Director General of Buhari Movement.com, Mohammed Lawal has said that the leaders of ethnic groups, Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Afenifere, Ohanaeze, PANDEF and Middle Belt Forum are not strategic politicians for them to have thought that the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was going to win the presidential election. Speaking in an interview, the former Deputy Director of the Buhari Presidential Campaign Council, asked Atiku to honour the Peace Accord he signed.
The opposition is kicking against the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, saying last Saturday’s election was a fraudulent exercise. What’s your view?
In a political contest, especially the presidential election in Nigeria, it is not easy for a party that lost to accept immediately simply because a lot of efforts, time and goodwill were put in place. The 2019 election has its own dynamics, which are very critical for the survival of this country and even for the survival of many of us – the common people, the Talakawas, and the elite. I don’t want to go back to the rigmarole towards the build up to the election, but just to mention it for the sake of history.
Some of our elite gathered and swore that they would kick out Buhari out of Aso Rock Villa and they did all that were humanly possible; they put a lot at stake, but power is from God. He is the owner of the dominion; He just gave a bit of it to us in trust so that we can discharge the responsibilities that are under our care.
Leadership is a very serious matter and that is why many people run away from it, but from observation, if you see somebody fighting and struggling for leadership, don’t give it to him because he is going to betray the trust.
I understand the concern, frustration and what the opposition is saying. In an earlier interview, I said Buhari was going to win with about 15 million votes, and that he was going to extend hands of friendship to all Nigerians. In his first speech after collecting his Certificate of Returns, he is extending hands of friendship to all Nigerians including, Atiku for them to come and help build Nigeria.
He has to leave a legacy; four years is just like four days. I remember in 2015, he was sworn in and when we started campaigning for 2019, it was just like four days to me. There is a lot of work to be done in the country, and if truly we are Nigerians, we should join hands with him to take Nigeria to a greater height. The problem of this country is so enormous, and I don’t want to go back to what PDP did in 16 years or what the military did in those days, but the fact remains that this country has been bastardised; the resources have been plundered. Our resources that have gone illegally can make Nigeria look like America, but we need all hands to be on deck, and with peace and unity, we can take Nigeria higher than even the next level we were talking about during our campaign.
The president understood this, and that is why his first message was peace; come let us build this country. He meant it with all sincerity. Anybody in his position will know that this is his last four years, and a lasting legacy should be left behind so that all the people that died because of him, all the people that struggled because of him will have something to beat their chest that this is what we struggled for, and many of the young ones would say, yes, this is what we fought for, that what he left, is what we are here to reap. That is what is behind his mind, we are not talking about the PDP days; we are talking of moving forward.
The opposition are asking questions why Borno and Yobe states that were under Boko Haram attack on the election day recorded more turnout than areas that are very peaceful.
I have been in this game for over 25 years. I started politics since 1992, with the late Umaru Shinkafi, my brother who was the presidential candidate of NRC. I come from Zamfara State, and I head an organisation, Buhari Movement.com, and we give strategic reports and political information and intellectual analysis even to the presidential council and other Buhari support groups toward where and how to mobilise for votes.
We give reports concerning areas like Borno, Yobe and even Zamfara, where about 10 local governments are under attacks by bandits. I have been in Zamfara for the past one month, and just left on Thursday. In our reports, we called for INEC to shift the polling units that are very close to danger areas and move them to safer areas and to cordon all the corridors that the attackers usually come from. That was done in Borno and Yobe states You heard even before the aborted February 16 election, the Minister of Interior, Dambazau said the borders between Borno, Yobe and Chad, Niger, Cameroun were airtight, not even a fly or a goat was allowed to cross.
We did our homework; we made sure that the voting areas were airtight, security wise, so the people were at home. I made radio jingles in Zamfara State informing people to come out vote and that their units were well secure.
I have never heard in my lifetime where UK and US were hailing the Nigeria military. Several other observers independently were hailing our military for making sure that there was no violence, especially from the areas we are talking about, which would have prevented the people from going to exercise their franchise.
That was the reason why the election was successful in Borno, Yobe and Zamfara states. Adamu Adamu is my living witness; I spoke with him and gave him a memo on how we are going to do the election because of the security challenge. In Zamfara, if you add our figures with PDP, it is up to a million.
So, there was nothing like padding of figures as alleged by PDP. In some states, we had expected a higher figure, but it wasn’t so, as the votes were down, especially in Lagos State.
So, the election has been won, and the best thing we should do is to see how to salvage this country.
The regional organisations, NEF, Afenifere, Ohanaeze, PANDEF, Middle Belt Forum say, they are disappointed over the outcome of the election. What is your take?
They are disappointed because of their standing before the election. They miscalculated. They are elder statesmen with verse experience, but in the case of Buhari, they miscalculated because of sentiments, some pittance, some economic considerations, and other altruistic considerations.
When Buhari came, it was not business as usual; no money to share and some people had jets and were flying from Abuja to different parts of the country, and foreign countries, and they have houses in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, America, UK, France, etc. You know, the more money you have the more trouble you have to maintain the assets, and if the money is not coming the way it used to come, then maintaining the assets becomes a huge problem. So, this 2019 gave many elites the opportunity to fight to return to those days of business as usual.
