By Emmanuel Aziken
Arise TV yesterday aired an interview with Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP which brought a fresh air to the unfolding political discourse in the country.
The wide-ranging interview anchored by the pair of Dr Rueben Abati and Tundun Abiola has again strengthened the position of the television station as a main stable for fearless political conversation in the country.
The interview brought fresh light into several issues that until now had been blurred or seen as controversial around Atiku.
Perhaps foremost among the revelations was the controversy over the emergence of a running mate.
It would be recalled that in the prelude to naming his running mate that the mass media was awash with reports that the 20-man committee he, Atiku, caused to be set up had in its report recommended Governor Nyesom Wike with 16 votes.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa was credited with three votes while one abstained. Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State was reported to have gotten no vote.
However, to the shock of nearly all, Atiku chose Governor Okowa fueling another round of crisis following what was reported as the rejection of Governor Nyesom Wike who came second in the presidential primaries.
How could he have set up a committee to do something and at the end come out to thrash the committee’s report.
However, speaking for the first time on the issue, Atiku cleared the air on the issue as he asserted that there was no voting among the committee members.
He even went further to challenge his interviewers that he could show them the committee’s report which according to him clearly did not include voting.
Moreover, as many have come out to say and as Atiku said yesterday, the choice of a running mate is the prerogative of the candidate.
He strongly defended the choice of Okowa whose political pedigree he traced from the grassroots, affirmed his intellectual robustness, and even more, his readiness to be president.
Given that the greatest fear for the PDP may be the surge in the Obidient Movement, Atiku came out to affirm his long lasting romance with the Southeast.
Though he did not mention that the romance also saw him picking a wife from the Southeast, he, however, spoke of how that relationship saw him choose Ben Obi in 2007 and Peter Obi in 2019 as running mates.
He said he has followed the same path by picking Governor Okowa who is from the Ibo speaking region of Delta State.
If for anything, it is a revelation that would put Atiku in consideration for any Igbo voter not keen on Peter Obi.
Atiku also used the opportunity to air his views on several other issues including the welcoming thoughts on police reform, more boots on the ground and the lopsidedness in appointments by the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Another major revelation was the claim on his long-term opposition to a Muslim-Muslim ticket as being flown by his main challenger, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Atiku revealed that the issue of a Muslim-Muslim ticket was the point of departure between him and Tinubu after their stealthy affair ahead of the 2007 election.
As a reporter who covered the Atiku campaign before that election, your correspondent remembers how the powers of the Lagos State Government which were initially brought to bear in the Atiku campaign were abruptly disengaged after Senator Ben Obi was named as running mate.
We only heard whispers and knew in part at that time. Now we know in full.
Besides, there were other revelations in the Arise Tv interview on how Atiku started making his money, his position on open grazing, subsidies and such.
Until now, Peter Obi has been the only one of the major three candidates willing to speak on policies and programmes extensively with the media.
The era of two-line quotes and trust in the body language of political actors is not acceptable this political season after nearly eight years of Buhari.
While many have hailed the interview with Atiku, for many it was not probing enough. In fact, some have questioned why it was recorded and that it should have been live.
However, immediately following the airing of the interview, Rueben Abati immediately threw an open invitation to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu that Arise TV was waiting on him to also come on board for an interview.
Given the fact that Tinubu who is about the busiest political operator in Nigeria has not given such a live sit-down interview for a long time, it would be an opportune time for him to clear several issues around his candidacy.
Atiku has indeed challenged him on the Muslim-Muslim ticket and it is something neither he nor his public relations aides can run away from. However, there are many other issues for him ranging from the identity issues that are surfacing to the court cases pertaining to issues while he was in the United States.
These and many other issues would make the Asiwaju Bola Tinubu interview worth paying attention to.