A member of the House of Representatives, Babangida Ibrahim, who represents the Malumfashi/Kafur Federal Constituency in Katsina State, tells LEKE BAIYEWU about his defection from the All Progressives Congress to the New Nigeria Peoples Party, and the chances of the ruling party and its candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in the 2023 presidential election
The All Progressives Congress and its presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, are expecting a block vote from the North-West geopolitical zone in 2023. Do you and your party feel threatened by this?
Let me be very honest with you; when you are doing political analysis, you have to be very objective. I come from Katsina State and you know that Katsina State is the state of Mr President. Katsina State has been APC all along until during the primaries when the party could not manage itself; when due process was not followed and there was a lot of dissatisfaction by the majority of members within my state. That was the reason why most of us pulled out of the party. I can assure you, I don’t want to exaggerate, but the APC is coming third in Katsina, struggling to meet up.
Which parties will come first and second?
(They are) the New Nigeria Peoples Party and the Peoples Democratic Party. The APC is struggling to come behind these two political parties.
How about the large crowds at the APC rallies, especially in the states in the North-West?
Let me tell you what is happening; when you have a government, you can organise any gathering but what is important and key is not about the numbers or the crowds you assemble in a place, it is about the feeling of the people at the lower level – the actual voters. That is what matters. By the time the election approaches, you will see that the reality will come out. All these cover-ups will be exposed. Because you have money, you can invite anybody; put any gathering of people together at any place at any time. That is because you have the resources to do that. But there is a limitation to that. Those gatherings, those crowds, they are all artificial.
There are speculations that the presidential candidate of the NNPP, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, may step down for either Atiku Abubakar of the PDP or Tinubu of the APC close to the election. Do you see this happening?
Let me tell you what people don’t understand about politics; when you say ‘I step down for you,’ I will step down for somebody that is better qualified than me. I have done this analysis, not once, not twice; pick all the presidential candidates – all of them, put them together at a table and pick them one by one. None of them has the antecedent of Kwankwaso.
Including Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu?
Asiwaju was just a three-month senator. That title, ‘senator’, under normal circumstances, he should not be using it, but because the law allows him; because he was sworn in as a senator. He was just a senator for three months. But let me tell you his antecedent of our presidential candidate. He (Kwankwaso) is a former member of the House of Representatives – he was deputy speaker. After being deputy speaker, he was a governor (of Kano State) for eight years. He was a minister (of defence). He was a senator (in the 8th National Assembly). So, tell me, which of all these presidential candidates has those qualities or antecedent? None of them! He was part of the Executive (arm of the government) – he was a minister and governor. He was part of the legislature; he was in the National Assembly – he was a presiding officer in the House and he was in the Senate. He was even an attaché. So, tell me who has that antecedent out of the other candidates. So, for somebody to come and say that somebody should step down for somebody that is less qualified, what are we looking for? Are we looking for quality or we just want to play politics
Does your candidate have the kind of political structure and network that Tinubu and Abubakar Atiku have built over the years?
Let me tell you what people don’t understand about political structure; most of the people who are following Asiwaju, it is either they are beneficiaries of the current government or they have interests they want to protect. I did an analysis; let me do it for you again now. If you go to the North-East, how many states can the APC guarantee of winning? Basically, three states. Give them Borno, Yobe and Gombe. They (the APC) cannot win in Taraba, Adamawa and Bauchi. Let me come to the North-West where I come from, you can only give them two states; if they are lucky, Jigawa and possibly Zamfara. They cannot take Katsina. Kano is gone. They cannot take Kaduna. They cannot take Sokoto. They cannot take Kebbi.
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When you look at the political movement, how will they get it? Let me bring you back to the North-Central; they cannot take Plateau, Benue and the FCT. Kwara is 50-50. Niger is 50-50. Let us give them Kogi. If you go to the South-South, it is nil; they cannot take any state in the South-South. Go to the South-East, I always tell people, Peter Obi (of the Labour Party) is not as popular as Atiku. But Atiku was only able to defeat APGA (All Progressives Grand Alliance) in Anambra. He lost all other states in the South-East. So, if Atiku is more popular than Peter Obi, how can Peter Obi take the South-East? He cannot take it. What people have failed to understand is that in politics, there are interests. Assuming I am a senator in the PDP, or assuming I am contesting for the House of Representatives on the platform of the PDP in the South-East, will I allow Peter Obi? Am I going to lose my election because of Peter Obi? So, it is a matter of interest.
What about the South-West?
If you go to the South-West where people believe is the home base of Tinubu, he cannot take Oyo; he cannot take Osun; he cannot win Ekiti. Even Lagos, when we did the last election, the margin between the PDP and the APC was marginal. So, we should not deceive ourselves. Let them all go back to the roundtable and do what they can do but I can assure you…we are in December, by the second week of January, you will see the permutations and everything will change. And like what other people are saying, if there is a likely run-off, go and write it down; the APC will not be part of that run-off.
There are fears in some quarters that there is a revolution by the youth, who are bent on sacking the old guards with their votes for Obi. They don’t belong to political parties but they are eligible to vote. Are you and your party threatened by this?
