Buhari Is Not a Religious Fanatic -Hajia Umar Farouk
Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouk is the Interim National Treasurer of the yet to be registered All Progressives Congress [APC].In this interview with some Editors in Abuja, she told the story of how and why she is in politics. She also spoke of the prospects of the APC and boasted that party has what it takes to sweep the polls in the South- East geo-political zones. Chuks Ehirim was there.
Madam, may we meet you? My name is Sadiya Umar Farouk. I am the National Treasurer of the CPC as well as the Interim National Treasurer of the APC in the formation. I can say I have been working at the background. I started as a member of the Buhari Organization back in 2002. When he joined politics in 2003 we moved in with him. I have always been at the administrative level, I was with the DG of the Campaign . From there we moved on. During the ANPP days we were there and when he moved to the CPC, we followed him and then I contested the position of the National Treasurer which was zoned to my zone, North West. I contested against seven men and I won. That’s how I found myself in politics.
So from this background one will be right to say that you joined politics because of Buhari? Yes, absolutely I joined politics, specifically, because of him because I believe in him; he has always been my mentor. I know he is a very good man, he ruled this country very well although I was very small then. He is very incorruptible; everyone knows that. I believe in his ideals and I know he is the person that can fix this country; out of my personal conviction I just followed him. There are some other Nigerians who don’t believe in his ideals and they say a lot of things against him. Maybe for you who have been following him from your childhood days what are these qualities that you find in him that you want other people to see? Buhari is a very, very principled person; very disciplined, you can’t take those things away from him even if you are his enemy. He is not corrupt, even his enemies know that, they cannot pin him down on that. This whole saga of people having issues with Buhari started during the Obasanjo era. It was a political move, they wanted to destroy him politically because they know he has that kind of weight to carry people, he is that kind of heavyweight, he has followers. I think that was what brought all these. Before then everyone saw Buhari as a good man, as a principled man but since he joined politics, you know politics now. But I have not seen anything to justify what his political opponents and enemies of the Nigerian masses are attributing to him.
Some people would want to say that Buhari is a religious fanatic or a tribalist? How is that possible? Can a military man be tribalistic person, especially one that rose to that level, it’s not fair when people say that he is a tribalistic man and religious fanatic; you know something, his cook is a Christian. He is still with him in Kaduna, Mathew, he is the one that serves General food till today. If you can trust somebody with what you eat at that level, for God’s sake what else. It’s just politics like I said.
Let’s come back to CPC. Good a thing you were a founding member. CPC came on stream in 2010.By 2011 there was a general election and people expected that the party would perform so well even when the PDP controlled many states but when the results came those expectation were not met. Can you say from your own point of view, what was responsible? We had our issues quite right, we had internal problems but that does not warrant the kind of results we were made to have because it is the PDP that gave us that result. We know we won many states in the north but because of the rigging machinery of PDP, they were able to do what they did. We won as many as eight to ten states in the North. But with that too, they gave us 12 million votes. It was something to reckon with for a party that was less than one year before it went into election, it is something to reckon with but it was the rigging of PDP that got us where we are today, not that we didn’t perform well.
If Buhari becomes president what are those things Nigerians will benefit that they don’t have now? There won’t be this corruption that we have in this country. I assure you that if Gen Buhari is announced the winner of the election, 50 percent of corruption will go in this country because those people will find their way out of the country. These corrupt people we have who are holding us to ransom in this country, they will all leave and that is a very good, positive step because by the time you leave, we know we have 50 percent of it off, we would be stable to work and there will be discipline. We all know when he was the military Head of State, there was discipline in this country and there was orderliness.
But you remember that the military regime is over and this is democracy? But it is the will to do it that matters most and Buhari has that will and if he has the will he will do it and everything will be in order. Nothing is working in this country for God’s sake? We have been on generator in this office since morning, there is no light, the schools are not working; the health sector is broken down. My national chairman[Prince Tony Momoh], was a victim some time ago he nearly died. Nothing is working in this country and I assure you that by the time Buhari comes on board, at least you will see changes, positive changes. I believe in that. The thing is that he is committed to it, he is not doing this thing for himself, he wants to see things change, he wants a better Nigeria for everybody. He feels so sad when he sees what is happening in this country, when he sees the level of misery, the level of corruption by public office holders.
If Gen Buhari wants to win election in the country, there is this belief that he has to relax his incorruptible stance a bit so that those people who see him as a threat would consider him fit to govern the country. Do you share in this belief? Gen Buhari himself has said it that he would draw a line, if he said he wants to look into the corruption cases that have taken place in this country, he would not do any work but he would draw the line when he comes on board. They know and that’s what they are afraid of, not that when he comes he would put them in jail. These people are very greedy, they want things to continue the way they are now. But Will he have the time to put people in prison? How many people will he put in prison? It is not like in the military junta that you can just do that. There must be procedure on how to go about it. Now even the courts have compromised. He has a lot of work to do. If you prosecute them, is it not the courts that will discharge them? “Discharge and acquitted”, isn’t it (Laughs). I don’t think Gen Buhari will do that. He would just draw a line, that it will not happen again and that’s what they don’t want. They want us to continue in this kind of mess.
