Damishi Barau said President Goodluck Jonathan did not lure him to the APC.
The Nasarawa State Deputy Governor, Damishi Barau, who recently defected to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, spoke to some journalists on his experience in the All Progressives Congress, APC. He also accused the state governor Umaru Al-Makura of moving against him.
Mr. Barau spoke in Nasarawa on Wednesday. He gave reasons for his defection and said he was not induced by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Read the full interview below.
Q: How has life been since your defection to the PDP?
Ans: To be precise, I want to thank God for the development and as I said previously, I’m aware of the consequences of such a decision; both the good and the bad.
What I know is that I’m convinced beyond reasonable doubt in mind that I ought to take this decision and I took it. I want to assure you because of that conviction I have no reason to lose sleep on issues that may be associated with this defection. So, in a nutshell, for me it has been peaceful in my mind and gladdened my heart that I did what I did and I feel very comfortable.
Q: How has your relationship with the governor been since then?
Ans: We parted ways in terms of political ideologies but in terms of governing our people, my spirit is intact with the governor. At the same time, the governor has the discretion to assign responsibility to me as his deputy and if he feels otherwise I’m still comfortable because the constitution is clear about my functions.
Q: Have you been assigned any responsibility since your defection?
Ans: I have not received any message from the governor but I hope it will come.
Q: What is your relationship with the assembly since you defected?
Ans: It has not changed. You know I’m a member of that constituency. And since the inception of this administration they look up to me as a father as far as their constituency is concerned because I was there before as the first majority leader of the state assembly.
So, there are lots of things they learn from me and I also learn from them. Our relationship has been very cordial. More so, that I have come back to the party of the majority in the house, they saw me more as a father from the moment I defected.
Q: What do you say to the accusations that you betrayed the governor by your defection, especially after he made you what you are today and even paid your medical bills overseas before the general elections in 2011?
Ans: Well, as far as I’m concerned, from the day I defected to the PDP I knew such write-ups will crop up and my judgment about them is simple: impression of pains for the loss of a valuable thing that you have – that is the summary. However, I think the authors of these write-ups are deliberately positioning themselves. Having certified that they have lost something valuable, they are now looking for ways of destroying that valuable thing so that it will not become useful to itself. But, unfortunately, they are talking to somebody who knows what he is doing and equally knows much about them.
Let me say in clear terms, I’m aware government sponsors all these write-ups, which is why I say they are doing it out of pain and I don’t want to join issues with them. However, one fact that I must state here is, to add to my assertion on the day of leaving APC. I said I was tired of dealing with liars and in falsehood; and what they did in those write-ups was to exhibit those vices that I said I hated, which made me leave them. You can see, even when I left they were still exhibiting those characters which I think has vindicated me.
For instance, you are talking about one Alhaji Suleiman Sarkin Mudu, who worked under me as my zonal coordinator in Keffi during campaigns and who was alleged to be one of the authors of such false write ups. But I know he cannot even read those write-ups because of his intellectual capacity.
When I read the piece, I laughed because I have been with them and knew their antics and know who does what in that government. So, they are not thinking deep to know the type of person they will do that to. But I want to address specifically, the ingredients of the write up. For instance, he talked about the governor sponsoring my medical bills before elections. I also learnt the governor tells people most of those things in the write ups; that he took responsibility for my medical bills before elections.
It is ridiculous and very unfortunate. Although I have vowed not to demean my principal, however I have a responsibility not to compromise my integrity and at the same time have every responsibility to defend that integrity. If a person that I respect would stoop so low – instead of looking for genuine issues in my departure, would rather go into falsehood – Thank God, I’m still alive and sickness is on everybody.
Although I don’t want to talk about the circumstances of my illness but I know I sacrificed my life on this project, Taal Campaign Organisation. I also want to point out that nobody would have nominated me if I were sick from the beginning, including the governor himself, to be his running mate.
We started this campaign in CPC, we formed the structure of the campaign organisation and all the input were generated by me; I have them in writing. All those surrounding the governor today were not there when we started. They didn’t contribute anything. It was during the general elections that they came in. Most of them contested elections in PDP and lost before they joined us and today, they are masters in the house. They want to tell lies and save a lot of things.
For my health, one naira was never spent by the governor and I want to challenge him or whoever thinks he knows what the governor did, to come out and dispute these facts. The governor did not give me one naira to go to hospital when I was down but friends and well wishers were by my side morally and otherwise.
I know I went to a private clinic in Abuja when I was tested and by their assessment I needed operation on my spinal cord. At the time, there was debate whether I should go overseas for treatment before the election but my friends insisted that I not worry and should go after the election.
So, I didn’t go for any treatment before the elections. After we had spent about five to six months in office, when I was assigned to lead the state 2011 delegation to Jerusalem for pilgrimage; as leader of the delegation, I used the opportunity to check myself medically, which was my entitlement. I approached the governor who graciously approved the $9, 000 (N1.48 million) for my medical bills at the hospital. When I went to Israel, I ran some medical test and the hospital found me healthy, that I didn’t need any operation. I spent two days there before I joined the pilgrims. Those who went with us are alive.
