Elder Statesman and founding member of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, in this interview said among others that there is nothing wrong with Muslim-Muslim ticket and that the All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is the best candidate from the South.
What actually prompted your support for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu?
I don’t want to blame anybody but I have been looking for somebody who can make a difference. Many people got elected to rule Nigeria but some of them disappointed Nigerians. So, my belief is that going by what Tinubu was able to achieve in Lagos, I believe if given the opportunity to rule Nigeria, he would perform even better than what he did in Lagos. I support APC, I support the power shift, that power should shift from the North to the South.
I have searched around all the people that I know or heard of in the South, to the best of my knowledge and ability, I couldn’t find anybody who is better than Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to do what I expect a good leader should do for Nigeria.
What about former governor of Anambra State, and the Presidential flag bearer of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi?
I said I searched the whole South. If I said I didn’t find anybody better than Tinubu, I had summarised everything. I don’t think anybody I know among the politicians in the South has what it takes to perform better than Tinubu.
Peter Obi is a good, young man and a former governor like Tinubu but he has not performed better than Tinubu. He may be competent, but I don’t see anybody doing better than Tinubu.
With the uproar against the Muslim-Muslim ticket, do you see Tinubu emerging Nigeria’s next President?
According to what I know, the election that was described as the freest and fairest in the nation’s history was won by Chief MKO Abiola, a Muslim with Babagana Kingibe as his running mate who is also a Muslim.
He contested, won the election and the election was annulled by Military President, Ibrahim Babangida. So it is not the first time; it has happened before. When it happened in 1993 when MKO Abiola contested under the Social Democratic Party, SDP, there was no trouble in Nigeria. So it can happen again.
Given the tension across board, do you think Muslim-Muslim ticket is good at the moment?
There’s no tension in Nigeria. There are problems in Nigeria, there are problems in America. The number of people being killed in America hasn’t been killed in Nigeria. There are people who over-exaggerate the problem of Nigeria.
Many are using religious tension in Kaduna as a yardstick to discourage Muslim-Muslim ticket. What is your view on this?
I am not aware of any religious tension in Kaduna. I know there are security challenges in Kaduna like we have in other states but there are no religious clashes. The people of Kaduna have been living together for many years. I remember there was tension during President Babangida’s regime, but it was not as a result of a Muslim-Muslim ticket. What happened at Zangon-Kataf is not happening now. Things have changed.
Some are of the view that Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State would have been a better running mate to Bola Tinubu. What are your thoughts on this?
Isn’t it a democracy? Everybody has the right to tell Tinubu who they feel is better. What I told Tinubu is to search widely and consult other people. The constitution empowers him to choose anybody he is comfortable to work with as a running mate. You can suggest your opinion, it is left for him to take or not to take. My decision is to allow Tinubu to consult wide enough to get the best as a running mate. So I don’t want to dictate to him what to do and I don’t want anybody to dictate to him.
What is your take on calls for an interim government before the elections?
As far as I am concerned, those calling for an interim government in a democratic setting are not democrats. Ask any of those calling for an interim government to tell you the provision of the Constitution that allows for an interim government in a democracy.
Interim is illegal and we can’t go for illegality. It has no place in democracy. You can’t claim that because of the state of tension, there should be an interim government. Even if there is going to be an interim government, how are you sure it would solve the tension in the country?
If anybody is saying that he is going to solve Nigeria’s problem with an interim government, let him come up with a blueprint on how he is going to solve the problem. In any case, I am a democrat; I don’t see an interim government solving our problem as a nation. So I am not in support of it.