APC govt, worse than PDP’s era – Balewa’s grandson


Alhaji Abubakar Billy Tafawa Belewa is one of the grandsons of the late Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Belewa and he is contesting for the Bauchi South Senatorial seat on the platform of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP). In this interview with Patrick Andrew and Tope Sunday he says, among others that the APC is worse than the PDP in corruption and bad governance. 

You are contesting for the Bauchi South senatorial seat on the platform of a relatively unknown party, the NNPP?

The New Nigerian People Party is not a new political party, per se. It was established just like the PDP and other political parties in 1998. But people did not know much about it until recently in my state (Bauchi) when we felt that there was the need for change. Change began in 2015 and we felt that it was just the beginning. Change is a process. We believe that we don’t need to go the circle again; the PDP and APC.

The NPP is the party to beat in Bauchi. We have a governorship candidate, three senatorial, 12 Houses of Representatives and 31 candidates for the Buachi state House of Assembly. We want a paradigm shift from the people who stole money from the government.

You mentioned that change began in 2015. But so far, are you satisfied with the level of change Nigerians have witnessed?

I am not.

Why?

I am not in the sense that when we voted for change 2015 we had envisaged that the change would be faster and development would be more inclusive than what it is today.  Unfortunately, the reverse is the case. Even, it is worse than the PDP in some cases. Some of the impunities that we were all against in 2015 are still looming. The incapacity of the people running government is still there. It is still business as usual.

Recently, we saw the resurgence of the Boko Haram in the North East and one will wonder how come going by the large amount of money being spent on the military? I tell people if care is not taken, we will see the worse scenario than the Boko Haram; because what brought Boko Haram, aside the false religious doctrine they preach, is injustice. And you see injustice pervading everywhere in the land. Because the ruling party wants to retain power, it has imposed unpopular candidates on the people.

Are you saying that the anti-corruption war of the APC-led federal government has failed?

I wouldn’t say it has failed but I think the strategy would have been much better. I see it as war against the PDP money. We still see some governors helping themselves with public funds and nothing is being done.

Even in the Presidential Committee on the North East, people that were appointed to alleviate the problems of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are dashing contracts to themselves. And nobody is saying anything. We saw it in the social media where bags of rice meant for the IDPs were being repackaged and sold in markets.  

Now, in the fight against corruption, we must involve everybody. Corruption is still rampant in the civil service and in the economy, corruption is prevalent.

Some Nigerians see Mr President has Mr. Integrity, what bearing has the President’s integrity brought on the fight against corruption?

 Leadership is not just about integrity. It is just one aspect of it. Leadership is all about justice and fairness. If you are not fair, no matter how truthful, or how much integrity you have, forget it, you can’t succeed.

 So we thought it should have been done differently. We have seen people who were being accused of siphoning billions of naira coming into the ruling party and they are accepted as good friends of the party. That is not total war againstcorruption.  Is it because they are bringing in looted funds to support the government? 

 I expect President Buhari to have decided himself that he is ready and willing to die for the younger generation of Nigerians. He should have fought them headlong, even if he dies in the process, he should have fought them for us to survive. But he has not and that is why Nigeria has remained the way it is.

Are you saying that President Buhari does not deserve a second term?

That is left to Nigerians to decide. It is not for me to decide. Of course, I know who to vote for. The decision is for everybody in Nigeria.

But reelection shouldn’t be automatic. You might decide to say that Mr President has done well. How about his governors? That is where even the problem is. There is no bad president in Nigeria. We have not had any bad president in Nigeria. Forget the fact that we have had presidents that were weak, and easily prone to mistakes.  Still, I respect each and every president that we have had in Nigeria.

But the major problem is in the second tier of government—state. Most of the states don’t even have local government councils because they (governors) are interested in the money going to the council. In my state (Bauchi), for almost 10 years there has not been local government election.

What message does your party, NNPP, have for the constituents of Baluchi south senatorial district?

The logo of our party is a basket full of fruits in the Nigerian map. I was telling a friend before this interview that God promised us good things including those fruits in the heaven. God did not say there are brooms or umbrella in heaven.

The party, NNPP, I guess is popular in Baluchi. But we don’t have a presidential candidate because we are approaching our turning point. We, in Bauchi, need to take decision.

In the advent of the current administration in the state, all the ex-governors were fighting him. When (Adamu) Mu’azu was in power, he did everything to ensure that (Isa)Yuguda did not become the governor, but as God will have it, Yuguda became the governor. There was crisis in everywhere and they divided the people into two lines; the pro-Mu’azu and the pro-Yuguda.

Mu’azu has been in exile for a while and just came in recently. Yuguda has been in the docked room and he can’t even visit the state. The EFCC is after him and his house. Now, you don’t hear all these cases because they are coming under the same umbrella; have joined the APC. This is not good for the common man.

So, there has to be something else to give the people hope that yes things will change and that is what we stand for.  We, in the NNPP are willing to give the people a ray of hope and the good governance that has eluded them for a long term.

What will you do differently to the benefit of the masses of Bauchi south senatorial district, if elected?

The duties of a legislator are basically three: One, representation, making laws and oversight. I assure my people that whatever is budgeted for them must be done. Unlike what is done today that money meant for the constituency projects are pocketed and little amount of money is then sprinkled to the electorate.

Two, the must be an all-inclusive governance in the state and country. Gone were the days that politicians will be appointed by the governors to do their biddings. We must come together collectively as a people to ask about what our aspirations are. I will make sure that all the constituency offices function by visiting them regularly.

Do you have confidence that INEC will do a good job in the forthcoming general elections?

They don’t have any other option, Nigerians are watching them. Mind you, ballot snatching is no longer the issue, we have passed that. Also, so many electoral malpractices are no longer the threat but vote buying.

However, people are now wiser because if you try that in some places you may not go away alive. Now, people are willing to protect the sanctity of their vote. They will not allow anybody to either use money or inducement to change their direction.

I do agree that the INEC has no choice but to conduct free, fair and credible election because the international community is watching us. I have observed elections in Africa and I know the repercussion and poorly conducted elections. Certain things must be done right whether we like it or not. We must conform to the international best practices on how things are done. We must allow free and fair election. That is the one way the country can remain one.

Don’t you see the popularity of President Buhari and Alhaji Abubakar Atiku in the North as threat to your aspiration?

Yes, President Buhari and Alhaji Atiku are bigwigs and strong presidential candidates, but I am not threatened. Our people will have to decide who should represent them. 

I believe, it is the decision of the people to vote for me or against not the president or his opponent. So the final decision is with the people of Bauchi South, who I believe will look at all of us contesting the various positions and choose who to represent them.

However, I believe with my pedigree and background, I have a lot to share with my people of Bauchi and Nigeria in driving this country forward.

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So, there has to be something else to give the people hope that yes things will change and that is what we stand for.  We, in the NNPP are willing to give the people a ray of hope and the good governance that has eluded them for a long term.



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