Wednesday, 15 July 2015
Why I didn’t join PDP – Buhari
•President says he spent 42 months in detention
… Tasks Zuma on seized $9.7m arms money, xenophobia
FROM JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, ABUJA
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday broke his silence on why he didn’t join the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) when he made up his mind to play partisan politics.
He spoke on the reasons he opted for the opposition parties when Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999.
This is even as the President urged Nigeria’s Consul-General in South-Africa, Amb. Uche Agulu-Okeke to furnish him with a comprehensive report about court cases involving Nigerians and the properties they lost during the recent xenophobic attacks on foreigners in that country.
President Buhari spoke to reporters in Johannesburg, South Africa after attending the African Union (AU) summit there. He dwelt on issues including his incarceration for three and half years after the coup that toppled his regime in 1985. He was Head of State between December 1983 and August, 1985.
Buhari recalled that the country lost about two million Nigerians to keep the country one, so nobody should come forward to talk about breakup. He said Nigeria will remain one country since God had given him another opportunity to reorganise Nigeria, saying the society would pay back those who work hard.
The President, who wondered why people keep referring to the fact that he jailed people during his regime, said he also went to jail for three and half years.
According to him, “after being in the military for 25 years, and getting to the highest rank and becoming Head of State and under unusual circumstances, as Head of State, I went straight to detention for three-and-a-half years. So, those who accused me of locking them up, I, too, have been locked up, so what?,” he declared.
Buhari said not on his life did he believe he would one day join partisan politics, giving reasons why he changed his mind said, “Why did I join partisan politics in spite of that? When I went home people, knew that I have no money and I thought they will leave me alone, but they didn’t.
“They were coming to keep asking me to do this and do that. And I found out that the only way I could do it is by joining partisan politics.
“And maybe if I speak even if I’m not a member at any level, people will listen to me.
“But then I joined the opposition, I joined APP (All Peoples Party). I didn’t want any political office at first, if I wanted I would have joined PDP then and maybe I would have gotten to where I am much earlier. But then I wanted to go with the opposition.
“The second thing that happened that finally convinced me to join partisan politics was what happened to Soviet Union. They were more advanced than the Western countries (NATO) in science because they wanted to go to space specifically in 1957, and they had more nuclear war heads and delivering system than Warsaw countries. And they had organised their societies and had much less crimes and they got jobs for people. When people had no jobs, they got one for them.”
Buhari said he believed that the best form of governance is democracy, but election must be free and fair.
That, he said, was why he was in trouble and he had to move from APP to ANPP, CPC and eventually to APC.
“And that was when I decided and I believed that the best form of governance is multi-parties democracy with a big caveat, election must be free and fair. And that was why I was in trouble.
He contested his electoral losses in 2003, 2007 and 2011 up to the Supreme Court because of his belief that election must be free and fair.
“In all those cases from High Court to Supreme Court, we sent people to the field, they found out why the elections were not fair. They came to the court and gave evidence but in the end, they will say ‘oh well, there were some flaws in the elections but PDP has won. At last, the PDP has lost now!” he added.
The President said he decided to tell the long story instead of reading his prepared text because he wants to encourage Nigerians never to give up on any of their dreams despite oppositions.
Buhari described as irritating that despite occupying different positions like military governor of North Eastern State, Minister of Petroleum Resources, military Head of State and Chairman of Petroleum Trust Fund, people only remember his days at PTF because he equipped hospitals and schools.
“I bought bed sheets and put in hospitals and some X-ray machine and some buses for the schools.
“They (Nigerians) remember me more as chairman of PTF than as a former Head of State, than a governor or a Minister of Petroleum.
“In spite of the fact that it was during my time that I signed the contract for Warri Refinery, Kaduna Refinery, more than 3,500 pipelines and more than 20 depots.
“We got the tankers off the road, we saved lives, we saved fuel, we save the road itself.
“But from 1999 till date, PDP has messed it up. That is why Nigerians decided to vote me,” he said.
Buhari said despite the money politics being played in Nigeria, his victories during his party’s primary and the March 28 presidential election had proven that Nigerians know what they want once they make up their minds.
He said some rejected inducement while some collected and still did exactly what they wanted to do when there was time to vote.
On the $9.7 million seized by South-Africa, Buhari said he would meet with President Jacob Zuma in Nigeria, noting that in the said meeting, he intends to ask Zuma to furnish him with all he knows about the seized cash meant for arms purchase for the Nigerian military.
The South African authorities had seized Nigeria’s airplane with $9.7 million in cash meant for arms purchase for the Nigerian military last year and another tranche of N5.3 million later.
Controversy had trailed the seized cash.
The President who wished he was the president at a much younger age, particularly at the age when he was the governor of a state that has now been broken into six – Yobe, Borno, Bauchi, Adamawa, Taraba, and Gombe, noted that though there is a limit to what he can do at 72, he assured that he was back to revived all destroyed institutions, as well as implement the three cardinal points of the All Progressive Congress (APC) campaign promises of securing Nigeria, efficiently managing it by trying to build the economy again, generate employment and deal with corruption.
Earlier, Ambassador Ajulu-Okeke told the President that a total of 143 Nigerians were killed in South Africa between 2011 and 2014, while another 81 were in Johannesburg prison.
“Out of this 81 Nigerians, 21 have been convicted,” she said, adding that shops and other property worth millions of Rands belonging to Nigerians were destroyed during the recent xenophobic attacks.