another crisis. So, these are some of the things and we have seen how infrastructure are being put in place. Abundant projects have been undertaken.
Those of you here in Abuja, will bear me witness, roads that were abandoned are being opened up. So, work is going on everywhere.
In a nutshell, these are some of the things that have informed our decisions to do what we have done and we are proud that we have done that.
I think it is also important to tell Nigerians how you generated the funds because there are insinuations that you are being sponsored by a governor of a state.
Well, let me say that, I, as a person, have never met any governor or governor Yahaya Bello as they are insinuating. I don't know him, he doesn't know me as a person. Of course, members of our group are in the State, he might have known some of them but as an association, since it was formed in August 2017, I have never made any efforts to meet Gov. Yahaya Bello or any other governor to solicit for financial support. So, probably some people think because of the closeness of the governor to President Buhari, they thought that he might be the one that has done this. Or probably because some of the prominent members of this group visited him, that might have informed their decision to say that. But I want to say that as at now, no single government official has contributed a kobo to our money. No! Certainly No!
If you say you did this out of conviction that the president performed to your satisfaction, what would you say of other governors or lawmakers that groups like yours are buying forms for?
What this is showing is that if as a leader you perform excellently, you don't need to be thinking of amassing wealth, you don't need to be thinking of stealing the commonwealth of the people because you need money for next election. What is showing is that, as long as you will be able to give people good governance, then, they will be ready to give their token for you to be re-elected and give you another mandate to continue. That is the way I see it and that is a commendable development.
As a supporter, are there things that the president has done that you think he could have done differently?
Of course! Look, that is the difference between APC and the PDP. We never claimed perfection and the President never claimed perfection. As a human, you cannot get it 100% but what is required all the time, I always say is, when you put whatever has been done by the present government on the scale, I think it should be able to swing towards the good of that government. I think whatever imperfections that are there, those are personal things. You see, I have had the opportunity of leading the students union and also this association, there are things that have to do with discretionary ways of doing things as a leader.
Most of you in your group are young men and women. How did you raise N45m?
I have been a lawyer for 12 years. So, look at me now, if I am able to mobilise just N200,000 for the President, I think I can afford N200,000 for instance. When I have 40 members, how much do I have? N8m. And my Secretary is an Engineer, a Communications Engineer who rose to the position of Manager in one of the Telecom companies. He resigned and started his private business. My deputy chairman and coordinator for South South is a lawyer too who has more than twelve years experience, a former Local government chairman, a former youth leader of this party.
My deputy chairman and also coordinator for South East was a former majority leader of Anambra State House of Assembly. He has been a lawyer for more than 25 years. Do you think he doesn't have resources he can put together to do that?
Many of us, we are young but we thank God that we are not political jobbers. We all have second addresses where we do our things and we get paid for the services we render but that is not even the most important. Look, I am a grassroots politician. From what I have told you about myself, I served as a ward exco for two terms of eight years. So, I believe I am into politics in the grassroots and not all those Abuja politicians that joined politics yesterday. So, I can claim some little expertise on how to mobilise the grassroots people on this kind of project.
And the essence of it was to really show to the elites, those who are saying that the President should not continue on how he has met the yearnings of the Nigerian people, to show them that ordinary Nigerians love the President. Many people contributed, N2000, N1,000 and some contributed N50. We have the records from various states because when we started, you can check our website, the first thing we wanted to do was that, from August, when we had our first meeting and September when we invited all our coordinators and some of our leaders in the States, was to gather 10 million signatures, asking the president to contest in 2019 election.
Ten million people is about 15% of the voter population of the country and through that, we generated our members. In fact, we still have excess money in our account which we are going to use for the purpose of promoting the President.
Are you saying when the president was complaining about high cost of the forms, he was rather not making sense?
No, he was indeed making sense, that is if at all it is true he said that because I have never seen where the President said the cost of form is too much but I want you to know that this is not what we started yesterday. We have been pulling our resources together since and I must confess, at the beginning, we never thought the cost was going to be high as much as this.
Our target was that either it was going to be like that of 2014. That was like about N25m or a maximum of N30m. That was our thinking but we have excess of N30m. So, it was not something we really found difficult to pay and of course, for someone to pay N45m, certainly he will find it difficult particularly if he is coming to serve the people, not to steal.
What is the strength of this association?
The strength is that we have leadership across this country, we have structures because the target is to make sure that on election day, we have at least three volunteers in each polling unit that are there to mobilise people to go and cast their votes for President Muhammadu Buhari if eventually APC gives the ticket to him. So, we have spread across the country and it is committed to seeing that the President is re-elected in 2019.