You made a statement that the moment Gen Buhari is declared winner of the next election, three times he contested three times he failed. What is the guarantee that in 2015, he would not be rigged out? That is why there is this merger. With this merger now, people have a stake. It is not an alliance, it is a merger. So we are sure of some parts of the country that would defend their votes. The reason why we get rigged out is that we don’t have people that would defend our votes for us. But now with this merger, in the South- west, you cannot go and do rigging for them there. Even some parts of the South-East, that are part of this merger now, even in the South-South, where we have a sitting Governor from the South -south. He would not allow anybody to rig him out in his domain. So that is why this merger is very important for the people of this country. it is not for Buhari, it is for Nigerians.
You acknowledged that there were internal wrangling, part of which deprived your party of victory, in the APC what are you doing to ensure that those issues don’t come up again? We have learnt from our past mistakes and we will ensure that it doesn’t happen again. We had this influx of aspirants coming in to contest election in CPC and when you bring them to have a consensus, nobody wanted to hear that because everybody saw Buhari as a sure way to winning election. That was our primary problem in CPC. They would go to courts to obtain injunctions and you know our courts. We will make sure that it doesn’t happen in APC and it will not. The issue of having moles within the party, you’ve gone into a merger and people were handpicked to form the interim exco even though they are not such progressives as you advertise here. Are you sure they will not play the usual role of spoilers? You know the most important thing is for us to know who those moles are.At least we know most of them. We know how to deal with them. We will match them step by step. We cannot stop them from coming in, of course it is their right to associate. But we know them.
If APC is a national party, some people are complaining that a segment of the country has been left out in the formation, why is this so? APC of course is a national party. Which segment is left out?
An official of the party resigned in protest over lack of national spread? And from there he went to Jonathan. And he resigned immediately and went to President Jonathan. That meant that he had an agenda.
Was he one of the moles? He was and God has exposed him. That is the proof. If you were not happy with a system, you have to stay in it and fight it. You don’t have to go out and go to the opposition immediately.
There was this speculation that the Electoral Body INEC is being tele-guided by some outside forces to ensure that APC is not registered, how true can this be? That is what we heard but so far so good. Our relationship with INEC has been cordial. They asked for all the requirements and we have given them. They inspected the secretariat, they verified the interim officers and they told us they will get back to us in due course and we are waiting for them.
So you are very hopeful that the party would be registered? I am very hopeful. INEC would not disappoint us
When are you expecting the registration of the party? Within the next one week. By then thirty days would have expired. I don’t think it is up to another week.
Hajiya, APC as is presently constituted, are there not some worries within the membership because from what we hear, there were problems before they could compose this interim executive? Not one that I know of. All I know is that we had our respective merger committees which were formed after which a nine man committee was formed. Then the parties were asked to bring nine persons each, it was the nine man committee that worked out how the sharing formula will be. That very night it was done, the slots were distributed and they came up with 35 man interim committee.
In the manner APC is structured, the national chairman is from the South West and the presidential candidate would apparently come from the North, what if the structure changes tomorrow?. That has not been decided. When it is time I am sure we will sit down and work it out. It has not been decided whether it is the North or any particular side. What I told you about Buhari is my own view. It is not that APC has made him a presidential candidate of the party. But I am of the opinion that if he is given the ticket that will be the best thing that can happen to this country.
And if he is not given the ticket, what happens? We hope another good person will come up.
APC is dominant in the North and in the South West and the party has lower level of followership in the South-south, what is the interim executive which you are a member of, going to do to ensure that the party is opened up in the South East and in the South- South? I cannot understand when people say that there is no APC in the South East. Didn’t you see what happened a fews day ago in Anambra?.
We are talking in relative terms, you have one governor in South East, one in the South South, and you have about five in the South West? By the grace of God, we will have at least four governors in the South east. We are working towards that; we just came on board. We inherited these people to make up the APC. Even in the CPC, we have only one governor, from the north. Let’s just say that in the entire north we have only one governor and that doesn’t mean that we are not strong in the north. The fact that we have only one governor in the South East does not mean that we are not strong. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw what I saw in Anambra a few days ago. I did not know that they could mobilize people like that when APC went there for rally. The crowd was very impressive, I was not expecting that.
Since Buhari entered the political arena in 2002-2003, no other politician pulls the kind of crowd like he does but when election comes you find out that the result you get will be nothing very close to the crowd that follows Buhari? Those (were) not our votes. We (were) short-changed. It is the rigging machinery of PDP. They will do it at whatever cost asking the rest of us to go to hell; they will tell you to go to court. I was stunned at the crowd in Anambra because it is not easy to pull crowd in that part of the country. Most of them are not even politically aware. They don’t really give a damn. An average northerner is politically aware, all he needs is to switch on his radio to know the politics but our brothers over there it is business.
So what are you hoping for the Governorship in Anambra? We will win by the Grace of God. The PDP already has about 12 aspirants now and they will oppose themselves there and we will take it. Our first test is Anambra and we will take it.
As a politician I want to know your view about what is happening in Rivers State? What is happening in Rivers state is a disgrace; I couldn’t believe what happened on the floor of the House of Assembly. They were following somebody and beating him all in the name of democracy and you could see the handwriting is very clear. The leaning of the president is very clear on the wall. He asked a police commissioner to go and challenge a governor like that. From what I heard, the commissioner has the instruction to shoot him and that would have been the beginning of a revolution in this country. To shoot a sitting Governor, why? The recklessness in this country has become too much. It is unimaginable. What do you expect from this kind of people, anyway?