All I spent in that hospital was $2, 000 (N329, 580). I had about $7, 000 (N1.153 million) leftover. Being the leader of the delegation everyone was looking up to me for one thing or the other so I spent another $2, 000 and had about $5,000. It may interest you to know that when we returned, I gave the governor my report and said, “Here is the balance of $5, 000.” Since I didn’t do the operation, the money was no longer mine.
The governor cannot deny that because he told me some members of the council had commended me for my action. I paid the money to the Accountant General’s office; personally to him. It can be confirmed by the Accountant General; the documents are there.
I had preferred to return the unused money to the treasury than to spend it. So for my principal to say he paid my medical bills is very unfortunate. Let me remind you I was medically okay before I took oath of office.
Q: Going by your explanation all is apparently not well. Is your job as the deputy governor suffering?
Ans: Constitutionally, as I have said, the office of the deputy governor is an appendix of the governor’s office and is at the discretion of the governor. For me, if I’m given an assignment to do, I will graciously do it because I know my responsibility and my limit. However, one thing is that I don’t dabble into what I’m not asked to do. I want to have my peace and do my legitimate responsibility. If you ask me to even lie down at home, I still remain the deputy governor of Nasarawa State.
Q: How true is it that the Presidency induced you to decamp to PDP?
Ans: As far as I’m concerned, they are only chasing shadows. I have integrity and I don’t subscribe to blackmail. I want to say it in clear terms about my going to PDP that I have never discussed with President Goodluck Jonathan one on one that I want to go to PDP. I can be quoted anywhere. Because of my cherished integrity, I take decisions I’m convinced I ought to take and based on the circumstances in which I find myself.
As I’m talking to you, since I came to PDP, I have not discussed with Jonathan because I entered the party first for myself, then for my people, not for Jonathan. Jonathan is the one that needs me.
Q: Where do you make of the speculation that President Jonathan is preparing you to take over from Mr. Al-Makura?
Ans: I still say that is their trade mark falsehood and lies. When I went to Israel with the president, the house signed impeachment notice. It was going around that the president had called me to Jerusalem to initiate an impeachment notice against the governor, for me to become governor of Nasarawa State. You can imagine that it took the leadership of the house to swear to the governor that I didn’t know anything about what was happening. You see, the guilty are always afraid. I just laughed when I heard the rumour. I think they should try to imbibe a spirit of sincerity, to know they have attained the level of being human.
Q: Religion is somehow playing a role in your defection; can you clarify your position on this?
Ans: It’s very unfortunate. It pains me that leaders of our status can bring ourselves so low as if we don’t know the constitution of this country. To be sincere, I’m ashamed to even address it because those flogging the issue of religion are supposed to be leaders that have benefited from the unity of purpose of the different faiths that we have – Pagan, Muslims, Christians, whatsoever religion you have – because these are the same people that supported and voted them. When these people where voting them into power, they didn’t talk about religion but now they are bringing it up.
Let me tell you, anybody that makes an issue of religion is not godly and doesn’t know religion.
Jonathan is a Christian and unfortunately, God also made me a Christian but the truth is that when Olusegun Obasanjo was in power and a Christian we voted Abdullahi Adamu who is not a Christian. Solomon Ewuga, a Christian had a case to settle about their primaries with Adamu and if it was an issue of religion, ordinarily one would conclude that Ewuga would have been given the ticket, but where was religion at that time? The same Obasanjo time, when (President Umaru) Yar’Adua came, they came with Aliyu Akwe. Was it on the basis of religion, that Yar’Adua and Akwe were Muslims?
In the first place, I have not talked about any ambition as my reason for decamping. I have not even contemplated it and I still say they are chasing shadows. They know they have been defeated, so they use this to earn sympathy.
Q: There are allegations of corruption against you, also given as one of the reasons for your defection.
Ans: Well, I heard the governor during the APC summit in Abuja saying that it was unfortunate that he was the only APC governor there without his deputy and that he had lost his deputy due to (the governor’s) stance on corruption and religion. This is very, very unfortunate.
When I heard that, I wondered; based on which perspective was he talking about this corruption? If he is directing those corruption issues to me as his cohorts are saying then it is laughable. I want to challenge the governor and the government of Nasarawa State from May 29, 2011 to date that I’m the deputy governor of Nasarawa State, if they have any corruption issue against me, they should bring it. I don’t want to say anything yet; the time has not yet come. The time will come, I will show the world who is corrupt and who is not corrupt.
Q: Your former party members have alleged that you are not loyal and lack political base.
Ans: With all sense of responsibility, the person who is purported to have written that article, the person whose name was pasted under the article, assuming he knew how to read, he would have not signed the article. He only put his name on what he could not decode.
On the issue of respect, every one that needs respect must first respect himself. I have said it in my speech and will repeat it again: if the governor who I respect up till now is telling people and his cohorts that I betrayed him, let him go to his closet, between him and God, whatever transpired between him and me as his deputy, let him in the fear of God ask himself, between me and him, who is the betrayer. That was when people said I was very harsh.
Anybody who felt I betrayed the governor doesn’t know the issues but I stand my ground. I do not disrespect the governor but at the same tine will not compromise my integrity.
On my political base, I believe in God because for anybody to come and say my political base is weak I don’t know where he is coming from in the first place.
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