Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin is a former member of the House of Representatives and Director-General of Tinubu Support Management Council.
What are the chances of the presidential aspirant, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, whom you are promoting and does he stand a chance of getting the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) because that is the starting point?
I have never been in doubt and I have said over and over again that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is going to win the APC presidential primary election. Whatever way you look at it, whatever mode of primaries you adopt, whether direct primary or indirect primary, a combination of direct and indirect primaries, Asiwaju is going to win. And it is not a matter of luck; it is a matter of hard work, pedigree and history. He has worked so hard to build a network, keep his goodwill, invest in people and he has demonstrated capacity. He has done something like that in the past.
You see what he did in Lagos, laying the foundation that has continued to stand the test of time over 20 years. So, he has always been the frontrunner and I don’t see how he will lose the APC ticket. With his declaration, all party stalwarts will be rallying around him and we expect everybody to rally round him, so that we can have stability in the party and we can concentrate on the general election. And for the primaries, I don’t have any fear or concern that Tinubu is going to win. In any case, even in the secondary election, Tinubu will still be the frontrunner and it has to do with the reasons that I have just advanced to you.
He is knowledgeable, he understands the economy of the country, he understands the politics of the country and he knows the people. He has a large heart. He is not a religious fanatic. So, you see that we are going to have a president that would be able to continue from where President Muhammadu Buhari stops and of course build the Nigeria of our dream.
But there are some Nigerians, who believe that age is against him as well as his ethnicity and that right now, the equitable thing to do is to have a president of Igbo extraction, how would you counter that argument?
When I was much younger, I used to be carried away by the idea of youths taking over the governance system but as I’ve grown older, I have come to realize that good leadership is not a function of age. You can be a young man and be a bad leader. And you can be an old man, of course, 70 years or even above and be a very good leader. So, age is not a factor here. The most important thing is capacity and competence. Whether you are a young man or you are an old man, if you have the capacity and competence, we will support you. In this instance, Tinubu fits into that bid. On the issue of South-East, I also sympathize with the zone because we all do. A lot of us who have been working behind the scene with Tinubu, including Tinubu himself understand these issues. But I think what happened over the years was that and I have had this conversation with a lot of my friends from the south eastern part of the country; traditionally they always play centre politics. It was the South-West that was playing regional politics. The South-West realized that they have to play central politics just like what late MKO Abiola did. While the South- West were planning and strategizing to come to centre, the South-East were shifting back to regional politics.
So, they shifted back and therefore, the South-West dominated the centre. The South- East would have to put a little bit of effort to get to the centre in terms of the overall nature of the politics that they are playing. Secondly, they also have to demonstrate that they are really interested in the presidency. I will give you an example, there is a dominant party of south eastern people in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but they rarely come out to show interest even when they have competent people to contest. Apart from Senator Anyim Pius Anyim who came out recently, nobody is coming out and they are there debating zoning of the presidency to the northern part of the country. So, you can now see that they are not even pushing as hard as they should for the PDP to take the presidency to the southern part of the country, which is in fairness what should happen.
I think the people of south eastern part of the country needs to re-examine the politics that they are playing, build a strategy around what they want to do because this is an opportunity for them and they can come in and support Tinubu. It is the best opportunity they have in the future to have the presidency, and you know why, because he is a man of his words.
If he gives his word, he is going to do it. When he said I’m going to support Alliance for Democracy (AD), he did it. When he said I’m going to support Action Congress (AC), he did it. When he said I’m going to do Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), he did it. When he said I’m going to support President Muhammadu Buhari, he did it. He never for a moment betrayed the president. So, that is the sort of person that he is. So, I call on the South-East and I have been talking to a lot of friends of ours from the South-East, this is an opportunity. Joining the Bola Tinubu presidential bid is their best chances to have the presidency in future.
Some Nigerians believe that Tinubu is corrupt but he has denied any wrong doing; what would you say about this issue since corruption is a big problem in Nigeria?
Let me tell you if you punch Google now, there is no prominent politician in Nigeria that you will not see one accusation of corruption or the other against. So, we have reduced it as a word of playing politics. Take you phone and Google, practicably everybody has been accused of corruption but the only way that you can know a person is corrupt or not corrupt is when he is charged and the court makes pronouncement of it. So, I do not see anything in that. You should expect that because he is a frontrunner. All over the world, it is the same thing.
