A Presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who was once a Minister of Special Duties, Alhaji Kabir Tanimu Turaki, in this interview with ABDULRAHMAN ZAKARIYAU scored the President Muhammadu Buhari government and the All Progressives Congress (APC) zero on security. He also said the party has destroyed all they built in the 16 years they were in government. Excerpts
Recently, you declared your intention to seek the Presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), what prompted this move?
Well, to an extend I have not declared, because the process of declaration will take more elaborate planning where you need to invite all your coordinators, all your supporters, party leadership and indeed other members of the public that are in support of your aspiration. And then you now talk to the world and tell them what your programmes are and how you intend to go about them.
So, what I did was to intimate people that yes, I am almost through with the process of consultations that I was making and that even at this stage when it is about 85 per cent concluded and strengthened by the support and encouragement have received from the stakeholders across board, I seek the ticket of my party to run for President; So, I have expressed that I will run, but I have not declared yet.
Which particular segment of the society will your support come from?
I think the support for my aspiration is coming from everywhere, because when the issue of contest on no contest came up, I said I needed to go and consult and consult widely with all the stakeholders. If you look at our configuration in Nigeria as a country, there are certain segments of the society that most be contacted. I consulted the traditional institutions; I consulted the clergy, both Christian and Muslim leaders. I consulted with the political leaders across board, both within and outside the PDP; indeed the response of some of the political leaders from the ruling party APC about the need for me to contest is awesome.
So, I have also started discussing with both former and present governors of our party and the response across board in the course of this consultation has convinced me, more than ever, that indeed there is need for me to come in and seek the ticket of my party. With all these, I am encouraged very highly, I am more convinced than ever and the levels of consultation has also in a way deepened my understanding of the mirage of problems that we have and which must be confronted.
Considering the calibre of personalities jostling for your party’s ticket, do you think you stand any chance?
You see, the good thing about PDP is that it is a party like no other political party; because PDP is a of the people, PDP is a party of all Nigerians, so if PDP is a party of Nigerians, certainly you will discover that at every turn you will meet people that are eminently qualified to vie for any office. So, the people that have come out now to vie for the ticket alongside me are the people that are eminently qualified. As at today, if the PDP is asked to produce 100 persons that could be good President for Nigeria, PDP within a twinkle will be able to do that. Yet, I stand a better chance, I stand a good chance because I feel that there are a lot of things that most of us have and that I have an edge over them.
For instance, when you talk about the issue of dynamism, when you talk about the issue of age, I am more youthful than virtually all the people that are in the race now. And the clamour globally today is for getting much younger person who will have the strength, who will have the capacity to go in for that office; beyond that, when you talk about the issue of credibility, most of the people have it and I have it. When you talk about knowledge, I am also knowledgeable, because I am well educated and I am one person that has risen from an ordinary lawyer to become a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN); I am a fellow of the Charted Institute of Administrators, a fellow of the Africa Business School, several fellowships. I was a one-time director of Bank of the North, I have been a member of the Council of Legal Education, I have been a board member of the National Judicial institute, I have been chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association Committee on Judiciary and many more.
So, I have this experience that gives me that versatility; I have knowledge, Knowledge which will now enable and strengthen my wilder knowledge of the how and the means of confronting any problems. These are some of the things that stand me out and I feel I could leverage on them to get the ticket of my party.
During the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff saga, your forum of former ministers agitated credible leadership for the party; how would described the current National Working Committee (NWC)?
I think when we fought Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, we fought him on principles; we fought him because we felt that things must be done properly, we fought him because we felt there should be an end to impunity, we fought him because we felt that there should be inclusiveness in the affairs of the party and there should be a level play ground for all. And thank God, it has become history; we have been able to overwhelm him in a clean and clear process, we have been able to take our party back.
Now, my consolation is that, that exercise we have done is not in futility, because if you fought impunity, the next thing you expect to get is leaders that will also oppose impunity and that God has given us. God has given us, because the present set of members of the National Working Committee that we have are people that are so committed and passionate about taking PDP to the next and highest level.
In so doing, therefore, you could see their disposition from their body language, from their activities that they are prepared to ensure that there is equal level playing ground for all. That was experienced in the last primary election in Ekiti state, it was so free, fair and transparent, everybody was given equal opportunity and at the end of the day we have been able to get the best for our party.
The way members of the NWC have been reaching out to people and have been straightening out the PDP pedestrian platform is something that is highly commendable. I am, therefore, convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the set of leadership that we have will not condone impunity, unfairness and will ensure equal level-playing ground for everybody to aspire to get the ticket and then to win elections.
Considering the alleged corrupt practices during your party’s reign, is the party still popular among Nigerians?
Go to social media which was one of the outlets that APC used against us, you will find out that 99 per cent of the people that are active on it are against the APC and in support of the PDP, so that is the reality that nobody can take away. This is not to even to talk about other Nigerian masses that have suffered a lot under this failed APC administration, they are all waiting.
