A few days ago, the1999 set of governors paid a solidarity visit to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
After, former Sokoto State governor, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, who was part of the visit spoke to BBC Hausa Service on what transpired at the meeting. Here are the translated excerpts from the interview.
You were part of the 1999 set of governors that visited President Bola Tinubu a few days ago. What was the visit about?
Yes, it was a solidarity visit from his colleague-governors, the 1999-2007 set of governors. You know we are the set of governors that took over power from the military rulers. Our set was a blessed one because so far, we have produced two presidents. One was the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Now, we have President Bola Tinubu. It’s a thing of joy for us. Don’t also forget that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator George Akume, is one of us. There’s no issue of partisanship in the Association. We are now elder statesmen and our concern now is the security and progress of Nigeria. Our simple desire is to see this country grow economically, politically, and otherwise.
What are the things you discussed with the president?
As I said earlier, we are all elder statesmen now. The youngest among us is the former governor of Jigawa State, Saminu Turaki who is in his early 60s. We just visited the president to rejoice with him on the electoral victory, and also offer some advice to him from the place of love and solidarity. We offered several suggestions and advice to him, and we believe that if he obeys them, it will go a long way in helping him to succeed.
Did you people inform him about the rising cost of living and the sufferings of Nigerians?
Of course, we did. Remember that the majority of us don’t live in Abuja. So, we know what the country is passing through and the hard times the people are passing through due to some policies and decisions of the government, particularly the issue of fuel subsidy removal which has catapulted the cost of goods and services to nearly beyond the reach of the less privileged persons. We have done our part by offering much-needed advice. We hope that he will pick up the advice and run with them.
But the visit came at a time when some former governors are lobbying for appointment in the new administration. What do you have to say about that?
I am not part of the people looking for any appointment in the new administration. I have retired from partisan politics, and I can’t accept any political appointment now. I have retired. So, I am not meeting or lobbying anyone for any political position. My visit to anyone now is for mutual discussion and opportunity to offer advice, and not for any political appointment. However, some of the colleague-governors might have used the opportunity to lobby for any political position, but I did not because I am not interested in any.
But did you see any of your colleague governors lobbying for an appointment?
I didn’t ask anyone for that. But as I said, some people might have used the opportunity to make their interests known to the president. But I never did because I wasn’t interested in any political engagement now.
Tinubu and APC seem to be working to weaken the opposition parties. It’s reported that he’s considering giving political appointments to the G-5 governors. Is this not an embarrassment to PDP?
I didn’t expect that it will be a problem for our party, PDP. It’s the people that will decide if they will allow the party to be weakened. However, it shouldn’t be a problem for our party. My only call is for PDP members to work together, advise ourselves on how to rescue the party, and work together to strengthen the party ahead of future opportunities.
There are reports that the G-5 governors are even considering defecting to APC. Are you concerned?
It’s early to discuss the issue of political parties now, whether to strengthen or weaken its organs. The main important thing is how to make the people of Nigeria have a good life amidst the rising cost of living and other difficulties that have made life and living difficult.
Kwara governor was reported to have told journalists that the president asked the Association to nominate people for Board appointment. Is it true?
That’s the problem. It’s uninteresting that
many people are after political appointments without having concrete/solid information and the capacity to handle whatever position they are looking for. Nigeria needs individuals that would rescue the country and move the country forward.
If you check the way APC is going, and the response of the opposition. Are you impressed with the vibrancy of the opposition?
We are not discussing the issue of political parties now. What we are concerned with is how to rescue Nigeria from this dungeon of underdevelopment. The sufferings in the country are evidently much. An election is over and the next thing is how to move the country forward, and by this make life better for the people.
But vibrant opposition is key to checkmating the ruling party?
Yes, but you see, virtually all the elections are being challenged in the tribunals. Tribunals are looking at the elections to ascertain the true winners of the elections. Both the president and the governors are defending their electoral victory at the polls. So, whoever is there is sitting temporarily because the court can decide otherwise based on the outcome of the litigation. It’s better that all parties calm down and wait for the outcome of the litigation at the tribunals. It’s after then that someone can sit well and relax, and work for the people without distraction.
Let’s talk about Sokoto State politics. How do you feel about the takeover of government by APC?
I can’t say anything about it. In fact, I don’t know what to say about the development in Sokoto State.
What do you mean that you don’t know what to say about the state you governed for eight years?
You see, there’s what is called analog and digital. We are in the class of analog, so I don’t know what is happening in the digital world in the state. My understanding as an analog person is not as sharp as that of the digital persons that might be running the state now. I can’t say much, only pray for peace and development of the state. But if the governor or someone else comes to me for advice, I won’t hesitate to do that. In Sokoto, I am a father to all, and I won’t hesitate to do whatever that will make the state progress,
So, have you offered advice to the current governor?
I wasn’t consulted about that yet, but that’s not the reason. However, once that is done, I won’t hesitate to do that. I will be very much glad to do that. However, I won’t wait for that to be done. I will continue to offer my advice, formally and otherwise, to ensure that Sokoto State and the country at large move forward. I am so much interested in anything that will better the lives of Sokoto people, especially the less privileged ones.
What do you have to say about the plans of the government to investigate the previous administration of PDP?
Well, I don’t have the information on that development and what they want to achieve, and the reason for what they want to do. So, I have limited information on that. The way you heard about it is the same way I heard it too.
But many people would be surprised by your claim that you don’t know what’s happening in the state considering your status as an elder statesman and a key stakeholder in the state.
How do you mean my status in the state? I am not in government, I’m on my own. So, my own is to hear or see. I won’t get myself involved in what I wasn’t invited to participate in.
The concern of many people is that the governor may end up spending much time on investigation instead of working for the people.
Everybody knows what he wants to do and how he wants to do that. When I left the government, my successor investigated my administration. So, it’s not something new in our system because it happened to me. (Daily Sun) MORE NEWS