They continued to talk about corruption around Donald Trump until he won election. So, on the issue of corruption, I don’t think it is fair because somebody makes a pronouncement then we now escalate it and assume that there is something. Tinubu is an amoured tank and everybody tries to hit him because they know that he has a destiny with 2023. So, I really do not think it should be a big issue because they accused him. In the past, we have seen that because of his attempt to form the alliance that won the 2015 election, the previous government that Buhari took over from saw that this is what is going to happen and who did they attack, Tinubu.
They came after him. They did all they could, took him to the Code of Conduct Tribunal and at the end of the day, everything fell flat. Tinubu has a pedigree and he worked so hard to build his image and empire, and he is the person Nigerians want at the moment. I do tell people that I come from the northern part of the country and anywhere you go in the northern part, t is Tinubu. So, it is going to be a landslide both in the primary and secondary elections.
You talked about the age but I think the major concern for Tinubu is his health; is he physically fit to do the job of the president of Nigeria?
I have spoken over and over about this and maybe I have to repeat myself. I have said it that everybody falls sick but why some do not matter is because they are not Tinubu. But in any case, Asiwaju was ill, it was a public matter, he went to the hospital, it was a public matter. If he had wanted, he would not have allowed people to visit him while he was ill. He got well, came back to the country and he continued his activities. This man is healthy travelling around Nigeria and organizing his ambition, pending when the law would permit us to start campaigning and people are busy talking about his health. I think we should move further than that and secondly, today you look at how healthy President Buhari looks. He is even becoming healthier. He was ill and he went to the hospital and he came back and continued with his work. For one day, President Buahri has never collapsed. I think people should look at these things and understand and stop playing politics with matters like this.
You have been quoted to have said that you are not against a Muslim-Muslim ticket; is that in the offing as regards the choice of a running mate?
Just to put things in proper perspective, what I said was that the issue of religion and ethnicity is very strong and it is intertwined with our politics. So, underline that and maybe I was quoted out of contest. But I said in practical reality, when you subject it to practical test, it has always proven otherwise. So, I gave instances, it proved otherwise in Kaduna under Governor Nasir el-Rufai. It proved otherwise in David Mark and Ike Ekweremadu and it proved otherwise in the case of Femi Gbajabiamila and Idris Wase. But I did not say it is not an important consideration in our politics. I only said it is more of a perception because when you now subject it to a litmus test, it proves Nigerians really do not care about it. They may talk about it but in so many instances, when people try that, it has proven otherwise. So that is the point that I was making. As it relate to Tinubu, I am not the aspirant.
The aspirant is Asiwaju Tinubu. He is experienced, he knows the country very well, he understands the sensitivity of Nigerians but most importantly, he is a tactician in winning elections. So, when it comes to the time of picking a vice presidential candidate, I’m sure he is more than competent and he has all the wisdom and knowledge to be able to pick the vice president that will work with him.
If Tinubu decides to choose a northern Christian candidate as running mate; how would that affect his chances with the core north?
The North has always operated as one entity and we are intertwined, Muslim or Christian, we are neighbours and we live together even though there is a line when it comes to religion and the rest. So, if he decides to pick a northern Christian, we will work for that candidate. Whoever he chooses, we will work for him and let me tell you also in terms of conversation, Nigerians are emotional on who becomes president or vice president but when it comes to the actual election, Nigerians do not even look at the vice president. They concentrate and focus on the presidential candidate. It doesn’t mean that the vice president is not important. When you look at the 2015 general election, there was little talk about the present vice president. It was all about Buhari because the whole focus goes on the president. So, choosing a Christian northerner wouldn’t affect his chances, votes and we will come together and mobilize for him and we will ensure that we win the election.
You said it will be a landslide for Tinubu but what if the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo decides to join the race, what do you think will happen?
I think it is a huge compliment on the APC that we are having a lot of competent people, who can become president or are qualified to become president. I would have been personally very worried if you don’t have names of people within the party, who can be president. It tells you of the quality of the party and the kind of people that we have within the APC. So, I look forward to even more coming if they want to come out, the most important thing is that we are ready to face anyone in the presidential primary. We will run a clean campaign and I can assure you that we will win at the end of the day. When you look at some of us who are talking for Tinubu’s camp, we don’t attack other aspirants, we don’t campaign that they should not come out and contest, they should come out because are one. After the primary, we are all coming together as one for the general election. So, we are fine with everyone and we are ready to face everyone vote for vote.