Shittu Mohammed Kabir, the presidential candidate of the Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA) in the just-concluded general elections, speaks with MUYIWA OYINLOLA on why he recently led 30 other presidential candidates to appeal to Atiku Abubakar to drop his case against the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari
How do you appraise the just-concluded 2019 general elections?
For us, we believe there is no alternative to democracy. So far, we can see that there is no alternative to democracy, no matter how we conduct it, it must be seen as credible, free and fair. The majority will have their way and the minority will have their say. That is the game of democracy. In this regard, so far, so good, I want to commend Mr. President for being a statesman because this is the first time a president in this country will come out in a campaign and say, go and elect the candidate of your choice, irrespective of the party. So, we commend Mr. President for that. Although there were pockets of violence that led to inconclusive elections in some areas, despite that, we can see that 75 to 80 percent of the elections were peaceful. So, we adjudged the recent election as one of the best.
You can also see that this election reflects the wishes of the electorate. In those days, you could just write whatever figure in the Government House. But in this election, it was the votes of the people that were counted. That is one of the facts that gave credence to the election.
I am surprised you are saying this as a presidential candidate. It seems you are saying that President Buhari is the people’s choice. Are you saying you abide with the result of the election?
You can see the pattern of the election. You can see that the APC won in all of its strongholds, while the PDP maintained its strongholds. The only difference was the number, because in 2015, some people just went to the Government House and wrote the results. Whereas in this election, it is the people’s votes that count. That is why we have low numbers. We are not getting one to 10 million votes as before. That tells you that the election reflects the wish of the people. It is not an election that the results were written in Government Houses.
You and some other presidential candidates were trying to appeal to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar (of the PDP) to drop his case in court. How many are you and why did you do that?
There are 31 that are calling on Atiku to drop the case in court. The culture that was laid by former President Jonathan must be followed. Today, the culture is that when a winner is announced, you don’t waste time going to court, because, that precious time you spend in going to court would drag the country back and that time should be have been used for the development of the country. We are copying the US and Britain.
We know today that several people are resigning because of the issue of hacking. That does not tell Hillary to go to court, because it would hinder the development of the country. We are saying that Jonathan has laid a foundation, even before they finished counting of the votes, he gave up and congratulated the winner. Why now that somebody won with about 4million that want to go to court? What are you going to court for? Why don’t you wait because it’s about sportsmanship? And Atiku has served this country as a vice president and we know that he loves the country very well. Because we know that if he doesn’t love this country, he would not have contested. He contested to serve.
Since he contested to serve, and people chose another person. I think for the love he has for the country, he should just move on and start preparing for 2023.
You were a presidential candidate in the election, do you feel cheated?
I am very happy with the result. I am happy because I have made my mark. History will judge me that I contested and I was voted for but I fell within the area of the minority. And I can try again in 2023. Who tells you that I cannot be president of Nigeria in 2023? I have age on my side and I just love my country. Did I really want to serve or just to show off? If I want to serve and the people say wait, I will wait. Don’t forget that the incumbent president contested four times. Politics is about service and serving your country is not by force. You don’t force yourself on your country.
Therefore, I congratulate all other contestants for not going to court. I still urge Atiku Abubakar that for the love he has for this country, that the country has so much hope in him, that he may come out in 2023; to please withdraw the case in the court.
Is going to court undemocratic?
Why is it Britain that we copy this democracy from don’t go to court? It is a waste of resources and a waste of time. And it hinders developmental programmes of the government, as they will now concentrate on a court matter.
This same government has been in power for almost four years and people are complaining about hardship. Don’t you think that the next four years will be tough as the president himself confirmed?
Will you eat omelette without breaking the egg? The country must go through some process. Now we are talking about fighting corruption, building roads, railways and other developmental projects. There is no free money again for me and you to pick. What we should do is to mobilise ourselves and come to the term that the country must develop now. We should start looking at agriculture for development. We must take comparative advantage of what we have and what we have today is agriculture. We must ban the exportation of our raw materials. If they need our products, let them come to Nigeria and build the company here. In doing that, we will create job opportunities for our youths.
You are talking about agriculture at the time that other countries are talking about ICT.
That is what we have. Today, Japanese concentrates on technology. The Chinese takes advantage of industries and IT. Today, every IT project goes to India. Here, what we can take comparative advantage of is agriculture. Our Forefathers have been exporting the raw materials for decades. Let us stop it and invite them to bring the company to Nigeria
About 31 of you met. Are you the convener or what was your position?
I am the chairman for the presidential candidates in the last elections.
If you had been elected president, what would you have liked to do differently?
I will take comparative advantage of what my country has. I know we have agriculture and I will go to the world trade organisation to renegotiate our agreement with them. I will tell them if they need any raw materials in my country, they must bring their processing company to the country. If they need our crude oil, bring your refinery here. If you want my cocoa, bring your processing company here.
Now that you have advised Atiku to drop his case, what advice do you have for President Buhari?
He should now concentrate on developmental projects. He should focus more on building the Ajaokuta Steel Company, more railways, so that we can now be among the countries that produce steel. Without this, we are going nowhere.
One of the problems we had in the election was its over-militarization. Is this part of modern-day politics?
No. It is not part of it at all. What I know is that soldiers accompany voting materials when we have violence. We introduced that when I was chairman inter-party in the 2012 Electoral Offences Commission, in conjunction with International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute. And Mr. President has sent that bill to the National Assembly, that is after eight years.
If that bill had been in place, we would not have had this violence because we would have taken out of INEC certain op matters like the issue of violence, police, and litigation. They would have been taken care of. INEC would now concentrate on how to put up electronic voting.
Another major challenge is that we have too many political parties. How do you react to the clamour for their reduction?
We can have one million political parties, but we can make it in a way that there will be a national party. You have a state party and also have local government parties.