ALHAJI Attahiru Bafarawa was a two term governor of Sokoto State and the presidential candidate of the Democratic Peoples Party, DPP in the 2007 general election.
Bafarawa a grassroots politician, has been in politics since 1976 when he won his first election as councillor.
In this interview in Sokoto, the former governor responded to questions on the issues that will shape the votes in the forthcoming polls in the state asserting that it is a political battle between him and his former deputy and incumbent governor of the state, Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko. Excerpts:
DO you think the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) has what it takes to wrest power from All Progressives Congress, (APC) in Sokoto?
Of course yes and that is as simple as ABCD. I can tell you that the PDP is going to win Sokoto because the battle line is not between the parties but based on personalities. Our people don’t care about APC or PDP, our people are looking at who the leaders are between APC and PDP.
They know who the leaders of APC are and they know who are the leaders of PDP. The struggle for power is between Bafarawa and Wamakko and Wamakko is my junior, he is my student in politics, so the secret of winning Sokoto is between Wamakko and I.
Thank God that he was my deputy and I served eight years as a governor and now he has served eight years as a governor, so the people are going to judge based on our performance.
The people will judge whose performance is better. We are bringing two candidates for this election, so the people are going to judge who was a better governor considering the amount of money I received for eight years and the money he received for eight years.
Without being immodest, I can say boldly that the legacy that I left is still in the minds of Sokoto State people. When you talk of APC governorship candidate, nobody knows him. You may say he is the Speaker, yes, he is in Abuja but here in Sokoto, he is only representing two local governments and 21 local governments don’t even know who he is.
But my own candidate, he was once a Senator, he contested in 1999 and won election with seven local governments put together and he contested in opposition party, the PDP while I was in ANPP. He was the only person who won senatorial seat at that time. Then let us talk about the speaker. In 2003 I was the person that brought him to limelight, I gave him ticket under ANPP and he won election to the House of Representatives; so there is no way you can compare Wali’s CV with that of Tambuwal and there is no how you can compare my own CV with Wamakko’s. So virtually the battle is over.
What of having a deep war chest to match the resources of the incumbent Governor and party?
Do you know that this allocation you are talking about is history? Right now there is strike in the state, he cannot even pay teachers salaries in tertiary institutions in the state. For the past two months, there has been no work in all the tertiary institutions. Whatever he receives from federation account, if he puts it into this election, we are going to collect the money, we will chop the money, even if he gives me, I will collect but that is not going to stop us from chasing him out of the Government House.
From what you have said of the present governor it appears he was not your good student in politics as he appears to have deviated from the foundation you said you laid for him?
If he followed my administration’s policy, today, no one can beat him but he abandoned all our policies that we started and started his own. Can you believe now that I have uncompleted projects since I left office, roads, hospitals, schools, he abandoned the projects.
Becoming a senator
Today, you can count 30 kilometers of road which Wamakko did for Sokoto State. I constructed over 1,000 kilometers; I can mention my own but if you go and meet him, he cannot mention his own.
Why are you not following the track of many former governors in seeking election to the Senate?
We want to project young politicians to grow; we are not saying that we are going to take it all. Everything has its own limits.
There is no way I can be a governor for eight years and then come back so low and take one third of it to become a senator. I cannot be a governor for eight years and go back to the classroom. What I mean by classroom is raising my hand to speak until the Senate President recognises me, and when he says sit down, I will sit down. It is an insult.
Maybe they have a motive for going to the Senate thinking they have immunity, immediately they go there, they will start asking to be in the committee for EFCC so that the EFCC will not get them; otherwise why are they going to the Senate when thousands of young ones who can perform better than them are there?
These are the people killing the country, they don’t like the country and I am disappointed with Nigerians who are promoting and supporting these people. Whatever idea you have, why not push it to the younger ones to implement.
APC at the national level is putting up a serious challenge to the PDP. Don’t you think the party could upset the PDP in the presidential election?
Well APC is like detergent; when you put it in a half bucket of water, stir it within one minute it will fill the bucket, after 10 to 15 minutes the water will go down and the foam is no more. APC has no single state in Nigeria; the APC states are ACN, PDP or APGA states.
Look at all of them from Buhari down, he is not promoting the party, he is promoting his interest and his personal ambition. Look at all the governors who joined APC, every one of them wants to become senator, so all they want is their personal interest, not the interest of the people.
What is your opinion of President Jonathan?
The only thing is that if he had made mistakes, let us give him benefit of doubt; by the time we elect him in 2015, he has another four years. Where he made mistake in the past four years, he is going to correct it.
He made all the states in the federation to have federal universities, 10 universities, four in the South and six in the North, is that not performance?
People are condemning this man that he is not doing this and that; even if you have a child who is not performing well are you going to expel him from the school and then he becomes a drop out? Let him repeat, when you give him a repeat, he may come out with first class.
Insecurity for example, it is for everybody and not a one man show, it is the duty of everybody to give his own contribution; it is not just the army to kill people, everybody has his own input concerning the insecurity problem. People also say he is too gentle, is he going to take a gun to Chibok? What we should do is to keep praying for our leaders. Nobody gives power but God and he doesn’t make mistake. God has his own reason for giving power to Jonathan and whoever is fighting God’s decision is fighting God.
But many people believe that General Muhammadu Buhari has what it takes to fight corruption and will be a better president?
Not at all. You see this corruption people are talking about, when Buhari was head of state, he was a military dictator, not a democrat’ then, when he came you cannot even explain yourself, people were arrested, various people were sentenced to 200 and 300 years; it is madness.