Former lawmaker, Sen Abubakar Girei, an Adamawa State indigene and former strong member of PDP, resident in Kaduna, in this interview with Correspondent, JUBRIN MIACHi, predicts victory for APC against PDP among other political parties in 2023, even as Buhari goes out of office. Excerpts.
We have barely two years to round up this transition, from the look of things politically. what is your political calculation ahead of 2023 general elections?
2023, to my mind is still very far away. As a government, APC is on its 2nd term and that is about two and half years into the second term. I think we should give them the opportunity to have their mandate. The fact that people are grumbling, of course, it is normal in life. Hardly do people come out to say we are very happy, everything is 100 percent ok. People will always voice out things that are not okay with them. When things are okay, they hardly voice it out. But be that as it may, I believe it is you the press that are bringing the 2023 to the front-burner now, when it is really not necessary because it is still far away. Let us allow the government to do what they are supposed to do until may be towards middle of 2022, then we can start talking about 2023. But of course, if you want us to speculate which I hardly want to do, it is not going to be different from what happened in the past. 2023 will come and go. In 2023, we are going to have one general election by the grace of God and new leaders will emerge again. I do not expect anything spectacular because I believe APC will win the elections landslide. We will hold on to the Presidency. We will maintain our majority in the National Assembly, we will maintain majority of Governors, maintain our majority in most of the State Houses of Assembly. Naturally, PDP will come next or a distance second. It is hard for any reason to expect any other party or any new party to come and take over PDP talk less of APC. The race is still going to be between PDP and APC but APC is going to win the election hands down.
Before now, and as it goes, there is complain from the general populace, especially in terms of security problem and hunger….
Talking about security and hunger, we in the North East, especially people in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, we have been suffering from security and hunger for more than ten years now. This did not stop us from going to elect new leaders; this did not stop APC from winning elections in those areas. In fact, as far as Borno, Yobe and Adamawa are concerned; we are having more peace today, less hunger today and better livelihood today than it was in 2012 to 2014, that I can assure you. Of course, some parts of this country are now experiencing this thing now. It was not so in the past but we in Bormo, Yobe and Adamawa have been living under this terrible conditions since 2011, 2012 up to 2014. It was after 2015 general elections that we started having some relieves. Perhaps it is now that it has reached your area that you think it is a new thing but for us, it is not new. We have been living under this fear all these years. It is our prayers and hope that the whole of this country would be free of this insecurity and hunger. In fact, we are really frightened now because it has dragged on for too long and majority areas that where food is produced, this last raining season, people have not been able to go to their farms. Those that were able to go to farm have not been able to go back to pick their farm produces due to insecurity that has reached these areas. So, it is likely that there will be more hunger in the next few months than we have experienced in the country before. It is very likely. Here we are hoping that those in leadership should wake up and do something extra ordinarily to minimize the effect of the looming hunger in the country otherwise it is not different from what it was in 2015 and 2019. However, life will continue and elections will come and go.
What Nigerians are experiencing now is contrary to what Buhari promised them. Will you say this hardship is the dividends of democracy that anxious Nigerians voted for under the leadership of Buhari?
You see, the difficulties we are experiencing today are a global issue. APC did not bring about Covin-19. APC did not bring about recession which was experienced three years ago. Now this is the second round of recession and it is as a result of happenings in the whole world that has led to all these. Whether it is YPP or ADP, SDP or PDP that is in government, the issue we are experiencing today, we would have been experiencing in the same manner. So, it is not APC that has brought about these issues. Of course, APC is in government and it is trying its very best to minimise the effects of these problems on the populace. Why didn’t you also point out the positive aspects of what APC is also able to do? Out of 1,000 and 1 promises APC government have made, I have no doubt in my mind they have fulfilled these promises in more than 70percent. Unfortunately, you have just come in and they took light but I can assure you that I have not experienced power outage since I came yesterday. I understand, even if they take it, it will be just for some times and they will bring it back. For the past two months, we have no reason to start our generator. We normally put on our generator in the night but now we are enjoying uninterrupted power supply. This is a great achievement. I am just coming back from Yola, we experience steady power supply more than 85per cent of the time. This is a great improvement and it is one of the promises of APC you could see, likewise in many other areas. Of course, in security and looming hunger now supersedes all these other issues but you should not forget that achievements and narrow your complains only on areas are not satisfactorily handled and for reasons outside or beyond the control of APC government, something that is a global pandemic, there is nothing anybody can do. So, there are 1,000 and 1 promises made. Yes, out of that, more than 65percent to 70percent have been fulfilled successfully by APC government, so I give them pass mark. But when it comes to chosen government or electing new leadership is it not better for you to continue to elect someone who has given you 65 to 70 percent pass mark or new one that has not performed at all or you go back to where there was no performance? That is PDP that has failed for 16 consecutively. Can you give your mandate to PDP leaving APC that has performed in the last three years with a level of 65percent achievement? So, we have no doubt in our mind that APC will win the election comes 2023 because of the performance of the leadership.
Among the promises made by APC earlier was to create job for unemployed youths. Rather than creating jobs, people lost and have continued to lose their means of living. With this experience at the back of their minds, are you expecting the Nigerian youths to come out for APC even though it is no longer President Buhari who appeared to have deceived anxious Nigerians?
Nigerians, youths of this country will give APC their votes as long as APC is competing against PDP because they don’t have better candidate and so the youths will have no better choice. The PDP in their 16 years could not even pretended to make the promise that Buhari had made. To say that Buhari has failed to providing employment is not correct because the statistics are there that more employment opportunities, more job creation was achieved within the last six years than the years of PDP in government. But the backlog of unemployment between 1999 to 2015, there is no way you can wipe out all these people within the five to six years. But what Buhari government has achieved is by far more than what PDP government have done in those years. From whatever aspect you may look at it, the choice will be between PDP and APC. The PDP era has no future for the youth. At least APC is trying its very best. If not for the global pandemic of Covin-19 and this recession, things would have been much better for the unemployed youths of this country. APC is by far well ahead in terms of good intensions, capacity to perform and intensions of delivery. So, nobody wants to go back there after all these years, unless something new comes up, a new party which I do not see the possibility and so I do not see the PDP coming to take over and form central government anymore.
What is your reaction to the agitation for power between the East and West in 2023?
Agitations will always be there but parties wisely came up for zoning formula. This is not part of constitution of Nigeria; it is a political understanding or agreements which are being used for their political advantages. Before now, there is that understanding, a gentleman agreement between the North and South. Now that President Buhari is serving his second term, ideal thing that will happen in APC platform is for the party to pick its Presidential candidate from the South but the PDP may not have to do that. This thing is a strategy of winning election. If the PDP decides to pick from another side, they will do it strategically to be able to win elections but I can assure you that APC will have no alternative but to zone their presidential ticket to the South because you cannot zone your presidential ticket to where you do not have membership, where you do not have strong support. So, the only part of the south that merit the presidency for now, as far as APC is concerned is the South West that aligned themselves with the leadership and midwife APC and gave President Buhari the ticket. Now that Buhari is finishing, it is correct to say the presidential ticket should go to the South West.