Alhaji Ahmed Gulak is the immediate past Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Political Matters and has signified his interest to contest the October 11 governorship bye election in Adamawa as ordered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). In this interview with Taofeek Lawal, Gulak spoke about his aspiration, the Nuhu Ribadu factor and the challenges posed by the opposition All Progressives Congress in the state. Excerpts:
You recently obtained the form to run for the PDP primaries for Adamawa guber election. How hopeful are you of clinching this ticket and ultimately emerging as the candidate of the party?
First and foremost I am aspiring to be the governor of the state under my party, the PDP. The PDP has been there strategizing and building the party. And we have stabilized the party. Why I’m hopeful is because after robust and wide consultations with the party hierarchy in the state, I was convinced and encouraged by their reception and the vow to support me and that is why some three weeks ago I mobilized and all of them came from the 226 wards of the state, 21 local government area councils and I asked them do they stand by their words for me to contest this primaries, they answered in the affirmative. And we sealed a deal that come rain, come shine, they would support me and that is why I was the first to pick my nomination form at the PDP national secretariat.
There is this distinction being drawn always by the people when someone wants to run for political office. They refer to some as Abuja politicians and others as home based. How will you describe yourself in relation to this assertion?
I am a grassroot politician. I am not jumping into politics today. I started my political career in 1991. Don’t forget that I stood for election in my home state and became a member of the House of Assembly. I also through election became the first Speaker of that state House of Assembly. And since then I have been in active politics. In fact, politics has become synonymous with my name. The best I do in politics is sensitization and mobilization. And it was not a mistake or a coincidence when I was appointed the Director of Contact and Mobilization during the 2010/2011 campaign of President Goodluck Jonathan. I am a grassroots politician. The 226 wards of our state I know each and everyone there and all the 21 local government areas. I have gone to all the local government headquarters. We know ourselves. I am not just jumping into politics. I am unlike others who are just jumping into politics because they have seen opportunities. I have been into politics for the past 25 years. So I am hopeful because I am with the people. I am part of them as they call me now the emancipator to come back home and emancipate them. And that is what exactly what I’m doing.
Talking about people whom you said are jumping into politics because they see an opportunity, there is the recent entry into the race by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chairman and later the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) presidential candidate who just joined your party. How do you see, first his joining the party especially been a foremost critic of your party?
Well, first and foremost I would not say Nuhu Ribadu is just jumping into politics. He has been in politics for the past four years unlike me who has been in politics for the past 25 years. So the difference is clear. I have been in this game for 25 years and he (Ribadu) has been in this game for four years. He was the presidential candidate of the ACN in 2011 and when there was the merger of the other political parties to face PDP, he was in the forefront. As far as I am concerned today, he is still a member of the
APC but from the grapevine I heard that he has decamped from the APC to the PDP and has even picked the form for nomination under the PDP. He is welcomed. We know he has been our ardent critic, critic of PDP. He has abused us left, right and center. He has denigrated our party, he has called us all sorts of names but we are happy today we are glad that he has seen the light that APC is worst off and he has now crossed over to our party, we welcome him. He will go and test the waters. He has jumped in with his two legs into the river. So we are going to the stream to test our strength within the party and the general election. As far as I am concerned, I will tell my friend and brother Nuhu Ribadu welcome to the biggest party in Africa but be prepared to burn your fingers.
The purported crossover of Nuhu Ribadu from APC to PDP has in a way led some critics to allege the lack of integrity among Nigerian politicians. They added that there is really no ideological difference between any of the political parties and that the driving force behind most politicians is but selfish interest and crass opportunity. What is your take on this?
You see people have every right to make these insinuations. There ought to be honour in whatever a human being does especially my friend and brother Nuhu Ribadu who has been there criticizing PDP, calling PDP all sorts of names. He even said if they give him free presidential ticket he would never join the PDP. Not up to three weeks ago in Kaduna he said so and it was on record. If he has decided to somersault and eat his words, people have every right to say that there is no honour, there is no integrity in Nigerian politics. Nigerians have every right to insinuate this. Be that as it may, to every general rule there ought to be an exception.
Don’t you think that the APC will have an edge in the election when you consider the influence of former vice President Atiku Abubakar in Adamawa state politics?
I am a politician and a practical one for that matter. No one can wish Atiku away. Atiku is a formidable politician and no one can wish him away and he has resources at his disposal to play with. Notwithstanding this fact, he is waiting in the wings, calculating what will be the fallout of the PDP primaries. That is his game, he is waiting. Is the primaries going to be held under free and fair atmosphere, is the PDP going to give equal opportunity for people to select their candidates, if that happens Atiku will have no chance to form government. But if the constitution is put on the trail and is denigrated and the constitution does not matter and candidates are imposed on the people in the PDP, people may be aggrieved especially inexperienced politicians and they crossover to APC and say after all we don’t matter in this party but we hope this will not happen. But sincerely speaking Atiku and APC are just waiting. Their game plan is to wait and see the fallout of the PDP primaries, this I assure you. I know what they are doing, I know their meetings, I know their calculations, I know what they are strategizing to do.