Habu Muazu is a governorship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Gombe State. He spoke with reporters in Gombe, the state capital, on the challenges confronting the chapter. Excerpts:
You recently led a solidarity rally in Gombe in support of the President. What motivated you?
When the President travelled out to the United Kingdom for medical attention all Nigerians, irrespective of political or religion affiliation prayed fervently for his recovery and safe return. Again we all witnessed the overwhelming solidarity and joy expressed by Nigerians on his return, all over the country people were dancing in solidarity, many kept party politics aside and celebrated the President. We have never had it so good in the north east before the advent of this administration so we have every reason to celebrate the well being and safe Return of President Buhari. Our own celebration should even be double, especially considering the issue of security which the present administration has tackled to the barest minimum. People are now living peacefully, doing there businesses. Considering that my state is being ruled by the PDP, I took the bold step to mobilised and lead the rally and I thank God it was successful, the turn out was fantastic and amazing, people across party lines defiled the rains and march for over two hours in solidarity with our President that was genuine love and support.
During the rally, we noticed the absence of some key apc stakeholders, especially those elected on the platform of the party. Were they not inform or the deliberately boycotted the event.
I don’t want to believe or say they boycotted or shun the rally, may be the notice was too short for them to come and participate due to official reasons, I believe they were with us in spirit and they were in support of what we did. Like I told you earlier, I initiated and mobilise for the rally in collaboration with the leadership of the party in the state.
Was there any form of financial support from other stakeholders?
No I financed the mobilisation for the rally with the support of the party, like I said even though Buhari is APC people celebrated his return across party line, let me emphasize I am not aware of any individual that rendered any financial support, may it was as a result of the short notice.
Considering the massive support the president is enjoying in the state, it was surprising that, few days after the rally, his posters were torn and his bill boards vandalised in the state. What is your take on that?
It is purely madness and executive rascality. Because the government of the state is PDP, they decided to use some thugs in uniform call Marshals to destroy our party posters and billboards. They were giving orders from Government house and the executed the dirty work with the aid of security personnel attached to the Government house, this act is capable of raising tension and distorting peace in the state. As law abiding citizens, we quickly appealed to our supporters not to react or take the laws into their hands. I then contacted the commissioner of police to make enquiry on why his men aided the removal of the president posters and billboards, from our enquiries, the police and civil defends officers that guided the Marshals were from the Government House. This act is undemocratic and unacceptable. We are appealing to the head of security agencies to call their men to order to avoid any act that will result in violence in the state. We allow them to carry the act because we don’t want anything that will distort the peace being enjoy in the state but we should not be push to the wall. The police in Government House should know that their responsibility is to protect the governor and provide security to the facilities in the Government House not to be attacking political opponents.
We have also informed the security agencies to call the Marshals to order, because they exhibited the same attitude during the local government elections. They came out in their uniforms with dangerous arms, beating APC supporters and vandalising there cars. Even, during the last State Assembly bye –election in Dukku, they were mobilised in large number to storm the place. Luckily for us, with the quick intervention of the state police command, they were giving orders to turn back . We thank the police for the rapid response that led to a peaceful election. If the state government continue using the Marshals to intimidate political opponents, we will be left with the option of going to court to challenge them.
With this kind of scenario, how do you foresee the campaigns towards 2019 elections?
Insha Allahu it will be peaceful and successful, because the masses are becoming more politically aware each and everyday, they are also aware of the empty promises by the present government in the state, the local government system which is the closest organ to the masses as totally collapsed in the state, projects are not being executed at that level, the entire system is not functioning. The only duty of the chairmen is to pay salaries, tell me how can they people support this kind of a government that careless for the grassroots. I am sure by 2019 the people of Gombe will make the right choice. People are now ready to ask questions not to follow a person or party blindly.
Like I keep saying on the surface it would appear as if the governor is working, but he is only embarking on projects that would put money in his pockets, while hospitals are suffering due to lack of drugs, the civil service system is totally collapsed due to lack of running cost, institutions are also suffering, pensioners are crying, and nobody is asking the governor what he did with the bail out funds and Paris club refunds. The state is highly indebted to the tune of over N70 billion. You can go and do more investigation to verify what I am saying.
But, with the outcome of the bye- election in Dukku, the pdp is boasting that the defeat of the apc is a clear indication that the party has no formidable structure in the state…
What happened in Dukku bye- election was not surprising, because the people voted for the candidate not the party. The selection of a candidate is the key to victory, especially in this our political era. People are more interested in following a candidate not party. We are learning our lessons from such situation, remember we also lost senatorial election due to wrong choice. APC is very strong in Dukku, but there were some little mistakes and disagreements but Insha Allah we shall correct those mistakes in future. I must commend INEC , the police and other security outfits, the election was very fair, free and transparent.
There are insinuation that you are working for a particular candidate for the governorship, who you will handover your structure during the party primary. What’s your reaction?
That’s a very funny insinuation. I have never seen such a thing. How can I risk myself and resources mobilising for someone from nowhere to just come and take my structure? Is like spending months or years befriending a girl and on the wedding day, you present her to your friend as the groom. Tell me, how will she react or how will her friends and family members react? That insinuation is not true and let me tell you among all those that are presently aspiring for governorship none of them understands the politics of the state more than me. Well, let them continue to stay in Abuja while I continue to work. At the right time, we shall get to know who is in charge. Is not now I started this. I am a mobiliser. I am always in touch with the people. If they think they can just stay in Abuja and come at the dying minute to take over the party in the state, they are dreaming, because we are entirely in a different political era whereby no individual or clique can make you a governor without the support of the masses. I want to change the belief that you must have a godfather or be a multi-billionaire before becoming a governor.
Why is it taking the party too long to resolve its leadership crisis in the state?
There is nothing like leadership crisis. We don’t have any parallel group or leadership in the state. We are operating under one working committee. But, it is natural in politics to have disagreements. It doesn’t mean that there is division. We are just waiting for the National Working Committee to give us the go ahead to conduct a mini Congress to elect the few members of the state working committee, by the time we get the go ahead, you will then understand my position that they issue is just being exaggerated. The leadership crises was simply as a result of some people’s desperation to hijack the party, but we have succeeded in making them believe that the party is above an individual and is for all of us and everyone is important and should be accorded the desired respect. Every party has its own challenges it is normal.
What is the way forward?
The only way forward is to keep praying and working towards building the party in the state in order to get power in 2019. We must build confidence in our people on our ability to deliver, that is why I am going round the local government areas mobilizing people and giving them assurance, hope and confidence that together we shall attain victory come 2019 in Gombe.