Awwal Garba A. D. is a Nigerian and British trained Economist of a rare breed. He attended the Bayero University Kano, Nigeria and the City University, London, United Kingdom, from which institutions he meritoriously obtained his first and second university degrees.
Awwal is a major player in the global oil and gas sector. With a particular interest in Nigeria, he has developed a proclivity for discovering untapped resources within the sector and has over the years, successfully built his chain of business interests under the Magma Group, nationally and globally.
He is also the Deputy Chairman, APC Progressives Network and Chairman, Game Changers Media.
In this interview, while advising politicians to stop politics of money and vote –buying as 2019 elections approach, Awwal Garba also bares his mind on the APC Government, the political terrain, as well as other sundry issues.
You are an economist into oil and gas operations, what informed your foray into the terrain?
Apart from the motive of making money, I have an affinity with the oil and gas sector of the economy; I look at there as where I belong, although I come from a family where the stock in trade was commodity. My father was an importer and exporter of commodity products.
I was motivated into the sector by the desire to make a change, especially in the upstream sector of the industry where it is believed that it is only the oyibos (foreigners) that hold sway therein.
Of course also in that direction would be the desire to contribute one’s quota to the national economy, in terms of creating jobs, which of course would help in giving the youths a sense of worth and direction.
Tell us about the APC Progressives Network, which you chair
The network has an endorsement from the All Progressives Congress to promote the president and contribute with ideas. Of course, you would agree that in campaigning you need ideas. Politics is all about people, followers; people who can bring in value. In the same vein, the network tries to reach the grassroots and places the party has not touched, bringing in more value.
What are your plans for 2019 elections?
It is to ensure that there are free and fair elections. We want to make sure about that because we know that if the elections are free and fair, President Buhari will continue in office. He’ll win the election.
Does he deserve a second term and why?
Yes, he deserves a second term. First of all, we need a leader who is clean because when the head is clean, the middle and bottom will also be because they would be put in a position where they are wary. But if the top is rotten, then it is corruption galore. We need a leader like Buhari whom money does not mean anything to. A president who is so humble, he can even stand with cows. He is simple, not extravagant, qualities he has officially demonstrated which can be widely attested to. I believe that with him coming back, God sparing his life, he will achieve a lot.
Do you have any political ambition?
No. I am more on the kingmaker’s side.
Because I enjoy what I do and I believe that political adventure would not allow me the concentration I need on my business operations. I would not be able to achieve set goals by not being on top of them. Besides, no other office really excites me. Being a president of Nigeria would not excite me. I am missing nothing in life. I love the freedom I have. I can drive myself and travel when I want to, jump on a plane without the glare associated with a president’s office, without the entourage and all the protocol.
As Deputy Chairman of Game Changers Media, what is its unique selling point?
The Game Changer was established to highlight the differences and show that the Muhammadu Buhari administration continues to change the whole game; from Agriculture, Corruption to Healthcare and very importantly, to unite Nigerians and give them a sense of belonging, while stoking the embers of patriotism.
If you go to Ghana today, you will be shocked to realise the level of their patriotism. A taxi driver always has the Ghanaian flag in his cab as every household, like it was in America perhaps before the Trump era when American schools taught American history, the need to be patriotic and love for country. So patriotism is very important. Game Changer is here to bring awareness about patriotism.
Being such a busy person, do you find time to wind down?
When I was in my 20’s, I used to be a gym fanatic and could not do without the gym. I also played polo. The pressure of work increased with growth and time for things like that shrank. So whatever time I can squeeze out now for personal issues, I spend it with my wife and two children. We take the children to game parks when they are on holidays and try to have a feel of their minds by coming down to their level and appreciating them.
What is your advice to politicians as we await the 2019 elections?
We should stop the politics of money and vote-buying. We should allow Nigerians to vote for candidates of their choice without influencing them. It is a disgrace to buy one’s way into a public office. When that happens, you look at yourself as a businessman and begin to fashion out ways to recoup spent money. This is what has been happening for ages. Only a person voted in by merit would think of improving the lives of the people.