Ambassador Yusuf Maitama Tuggar represented Gamawa Federal Constituency of Bauchi State in the House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011. He is currently Nigeria’s Ambassador to Germany. He spoke to newsmen, including Tribune’s ISHOLA MICHAEL, during his recent visit to his village, Udubo in Gamawa Local Government Area of Bauchi State, to participate in the ongoing revalidation of membership and registration of new members by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
You have just revalidated your membership of the APC. What would you say to other members of the party?
Well, the turnout, as you can see, is very impressive. That shows you how popular the APC is in Bauchi State even though it does not have the governorship power. You know that we have a PDP government but that notwithstanding, the APC remains the strongest party at the unit, ward and local government levels in the state. So, it is only a matter of time before we get power back. The APC will continue its good work which has been ongoing. As you can see, at the federal level, there have been massive infrastructural projects. No other government has implemented as many infrastructural projects as this current administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari.
You came all the way from Germany to participate in the exercise, why is it so important to you and the party?
It is very important to me and to every loyal member of the party because it is one of the most important aspects of the party. Without this, one cannot be a member of the party. One has to register and have the membership card to be able to do anything as a politician. It is also important for the repositioning of the party. That is the reason I had to come all the way.
Some APC leaders are saying that the ongoing exercise is unconstitutional. What is your reaction to that?
They are entitled to their opinions but as far as I am concerned, there is nothing unconstitutional about the exercise. Let them go to court to test the waters. We have a constitution guiding the party. If they are not satisfied, let them go to court. As far as I know, what the party is doing is right. That is a matter of opinion. We are a law-abiding country. We have separation of powers. The party also has a constitution and some of the people that are criticising the exercise are going to register. Where are they going to register? In the party, of course.
There are people who hold the opinion that the APC-led Federal Government has not started or completed any project. What is your take on that?
Have you been to Kaduna and Abuja recently, because you will use a train? Who completed it? Have you been to Lagos and Ibadan? It is the same thing. Second Niger Bridge is ongoing. Look at the fertilizer blending plants all over the country. Look at rice, there is no hunger at the moment because there is rice. There are many rice mills and a lot of farming is going on. The farmers are growing more. Their outputs have increased exponentially. You just have to know, but you see, people are too critical and focused on negativity. That is partly our nature but the media have to look beyond those political criticisms.
What is your reaction to the herders crisis in the country?
This crisis is as a result of the growth of our population. Don’t forget that we are going to be 400 million people by 2050. We are going to be the third largest country in the world demographically. So, this is something that we are going to have to find a more permanent solution to. It is also the pressure and the contestation for arable land. I think the solution really is education; better redefinition and approach to pastoralism and the understanding of transhumance, which is a way of life, a culture. Some people are looking down on herdsmen, thinking that they are inferior or it is some kind of backward way of existence, whereas even in Europe that we keep talking about, you will find gypsies. In the United States, they have cowboys. It is all transhumance. We just have to have the understanding that we can subsist side by side with each other and still continue to progress. The herders too are contributing, the same way farmers are contributing to our economy, to our well-being.
Some state governors in the country have asked herders to vacate their forest reserves. How would you react to that?
It is a completely wrong approach, and going by Nigeria’s constitution, you can’t tell anybody to leave anywhere. They have the right, by the constitution, to live anywhere in this country.
Do you have any political ambition in Bauchi State come 2023?
That is a bridge and when we get there, we will know how to cross it.
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