In this interview with GBENGA ODOGUNthe chairman of the Kogi State All Progressives Congress, Abdullahi Bello, highlights the lead the party’s presidential candidate has over other contenders in the 2023 general election
How is the APC well prepared for the upcoming general election, in which Asiwaju Bola Tinubu will fly the party’s flag?
We are adequately prepared because we know that the task ahead of us is not something to joke about. Our presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, is the candidate to beat and all things being equal, we have the support of the people to free him in sha Allah.
What is your take on your party’s Muslim-Muslim ticket, which has drawn much criticism from electoral stakeholders across the country?
I am surprised that you are coming up with this question again, but in politics you are free to ask for more clarification on any issue that you think is not yet fully resolved.
From my own point of view, this issue has been resolved. The Muslim-Muslim ticket will promote unity and it will help this country in a way that has never been seen before. You may recall that I stated that the best election ever held in this country was the 1993 general election, which also included Muslim-Islamic candidates, the late MKO Abiola and Babagana Kingibe. I will say that history is going to repeat itself, and I can assure you that our candidates will have a landslide victory.
Major critics of the APC have expressed concern about the age and health of your candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. What do you say about this?
I think in this part of the world where you and I come from, age is a blessing. It’s not a drawback. You will agree that age is a blessing. The wisdom that comes with age, coupled with the experience he has gained over the years, will come into play when he becomes president.
If you knew Asiwaju very well when he was governor of Lagos state you would know that he is going for talents and I think he will do the same to solve the nation’s problems, and I can assure you age makes him there does not hold back from making critical decisions.
I know Asiwaju will hunt for the best talents in this country. He is a man who does not consider religion or ethnicity when looking for talents. He is not the type of person who will surround himself with mediocre or local champions from his village; instead, he will seek the best hands to help him realize his dream for the country and support the good works of President Muhammadu Buhari.
If he (Tinubu) knows that it is an Igbo man who will do the job well, that is the person he will choose and not someone else. We should all be happy that this man is coming to redeem our country. You will agree that Asiwaju is a real nationalist.
Still, some critics have expressed concern about his health condition.
(intervenes.) How old is Asiwaju, if I may ask, and how old is our incumbent president? How old is the US president? Joe Biden is older than Tinubu.
Atiku had been vice president, the second highest position in the country, and the most senior position Tinubu ever held was that of governor of Lagos state. Don’t you think it can give Atiku an edge in national leadership experience?
You expose the People’s Democratic Party candidate to ridicule in the sense that you emphasize his weakness. He was only vice president. No doubt he can act when the president travels or when the president assigns him some responsibility, but he has not held an executive position. He does not have that experience, while Tinubu was once governor and had presided over Lagos’ state affairs as chief executive.
The PDP candidate was a vice president; he replaced Obasanjo when the president was out of office, but our candidate, Tinubu, presided over the nation’s commercial nerve center and did so with distinction. You want to tell me that someone who was once vice president has more experience, what experience?
Here’s this man with leadership experience who’s in charge. If it is the position that Vice President Atiku is looking for, we can say that he has a better experience. Don’t ridicule the PDP candidate.
Many critics have said that Tinubu cannot be trusted with the nation’s resources, given the way Lagos’ state resources were allegedly handled when he was the governor; how are you going to respond to this?
From 1999 to date, Lagos State has created and developed a system through the quality thinking of one man, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Thanks to the mentality of the Lagosians, who liked good things, they have kept the system Asiwaju left behind and it has worked very well. We should not kid ourselves, Lagos is a model template for other states that want to develop in this country.
So if you say that some Lagosians are questioning Bola Tinubu’s character, they obviously have a right to say something. Just like in Kogi State, only a blind man will say that they have not seen the huge development projects that are taking place there, yet we still see people with different views, and we have that in every society.
They are bad eggs and some of those who say this are the bad ones who can’t even manage their home. If you set up a business for them, it will collapse. They don’t even know how to manage resources, yet they interrogate a real resource manager who ran Lagos with distinction.
Are you satisfied with the security situation in the country today?
The security situation has improved compared to the past. In general, I think that the security situation in the country has improved considerably.
At one time, many public places were bombed in Abuja; there was a bomb in Nyanya; there was an attack on a police station and many other public places were bombed, but that has all stopped under this administration. What we have now are strikes here and there. They can strike today and tomorrow they will move to another place. This is because our security system is working and our security staff is working. What we experienced during the PDP era, if they had stayed in government, the situation would have been worse than it is now.
In Okene, where I come from, there were bombs almost every day. There was even a time when there were two blasts in one day, one near the Federal College of Education in Okene and one in Osara, but that all stopped with the efforts of the state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello.
So security has been improved. I don’t know your benchmark, but I can tell you categorically that it has improved tremendously and will continue to do so. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu will improve the situation by building on the efforts of incumbent President Buhari.
How would you rate your party candidate’s economic experience?
I know that as a journalist you may not be able to speak out publicly about Tinubu’s ability to manage the economy very well. But remember that at one point when Tinubu was the governor, the Lagos state assignment was discontinued. He maintained the state and ran it with internally generated revenue, meaning our economy will be reversed. That’s why I say Asiwaju has a magic wand and answers to our economic problems.