GUBER POLL: Plateau voters shouldn’t visit sin of father on son – Plateau APC Chairman


As the governorship election billed for March 18 inches closer, the ruling All Progressives Congress in Plateau State is confident of emerging victorious, unlike in the February 25 presidential election when the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi won in the state. The state’s party chairman, Rufus Bature, in this interview with MAYOWA SAMUEL, talks about the party’s preparation for the election as well as other matters arising in the party and in the state. Excerpts:

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The Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, won Plateau State. What’s your reaction regarding the outcome of the election?

We have no doubt in our minds that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was going to win the elections and we expected a wider margin. However, we are very satisfied. The Labour Party is just an entangled association of sentiments based on tribes and religion. You know Nigerians and how they react once you appeal to their sense of religion, you know religion is the opium of the masses. Peter Obi and some religious cohorts took advantage of that and appealed to the sentiments of Nigerians on the issue of religion, and they got what they got. But I think they deserved what they got because that is as far as they could have gotten.

Days before the February 25 presidential election, you and another factional chairman of the party, Ishaya Itse, expelled each other from the party for anti-party activities. Has there been a final resolution regarding the leadership dispute in the party?

As far as we’re concerned, there’s never been any factional chairman, APC has never had any faction in Plateau State for the records. Somebody was just parading himself as the factional chairman, we just didn’t want to throw caution to the wind, that’s why we allowed him to do whatever he was doing, cautioning him from the sides. But I think today (Wednesday), that has been solved. He took the case to the Appeal Court but I think the court has made a decision and dismissed the case today (Wednesday), I don’t think you’ll be hearing his ranting again. You can’t claim something from nothing. Where and when did he stand for election? He said he bought form, who did he buy it from? Who screened him? When did he hold his congress? We’re a bunch of disciplined people, we can’t continue like this. Nobody just wakes up from the bad side of his bed and starts making pronouncements when he’s not the chairman.

What’s the update on the expulsion of the secretary to the state government, Prof. Danladi Abok Atu who was also alleged to have been suspended?

As far as we’re concerned, the person who made the suspension has no power to suspend anybody. The statute is very clear, you can be suspended from your ward, not somebody who will just go and sit down, daydream and start making announcements suspending and expelling people from the party. What power does he have? Does he have the locus? He doesn’t have the locus to make such pronouncements. Ask him whether he has ever attended a meeting at the national secretariat or whether they relate with him from the national secretariat.

Governor Simon Lalong will be wrapping up his tenure on May 29. The election for a new governor to take over from him is now slated for March 18. How has the preparations been so far, to ensure that your party’s candidate, Nentawe Yilwada, succeeds Governor Lalong?

We’re in the trenches; we’re just waiting to release our arsenal. By March 18, God willing, Yilwada Nentawe will be announced as the governor-elect of Plateau State. The people of Plateau State are wiser.

What sort of challenges do you see Caleb Mutfwang of the PDP, Patrick Sunday Dakum of the Labour Party, Pastor Alfred Dabwam of the NNPP pose against your party’s candidate, Yilwada Nentawe?

They have their strongholds and support bases but like I said, Plateau people are wiser. Sentiments aside, none of them have the credentials of Nentawe. In politics, you don’t underrate your opponent, so we are fighting like an opposition ourselves despite the fact that we’re the ruling party. They want to claim and reclaim the governorship, but we want to retain it for APC.

“Whatever the inadequacies of Lalong are, should not be thrown at Nentawe. It’s just like telling people the shortcomings of Buhari should be attributed to Tinubu, No. When you give him the mandate and he performs, at the end of the day, you’ll be able to compare whether they’re of the same DNA in terms of governance. So, these are two different people, the sins of the fathers should not be visited on the children”

How confident are you that voters in your state are satisfied with the performance of Governor Lalong during his tenure and now want to come out en masse to vote for your party’s candidates?

If for nothing, that we’re able to sleep now with our two eyes closed, as opposed to prior to 2014, that’s an achievement in itself. Then talk of the litany of projects here and there, even though not yet completed, but will be completed before his tenure elapses. However, Simon Lalong is Barrister Simon Lalong from Shendam Local Government, Nentawe is Professor Nentawe Yilwada from Kanke Local Government, they are different people with different perceptions about life and governance. For performance, we’ve tried Lalong, we’ve tried Nentawe in different capacities, and people know. Those who haven’t known should read his bio data and see what he’s done. Whatever the inadequacies of Lalong are should not be thrown at Nentawe. It’s just like telling people the shortcomings of Buhari should be attributed to Tinubu, No. When you give him the mandate and he performs, at the end of the day, you’ll be able to compare whether they’re of the same DNA in terms of governance. So, these are two different people, the sins of the fathers should not be visited on the children.

