From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti

Coordinator, Contact and Mobilisation Committee, Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, in Ekiti State, Bamidele Faparusi, in this interview, spoke on various issues.

The former House of Representatives member spoke on the February election, his party and why Nigerians should vote for Tinubu in the forthcoming poll.

As the coordinator, contact and mobilisation committee Tinubu/Shettima presidential campaign council in Ekiti State, what is the committee all about?

The committee’s purpose is to contact various stakeholders throughout the state on behalf of the Tinubu/Shettima ticket and encourage them to support and vote for the ticket. These stakeholders include religious institutions, traditional institutions, students and youth groups, artisans, labour unions, women’s groups, socio-cultural groups, town unions, transport workers, and health workers. Our task is to promote the positive qualities of these leaders who are willing to serve our nation and also gather feedbacks from these groups to bring back to the campaign headquarters for transmission to the incoming president and vice president.

As the clock ticks for the February election, do you think the APC-led govt has done enough for the country to remain in power beyond May, 2023?

Yes of course. It is obvious that the party has brought the positive change to the country. The house we met was on a very weak foundation with resources of the country well depleted. No infrastructure, all our roads were in comatose, all our power infrastructure were no where to generate power, to distribute or transmit power. We inherited a government that had a very weak foundation and the first thing the administration of President Buhari did was to revisit that foundation and it takes time to revisit foundation before you start building. Nigerians may not be that patient but I want to commend Nigerians because they are actually patient because if they are not patient, they won’t vote for us the second time. We have done enough in the area of infrastructure development, we have invested heavily in infrastructure, we now have rail lines across the country that is no small investment for the country, we have new airports constructed across the country, we have our roads being attended to, major roads, major highways are being constructed, we have power infrastructure being improved upon, the transmission infrastructure in the country has been improved upon to be able to evacuate higher capacity of power unlike before . Our power generation has been stable, there is a lot of power improvement in Nigeria as we speak today, so when you look at what this administration has been doing, it has been towards moving the country forward. In the area of human capital development, you can see a lot of social intervention of this administration to reach the poor masses and the people at the bottom of the ladder are appreciative of what this administration has been doing to reach out to them. At present, we know there is a global economic challenge, it is not only peculiar to Nigeria, it is happening in America, United Kingdom, everywhere because of the Ukraine/ Russia war, a lot of challenges are being faced by countries but even at that, Nigeria is still making progress in the area of economic development because among all the countries that are struggling with their economy, our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is growing irrespective of the global challenge that we are facing. So, we have done enough as a country but not without its challenges. I am sure people will be saying what have you done, there is insecurity, yes we inherited insecurity. We inherited Boko Haram that escalated to other insurgencies like kidnapping and banditry. The insecurity took a new form and the government is confronting it head on, government is not folding its hands and I believe that President Buhari has done his best for the country and it’s now time for the baton to be passed on to the same progressive- minded party that will move the country forward; we are not going back any more.

You just said the APC brought a positive change into the country but some Nigerians have described the change being witnessed in the country since 2015 as negative and retrogressive, alleging the country has grown worse under the Buhari-led government?

The country would have grown beyond worse if it has not been for the APC in government. This is a government that has been prudent, a focused government, a government that knows what it wants and goes for it. The people are complaining because inflation has increased, it is not only in Nigeria. The Russia/Ukraine war disrupted the global logistics chain that affected the price of petroleum products and petroleum products also affected other products so that necessitated the inflation being experienced all over the world not just in Nigeria. So, when we are complaining about what is going on, we should complain under a global context. Go to Ghana today and see what they are going through, go to South Africa and see what they are going through. We are not happy with our own inflation, but it is beyond us as a nation because it is a global crisis and the government is doing its best to make sure that the citizens are mitigated against the effect of it.

Knocks, kudos trailed former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s endorsement of Peter Obi while Chief Afe Babalola’s comment on the Labour Party candidate also triggered reactions. How do you see the comments by these two respected individuals?

I want to believe that they have a right to their personal views on this issue. They are citizens of this country and they have the right to support any candidate of their choice but don’t forget that Obasanjo has score to settle with Tinubu and also has score to settle with Atiku, so it is not surprising if he goes to the third alternative. So, him supporting Obi is just the only choice available to him, it is not because Obi is the best. Obi may be the best to him but the best to him is not in the interest of the country, it is in his own personal interest because he has scores to settle with Tinubu and Atiku. But from my own point of view, yes, it is good for him to have done that because as I said in one of my tweets, I said at least, it will now show that a Yoruba man will also support an Igbo man when the need arises, so this is a healthy rivalry between the East and the West and the Yoruba respected leaders supporting Obi is a good omen but it is not enough to change the outcome of what is going to happen in the Southwest or what is going to happen in Nigeria. Tinubu and the APC political machinery is too strong to be stopped by these two comments.