People have gone to any level in order to promote their selfish interest. Look at this issue of herdsmen, before you knew it, the media is awash with hate speech over Fulani herdsmen in order to promote personal agenda, and it seemed that Nigeria was going to break up into millions.
Like I said earlier, a simple statement by the Obi of Onitsha would diminish whatever position Ohanaeze had taken against Buhari. Look at APC’s performance in the South East.
Look at Bayelsa, how APC performed in spite of all the talks by PANDEF and Edwin Clark. In Bayelsa, we are having one senator and two House of Representatives members. These leaders are not strategic politicians. I told you that Balarabe Musa’s statement nullifies 20 statements by Ango Abdullahi that Buhari would lose and they were supporting Atiku. They supported Atiku because they thought he would win, they were not strategic politicians, else they would have known that the former vice president didn’t have any chance. Like Buhari has told us, we shouldn’t put them to shame; we shouldn’t annoy them; he said that we should calm them in the interest of the nation. I like opposition to thrive so that they can put the ruling party on its toes to deliver good governance.
Atiku has refused to accept defeat, what does this portend?
Atiku should recall that he signed the Peace Accord twice at the instance of the committee, also at his own instance because he thought that he was going to win the election. When he was signing that Peace Accord, he was signing it with the hope that he would have peace after his election. He should know that there can’t be two presidents.
That Peace Committee headed by Abdulsalami and Kukah, everybody knows where Kukah is in this country, also everybody knows where Abdulsalami is vaccilating towards in this country. I’m not blaming Atiku for not accepting the result; I’m blaming that committee for not prevailing on Atiku to accept the result because it was what they agreed, what they discussed, which he signed.
If Abdulsalami, Kukah, Onaiyekan were sincere and not that they wanted peace only if Atiku won, they would have told Atiku to accept the result unless they wanted peace only if Atiku won the election. Even though we know they were partisan, we know what Kukah was saying, we know what Onaiyekan has been telling Christians that Buhari was not their candidate that they shouldn’t support him as he didn’t mean well for the country, but God has done His will. They should go for peace now that Atiku has lost.
Some say that Buhari’s reelection wasn’t because of his performance, but because of cult followership in the North?
If it is because of performance, Atiku said he can perform better than Buhari, he can provide jobs better than Buhari, and he can enrich his family better than Buhari. The day Buhari was announced winner, the social media became so quiet, and I couldn’t see any voice in the social media in this country because Atiku’s social media warriors decided to keep quiet.
There are many ingredients that make a good politician loved and adored by people.
Look at the demography of Nigeria; Buhari won everywhere. South East, it is because of obvious reason of Obi, IPOB, but he didn’t perform badly.
It is not a question of cult and non-performance, but let us look at non-performance; he is bringing an internationally acceptable road from Lagos to Ibadan; is it by non-performance that he is bringing a railway track from Lagos to Abeokuta within a period of one year; is it by non-performance that he is bringing about 10 roads in each of the geo-political zones; is it by non-performance that what you see in Borno compared to when Buhari came in, one third of the state was occupied by Boko Haram, and today those local governments have been liberated; is it by non-performance that churches in Madela, Head quarters of the United Nations and Police headquarters, were bombed by Boko Haram before Buhari came; is it by non-performance that before now, Boko Haram bombed Kano, killed many others in other cites in the North and Buhari halted all these.
Is it by non-performance that primary school pupils are fed on daily basis? Is it by non-performance that youths are being trained to acquire skills?
Yes, he has cult followership; did he charm them to follow him? This followership cuts across the country, look at the demography of voters turn out. In 2015, what Buhari had in South East is not up to one quarter of what he has now, do you call that non- performance. Look at Bayelsa, in 2015, Buhari didn’t have a seat in the state House of Assembly, but today, we have one senator and hoping for one more, and we have two House of Representatives seats. In Rivers State, there is an appreciable performance, don’t forget Amaechi, he came to join from PDP, and Abe too.
Buhari has followership across the country, and he would use the resources of the nation to the benefit of everyone. He is not an angel, he has his shortcoming, and only God is 100 per cent perfect. He is a work in progress; look at his background, it is different from any of former or aspiring head of state in this country. He did it three times, he couldn’t get it and there was a gang up against him, but God has always been on his side.
Last time, you said Buhari was going to score about 15 million votes, how did you come about the figure?
I’m an engineer by profession, and very proud of it. The language we speak in engineering is mathematics. For some months before the election, I have been collecting data, information and the likely outcome of the votes and the number of votes cast in the election. I used what we called, statistical correlation to arrive at some figures with simple algorithm. I wanted to know what would happen for APC and PDP in the presidential election. I designed a modem through algorithm and that will take you close to what may likely happen. Within the margin of five per cent plus or minus, I got 15 million votes.
Even though I belong to APC, but my quest for data made me designed questionnaires, which I administered to people in other parties across the country and insisted on objectivity in their responses. The analyses helped to arrive at the figure.