YOU WERE RECENTLY APPOINTED AS THE NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON OF THE SARAKI SUPPORT GROUP. WHAT DOES THIS APPOINTMENT MEAN IN TERMS OF POLITICS TODAY?
Thank you. The spokesperson is one who speaks on behalf of a group. And in this case, it simply means that the support group and alliances connected to the Saraki project will have one coordinated and potent voice to articulate and amplify the actions of members so that we can stay on message.
OKAY. LET’S QUICKLY LOOK AT THE LAST PDP CONGRESS IN PORT HARCOURT WHERE HIS EXCELLENCY ALHAJI ATIKU ABUBAKAR EMERGED AS THE PARTY’S FLAG BEARER IN THE LAST PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION WHERE SARAKI CAME BEHIND. WHAT’S THE CONFIDENCE THAT HE WILL HAVE A DIFFERENT OUTCOME TO EMERGE AS THE PARTY’S PICK FOR THE NEXT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION?
Fine. Let me quickly draw your attention to the facts of that matter. You will recall that the former Senate President did not enter the race early and when he did, just a few weeks to the Congress, you saw the great momentum he was able to build within that short period and the army of party men and women who rallied around him.
The drawback it seems was that he did not declare his intention early and you cannot rule out that many people who otherwise would have voted for him had made commitment to the other aspirants before his declaration.
People want to be honourable but many of them knew where their heart was and the final outcome was a pointer to the imperative to start consultations early. And that’s exactly what’s going on now; feeling the pulse of the people if you would say.
The confidence is the overwhelming acceptance of his person nation-wide and across ethnic boundaries. That is why we in the Saraki Support Group are also starting early to not only enlighten the public on the person of the former Senate President, but to also buoy him into the race early enough with the positive feedback we are already getting.
I WANT TO ASK A SPECIFIC QUESTION. DO YOU THINK THE FORMER SENATE PRESIDENT CAN REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE POLITICAL SCENE AS AT TODAY?
Of course, he will make a positive difference and bring hope again to the people. Now, in articulating or trying to read his mind at this time, you will first of all look back to his report card in public service especially as President of the 8th National Assembly. Every Nigerian knew that that was a golden era of pure, patriotic and decisive legislative democracy.
He set the benchmark to legislative activism and independence which fortunately is still the reference point on how a Senate class should function. You will agree that that was the most independent and courageous NASS session in the history of Nigeria’s democracy. He was very clear minded on what Nigerians expected of them and he carried on that onerous mandate with such missionary zeal and balance without predilection or regard to tribe, party, and religion but only what was good for Nigeria. So, based on his sterling or stellar performance as the Senate President, he surely understands what the true yearnings of Nigerians are at this time and would certainly bring to bear on the job as president that patriotic spirit, which is the number one requirement for good governance.
LET’S GO TO TOUCHY AREA. THAT’S THE ISSUE OF RESTRUCTURING. THERE ARE CLAMORING FOR A SHIFT OF PRESIDENCY TO THE SOUTH; THAT’S TALKING ABOUT THE WEST, SOUTH-SOUTH AND THE EAST. HOW DOES THIS RESONATE WITH YOUR PRINCIPAL?
Thank you for this question which cannot be sufficiently analysed by one group of people. But in order to understand this national challenge or clamouring as you called it, one must first rewind the tape of our nationhood back a little to appreciate the root cause of this issue. To be honest, every analyst of contemporary history of Nigeria will easily tell you what the real issue is. It is simply because of inequities and perceived limited access of certain ethnic nationalities or people to the interactive opportunities of the federal centre.
That’s the kernel of the issue without mincing words. Then, if you look at the regional structuring of Nigeria, you will realize that it is only the North Central and the South East that has not tasted the Presidency under democratic system of government as it is today. The North is in power currently and wants to continue but the South says power must shift. Now, in the face of this reality today, how can any patriotic Nigerian turn on the radio or television or read the newspapers and not pray for an agreeable link between these two opposing regions? That’s the yawning vacuum that the Saraki presidency will fill. No doubt, he is going to be a strong bridge between the north and the south. More so, North Central where he comes from has not tasted the Presidency. So, in all of this clamouring, any sincere person would rally round a central figure that’s not to the left or right but at the link point. That’s how we can gradually and steadily resolve this inequity and give a sense of belonging to every region that make up Nigeria.
LET ME ASK ABOUT THIS MORE SENSITIVE ISSUE OF SECURITY CHALLENGES RESULTING FROM THE PERENNIAL CLASHES OF HERDSMEN AND SOME COMMUNITIES RESULTING FROM GRAZING DISPUTES. DOES SARAKI HAVE A TEMPLATE TO ADDRESSING THIS ISSUE?
I’m positive that he has a holistic template to resolve this issue. But what I must bring out is this; the issue of land has always been a touchy issue from time immemorial. People have always contested for land rights in the context of ancestral affinity. It is a global issue but if people will respect cultural identification of which some of this land matters are rooted in, we can begin to appreciate communal relationship with one another. That’s a starting point but I can tell you that Dr. Saraki is well apprised of the matter and has the capacity to bring to the table all warring parties and encourage them to embrace peace. We support him because he is a bridge builder and an inspiring leader. Sometimes the solution can just be as simple as a leader people look up to and who inspires them enough to do the right thing and place peaceful coexistence in front of all things.
FINALLY, WHAT IS THE MOST ENDEARING THING ABOUT SARAKI THAT YOU THINK NIGERIA NEEDS AT THIS TIME?
A Saraki Presidency will likely be the first time we will be having a modern President who is in touch with the complexities of modern governance in the digital age. He represents a perfect bridge between the old and the new generation. His experience understudying the politics of his father gives him an understanding of older politicians while his personal time in public service has exposed him to the yearnings of younger Nigerians. I am not sure many people have these attributes.