By Simon Ebegbulem, Benin City
Prince Chibudom Nwuche, former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and currently, deputy Coordinator, Jonathan/Sambo Camapign Organization in the South South, in this interview says the Northern consensus candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar poses no threat to the ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan in the forthcoming presidential primaries of the PDP.
Describing Atiku as the candidate of a few people in the North, he says President Jonathan is the candidate of the all Nigerians and a new breed politicians who possess all it takes to lead the nation.
Finally the Northern consensus candidate for the 2011 Presidential election has emerged in the person of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Are you leaders of the South South who are behind President Jonathan not threatened by his emergence?
Not at all.First of all I don’t believe in the so called consensus arrangement because if you are going to vie to lead Nigeria as a country and people sit together from a particular part of the country and endorse you as a candidate, it means that those not represented in that arrangement will not see you as their candidate. So if they are only nine people in a committee, I don’t know how they were formed or selected from may be perhaps from nine or six states, it means that we have nine states out of 36.
I think there is nothing consensus about the arrangement. I thought that people like Ciroma in their twilight days should be looking at fostering national unity, development and see that Nigeria is a better country. My generation, we have no patience for that, we have borne the brunt of mis-governance of the past 50 years when people of the generation of Ciroma was at the helm of affairs. We had condoned them hoping that their twilight days would make up for the years they squandered for my future and your future. If they had governed the country better we won’t have been where we are today.
The other issue is that I don’t know what criteria the used for the selection. If Babangida, Atiku, Saraki, Gusau were put in the contest, they must tell Nigerians the basis for choosing Atiku and why the man Babangida lost. I think that as the days go by people will know that the so called consensus was put together by a few tribalists and it is doomed to fail. From my analysis, first of all there was no consensus.
Secondly, whoever had the endorsement of the so called nine wise men is, at the very best, a regional candidate, he cannot be Nigerian President. What we are looking for is someone who will see every Nigerian – Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Idoma, Efik, my own tribe Ekpeye, as his, not people who will want to launch a national bid for the presidency from a tribal enclave. I think it is a mistake and I think it is bound to fail. It is a child born in controversy and the controversy will never end now. They have not told us the reason for their choice, after all they are intending to give us a president. We have the right to know why Atiku was chosen.
But looking at the whole scenario, do you think that it will succeed?
There is nothing like a gang up. First of all, I was Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, by virtue of which I have a friend or former colleagues in every Local Government of this country. So I can feel the nation’s political barometer very easily through phone calls. My colleagues and I are in touch on a daily basis. Infact the strongest support I see for President Jonathan is from my Northern colleagues. You are aware a few days ago, a group of former lawmakers came together to issue a statement endorsing Joanthan/Sambo ticket.
So that is the sentiment all over the country. I don’t see a gang up, I see a gang up of a few reactionary forces who do not really have electoral value. Ask your self the so called nine wise men how many have been through electoral contest. How many enjoy the support of their constituents. Even the leader of the so called wise men, Ciroma himself, has he been through the rudiments of an election before and won. So where is the followership, who appointed them leaders? Leaders are not appointed.
You don’t sit down and say you are a leader, people must give you their support and see you as one. I see many of them as people who have benefitted from the military government because in military government there is no democracy. The media must make an effort of educating Nigerians on who deserves to be called a leader. Not people who the military appointed arbitrarily, they are not leaders. They are at the very best people who are prominent in appointments and perhaps have achieved some national claims but they have always lost in elections.
But some people have also faulted some of the policies of President Goodluck Jonathan, particularly in the area of economy and the handling of the amnesty programme so far. Do you not think that some of these criticisms would work against his Presidential ambition?
You know, I began this interview by saying that talk is cheap. People can sit down in their rooms and propound the best policies for the country. They can even give you solutions to all the problems but talk is cheap. I am not worried about the so called critics who have got wiser. Many were in government before now, they had the enablement to change Nigeria but what did they do in their own time. Goodluck has been in government for barely seven months and in these months he has shown the capacity to be fallible and to admit that he is fallible because no leader is God, it is not possible.
Where he has erred he has had the courage to say I think this was wrong and this was right. We have seen a clear policy approach to solving the power problem in this country. The oil and gas sector, we are seeing some improvement. In many governments I went through hell to buy fuel even recently. I think that if given adequate time he will address the issue of the Niger Delta. Sincerely, he is saying to the criminal elements in the Niger Delta that look you are not fighting our cause, you are fighting a cause best known to you and I will take you on.
He could have placated them but that is not what he wants to do. He has shown signs of leadership and if given time he will definitely do very well. And also he does not have the baggage of the past. History is often a burden, especially the wrong kind of history. Most people who are vying against him have a history of being linked closely with failure of our economy. So we need some body who is not spoilt by the system; who has fresh ideas, young and energy to l
ead this country. And for me, the emergence of Jonathan holds the hope that one day even your own children can aspire in that capacity. We need that kind of fresh thinking in this country.
I will tell you, the most critical factor if you want to transform Nigeria is sincerity of purpose and he has begun that purpose. For the first time a President who wants to go for an election, appoints a total stranger called Professor Jega as INEC chairman. I know that most of those vying now would have brought some body they have close link with and would even have gone to Okija with the person to swear an oath.
But this man did not care because he wants to sanitize the electoral system. Under his tenure parliament has blossomed, perhaps too much. He has respected the separation of powers. When parliament passes bills he signs them into law; he may have some complaints but to avoid confrontations that may hold democracy down. He is giving members of the National Assembly their due respect. He has respected judicial pronouncements and most of all I know the candidates one by one.
And I can say that they are all either my mentors or my friends. He is my friend and senior brother, I know him very well. Power should be selfless pursuit and I find in him these qualities of selflessness of moderation in his appetite. I don’t see him as some one who wants to own the whole world, who wants to influence Nigerians beyond his own life time. That makes people unable to lead when they want to influence the future forever.
You cannot be there for ever. We have the same names recurring in our history as common decimal. People should know when to leave the stage. So I believe that Jonathan will do well and Nigerians should support him.
Nigerians must defend their votes in 2011
I want to tell Nigerians that it is a mistake to seek the Presidency from a tribal foundation. Number two, if they are in the race they should drive issues that are for the common good of Nigerians. Forget about consensus or no consensus. That is all behind us now.
They should tell Nigerians how they want to transform their lives. Youths are jobless and they need employment. So they should try to be issue oriented in their campaign for the presidency.
Nigerians must enforce free and fair elections.
We can’t keep allowing people without mandate to be governing us. We can’t allow god fathers sit down in their parlours and write results for us any more. We must go out there register to vote, cast the votes on election day and police those votes with our lives if need be.
If we elect bad leaders the country will fail eventually. Nigerians must insist that whoever is representing them is some body who has earned those votes from them. We want to have free and fair election in PDP and that is what Goodluck is canva