Bolaji Abdullahi, former Minister of Sports and now national publicity secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), says it is wrong for anybody to say the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration has failed to fulfill the party’s electoral promises. In this interview with Dare Odufowokan, Assistant Editor, he cautioned prominent Nigerians against adding their voices to inciting statements ahead of the 2019 general elections.
A PROMINENT voice from the north, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, has accused the APC of planning to rig the 2019 presidential election. What is your take on this?
Allegations like these are very weighty and people should not just make them just like that. Our eminent persons must be wary of adding their voices to such statements. If I may ask, where are the evidences to back this claim? Can the person making this allegation provide detailed evidences or proof? He should be able to prove the statement before making it publicly.
People should also learn to ask for detailed evidences when they hear or read statements like this. Most of these people making wild allegations probably have personal issues with Mr. President. I want to advise that they sort out such issues with him and leave the APC out of it. The APC will not need to rig election in 2019. The people voted for our party in 2015 massively. We are still relying on the same people to do it again in 2019.
Specifically, he said the north will not vote for Buhari in 2019
I am moved to ask if the person saying this is the spokesperson of the north. Or better still, I want to know which constituency of the north he is speaking for? Buhari is a northerner too. Is it the whole north that appointed him to speak for them? I think he should leave the issue of who the north will support for the people to decide. Elections are decided by the votes of the people, not personal opinions.
The north voted for the APC in 2015 even when some statements like this were being made. The people decided otherwise based on their knowledge of the man Buhari and the party APC. So, I would rather say we allow the people to make their choice on who to vote for and who not to vote for. Again, I say this statement is a very personal opinion of just one individual. It does not in any way represent the opinion of the north as a people or geo-political zone.
But would you also disagree with him on his claim that Buhari has failed to fulfil his campaign promises?
Of course I disagree with him. The APC as a party campaigned with a manifesto and promised specific things. What did Buhari promise? Buhari promised the people to fight Boko Haram with seriousness. He promised to revive the economy and fight corruption. I want to ask you if he has not been tackling all these things. It is not enough for people with personal scores to settle with Mr. President to cast aspersion on the entire government.
I take it that these are his personal opinions and nothing more than just that. Nigerians are the people to decide if the campaign promises are being fulfilled or not. They should be left to decide on that. The APC as a party is still very much loved by the good people of Nigeria who see the effort of the party at making life better for Nigerians. So, it is the people that can say whether the party is fulfilling its promises or not.
Is it true that APC is incapable of moving Nigeria forward as some have observed?
I still believe the APC can solve Nigeria’s problems. I must admit that there have been challenges. There are areas where things have not gone as expected. But largely, I believe the APC has the solution to Nigeria’s problems. The basis for saying this is not just because of the individuals in the party, but also because of my understanding of the philosophy of the party as expressed in its manifesto.
APC is a party that was formed on the basis of solving identified problems confronting Nigeria and Nigerians. The philosophy of the party expresses consideration for the issues that are pertinent to Nigerians, whether it is the issue of poverty, social welfare, education or health. It is based on this that I believe the APC is the right party for Nigerians at this stage of our development.
Again, I am cognisant of the fact that there have been challenges since we took over and a lot of things should be addressed consistently. I believe we are not where we should be at the moment, but APC is still the party that has the solution to Nigeria’s problems. With the support of Nigerians who have been very supportive of this administration since we took over, I am sure we will get there.
Some people also said the crises in the APC will militate against its chances in the 2019 elections
What people tend to describe as crises in APC are what I will call disagreements or misunderstandings which happen everywhere you find two or more people coming together to cohabit. I believe the party will in no time surmount all these cracks within its rank. These misunderstandings that you call crises will soon be a thing of the past and the APC will remain a formidable party.
I repeat, what we have are just disagreements or misunderstandings. I think what has happened is that over the years there have been disagreements on a couple of things, which is bound to happen. A political party exists to manage tendencies and interests. I think, the prospects of realignment in terms of closing those gaps that we have at the moment is very strong.
Today, things are no longer as they used to be because efforts have been made to address the misunderstandings. We are still talking among ourselves, and I believe we will overcome whatever misunderstanding or disagreement we might still find.
President Buhari has also been accused of campaigning contrary to the provision of the electoral act
Has the president started campaigning? I am not aware of that. As I said, we need evidences of these things so as to know how best to react to them. It is not enough to just make allegations. We need proofs.
Dr. Junaid said the president campaigned in his new year message
I didn’t notice that. Do you mean that President Buhari asked Nigerians to please vote for him in his new year message? I didn’t see that anywhere in that message. But if he did, I will like to be informed of where it is in the message. Even when there were reports about the appointment of a Campaign Director-General, the APC as a party said we were not aware of it.
Buhari has not mounted the podium anywhere to seek for votes. The APC has not embarked on any form of campaign for him or anybody else. So, how is the electoral act being breached by the party or the president? Members of the APC are not complaining about the president jumping the gun. Junaid is not a member of the APC. That is why I said maybe he should sort out issues with Mr. President personally.