Never in the history of Nigeria have I seen the kind of motivation that was done, the kind of enlightenment that has been done to encourage Nigerians to go and get their PVCs. So many Nigerians don’t talk, they just check on a daily basis and ensure that their PVCs are intact; they are patiently waiting to in a resounding manner to vote out the failed APC. APC is a party that breaks promises, APC is a party that looks at Nigerians and lies to them, and ultimately PDP will be returned to power; I have no doubt about that.
You once led a Presidential Committee on Security Challenges in the North, how would you rate the President Muhammadu Buhari government on security?
Well, I will score him zero. The people that the President has brought to work with him in the security sector are not helping matters and the fact that the President himself have allowed them to remain there means is not helping himself. I have never seen anywhere in the world where leaders and parties that are in charge of critical institutions that drive security network will be fighting themselves.
When PDP was in power, the critical security agencies were working together, they shared information, intelligence and there was synergy. And that was why they were able to be at the top, as far as the security problem was concerned. But today you have these institutions fighting themselves, you have a lot of envy among the security institutions, they are working at cross purposes.
The national security adviser, a couple of days ago, at the floor of the National Assembly, agreed to that fact that the greatest problem they have is that the security agencies are working at cross road, there is no synergy, there is no corporation, so how can they come up with a plan to address the security situation of this country?
The president himself has to be blamed for allowing that. Before they came in, the major security challenge we had in the country was that of insurgency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states and we made sure that before the 2015 elections, we took over every inch of Nigerian land in those areas and that was why we gave INEC the opportunity to conduct elections in virtually every polling unit in Nigeria.
This present government is not able to contain the places, you can see that Boko Haram is inching forward and coming back. Hardly a day passes without suicide bombing or attacks in Yobe, Borno or Adamawa.
This government keeps lying to Nigerians that Boko Haram has been defeated and Nigerians in these places relax and are killed as targets. Even the issue of herders, farmers’ clashes was not there before. Every day, hundreds of people get killed and this government is not doing anything. There is also the problem of banditry in the northern part of the country. Hardly a day passes without hundreds being killed in Kastina, Zamfara and Kaduna. These bandits come out on several occasions to do video to say who they are. Then the government is not doing anything to protect Nigerians. Look at the Niger Delta, since the time of the Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, the PDP was able to solve it through well-articulated programmes that impacted positively on the lives of people there. Since the APC government cannot sustain such programmes, perceived restiveness has returned to that area.
In the east of Nigeria, IPOB has risen because there is no fairness in the way people there are treated; they are treated like second-class citizens. That is why you see many people supporting the IPOB project. The issue of kidnapping is virtually everywhere in Nigeria today.
Nigerians are not safe anywhere in the country. Armed robbery, rape and many other vices are threatening our well-being as a nation. A holistic view will convince you that this government is confused and will not solve the problems because they are working at cross purposes.
Are you saying that this government has failed?
PDP was able to grow and make Nigeria the best economy in Africa only behind China and Qatar. PDP rekindled foreign and local investors, especially Nigerians in the Diaspora, because the government was able to come up with security programmes to protect the investors. It was in that manner that there was little interference by government beyond infrastructure. What is happening today? This government has no economic blueprint or economic adviser and has lost a lot of money.
Most of the investors have left Nigeria because the rate of inflation has gone astronomically high to betray every economic theory. The government is not doing anything to make sure that the situation is changed. It could be recalled that the nPDP group because of issues that surrounded the emergency of the Former President Goodluck Ebele Johnathan, in the party heading towards another defection galore?
PDP is like a very big family where you are bound to have disagreements here and there. As a political family, we are bound to have interests that will conflict with each other. Like every other political party in the world, we try to harmonise the divergent views and interests, take a decision that will move the nation forward. What has happened in the PDP is like a wife who does not know that the husband is taking good care of her until she gets married to another husband. That’s when she will do the comparison and see the money, attention and care the previous husband was showering on her. That’s what the nPDP are doing. When they agitated for greener pastures, we allowed them. But having seen that they are not being treated fairly by the new husband, they is no love, affection or money they want to come back home and we are welcoming them back. Not only that, they can aspire to get the ticket to contest for any position. The provision in the Constitution that said they have to stay in the party for two years has been removed. So, it is not about people leaving PDP, but about people coming back to PDP.
If elected as PDP flag bearer, what do you plan to do differently?
The first that the party has to do is security. I have had the opportunity to chair a Presidential Committee in this respect and I have information that will place me in a position that I will hit the ground running from day one. We have been able to speak with all the stakeholders and go round the whole of Northern Nigeria and some places in the South and have been able to come up with critical recommendations. I believe if the government had looked at those recommendations that the security problems of this country would have been solved.
As a lawyer, I believe that the rule of law will bring about fairness, justice and peace for progress, which will in turn bring about developments. We will ensure that people are treated fairly without discriminations and that government will respect stakeholders. This government has destroyed all that we built. So, anybody who is going to be elected as President of Nigeria in 2019 will be starting afresh.