Mohammed Aminu Tukur is a member of the Bauchi State House of Assembly representing Lere/Bula constituency and member of a faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC), led by the Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara. He speaks on the leadership crisis rocking the party in the state which led to the resignation of former Deputy Governor Nuhu Gidado and the party congresses, among other issues. ISHOLA MICHAEL brings the excerpts:
The deputy governor of Bauchi State, Nuhu Gidado, recently resigned from office. How do you see the development?
Well, I am not the deputy governor but believing what he is and knowing who he is, I think he has done the right thing. I may wish to recall at the inception of this administration, we, members of the state House of Assembly, had cause to interact with him along with Governor Mohammed Abubakar. I made mention before the audience that if it is the Nuhu Gidado that I know as far back as 1969, I know his kind of personality, his capacity to handle certain issues, specifically administrative issues. I know him very well, right from childhood. Though he happens to be older than me, but we know each other. Now knowing what the governor is, one can simply say that Nuhu Gidado doesn’t belong to the cycle where the governor comes from and I have the conviction that if he decided to run through the whole period of four years with the governor, then he has changed from the Nuhu that I know. So, I am happy that he has seen reasons and has used the reasons to justify what he is and what he has been known for by honourably resigning from the government that has all along been inept and unable to perform and do anything that can justify the huge money that has all along been coming into the coffers of the Bauchi State government. So I congratulate him for taking a bold decision by resigning to make himself relevant in the scheme of things.
Don’t you think the development would negatively affect the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 elections?
Well, it is known to all of us that APC has all along been the party to be challenged in any given circumstances, believing that President Muhammadu Buhari is having the widest support and everybody is clamouring that the president should contest again and that he will definitely have the mandate of the people of Bauchi State. I would not want to nationalise the issue, but obviously the president has all that it takes to get the votes of the entire citizens of the state. However, any imposition on the people of Bauchi State will definitely be challenged. I stand to tell you that if APC is to field the present governor as its candidate in the 2019 general elections, then the party will become history in the state. I hold no reservation by saying this.
What is your reaction to the APC congresses conducted recently, particularly in Bauchi State?
It is known to everybody that the fundamental thing about Nigerians is that we believe in God but our belief and acknowledgement of the presence of God only ends up on our lips; it doesn’t go down in our souls and bodies. What I am trying to say here is this: I have had cause to make several pronouncements with regards to the party congresses that were conducted in the state, right from the ward, to the local government and even the state level. It is known to all of us that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), a body that has been sanctioned by the provision of the constitution to be a witness to the whole process, has definitely written that there was no congress in Bauchi State. This, for sure, means INEC does not recognise any congress that was conducted in the state. During the very day the ward congress was held, there wasn’t any place all of us were aware.
Let me cite an example. The president went to his home town Daura and the congresses were held there in the presence of everybody. Most of the APC governors, if not all, did the same thing. Can you tell me where you saw Governor Mohammed Abubakar participating in the congress in his electoral ward? Can you tell me if you have any video clip of where the governor attended an APC congress in his ward, just like TankoAl-Makura did in Nasarawa, Abdullahi Ganduje in Kano, or Nasir el-Rufai in Kaduna and all others? We saw these governors actively participating in the congresses at their respective wards. Where did Governor Abubakar do his own congress? Let me get to know of it. It goes to tell you that everything was written in the Government House and those that were supposed to be arbiters or umpires of the process who came from Abuja were paid off and they decided to do the bidding of the government. Nobody can dispute that.
Given what you have said, what steps have you taken to resolve the issue?
