Jaafar Jaafar from Kano State is the Editor-in-Chief of Daily Nigerian. He spoke to FRIDAY OLOKOR on the forces against the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, among others
You recently disclosed that some people in the Presidency were working against the ambition of Bola to be President. Who are these?
You see, I only talked about the key prominent voices and the power Sabiu Tunde wields, we can say that he is the major element against Tinubu’s presidency. He is on the President’s side and has so much power in the Presidency such that he can influence so many things much more than anyone else. I believe (Governor Nasir) El-Rufai does not want to give so much importance to a ‘small boy’. That’s why he didn’t actually mention the name. Sani Zangon Daura, he’s very close to the President also as I have said in that tweet; he influences a lot of things also, but suddenly he was seen going about campaigning for Atiku Abubakar; I think he was even in Jigawa State a couple of weeks ago to campaign for Atiku. It was so open that he is not hiding his choice.
Why are these people from the same party against Tinubu?
It is very baffling. At the initial stage, Tinubu was not their preferred candidate; they planned to impose Senator Ahmed Lawan and that plan failed. So, after the plan failed, they became aggrieved even after Tinubu emerged victorious; he didn’t get much support from them. Ahmed Lawan was their preferred candidate.
Is Tinubu’s problem like the biblical case of the hands of Esau, but the voice of Jacob? In essence, is Ahmed Lawan the person behind Tinubu’s problem?
No, I can’t say Ahmed Lawan really has a hand in this; I doubt it because even in the Villa, he does not wield as much influence as Tunde. In fact, he is among those kicking against Godwin Emefiele’s naira swap policy. It was very clear because he was fuming over the failure of the Presidency to involve the National Assembly in the decision before the President approved the naira redesign. So, Ahmed Lawan is not part of it.
Do you know if there were any meetings held where the gang-up against Tinubu topped the agenda of discussions?
There are some that are still not with Tinubu; it is clear that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (Abubakar Malami SAN) did not involve himself in the campaign and you can also see people like Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, who is clearly not supporting the ticket. He did not come out to say it publicly, but he is clearly not supporting it. Somebody very close to him was even telling me that as a devout Catholic, he cannot support the Muslim-Muslim ticket; probably, that is his reason for not supporting Tinubu.
In essence, it’s not only the North that is against Tinubu?
You see, northern governors are the ones supporting Tinubu, especially the APC governors. For instance, Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano and El-Rufai are all clearly coming out to support their candidate. For me, I’m not saying I’m supporting Atiku, Musa Rabiu Kwankwaso, Peter Obi or Tinubu. I’m only analysing the situation based on the reality on the ground. The major problem Tinubu’s presidency will create is that the North is treacherous. Once Tinubu fails, the North will be seen as a region that does not honour agreements because there is a written agreement that after Buhari finishes, Tinubu will take over, that power will shift to the South, particularly the South-West.
So if Tinubu fails, the North will be seen as saboteurs. Other regions will be eating with the North with long spoons; they will think that any political agreement reached with the North, at the end of the day, will betray you. As a northerner, I may not like the North to be seen in that way. Tinubu should understand that it is not the entire North that is against him. At least, the northern governors have rallied around him. If the people of the North do not want him, at least, he should not see that as a northern conspiracy against the South. It is not like that.
But if you go to the ground, particularly with the introduction of this policy that created the cash squeeze at the grassroots, it is really biting hard on the APC, the North and everywhere. So for the APC, technically by the introduction of this monetary policy, the election momentum has drastically fallen. Probably, the President did not do it by design, but Emefiele was one of the contestants (for that position of the APC presidential candidate) although he did not openly come out. But reading in-between the lines, he was interested. And when he realised that the ticket might not fly, he abandoned the aspiration and went back to his seat and decided to hit back at them; that’s a payback time. That’s a big problem. He got hints that logistics had been moved to states in preparation for the election; then, he introduced this naira swap policy and squeezed the time and availability of the naira.
It is not easy on Nigerians, politicians and the economy, everybody is suffering. This is actually what is happening. It is as if is trying to get at Tinubu, and Buhari wants to also think that doing this is a legacy of anti-corruption fight and holy by half. This is the same person that refused to sign the 2018 Electoral Act because it would not have favoured him in the 2019 election and eventually the President refused to sign the law because the law made election rigging almost impossible that time.
So if he actually meant well for the nation, he should have done that; that is why it is reasonable for one to infer that the President is against Tinubu because he refused to sign the Electoral Act that would have affected his election in 2019 and now he is approving policies that may jeopardise certain chances to win elections. If we had a three-term presidency in our constitution, do you think the President would introduce these biting policies on the eve of the election? He will not do that. If Emefiele is the one contesting, will he sit and see his successor introduce a policy that may stop his chances at the election? He will not.
So, that is why you can say that it is politically motivated; it may be good in the long run, but at the moment, it is making the naira scarce; letting people suffer all in the name of political agenda is wrong. It is good to have an election that is free from vote-buying, but with the way our people are suffering, they should find new ways of stopping vote-buying.