Many people believe that Tinubu is the one that took Buhari around all states in Nigeria and sold Buhari to them. Now Nigerians are placing Buhari’s failures on his head, the reason why many refused to vote Tinubu at the presidential election. Are you confident there won’t be a replication of that in the governorship election in your state?

With every generalisation, there are exceptions, there are people who will do that, but the generality of people of Plateau will vote for Nantawe, not because Nentawe is from APC where Lalong belongs to, but because Nentawe is a performer.

The governor was accused of lying against the PDP candidate, Mutfwang, in order to make the electorate vote for your party’s candidate, Nantawe. The governor had alleged that the PDP governorship candidate, Caleb Mutfwang, left office as Mangu LG chairman with ten months unpaid salaries of workers. The LG employees, however, said the governor’s allegation was untrue, that they were paid all their salaries before he left the position, besides it’s the LG service commission that approves salary payment for LG workers, and not LG chairmen. They wonder why the government isn’t telling the truth regarding that. What’s your response to this?

There are different ways of telling the same story. They’ve even denied it to say it was not ten months, that it was eight months. So, it’s not very far from the truth. The truth is that he left unpaid salaries. He was the chairman and chief executive of the local government, and so they shouldn’t shift the blame to anybody. Are you even sure they’re employees of Mangu Local Government as at that time?

Whether the allegation is true or not, are you not worried that many of the workers who didn’t believe the governor will see his allegation as deceitful, hence won’t want to vote your candidate?


That’s not even the issue, the issues are quite different. The issue is that some people are products of sentiments, they’re not discussing issues, they’re just discussing the sentiments of tribe and religion, we’ve passed that stage. The world is a global village, we’ve suffered from the times of marauders, terrorists and others but we must move forward. We must begin to find ourselves in the committee of states. We must attach ourselves with federal patronage, that’s what we’re telling the people.

What’s your submission regarding the court granting INEC the permission to reconfigure the BVAS, despite all the complaints from many quarters about the presidential election results?

INEC has its job to do as provided for by the constitution and the Electoral Law. Therefore, they can’t be constrained from conducting the gubernatorial and state assembly elections. If they do otherwise, they’ll be contravening the law. So they told the court that this was what they were going to do.

How prepared is your party for the March 18 governorship election, considering the many challenges many complained about the conduct of the February 25 presidential election?

As far as I’m concerned, as an individual, I’m not aware of any irregularities for now. Whether the Labour Party won in our state or not, it doesn’t substantiate allegations until proven. So, if the Labour Party won in my state, should I then say there were irregularities? Yes, we expected to have scored more at the presidential level, looking at the wide acceptance of Tinubu, however, we’re content with the votes we got.

Weeks ago, the Plateau State chapter of the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria lamented the nonpayment of their three month’s salaries. Unfortunately, this is happening during this frustrating period of naira scarcity. What could be the reason for the delay of their salaries and what’s Governor Lalong doing to ensure their salaries are paid?

All machineries have been put into action to make sure that they’re paid. If you find out, Plateau State has paid January salaries for other workers. So, the governor is leaving nothing unturned to ensure that he doesn’t owe anybody before he leaves office. He’s a compassionate man, he feels for the people, he’s making efforts to ensure that any salary, allowance, pension that is owed is paid. So, let them be patient and a bit tolerant, all their dues will be given to them.

The Youths Against Violence and Human Rights Abuse in your state, reported cases of restriction of political activities across four local governments. The group, as well as the opposition, fingered the state government to be behind this suppression of campaigns by the opposition. How do you respond to that allegation?

Whoever said that is from the pit of hell, it’s a fabrication of lies that won’t stand any test of time. There’s nothing like that on the Plateau, as far as we’re concerned. Nobody has stopped anybody from canvassing for votes or going out to campaign, not at all, not anywhere. How did we suppress their campaigns? They’ve been campaigning everywhere; they are campaigning even more than the APC. You’ll see loudspeakers blaring everywhere but that’s not our style. We’re in the jet age, we’ve moved a step ahead, it’s not about loudspeakers and drums. Everything has been fair. If we’re a different government, we would’ve used the machinery of government to monitor many people who say unguarded things against the government, but we said no. They’re all from Plateau, whoever wants to govern Plateau means well for Plateau because he wants to improve the lives of the people. That’s why we shouldn’t allow anybody, let God give the one He loves power, not the one that we love. That’s our philosophy.