In this interview, Ibrahim el-Sudi, former member of the House of Representatives and current state chairman of the APC in Taraba, gave an insight of what to expect in the state during the forthcoming elections:
A number of observers are predicting that the PDP will win Taraba. Do you agree?
I absolutely disagree with it. That is their wishful thinking and they have been paid to say so. What is on ground is different from what they are saying. Taraba people are tired and they are yearning for change because this government has done nothing other than causing confusion, disaffection and impunity in the state. So, people are agitated. They are yearning for change and change will come by the grace of God.
Taraba is a PDP stronghold. Also, we have witnessed the exit from APC of the former Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development, Aisha al-Hassan, further weakening the chances of the APC…
Come to Taraba and see. People are no more with Aisha Al Hassan. She was just supported because of circumstances of that time. Now, she is nowhere in Taraba. You can go round the local governments; people joining the APC in droves. Therefore, the issue of a minister leaving doesn’t arise.
She was being supported because she was in government. And today she is not in government. Nobody is with her. Only a few disgruntled elements are with her as far as we are concerned. So, with Aisha or without Aisha, definitely APC is going to clinch Taraba State.
Nobody is going to support Atiku because we know him as a capitalist. We are not going to support him. He has not done anything for the Northeast. If you talk of Northeast, we know of Jibril Aminu who brought the University of Maiduguri to the level it is today.
Do you think that the security situation in the state will affect the outcome of the election?
We have been appealing to our people to be law abiding. We are educating people to be peaceful. That has been our campaign mantra. Without peace, there can’t be any progress in the state. We are trying within our modest means and our capability to educate people and youths are beginning to understand and accepting that there should be peaceful elections.
It is the state government that fueling instability in the state because they know they are not going to win the election.
The President very recently also said that the government of Taraba has given the violence in the state an ethnic and religious colouration. Was the President not exaggerating?
He was not exaggerating by saying that. He is saying exactly what is happening in Taraba because we know that the Taraba State government is sponsoring most of the tribal killings and upheavals. Everyone knows that.
Before, we were living peacefully with each other. We do not discriminate on the basis of religion or tribe. Although there have been some crisis in the past, there were other factors responsible. But with the ushering in of this administration, we have been plagued with religious acrimony and that is where we find ourselves today.
We don’t want a repeat of that. We want to live peacefully. We don’t want Taraba to be a flashpoint of crisis either based on religion or ethnicity.
The issue of a minister leaving doesn’t arise. She was being supported because she was in government. And today she is not in government. Nobody is with her. Only a few disgruntled elements are with her as far as we are concerned.
We have seen that Boko Haram has been escalating attacks in the northeast. Has President Buhari failed the region in protecting the lives of people?
Some political actors are fuelling the Boko Haram insurgency. The attacks are politically motivated so that they will give APC a bad name. Be that as it may, the scale of attacks by Boko Haram is not as it used to be.
It is largely restricted to either Borno or Yobe from time to time. They cannot go beyond or Yobe. They used to come all the way to Gombe, Bauchi and all over Nigeria. Today, they are restricted Borno. And even in Borno, they are restricted to the fringes of the border. Therefore, the fight against insurgency has not failed.
A former President just called on the military to change strategy in the fight against insurgents. Do you think that the Service Chiefs also need to be replaced?
Well, as at now, I think it is not proper for the security chiefs to be changed because we are approaching elections. We are just some few weeks to elections. Whoever comes in may find it very difficult to understand the nitty-gritty of fighting the insurgency.
These people should be allowed small time. After the election, then they should be reviewed. Those that are found wanting, are not performing can be changed immediately. That is my own position.
The scale of attacks by Boko Haram is not as it used to be. It is largely restricted to either Borno or Yobe from time to time. They cannot go beyond or Yobe. They used to come all the way to Gombe, Bauchi and all over Nigeria.
The presidential candidates of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, sees the Northeast as his home turf and is confident of victory. How do you see the presidential election in Taraba and the northeast turning out?
In the Northeast, Buhari is going to beat Atiku Abubakar hands down. If you go to Borno, they are not with Atiku. If you go to Yobe, they are not with Atiku. In Gombe, they are overwhelmingly with Buhari; it’s the same thing in Bauchi.
If you come back to Adamawa, the home state of the President’s wife, they are absolutely behind Buhari. Come to Taraba, even the 2015 elections, the difference was very minimal. It was about thirty something votes.
At that time, they used federal government machinery but now we will go through free and fair elections. Definitely nobody is going to support Atiku because we know him as a capitalist. We are not going to support him.
He has not done anything for the Northeast. If you talk of Northeast, we know of Jibril Aminu who brought the University of Maiduguri to the level it is today. And we know what he did in terms of NNPC depots, bringing them to Yola and other places.
He has contributed a lot. But Atiku cannot pinpoint one single that he has done for the Northeast. He is building himself, building private outfits for his own benefit. So, the people from the northeast have not benefited anything from him, they are not going to support him.