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One year into the present democratic dispensation, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, former governor of Sokoto State and presidential candidate of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) in the 2007 elections, has broken his silence.
One year into the present democratic dispensation, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, former governor of Sokoto State and presidential candidate of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) in the 2007 elections, has broken his silence. After taking a hard look at the state of the nation, Bafarawa has come to the conclusion that President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua is not ready for the office he is occupying.
In an interview with Daily Sun, Bafarawa held that Yar’Adua has no vision or plan for the country. "Yar’Adua wasn’t ready for the presidency. He had no vision, and that is why he has found himself in a fix," he declared.
According to Bafarawa, the real problem with Yar’Adua is that those who are supposed to help him are not there. He said he has a lot of pity for Yar’Adua because those who campaigned for and with him during the elections are nowhere around him toady. They have been pushed aside by people who were in the fringes during the campaigns. Not even his political party – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which is supposed to help him is there for him.
He argued that the leadership of the PDP was supposed to help Yar’Adua implement his electoral promises. The party is supposed to dust up its manifesto and remind Yar’Adua of his social contract with the people. But neither the party nor the president’s close allies during the campaign is doing any of that. "Those who are supposed to remind him of his promises are not just there. That is why he is groping in the dark," Bafarawa said.
As a patriot and contemporary, Bafarawa said that he is under obligation to call Yar’Adua to order. It is for this reason, he said, that he has decided to break his silence one year after the inauguration of the present government. He said that it has become imperative for him to talk because if Yar’Adua succeeds, the nation succeeds. "For this reason, I won’t leave Yar’Adua alone. His success is my success, and his failure is my failure," Bafarawa declared.
He said that it was for this reason that he disagreed with the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Prof, Rufai Alkali, who was recently quoted as calling on him (Bafarawa) to leave Yar’Adua and PDP alone. He said that it was unimaginable for anyone to expect him to leave the president or the PDP alone. "I won’t leave Yar’Adua alone. I won’t keep quiet as PDP’s National Publicity Secretary is asking me to do. They should defend the manifesto of their party. If he is doing well, I will also say so. I won’t keep quiet."
According to Bafarawa, his mission in politics is to ensure that everybody joins hands in building this country, irrespective of party affiliation. Therefore, it does not matter that he is in DPP while Yar’Adua is in PDP. What matters is for everybody to join hands together so that the nation’s democracy will grow.
His verdict is that one year after Yar’Adua’s administration, there is nothing to cheer. There are no roads, no electricity. Basic amenities are still a luxury. The dividends of democracy are not yet there. He advised Yar’Adua to change his style.
"He should stop listening to sycophants. Let him build a team. Government is about team-building. There are many competent people who can help him to build a team. He should borrow a leaf from Obasanjo who assembled intellectuals that helped his government. The administration is ours, not Yar’Adua’s," he held.
Bafarawa also spoke on other national issues.
No deal with Yar’Adua
Some people have said that I have not been criticizing President Yar’Adua because I entered into a deal with him. What deal? To achieve what? Let me make it clear here that I am not one of those politicians who engage in trade-offs. I am above that. If I wanted a deal, I would have accepted the one Obasanjo offered me while he was president. Obasanjo asked me to leave my party, DPP for PDP so that he would give me Sokoto and Kebbi States. He sent Alhaji Bello Haliru and the former National Chairman of PDP, Ahmadu Ali to me. But I rejected the offer. I am a principled politician. I don’t jump from party to party.
Ogbulafor is a political jobber
The problem with our democracy comes from the breed of politicians that we have. I can identify three categories of politicians. The first are those who are there for their personal interest. The second group are professional politicians who are only out to make money. The third category are those who want political appointments. This third group of politicians change their party at will. Vincent Ogbulafor, the National Chairman of PDP belongs to this category of politicians. He is just looking for appointments. Remember he was in ANPP. He was not an original member of PDP. We in ANPP sent him to take up political appointment.
When he got it, he defected to PDP. That shows lack of principle. Today, he is saying that he is loyal to Yar’Adua 101 percent. This is wrong. He should be loyal to Nigeria and to the PDP, not to the President. The president is representing the party and the country. This attitude is not good for democracy. If we must have democracy, we must have disciplined politicians. In my own case, l left ANPP because the party dumped me. An internal problem we had back home in Sokoto State was resolved by the party in favour of my former deputy who is also my junior. I did not want to quarrel with my younger brother, so I left the party.
Government of National Unity is a bribe
I don’t believe in Government of National Unity. It is a bribe. Those who accepted it are killing the system. They are a disaster to democracy. You can stay outside and advise government without taking up political appointment. As a democrat, I can tell Yar’Adua what is good for the country. It doesn’t have to come through appointment. If you take up such appointment, you become a slave. You can’t criticize again.
Sokoto and opposition politics
Those who are going about campaigning that Sokoto State should not be ruled by an opposition party are getting it wrong. From 1999 to 2007, Sokoto was controlled by an opposition party. What matters was that the state witnessed tremendous development during those years. When the state was controlled by the so-called ruling party in those days, there was no development. My performance in Sokoto speaks for itself. I built over 1000km of roads, gave electricity to many villages, provided pipe borne water to rural and urban dwellers and so on and so forth.
So, under normal circumstances, I am not supposed to campaign in Sokoto. Once you mention the name Bafarawa, the people are excited. I am in politics to improve the lot of the people. I am not in it for material gains. I plan to make that positive diference in the life of the people through the DPP. Our party is a party for the future. Even if the odds are against us today, we are confident that we will consolidate for 2011. That is why I am supporting the DPP governorship candidate in Sokoto State. I want him to continue with the good work tht I did in the state.
I was happy that they invited me. I wrote them since May 30, 2007. When I left office, I left over N11 billion in the state’s coffers. My successor came and said he did not see any money. So I had to write the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to come and investigate the matter. They did not invite me until nearly one year. But I am happy that they responded, no matter how late. It’s good for me to know what I am being accused of.
My position on party system in Nigeria is this. We need just two or three parties. Multi-party system is not helping our democracy. If we have two parties, one will rule and the other will be in opposition. This arrangment will make for a strong oppositon. This is what we have in advanced democracies such as the United States and the United Kingdom.
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