Tuesday, December 2, 2014 11:54 am
Senator Bukola Saraki, in an interview with select journalists in Ilorin, bared his mind on local and national issues bordering on the Supreme Court judgment affirming his nomination as PDP candidate for Kwara Central senatorial district in the 2011 election, states under siege in the country, corruption, budget implementation and preparation of the Kwara State APC for 2015 elections, among others. STEPHEN ONI was there. Excerpts:
How do you feel about the Supreme Court judgment which confirmed your nomination as the PDP’s Kwara Central senatorial district’s candidate in the 2011 election?
The case was a baseless case and I think that is why the Supreme Court judges in their comments, were very tough and hard on the lawyers. I think the case was propelled further by the comments of President Goodluck Jonathan when Kwara State PDP members went to see him. He then said that very soon the seat will become vacant. Sometimes, the President seems to forget that the executive and judiciary are two different arms of government. The President’s comment during the visit of some members of the Kwara State PDP to him gave them the impetus to pursue the case to the Supreme Court. It is unfortunate that the case had to be resolved at that level because we tried before then to find ways internally to prevent the case from getting to the apex court. We tried to resolve the matter internally not because we are weak, but we believed that was part of our own mechanism of carrying everybody along.
A lot of people will bear witness to the series of meetings we attempted to have at that time with the other person to find a way out. The judgment has put the case to rest. Again, it is to tell you that majority of some of those things are propaganda and media hype. At the end of the visit to Abuja they all came back jubilating that very soon the seat would be vacant, that the powers of Abuja would make it happen.
There is not any power in Abuja; the power is here with the people. That is the same thing that we saw at the rally where Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed declared to take a shot at the seat for another term. It was again to show people that do not know that APC of less than a year has strength and it is the strength of the people. This has also put a lie to the perception that parties are driven from Abuja. Until politicians begin to associate with the people and know it is the people that we represent, we will always have a dismal showing. When you now compare the APC rally with the following day rally of the President’s wife, when the powers from Abuja came, you will know there is a difference between night and day. I thank the people of Kwara again who have continued to show consistently where they belong.
The key issue is that until other actors and actresses in the political space are ready to play consistent politics of being with the people, not for selfish reason of when they are seeking election, the people will not accept them. People are wiser than they think; people appreciate those who are always with them and that is the difference between us and the other parties. That is why in 2015 APC will win resoundingly in Kwara State. The only time you see the PDP doing anything here is when the President or his wife is coming to Kwara. It sums up what Kwara PDP is all about. It is not about the people at all. They should go and station their party either in Abuja or Bayelsa. I know that Kwarans are cleverer and wiser, they can see what some of us have been talking about.
Otherwise, how do you explain when people have opportunity to serve, they give up such opportunity for selfish ambition, like what is going on now? For me, we are confident here and we have made our point that Kwara is a no-go area for PDP. But I must thank the judiciary again for standing firm, for playing the role that makes a lot of us have great respect for them. They have shown that they are independent and standing for the truth. I pray and hope they continue as they are––the last hope, especially when you have an administration that believes it can do anything, and continues to do things that are against the constitution and rule of law.
How are you managing your relationship with the three presidential aspirants of the APC?
These are democrats who have taken a decision that a victory for any of them is a victory for all. They do not see their aspiration as do or die. We have had discussions with them and if you talk to any of them he would tell you that whoever emerges at the primaries would be supported by the rest. Tell Nigerians that none of those three is going anywhere. We have all come to stay in APC. We have shed off those that needed to be shed. It is clear that what we are fighting for is what Nigerians want. We are not doing what Nigerians don’t want.
It is only if it is about personal ambition that you begin to express concern. That is why I took the painful decision not to contest again in the interest of the country and our great party. No matter how we want to paint it or gloss it over, if all of us as Nigerians want to be truthful to ourselves, we know that things are not going on well in the country now. We know that this is not the Nigeria we all dream about.
For so many years now, some parts of Nigeria are under siege and you see many Nigerians becoming refugees in neighbouring countries. Is that the Nigeria we dream about? Or is it APC that is causing that? Before, they tried to use religion and ethnicity but both Christian and Muslim towns and villages are being attacked. What are we doing? What is being done? I always say to people it is not about Jonathan. Whoever is the president now, whether he is a Muslim or Christian, from the North or South and he is running a government like this, then the person has to go.
The level of insecurity and impunity is terrible but is a thing that can be done and corrected. They are not things that we are fabricating. When you make comments they attack you, but that does not change the issue. That is the way they operate. Address the issues and if you are not capable of doing them, step aside. As a country, if a scorecard says a government has not been able to provide security, then honestly that government should be voted out.