We have written to the national chairman of the party, telling him all that was done in Bauchi State and, as I have rightly mentioned, we feel very happy with the position of INEC. With regards to the congresses in Bauchi State, we feel very embarrassed by the activities of the security agencies in the state who danced to the tune of the governor. Believe me, we have realised that we need a free and fair playing ground such that everybody can be seen to be participating. The right to decide who to lead us should be given to us as bona-fide members of the party, but that was not given to us. So, having realised that even the national leadership of the party is not all that serious to yield to our demand for fairness, equity and justice, we have decided to go to court. We are now before a competent court of law and we have the conviction that we will definitely get the best of judgement because we have our facts and figures handy. We have given warning letters; we have given warning press briefings with regards to the process; we have given them all that it takes to tell them that we know our stand and we know what we are doing.
It is known to all of you that the congress committee who conducted ward congresses, when they came to Bauchi, they could not even allow us to see them. Our forms were given to us in bits; the first consignment of about 60 per cent of the forms were given to us by 2:07 am on Saturday and the balance was given to us by 11am in the morning and by that time, they had already written the names of their delegates. The leadership of the party had already been decided clandestinely, at the instance of the government of Bauchi State. The provisions of the congresses are crystal clear that the forms should be sold to eligible applicants and they should return the forms within 24 hours between the return of the forms and the conduct of the congress.
The national chairman of the party is aware of the fact that we have been given our forms on Saturday by 11 am and, by the provisions of the congress law, the congresses should and must be shifted to Monday, not by 11am on Saturday. You still have at least 24 hours to go and distribute the forms to your respective wards across the state to fill and bring them back. We still need 24 hours by the provisions of the law. The congresses should have been held on Monday as it is not mandatory that it must be done on Saturday, but it must be conclusive by Monday; that was the resolution of the national secretariat of the party. But this was bastardised and was thrown to the dustbin here in Bauchi. That is item number one.
Item number two says that the congress committee should not take its result to anybody other than the appeal committee. The appeal committee is supposed to start the appeal process on Tuesday and it must wind up by Thursday in the morning. When members of the appeal committee came to Bauchi, we could not even see them; we can’t even reach them on telephone as all their lines that were known to us were no longer going through. We had to go from one place to the other looking for them; they were nowhere to be found. We notified the APC National Chairman about the entire things that have been done in Bauchi State. I need not say that he refused to take action, but definitely, he was silent without giving the necessary attention to our case.
It was along the line that we decided to lodge a case before a competent court of law, that is, the Federal High Court in Abuja and we are optimistic that we will get the best of judgement. But let me say it with emphasis, should the court fail to yield to our demands as bona-fide and genuine members of this party, we can go to any length and take a decision to dump the party and move elsewhere. This is the obvious; nobody can trample on our rights and we will allow it to go free. We would not do that; we wouldn’t allow that and that is obvious.
What is your assessment of the APC government in Bauchi State in the last three years?
Can you tell me anything that you noticed that has a change in the entire process in the state? Do you want to tell me that the previous governments, if they were known to be looting treasury, the scenario doesn’t exist at present? Let me use my local government area as an example. If you go to the headquarters of my local government area, during the second term of Isa Yuguda’s administration, the Government Secondary School, Bununu, was overhauled and completely renovated; a brand new secretariat was built for the local government and the maternity clinic and the primary health care centre were equally renovated and put to standard then; a new cottage hospital was equally built in Bununu during the last four years of Isa Yuguda’ administration. I would want to know just a single block that is worth N5 million that is being done by the present government in Bununu, the headquarters of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area. I am challenging Governor Abubakar to tell me anything that he has done in Alkaleri, Kirfi and other areas. It is zero all over. Then what is the face of change? Everybody can attest to the fact things are being done anyhow; like a free license to do whatever you want with an inept House of Assembly that cannot even challenge anything.
But you are a member of the state legislature…
I am not running away from that fact. Let me tell you now: If the governor can lie before the world and the president and say that he has procured 500 tractors, where did he get the mandate to purchase even five tractors? It is not captured in the budgets of 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. Where did he get the mandate to make the procurement? This is an impeachable offence. The governor should not purchase anything outside appropriation estimate. Where did he get the mandate to make such a procurement?