Let me tell you; most of those youth you are talking about, some of them don’t even have voter cards. In politics, when you say the youth, which part of the youth? In my state, you hardly see any youth talking about Peter Obi. Even in the so-called social media, do an analysis and X-ray the players – those leading the campaign for Peter Obi, they belong to a group or a kind of a class. I can assure you, it is a matter of interest. If you are in the University of Benin or University of Lagos, as a student, you will be claiming Peter Obi, but when you go back to your constituency you won’t be Peter Obi because you will be in the minority. In fact, you will even be ashamed to start campaigning or promoting him. But when you are on the campus, you can do all you want because you have a platform where you can play.
So, when people are talking about Peter Obi on social media, I tend to wonder what statistics they are using to say Peter Obi is going to win. It is not about all these media interviews or town hall meetings. That is not correct. Ask INEC, a sizeable percentage of voters are locals. Most of these people you are seeing in the town halls won’t even vote because they feel they cannot go to the screening place (voting centre) and wait for hours. Some of them will go but they will not vote. That is why if you look at the number of registered voters versus actual voters, you will see a wide margin. Somebody has gone and done accreditation but because he is a big man – elite – he does not want to wait. So, he just goes back home and that election is lost.
How is the NNPP exploring the issues other parties are battling with, like the Muslim-Muslim ticket in the APC and dumping of power rotation in the PDP leading to its breakage into factions?
I always laugh when people say there are factions in the PDP. I don’t know whether my opinion is correct or not, (but I feel) they are just playing on the intelligence of Nigerians. Like the so-called G5 governors, I think what they are playing is that they will pretend like they are in conflict so that everybody will assume they are in conflict to the extent that the Rivers State governor (Nyesom Wike) is inviting people like (Adams) Oshiomhole (to inaugurate projects). They are just playing politics. Ask yourself: if the PDP wins, what is going to be the interest of the Rivers State governor? What happens to the structure? His members, the senators and members of the House of Reps contesting on the platform of his party; what is their fate? Or is it only presidential (election)? So, there are other interests. And you want to continue to be a godfather of politics. How will you do that? Is it in the APC? What happens to (Rotimi) Amaechi? Are they going to be in the same party with Amaechi or how? So, if you look at all these governors that are talking about G5, personally, I believe these people are playing politics.
When it is very close to election, they will come together and say the stakeholders have sat down, they have begged and now they are one. At that point, it will be too late for somebody that relied on them to win the election. So, if you have a political party and you want to contest election, are you going to rely on the conflict within a political party for you to win your election, or you prepare yourself in such a way that even if there is no conflict, you have the capacity to win the election? Sometimes when I see people relying on other people’s challenges, commenting about that, it means from the beginning, they were not ready for that election. Why should a member of the APC or the NNPP bother about what is happening in the PDP?
What about instances where a party plants moles in other parties to destabilise them?
Let me tell you, the way things are going, every politics is local. When you come to my immediate constituency, we know your antecedent; we know whether you are in the APC or the PDP. So, you cannot pretend that you are this when you are not. So, most of these people who are being planted are mostly at the national level. If you go to the wards, how can somebody pretend to be in the PDP when they are for the APC? It is not possible because everybody knows everybody there. Politics is local. All these jamborees at the state capitals, at the federal capital and at the national level…you have to go back to your wards; that is where the polling unit is. You don’t have any polling unit in any local government; the polling units are in the wards. So, you have to start from the wards. In fact, there is nothing like local council. As far as political voting structure is concerned, there is nothing like local government area. The local governments will only serve as (votes) collation centres; that is the only role they play – to collate what comes from the polling units to the wards. Even a state is just a collation centre. For politics, you have to go down.
Doesn’t it sound unbelievable that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), as popular as people believe he is, especially in the North, will lose his state – Katsina – to an opposition party?
It is not his fault, honestly. All my life, I have never been in another political party different from Muhammadu Buhari’s. I was in the ANPP. From the ANPP, we moved to the Congress for Progressive Change. I came to the House as a member of the CPC. From the CPC, we moved to the APC. His popularity still remains. But in politics, it depends on how you manage your political party. Let me give you an example: when we were in the CPC, we had three senators and 12 members of the House of Reps, but we lost the governorship. Under normal circumstances, that should be a take-away, with three senators and 12 out of 15 members of the House of Reps. But we lost the governorship. So, it is not about individuals. When people are politically exposed, you don’t vote on that basis or because you like somebody; you vote on the basis that you want to bring development to your country with the assumption that what you are doing, you are voting the right candidate that will change Nigeria. That is the bottom line. So, on the popularity of Buhari; he and Tinubu are two different persons. Let me tell you, in politics, I have seen a situation where someone will tell you, ‘I will vote for you’ in the same party, but they will vote for another person. It happens. So, the assumption is that everybody has a right to their decisions and you cannot because you are in a party assume that the party will win. If you do that, that is the first mistake of your life. The first thing you need to do is to x-ray and analyse how the people look at you because you don’t do politics by proxy, assuming that because they love you, they will vote for you, or because they are in your party. That is wrong. Gradually, in Nigeria, our democracy is growing. ,
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