Bashir Ibrahim Yusuf was one time Secretary of the Northern Consultative Group and member, All Nigeria Congress Foundation. He was a Special Assistant to President Obasanjo on Conflict Resolution and served in Mallam Adamu Ciroma’s Northern Political Leaders Forum that selected Atiku Abubakar as consensus candidate.
He opines in this interview that Jonathan cannot emerge presidential candidate of PDP because he is incompetent.
Now that Atiku has emerged consensus candidate of the North, what next?
He is not just the consensus candidate of the North. He is the consensus candidate of the PDP and you will see that manifest in future because 69 per cent of the delegates in the PDP are in the North. It’s only 31 per cent that is in the South.
The North has 19 states, has more local governments than the South and has more elected officials. This is a matter of Arithmetic. All the candidates for the primaries from the North would likely vote for Atiku.
There are Northerners supporting Jonathan.
How many? They are entitled to their opinion but when we get to the primary, we shall see how they can compare with the delegates for Atiku, IBB, Saraki and Gusau.
There was a report credited to INEC that it would not recognise an undemocratic consensus candidate. Could that be referring to NPLF consensus candidate?
Well, many false reports have been around. There is nothing undemocratic about consensus candidate. What is undemocratic about that? Consensus is just like someone saying, I have a right to contest but I’m withdrawing for someone else. Is that undemocratic?
Alhaji Uba Ahmed, a seasoned politician from the North said concession is not democratic. He even went ahead to say that Mallam Adamu Ciroma rejected consensus in his time.
People are entitled to their opinions. Who is Uba Ahmed anyway? He is not relevant anyway. Uba Ahmed could not win election in his ward when he was the National Secretary of NPN and that was many years ago.
Many of the young people we have today were not born at that time.
So, between Atiku and Jonathan, who should it be considering that certain issues could work against him.
He left PDP and joined opposition and then left opposition to rejoin PDP. It could portray him as an unstable personality.
Is that undemocratic? He was forced out of PDP. He went out and fought his way back. Only Atiku could do that.
How many people left PDP and came back and was told they are not entitled to contest and then is today the consensus candidate of the party, emerging from four aspirants? Don’t you see where he is going? Don’t you see he is going to Aso Rock? Tell me one thing that Jonathan has achieved in that party. Tell me the things he stand for. In that party, even as President, he is being defeated.
Well, let me start from the first one, Jonathan wanted his aides and assistants to be delegates at the convention, he was defeated at the level of the party. He was also defeated at the level of the national assembly.
Jonathan wanted the presidential primary to come first, he was defeated. Jonathan was against zoning, he was defeated. The party said that zoning was part of its constitution. So, tell me one thing that Jonathan stands for in that party.
Jonathan still has the edge as the incumbent.
Didn’t Obasanjo have the power of incumbent when he went for third term? He didn’t get it. Didn’t Obasanjo have power of incumbency when he wanted second term? Did he not kneel down and beg Atiku to get it?
What are you talking about? Even, incumbency is a liability to Jonathan and I will tell you why. He has not used it very well. Everybody now knows that Jonathan is an incompetent President, that he cannot handle anything.
Look at what the amnesty programme has become. He messed up everything. MEND attacked Abuja on October 1. Jonathan said it was not MEND that attacked Abuja on October 1 because MEND is not a terrorist group anymore. Look at what MEND is doing now, blowing up pipelines all over the place. JTF arrested 62 militants who surrendered to the amnesty but are now back in the creeks. So, what has Jonathan achieved? Incumbency is not an asset to him. It’s a liability.
It is believed his political enemies are using MEND against him.
He can accuse anybody in the world but that does not take away the fact that he is incompetent. He has the security forces, the police and the armed forces at his disposal. Who are his political enemies? These are the things his supporters like Solomon Lar, Jerry Gana and others are telling you. These are the people that ruined him; and Obasanjo to top it up.
Are you saying in effect that Atiku is the man to beat in PDP primaries?
This is democracy. People have free choice. Jonathan has filed his form to contest in 2011. Atiku has filed his form. We will all go as delegates and at the end of the day, the candidate that has the highest number of the delegates will win.
Is it not possible for either of these other aspirants to back out in the last minute from supporting Atiku?
It’s speculation. There is no reason for that.
Atiku and IBB had scores to settle that dated back to IBB’s days as an officer and Atiku’s days as a Customs Officer too.
The IBB campaign organisation amongst others have published their continued support for Atiku. That is the fact for now. We are no longer in the past because whatever you think that transpired in the past between these two has been overtaken by events.
What advice do you have for delegates who will vote in the primaries?
I want the delegates to the convention to elect the best between Atiku and Jonathan. I want the delegates to elect someone who has a record of performance. I want the delegates to elect someone who has the experience and the time. The delegates should go for someone who can put this country together and move it forward.
I want the delegates to elect someone who will care about people who have lost their jobs, who will care about restoring electricity, who will bring pride back to this country and you know who that person is. Go and look into Atiku’s record and look into Jonathan’s record and know which of them has a record of performance.
What has Jonathan achieved? All he did was succeed people who brought him into office. What has he achieved even as a lecturer? He cannot even articulate himself. He went to the United Nations and messed us up and couldn’t articulate anything. Go and check.
You are talking about the man who held this country together and negotiated amnesty programme even during the years of Yar’Adua.
That is not true. He did not negotiate amnesty. The militants burnt his house two days before he became Vice-President. How can he negotiate with them? They burnt his house and kidnapped his father. How can such a person negotiate amnesty? He did not.