APC Primary: No One Stood For Democracy As Tinubu Did — Dibal, ex-Borno Dep Gov

FORMER Deputy Governor of Borno State, Yuguda Shettima Dibal was the chairman of the electoral committee saddled with the handling of the primary of the Governorship in Lagos State. In this interview, Dibal said given a level playing ground Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu would win the APC presidential ticket.

How did your electoral committee fare in your conduct, particularly that of the governorship primary?

This was a process which started somewhere culminating in the primary contest. Of course, you know that there are processes the aspirants would have undergone before eventually being eligible to contest for the main primaries. The arrangement was excellent. Lagos, like Borno, where I come from is always one party, one people. The five-man panel was headed by me, the secretary and two other members. The process, as you all can see, was excellent and at the end of the day, the governor was declared the winner.

It was alleged that your panel was bought over which was why the two other contestants were barred from the election…

I am aware that three people purchased the forms from Lagos and they went through the screening process, including the sitting governor.

The screening committee has the power as backed by NEC, including the presidential committee, to screen all aspirants and you then go to the Appeal Committee if you have any issue with the whole process, after this, you are given a clean bill of health, meaning, you are issued a certificate which is a norm in all the parties, APC inclusive.

I know that three aspirants appeared before the screening committee, one was cleared and the two others were not cleared. If one is cleared and the other weren’t, it means that there are issues regarding the aspirants not being cleared.

There are rules and guidelines, unfortunately, they didn’t meet the guidelines. Midway into the voting during the governorship tussle, somebody flashed me a piece of online news where it was alleged that the panel was backing certain individuals. Somebody that was not cleared wouldn’t be at the venue. If you are not cleared, you are either present your matter before the Appeal Committee and then to the National Working Committee and if that was not done, you indeed have an issue. It’s even against the law for you to have gone to the voting centre.

The two aspirants claimed that they were in Abuja, asking questions about their candidature from the screening committee but nothing was said to them.

Maybe they are Nigerians in Diaspora. Most probably they don’t know the rules and regulations. One of them didn’t have a voters’ card. He said he attempted to register online, but there are a lot of issues.

Some may be insinuating, maybe because they don’t know but the aspirants themselves can’t claim ignorance, because they know they have issues. When you met the screening committee, and after a day or two they didn’t call you to come and collect your certificate then, something is wrong. I thought the ideal thing for one to do was to find out and make clarifications about your candidature.

If for whatever reason you are cleared as an aspirant, making you a candidate and it turned out that the matter is dragged before the court, and the court finds irregularities in the whole process and the election is annulled, the screening committee and political party should be blamed.

So, if you were not cleared, you had no business going to the venue of the exercise. Those going to the voting venue, apart from the security, officials, accredited journalists, and election observers are the delegates.

The cost of the APC nomination form is been criticized, saying the party encourages corruption and it’s an avenue to loot the treasury when aspirants get into office.

Unfortunately, in this case, it’s different. Different in the sense that the forms were bought for these gentlemen, they didn’t buy it themselves and the implication of this is that they would be answerable to their people. There is wisdom in raising the nomination forms.

I think the idea is to see how popular you are in terms of how many people would be willing to support purchasing the forms for you.

Some have said the INEC extension of the deadline for submission of form was because of APC, though the party appears to be reneging on its gentleman agreement of power rotation. Presently, two Northerners have purchased forms defeating the essence of that agreement.

I am a party man. I can’t speak on it since I don’t have the mandate to do so. I am aware that the party has put in a lot of measures to make sure that the convention takes place as scheduled. I read that INEC has extended the deadline by one week. I don’t think that should be an issue.

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Everybody is being careful so that we won’t repeat the mistakes we had in some parts of the country. To allow internal democracy requires planning and resources. I also know that a lot of parties had approached INEC in the past to see how the date can be extended but insisted no waiver.

I guessed INEC must have considered the level of preparation of all the political parties and decided to shift grounds. Regarding the gentleman agreement, I am a Tinubu man through and through. I don’t have apologies for that. It might interest you to note that I am the state coordinator for Borno state.

I have been with him since he was a governor. He is a builder.
He single-handedly got the highest in terms of human capital development. If we have a reward system, what happened to governor Zulum and Honorable Muktar Batera should have happened to Tinubu.

We know his contribution to the merger called APC. If there is a reward system to say thank you, it would be to beg him to come and take over the ticket of the party, unopposed. But Ashiwaju that I know is a democratic and party man. He would rather go into the contest.

That’s how democratic he is. You mentioned names from the North who bought forms, those are names that cannot match Tinubu, even in their bedrooms, and he would win them there.

All we want is a free and fair election, which is our concern in the camp of Ashiwaju. There is nobody among all the current seekers of the office of the president that can match Tinubu. That is a fact. He has contributed more to the development of democracy than anybody contesting the primaries with him.

He fought and stood for democracy. Tell me one that has done as much as Tinubu for democracy, none.

There is nobody Tinubu hasn’t assisted in one way or another. Is it Mr president that contested for the presidency many times until the merger happened, it was God Almighty that made it possible for Buhari to be president but with human contribution of the likes of Tinubu.

There was a time, I went to receive my then deputy governor at the airport, in Lagos, I wasn’t in government then. I was into private business.

I was at the airport to receive him when Tinubu too emerged, landing from where he was coming from, my deputy governor introduced me to him and thereafter, he said to my deputy governor that when you are done, you hand over to him.

Do you know that four years later the deputy governor handed over to us because his government wasn’t available for the swearing-in ceremony?

I tapped him and reminded him what Asiwaju told him at the Lagos airport. I told him that he wasn’t only handing over to me but I was chasing him out of the office. We all laughed over it. That is the kind of visionary Tinubu is.

We have a forum of former deputy governors where we meet, interact and share ideas; some of the testimonies of my colleagues across the board are baffling. There was one of us described Tinubu in tears.

The man is a Christian. Tinubu is a Muslim. I have been with a man once and suddenly his phone rang, who was it, it was Tinubu, calling to wish him and congratulate him on his birthday.

Some of us that are passionate about Tinubu is because of the qualities I just highlighted and many more that the public does not know. I have learnt politically from him. A colleague was telling me that if it were another governor he had issues with; he probably wouldn’t have forgiven him as Tinubu did.

Tinubu has a forgiven heart. If we have many of Tinubu, Nigeria would have developed better and faster than it is presently.

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