Following his dramatic ouster as chairman of the ruling Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP),Alhaji Bamanga Tukur relatively maintained a low profile.
In this exclusive chat with Sunday Trust, however, Tukur, who now chairs the
Nigerian Railway Corporation, breaks his silence and bares his mind on wide
ranging issues, including the threat of insurgency in the country. Excerpts:
you left the PDP as chairman, you were hardly seen attending PDP functions.
Were you keeping low profile because you were angry?

I was not angry. Since I left the PDP chairmanship, I still continue to be the
rallying point for PDP in many ways. I have always been encouraging members of
our party to support the building process. In my state, I still continue to
keep members going. I can tell you that even those who left the PDP in Adamawa
have now returned into the party. I am sure you are aware of the reception that
the party members in Adamawa gave to me. I thanked them and asked them to
continue and I told them that the errand they sent me on the leadership of PDP,
I did it to my own satisfaction, because I pursued the interest of the party
with doggedness and utmost sincerity.

passed through turbulent times when serving as the Chairman of PDP. The worst
experience came from the events that led to your ouster last year. Whenever you
reflect on your days in the PDP, what does your mind tell you?

I simply say to those people who stood against me and what I wanted to do in
PDP that God should forgive them because most of them did not realize the
implications of what they were doing. I went to PDP with the aim of keeping the
party afloat. Sincerely, I came to PDP not to make a name or fortune. I was
part and parcel of the foundation laying and the building of PDP. I felt that
with what God had given to us, we should give back. Mine was to give back and
not what to take. We tried to navigate through the difficulties we have had
before and then avoid the pitfalls of the past. But really, some people did not
understand what we were doing. When I called them and say let us instill
internal democracy within the party, they said they did not want election, but
selection. Then I said, let us build agreement or consensus, they said
imposition was better and they refused to change their mind. We tried to bring
everybody along for rebuilding of PDP, but what did we see, some people said
they preferred the old order and not what we were bringing on board. We tried
our best to salvage the party and it was not easy doing that.
you still retain tight schedules after leaving office…?

I am like a donkey with load going under the shade to have a rest. It is impossible.
The donkey must hurry up to get to its destination before taking a rest. I have
been used to this kind of tight schedule before becoming the PDP Chairman.
has just celebrated its 16 years of democracy. Looking back on the journey so
far as an elder statesman, how would you rate democracy in Nigeria?

First of all, I want to say a big congratulation to Nigerians; our party the
PDP and by extension all Nigerians for keeping faith with democracy all these
years. Democracy is a development process and out of these years, we have had
elections successively while democratic processes were in place. Leaders of
various political parties who wanted to continue with the system contest
elections and they were returned under free and fair elections. We have passed
through difficulties. We know it is not easy, but we have had democracy
surviving its longest period ever in Nigeria. Since after independence, this is
the first time that democracy is standing and getting sustained for many years.
For me, this is something to be happy about.
 Democracy has faced challenges at every level in the country. Even the
political parties are not spared.
your view are the crises not sufficient to dampen morale, notwithstanding that
you gave democracy in the country a pass mark?

Yes, morale of every right thinking person may be low. Even if there is no
crisis, after so many years of practice, you will expect that the people’s
expectations will be high. It is just like Oliver Twist who was always asking
for more. We would always ask for more in democracy. People want change or
changes as the case may be. The problem I see here is the security challenges
that we are now facing. This is a source of concern to every Nigerian. This is
why I think we should come together as a people to collectively fight the
scourge of insecurity in Nigeria. We have to do this quickly to prevent the
problem from engulfing our nation. It is not easy though, but we know it is not
impossible. When I came in as Chairman of PDP, I realized what was happening
and I said we needed to do something before problems start to escalate. Then we
came about the 12-point agenda, and I started with what I called the Triple-D;
to create defence, dialogue and diplomacy. With these, we need to strengthen
our Police, strengthen our armed forces and strengthen our surveillance by
creating defence. On dialogue, we have now started involving other people
especially our friends from outside Nigeria in the process to see how we can
talk to the aggrieved to see reason. When we talk of diplomacy today, we have
the United States, Britain, France, China, Germany and others joining us to
assist in ending the problem. Even our neighbours like Cameroon, Niger, Chad,
Sudan and Benin are now with us trying to contain the problem of insurgency in
their countries and then in Nigeria. Maybe we were a bit late in starting. But
it is better late than never.
is currently grappling with the problem of insurgency that appears to be
getting worse by the day. Why is the problem deifying solution?

It is not something we can arrest with kid gloves. It is a problem that
requires collective efforts of all Nigerians. It still boils down to what I
have said; creation of defence, dialogue and diplomacy. All these must be in
place and properly implemented. Let us tell anyone who cares to listen that we
in Nigeria have the will power to stamp out insurgency in Nigeria. To do that,
we need to put our heads together and work like a team. We must quell
insurgency in Nigeria. There is no going back.
you satisfied with the efforts so far made by the Goodluck Jonathan
administration on tackling insecurity, would you say such efforts were in the
right direction?

They have been in the right direction. It is more intricate to fight terrorism
and we have to commend our military for their efforts so far. All the security
operatives are responding well. Every Nigerian is getting more and more
security conscious. Our neighbours are also co-operating. Our foreign partners
are coming in to assist. For me, that is the way it should be.
you have confidence in the intervention by the foreign partners?

Yes, we must allow them to offer assistance. For now, we do not have an
alternative. There is need for Nigeria to share information with its
neighbours. Nigeria must share information with Cameroon. Cameroon can share
information with Niger, while Nigeria and Benin too must share information. All
of them must be involved. In sharing information, the chances are that we will
now be more empowered to get to the roots of insurgency, not only in Nigeria,
but across West Africa and the rest of the continent.
you have to advise the President on the next line of action on addressing
insurgency, what would that be?

The President needs to be steadfast and not distracted by side talks. The
President needs to start building a consensus across boards on how to quickly
end terrorism. The president should deploy all resources like he has been doing
to prosecute the war against terrorism. He should mobilize the good people of
Nigeria and all the friends of Nigeria to build a coalition of people and
nations to fight this scourge. And most importantly, we Nigerians must support
the President to fight this battle. It is not about him alone. It is about
next general elections are just around the corner. Going by political
developments so far, what are your worries?

I am very worried. It is more difficult for people like us who wanted the party
to win. We are being distracted. Our president is being distracted and so is
our party. Our resources are being depleted. Certainly, we are not in good
are now the Chairman of Nigerian Railway Corporation. What new vision are you
bringing to the sector and what should Nigerians expect from you?

Railway is an important part to grow the economy of a country. No country can
achieve its best by neglecting the railway sector. We are happy with the plans
to revive the sector now and we will do our best to make the plans work. As for
what to expect, I am already applying the experiences I have garnered over the
years to bring good practices to bear in the sector. We have been studying some
models on railway operations as offered by China, Japan and other countries.
When the time comes, we will begin the application of the models that suit our
environment. If it works elsewhere; there is no way it will not work in

Source: Daily Trust


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