By Susan Edeh
Barr. Ahmad Ali Gulak is the Director of Contact, Mobilization and Organization of the President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo 2011 Presidential bid. In this interview he speaks on Jonathan’s chances and why he should continue in office among other issues. Excerpts:
As the director of Contact, Mobilization and Organization of the Goodluck/Sambo Campaign Organization, what are your roles?
My roles are to go out, see important political opinion moulders, political gate keepers, even our religious and community leaders and traditional rulers and talk to them, explain the issues involved and why the ticket of Goodluck/Sambo for 2011 should be supported. At this point in our political history, these two people, Goodluck and Sambo are God_ given. For political stability, economic progress and peace of this country, this team should be supported.
Now we are out on a tour of the Northeast Zone, having visited the North Central and the North-West in the North. We have so far visited 18 states and we are happy with what we saw on ground and the reception we got.
How would you appraise the tour of the 18 states in the North?
The tour, so far, has been very successful in the North. Wherever we go, we meet the statutory delegates, the local government party chairmen, the local government council chairmen who are PDP, the members of the state Houses of Assembly who are PDP, and the exco of the party. And so far so good, we are very impressed.
Why do you think President Jonathan should continue in office in 2011?
Jonathan should continue because he is a sincere and honest President. He is a detribalized and humble to a fault. He is so loyal and committed to his country and so hungry for the development of this country.
And what do you think are his chances?
Without mincing words, the chances of Goodluck at the PDP primaries is 100 percent. And for the general election, the same. From the support we are receiving, the things he has done so far have endeared him to the hearts of Nigerians. Even the petroleum products that are readily available at pump price in all the nook and crannies of this country have seriously endeared him to Nigerians. Some people are contributing N10, N20, printing posters, T_shirts on their own, to support this man’s aspiration.
You don’t consider Alh Atiku Abubakar, who was chosen as consensus Northern presidential candidate by the Adamu Ciroma-led Northern Political Leaders Forum, NPLF be a threat to President Jonathan’s aspiration?
When people begin to think or to talk about consensus, they know that when they stand they will fail. That is where the issue of consensus even comes in. I am a Northerner from the North-East, I know these people have ruled before, they have tried their best in their own times, but their time is over. Let the young people come on board and let Nigeria have a breath of fresh air in Goodluck and Sambo.
How do you view the opposition’s condemnation of the Corporate Nigeria’s recent raising of campaign funds as the beginning of rigging of the 2011 polls?
This is an irresponsible statement. This is a man who is a sitting President and has endeared himself to Nigerians. He has offered himself for service in that capacity and Nigerians have come together to contribute towards his aspiration, some with N100, some with N1000 and some with N10,000. Where lies the fault there? He is not the type of person that will dip his hands in public tilt and bring out funds from government, and people have come out to support him by contributing their widow’s mite. Where lies the fault there? Anybody who can galvanize support, let him go and organize a fund raising. Even in America, it is done.
Jonathan is a man who is aspiring to offer himself and test his popularity with his people and his people are contributing their widows’ mite. The law does not prohibit or prevent that and we are working within the ambit of the law.
What is your take on the controversial zoning arrangement in the PDP?
First and foremost, that is a PDP affair. Even if there was a zoning arrangement and PDP, as a party, has come out clearly to say that President Goodluck Jonathan was entitled to run, that is by the side. I will tell you that the zoning issue in PDP came out in 1998 – 1999 and you know the history of that arrangement. Because of the callous and reckless annulment of June 12, 1993 election which Moshood Abiola won convincingly, there had been political turbulence in this country and in 1998, Sani Abacha died, Abubakar Abdulsalami took over and spent only 11 months and there was this claim that,n ‘look, from independence to 1991, we had more northern leaders than any other part of this country.
So, let us at least douse the tension especially from the South-West where Moshood Abiola hailed from. Let us give a South_westerner a chance.’ And Obasanjo who was in prison was pardoned and given the ticket and it doused the tension.
Even then, when the PDP elders decided that it should go to the South and South_West, our people in the North also contested with him, people like Late Alh Abubakar Rimi and Gamade. In 2003, Atiku wanted to contest.
In 2007, when it was decided that late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua should contest, Yar’adua is from the North, Rochas Okorocha and others contested and Rochas Okorocha came second. If he had won would you prevent him from contesting as a candidate? No. So, I will tell you clearly that the issue of zoning or zoning arrangement was dead on arrival. It had never taken root and it will never take root. What I will say is this: if we are talking about zoning in this country today, there are six geopolitical zones. We must take that as our political arrangement – the North_East, North_West, North_Central, South-West, South-East, and the South_South.
In the South_East, late Gen. Aguyi Ironsi was Head of State of this country. In the North_Central, we had Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar. In the North-West, we had late Gen. Sani Abacha, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and Alh Aliyu Shehu Shagari as a President and they were Heads of State from the North_West. In the North_East, we had Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.
Now if we are talking about zoning, which zone has never produced Head of State? Without any iota of doubt it is only the South_South that has never produced Head of State or President. So if you are talking about zoning, Goodluck Jonathan came on the scene by divine intervention from Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State to Governor of Bayelsa State without election, to vice President, acting President and to President without election.
So this is a divine intervention that we support for peace and stability of this country. Those northern elders calling for the Presidency to come to the North have been on the saddle before. We have seen how they have worked and this time around, they should give peace a chance. I believe 50 years of independence should open our eyes clearer and know that the unity of this country cannot be compromised.
The leadership of this country should not be sacrificed on the altar of regionalism or religious bigotry. I will tell them that enough is enough. We want peace, stability and progress irrespective of where somebody comes from and the religion he practices. The person that will give us peace, stability and progress is the person we need in Nigeria.
In a nutshell, why do you want the North to support Jonathan?
We want the North to support Jonathan because Jonathan is a bridge-builder. Jonathan is detribalized. In fact, I will tell you that the North stands to gain more with Jonathan Presidency. The man is committed, so committed to the development f the North. The man is really pursuing this Mambila Plateau hydro electric power project, you saw the Kafin Zaki Dam in Bauchi?
You have seen the man is frontally attacking the power issue. The man is sincere and honest in his dealings, the North will support Goodluck/Sambo ticket. The few voices you hear do not represent the North. I think they represent themselves and maybe their immediate family.