By Samuel Ogundipe
A Nigerian senator and member of the ruling All Progressives Congress has strongly condemned President Muhammadu Buhari’s performance in the last three years, saying his failures are waiting to catch up with him at the general elections next February.
Bukar Abba Ibrahim, a former governor who represents Yobe East Senatorial District, said Mr Buhari deviated from the crucial issues that swept him to power in 2015 and embarked on a government without accountability and the rule of law, objectionable acts which he said could see Nigerians, especially those from the North-East, deny him re-election in a few months’ time.
Mr Abba Ibrahim, a former governor, said the desperate situation many Nigerians found themselves pre-2015 made them vote for Mr Buhari massively across regions.
“The politics of the North-East has always been different from the politics of the North-West and it was under APC that we all united for the first time,” Mr Abba Ibrahim said at a book launch in Abuja over the weekend. “As we move towards the elections, I have to give a dire warning to the APC that things are no longer the way they were in 2015 when we rode to power on a cloud of euphoria believing that things will change for better.”
“Simply put, things have not changed and many things are getting worse and the people are bitter. We should not assume that we can win even with massive rigging.
“The economy has gone down because of our action and inaction and we are blaming the past too much rather than solving the present problems. I am going to give a dire warning,” Mr Abba Ibrahim said.
The senator spoke at an event marking his 70th birthday and the launch of a book he co-authored at Barcelona Hotel, Abuja.
The book, ‘Poorlitics’, was launched to an Internet audience, but Mr Abba Ibrahim spoke from a prepared speech, which was circulated among several news platforms, including the Vanguard.
Mr Abba Ibrahim had long been reported as having been born in 1950, which would have made him 68 and not 70 this year. He did not return PREMIUM TIMES’ request seeking a clarification of his age Monday morning.
The book recommended urgent needs to tackle unchecked money in politics. The senator reportedly cited himself as an example of how limited finances could bring sanity into politics. He said when he first ran for governor in Yobe State in 1991, he had only about N20,000 in his account.
Mr Abba Ibrahim was governor of Yobe between 1992 and 1993, when what should have been a four-year tenure was truncated by military rule.
He was elected governor of Yobe State when democracy returned to Nigeria in 1999, serving two terms until 2007.
He picked the ticket for Yobe East Senatorial District after his tenure ended in 2007, a seat he has kept till date. Although he introduced sharia law in Yobe, Mr Abba Ibrahim was caught with some women who were not his wives in a viral video that seemed to show him dressing up, presumably after having sex with them.
The senator warned Mr Buhari not to take the North-East region for granted, warning that the people there may be compelled to vote for another presidential candidate unless the president began implementing immediate and noticeable changes within the remaining few months to elections, especially in respect to anti-corruption and the rule of law.
“Let the North-East not be taken for granted that we must support APC. Our interest in the North-East has always been progressive and I will personally be watching for required improvements in the APC before the elections.
“Improvements that can guarantee victory such as respecting the rule of law and releasing political prisoners as well as non-selective war against corruption as against one sided witch hunt,” Mr Abba Ibrahim said.
“I shall sit back and continue encouraging my party do the right thing. But if we don’t, I still reserve the capacity to ask my people to go our separate ways and do what must be done for good governance to reign in Nigeria,” Mr Abba Ibrahim said.
Lanre Issa-Onilu, the national spokesperson for the APC, could not be reached for comments as his telephone line failed to connect Monday morning.
His deputy, Yekini Nabena, declined to react, saying Mr Issa-Onilu would be in a better position to respond to the senator’s comments.