Bauchi State governor Isa Yuguda, shortly after casting his vote in the rescheduled gubernatorial elections in the state on Thursday, April 28, spoke, among other things, about the post-presidential election violence in which several corps members serving in Bauchi State were killed. Mr Yuguda said that the deaths were the victims’ “destiny”. On Monday, the governor denied making those statements, saying that he was misquoted. Here is the full transcript of the interview:
What is your assessment of the gubernatorial election compared to the National Assembly and presidential elections?
With gratitude to the Almighty Allah, with the conduct of the elections going on peacefully everywhere and with security agents on the alert, I am very positive that things are going to get on well and we may even conclude the elections in good time, given the massive turnout and the orderly manner in which the elections are being conducted.
Are you ready to accept the result of the election in good faith?
Well, what do you expect me to do? Do you want me to die or do you want me to live? Whatever comes out is the will of the Almighty Allah and you accept what comes out as something ordained from the Almighty Allah. In life, there are challenges here and there which you feel are irregular, but ordinarily, I believe things should be okay.
What would you say to your co-contestants?
My co-contestants should also imbibe the same spirit of sportsmanship. They should not do what happened last week. Last week was a tragedy for us and we lost so many men, Christians, Muslims, churches and mosques and houses of innocent people. Shops of innocent people and innocent lives were lost. We are grateful to the Almighty Allah that it lasted just a very short period of time as against what happened in other states but because Bauchi is Bauchi, we were all in the international media; we were in the national media, the headlines – we blew the headlines.
What happened in Bauchi is less than one over hundred of what happened in many of our neighbouring states and yet, Bauchi, Bauchi, Bauchi. I don’t know why these my young brothers and sisters in the media did not come to my defense. Nobody wrote an article that Bauchi is peaceful and when bombs were exploding in some places, elections were still going on in those places. And yet Bauchi is not peaceful and yet somebody is calling for a state of emergency. It’s really disappointing; you have disappointed me, the press.
What do you have to say on the results of the gubernatorial elections released so far by INEC in some states?
You see, I have been so concerned about my elections here in the state today. Except for some of my friends who are close to me, they phoned me to tell me they have won the elections, I don’t listen to radio, I don’t watch television. I have just been brainstorming on how orderly the elections should be conducted, the safety of our people and the repeat of what we saw last week should not be allowed to happen in this country again.
What will be the focus of your administration?
Well, I believe you have assessed what I have done. There are some projects that have remained uncompleted; we will complete. Once we complete them, we will go back to the drawing board and see what we can do for our people to make their lives better. But my emphasis is going to be on youth and women and employment. I must find a way of creating wealth for the youth. These teeming youth, if for the next two, three years, nothing is done, it might not be easy for us to walk the streets. Something has to be done. I believe Mr President has drawn that in his agenda, just like he has promised us the Kafin Zaki Dam and when it takes off, so many youths will find jobs there. And when the dam is completed, I don’t think we will have jobless youths here.
What is your assessment of INEC in the general elections so far?
I think I will rate them very high. If the international media can give INEC a pass mark, I think they’ve been doing their best. And it has, at least, reflected in what we have seen in the presidential elections. Despite all intimidations and all sorts of abuses the INEC chairman received including songs that were sang to abuse him, he went ahead to do it for our dear nation and today we had the presidential election that happens to be the most credible. Apart from the 1992 Abiola’s election, I don’t think there is any election that can match this one.
What guarantee are you giving corps members who will come back to continue their service year?
Well, as far as I am concerned, the corps members, they were destined to experience what they experienced. Nobody can run away from his own destiny. They are in the service of their fatherland and everyday is a new experience; everyday is a new challenge that you face in life. What I want to observe is that, when they were serving me in my state, they were the happiest of the happiest corpers in Nigeria, because when I went for my campaign, I received them and they received me and I promised to keep them behind and to give them jobs.
I also promised to make them citizens of Bauchi State after seven years and they have offered to stay back and serve.
Eventually, I handed them over to INEC. It was the responsibility of INEC to make sure they were well-protected, given the fact that they exposed them to all these political hoodlums who unleashed terror on us and not only to them. Even my campaign office was burned down.
In fact, they attempted to go to my house inside the town and to burn it down; they almost lynched my first son. So it is something they are destined to experience. I had also experienced it when I was in my NYSC in Ibadan in 1979. After the announcement of Shagari winning the elections, you should experience this kind of things. But what I want to urge the corpers to appreciate is that what they are seeing here in Bauchi, I pray it is not an impression of Bauchi people that they have to go with: that all Bauchi people are bad. These are not more than a group of two, three hundred human beings that have unleashed this terror on us and it is not only them, it is us. But the unfortunate thing is that they are in their service to the nation; they are wearing their national colours and yet they were attacked.
So, I think, much as I am the chief security officer, by the time I handed them over to INEC, I had expected that INEC will fortify them.
So they should feel that Yuguda has adequately protected them when they were in the service of their motherland in Bauchi State. So when they are in their service to their motherland under INEC that was when they were attacked. So they would have attacked any other person under the service of INEC. It is quite unfortunate.
And I want them to take that as a test from the Almighty Allah. During your life the Almighty will test you with pain, will test you with death, will test you with all sorts of things. And the mere fact that you came to Bauchi and they were doing elections, and INEC may not have provided special security for you, you cannot blame Yuguda or blame the government of Bauchi or the people of Bauchi.
Those hoodlums were imported from several places. I understand they were brought in from neighbouring Jigawa State, some of them from Plateau – from all over the place, some of them from even faraway Yobe and Maiduguri. They came in here, and many of them have been arrested; they have arrested about five or six hundred of them. They are facing charges of killing corpers and killing; few deaths were recorded compared to the deaths we read in the papers, and yet Bauchi, Bauchi, Bauchi!
By Armstrong Bakam