Polls: Our Target Is Top-To-Bottom Victory For APC – Project 774 Coordinator

Polls: Our Target Is Top-To-Bottom Victory For APC – Project 774 Coordinator

Deputy Whip of the Senate and National Coordinator, Project 774 For Tinubu-Shettima, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, rep- resenting Niger North Senatorial District (Zone C), is a full blooded prince of Borgu Emirate. In this interview with select journalists in Abuja, he speaks on a wide range of issues including his group’s commitment to deliver Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Nigeria’s next president. IBRAHIM MOHAMMED was there for AljazirahNIGERIA. Excerpts:

What is the motivation for the formation of Project 774, as well as its general principles?

You know in politics there are so many routes, all leading to the same direction, because you are dealing with people and all political parties have support groups, Project 774 for Tinubu-Shettima is a support group and we came up with this

idea because we know politics is local and when you have campaign structure, which is usually up, and attempts are made to send things down, for example you have the Presidential Campaign Council, you have states campaign council, you have zonal, you have local government, but by the time you start getting down, capacity at that level is a bit weak.

So the whole idea of Project 774 is to have a bottom to top approach, ours is to promote grassroots politics for development and that is why we tagged it 774 because we have 774 local governments.

By our structure, while we have a national executive and state taskforce teams, what is important is that we have more people at the lower level, that is at the local government and ward levels, because on election day, you must have people who will go and get the votes, that is our target as our own contribution to bring success to our party.

Was Project 774 given a role in the APC Presidential Campaign Council?

Well, I am a member of the presidential campaign council in my own right. The party has so many support groups and we are one of such groups, but every support group comes from a different angle to look at what their strength is. Our group is looking at the grassroots, where the votes are, the polling units so that on election day, we have people who will go out because they believe in this voluntary effort to contribute to the success of our party.

Is your candidate in a good stead in the light of reported anti-party activities?

Well, in politics, so many things happen, but when we speak about the reality, for us we know our candidate is the front-runner and he is the candidate to beat. We anchor all of this on the fact that the various states in which we are in charge and even states where we are not in charge, things that are happening there are pointers that truly our party will carry the day.

The question Nigerians should ask is, what is the antecedent of these candidates, what have they done before?

For us, we believe very strongly that the character of our presidential and vice presidential candidates speaks volume and it gives hope that new, innovative and progressive things are going to happen with their presidency.

Beyond his eight years as governor of Lagos State, providing infrastructure and other services to the people, what other qualities makes you think that he is the best to rule the country?

Well, I will talk of two things here. Before Nigeria’s return to democracy, he was one of those who were in the forefront fighting for the restoration of democracy and even after leaving government all attempts to emasculate the political space always provokes his interest to stand up for what is right, to say no that democracy is about opening the space for everybody to participate.

And I think, while Action for Democracy, AD, which he used in coming into governance was brutally murdered by political gimmicks, he floated AC which latter become ACN and as a democrat, he made this platform available for the people.

So it tells you that he is a man who has a sense of accommodation, he is a man who has a sense of tolerance and he is somebody who believes that democracy is what we must promote for the common good.

One thing the late Emir of Borgu, Alhaji Haliru Dantoro Kitoro III told me very clearly about Tinubu when they were in the Senate, was that he always finds him very excited, because when the truth is spoken, you must find him (Tinubu) there, and he is very courageous, very bold, he knows exactly what he wants to say and he says it the way it should be said and that was how the late monarch became close to him.

Meanwhile, the late royal father was in NRC, while Tinubu was with SDP, so you can see that because of the character and what he exhibited, there was a hand of fellowship and that was how the relationship continued. Tinubu is one person who never forgets his friends.

During the four years struggle for Borgu throne, he also extended his hand of fellowship to the late monarch. I remember vividly when we got victory in 2004, he (the royal father) came to Abuja and called me and one of my brothers and said he wanted to give a title to his friend (Tinubu) and asked me to go get a befitting title for him because of my knowledge of history of Borgu Kingdom.

What we first did was to ask the meaning of Asiwaju and I was told it means somebody that opens the way. I said in our own history, Borgu people have never been conquered by anybody.

I said the secret of war in Borgu is normally given to a man called “Jagaba” that was how the title came about and like he said in his book, the royal father gave him that title because he trusted him and believed that he has the courage to provide leadership.

You have spoken so well about Tinubu’s successes in Lagos State, but there are concerns about his age and health, what is your take on this?

As far as I am concerned, if you look at the reality on ground, we have done more than 30 days of campaigning actively and if you check the APC campaign calendar, this man has been following this rigorous campaign schedules.

If you are to use what people do as a yardstick, I think this man is healthy.

Let us ask ourselves is there any human being who after a certain age does not have one or two health challenges? And has that health challenge stopped him from performing his duty?

So for me, it is out of mischief for people to say he is not agile. Is he on a wheel chair? No, he has been moving with his legs from one place to the other and has been speaking for himself, and when you listen to him, you know he is articulate, he is able to access, process, separate issues and form an opinion.

His brain is as active as any normal human being, for me, I don’t see any concern here, when government is put in place, there will be delegated authority.

How do you see the perceived threat based on the campaign of Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi?

Yes, they are giving a good show, but it is only for us to bring out our best.

It is only a good show and not a challenge, I don’t like saying bad things about people, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is from Adamawa State, I served in Adamawa State, I was the best corps member in Yola Local Government, Adamawa State and the National Honour award winner by the then head of state, it means I must have done something good to win those awards and so I know Adamawa State very well, I have related with the people.

Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, recently said some elements in the villa are trying to frustrate Tinubu’s candidacy, what is your take on this?

By his position, he knows more than I do, if he has the facts that makes him make those statements, they are his facts. I can’t say what he said is wrong, but one thing I know for sure is that in politics it is not impossible for some people to be unhappy that you want to do one or two things and I know if I go back to my local environment based on what happened, there are some people who are still unhappy, they might have a different opinion or idea on what should be done within the context of local politics.

It is not impossible for some people to be angry but one thing I will say is that it depends on what is on the surface.

Some people might be unhappy, it is not out of place.

What is important is that this is our ship, we built it and it will be a disservice if we destroy it. It is in our collective interest to consolidate on what we achieved in the last eight years.

You have barely few days to the election, how much ground do you think you can cover for your party?

Politics is local, I just came back from Borgu where I went to canvass support at my own senatorial district and it was a huge success. I want to assure you that Niger North is for the Jagaban BorguShettima and they are going to win that senatorial district just like many other parts of this country.

We are campaigning in all the 36 states including the FCT just as many other support groups are out there mobilising for votes. Many Nigerians know the truth about the success of the Jagaban in Lagos.

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