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You just said former president Obasanjo has scores to settle with Tinubu and Atiku, how do you mean?

Former president Obasanjo’s only significant defeat in his political career was against Tinubu, the Jagaban. In 2003, he was able to take the other 5 southwestern states but failed to take Lagos, despite using the federal might. He even tried to lure Tinubu to join the PDP by promising to release withheld state funds, but Tinubu refused to be deceived. You see, Tinubu’s visit to Obasanjo was simply out of respect as a Yoruba man and former President. However, Tinubu’s campaign will not accept any endorsement from Obasanjo as it would be counterproductive to the campaign. On the other hand, it is well known that Obasanjo and Atiku conspired to sell off Nigeria’s asset and used SPVs (Special Purpose Vehicles) to conceal their corruption. With recent revelations about SPVs, it is possible that the unconciliated feud between Atiku and Obasanjo may be because Atiku stole the steal.

What do you think Nigerians stand to gain if they vote for APC in the presidential election?

Nigerians stand to greatly benefit from the wealth of experience of these two leaders. The position of president of Nigeria is not for boys, but for men. Consider the combined experience of the Tinubu/Shettima ticket, it cannot be disregarded. Nigerians need a president and vice president who have a proven track record of positive developmental achievements and have been tested as visionary leaders, not just those who claim they can do it. In contrast, the PDP and Labour tickets are only claiming they can do it, whereas the APC ticket has already demonstrated their accomplishments. It is important for Nigerians to realize that when APC took power from PDP in 2015, despite a global economic boom, Nigeria’s economy was struggling and its infrastructure had collapsed. Boko Haram was on the brink of taking over the country’s seat of power and corruption was rampant. However, under APC’s leadership, roads, airports, power and rail infrastructures have been rebuilt, which has enabled economic growth. To conclude, Nigeria should expect accelerated economic growth, improved internal security, expanded infrastructure development, numerous employment opportunities for young people, and improved living standards for all Nigerians. Tinubu is working towards a lasting legacy and Nigerians will be better off for it.

What is the APC in the state doing concerning Tinubu’s presidency?

The party has also set up its own campaign council in the state to midwife the victory of the party across all the elections that will be held, the presidential, the national assembly and the state house of assembly elections. So, the party has set the campaign council chaired by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo and co-chaired by His Excellency Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who are the leaders of the party and they are already working; meetings are going on everyday and all the sub-committees set up by the state are also working. We are doing our work and I can assure Nigeria that Ekiti State will have the highest percentage of votes for Tinubu in the forthcoming election.

Some Nigerians have said that since vote-buying has become an albatross in our elections, the February election will go to the highest bidder, what do you say here?

Vote-buying has become a phenomenon that everyone should discourage. I am discouraging that and I am sure all progressive- minded politicians in Nigeria will discourage that. So it is left for the people, we can only tell the people not to sell their votes because when you look at it, it is the people that want to sell that compel the buyer. Nobody wish to part away with his hard earned resources but the people that want to sell are the ones compelling people to buy so the campaign should be for all the parties to campaign to the people to inform the people of the danger in selling their votes. So, selling their votes will disenfranchise them in the area of calling to the account the performance of any government they bring on board by selling votes so they don’t have a say again when they sell their votes. So I am using this medium to discourage people from selling their votes.

Putting into consideration the myriads of challenges facing the country, Nigerians are yearning for a president that will hit the ground running from the very first day in office, do you think Tinubu is that president?

One thing that Nigerians should take into account when considering Tinubu as a candidate is his wealth of experience. He has experience not only in the private sector but also in the public sector, which makes his experience multilateral and all-encompassing. Even his critics acknowledge that Tinubu is a leader who is not limited by tribal boundaries and has exceptional team-building skills. If you look at Tinubu’s history, you will see that he is a go-getter, a doer and not just a talker. He is someone who takes action. He has outlined his vision for Nigeria in his Renewed Hope Manifesto and during this campaign, he was the first to present it. When he was the governor of Lagos State, he was the first to challenge the excessive powers of the Federal Government, which led to several restructuring and the increased autonomy that state governments enjoy today. Trust me when I say that Tinubu/Shettima will be hitting the ground running from day one.