"How I wish I became Head of State when I was a governor, just a few years as a young man. Now at 72, there is a limit to what I can do. But what brought me there I think mainly is because I love this country. I was in the war front for 30 months during the civil war. I lost a lot of loyal people to me, I lost relatives. A lot of Nigerians did too. We lost about two million Nigerians just to keep Nigeria one. So, nobody should come now and tell us rubbish. We are going to remain one country.
God has given us another opportunity to reorganise this country. Those who work hard, the society will pay them back. Two fundamental reasons I joined politics, I will tell you. One, when I went back home after being a governor of now six states – Yobe, Borno, Bauchi, Adamawa, Taraba, and Gombe, petroleum minister under former Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd) for three-and-half years, Head of State and chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF, the most irritating thing was that of all these positions I had held, people didn’t remember any.
They only remember my days at the PTF because I bought bed sheets and put in hospitals and some x-ray machines and some buses for the schools. They remember me more as chairman of the PTF than as former Head of State, governor or minister of petroleum, in spite of the fact that it was during my time that I signed the contract for the Warri and Kaduna refineries, laid more than 3,500km pipes and built more than 20 depots. We got the tankers off the roads; we saved lives; we saved fuel; we saved the road itself. But from 1999 till date, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP has messed it up. That is why Nigerians decided to vote me.
The second thing that happened that finally convinced me to join partisan politics was what happened to the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was an empire in the 20th century that collapsed without a shot being fired. Everybody went home; there was confusion. Now, there are 18 countries out of the old Soviet Union. They were more advanced than the Western countries in science because they wanted to go to space specifically in 1957, and they had more nuclear war heads and delivery system. And they had organised their societies; they had much less crimes as they got jobs for people.
When people had no jobs they got some for them. That was when I decided, and I believe that the best form of governance is multi-party democracy with a big caveat – election must be free and fair. And that was why I was in trouble. I moved from the All Peoples Party, APP, to the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, and eventually, the All Progressives Congress, APC. I contested in 2003, spent 30 months in courts and ended up in the Supreme Court. I contested in 2007, spent about 20 months in courts and ended up in the Supreme Court. I contested in 2011 and spent about eight months in courts – all ending up in the Supreme Court. Why was I doing this? I know the reason; I believed in it! I believe in a system where election is free and fair,”he said.Source: Punch