•On character, competence, capacity he has no contest
By Prisca Sam-Duru
With her appearances at the ObiDatti movement campaigns marked by trendy dance moves and crowd-moving eloquence, no one needs to be told that Aisha Yesufu means business in her quest for good governance.
As a civil rights activist, Yesufu’s support for any government, according to her, is usually based on competence with good governance as the end result. This explains her involvement in the ObiDatti campaign train. Her choice of candidate she noted, is based on the fact that she wants someone in “office who will not allow those that will use tear gas on us when we go out to protest”.
And so, for her, of all the presidential candidates contesting in this year election, “Peter Obi is the most competent of all the other ones”, she said, stressing that if Obi wasn’t, “I’ll definitely not be in his camp.”
During a time out with Charles Aniagolu on Arise TV’s Prime Time show, during the week, Yesufu declared that her focus wasn’t even about whether the person is going to win, “It’s about the most competent.
I would do whatever Nigeria needs to get out of the situation it is right now. It’s like every other thing I’ve always done. For me it’s all about what you are bringing in; you know your value. The biggest job I do very well on Peter Obi’s campaign is the fact that I criticise him and I check what he does. I’m sure that Nigerians have noticed in the past few months he has really come up. He is always learning and ready to learn and always willing to be criticised. So that’s the reason why we work so well together and we’re still working together”.
Surprisingly, she revealed that they sort of irritate each other sometimes adding however that “that’s the way it should be. I’m not there to do your excellency thing. You need to just get the work done, and that’s what I’m doing. The moment he gets into office by the grace of God, I’m on the streets making demands on him every day and if he doesn’t give us the things we need, we’ll be on the streets protesting”.
Asked whether her being in the campaign train of Peter Obi will give him votes, she said, “I hope so, and I believe so. I’ve seen a lot of people who say to me that wherever you are we’ll go. That gives them confidence but puts a lot of pressure on me. But I think I do bring a lot of value to it. Beyond that, Peter Obi is such an easy sell, honestly. It’s not really about even bringing anybody, it’s just about the fact that he is good. He is competent, he cares, he is passionate about Nigeria, he is patriotic, and he wants to serve. And those are the qualities that make him competent.”
She however pointed out that it is not possible for every Nigerian to believe Obi is competent, stressing that “the good thing is that many more Nigerians believe he is. I would say in my own opinion, 80-90% of Nigerians believe that. When it comes to issues of competence, character, capacity, there’s no contest; Peter Obi has it”.
For the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaigner, the number one campaigner for Peter Obi is President Buhari. According to her, Buhari “has given Nigeria so much bad governance that people have gotten sense. So, they know it is no longer about, ‘is he a northerner, or Muslim? But people are looking for one who is competent. We’ve had the corruption, the insecurity that has increased over time under Buhari which have ensured that people no longer look the way they would have four years ago but now focused on who would come in and make their life better.
“The beauty about the ObiDatti movement is that a lot of people who are in other parties especially the so called two major parties, who say they are PDP or APC, when it comes to presidential candidate, they’re going with Peter Obi”.
Presently, Aisha Yesufu has been accused by people in the opposition camps of abandoning her activism and suddenly engaging in partisan politics but she explained that she has always been into partisan politics and so didn’t start with peter Obi. “I’ve always been into partisan politics right from 2015. I supported Muhammadu Buhari in February 2015 and a lot of people in his camp were happy. But that didn’t stop me from holding him accountable and criticising him and saying the fact that we had an issue, we had a government at that time that was failing: unprecedented failure. “Unfortunately for us, we brought in someone that we thought at least would do better but ended up worse.
They are actually making the last administration (President Jonathan’s) to look as if it was good; even though it’s better than this one, it was never good at that time. It’s also the reason we are saying to Nigerians today that if they vote anyhow, it will get to a time when people would actually say Buhari’s tenure was actually good. I voted for Buhari reluctantly because I knew the two candidates, I didn’t know the other participants during the 2015 election”.
In 2019 she recalled, “I was on the campaign train of Dr Oby Ezekwesili. That’s why I’m surprised that you people are talking as if this the first time I’m into partisan politics”.
On whether her activism is only inclined towards politics, Yesufu said “I don’t have a career in activism. I’ve never been paid a dime in activism even my own NGO is self-funded. I’ve never called myself an activist and I don’t still see myself as an activist. I’m a trader and I build houses and I sell houses…so I’m an active citizen; one who got tired of just sitting down and watching the country being run by all sorts of charlatans. And we got to a place where we couldn’t even recognize our country anymore and I decided to no longer be a passive citizen.
“Just to let people know, on my 40th birthday, I realised that I was also a problem of Nigeria; my silence was a problem and I decided I would no longer be silent. I said if God gives me another 40 years, I will devote it to Nigeria and we’re on the ninth year.
“What is happening in Nigeria today is phenomenal. For the first time Nigerian youths are saying they want to be in charge. I’m so proud of what they are doing”.
Regarding the level of acceptance the ObiDatti candidacy has received from the north, she said Obi’s running mate, Sen. Yusuf Ahmed Datti has been doing a great job though not very vocal about it. She further disclosed that some Islamic groups endorsed Peter Obi during the week.
”We’ve reached a place where people have realised that this is not about religion but competence,” she intoned.
Reacting to the allegations of drug dealing, money laundering and corruption that the APC and PDP are levelling against each other’s presidential candidates, Yesufu said “they are saying the fact about each other, and I think Nigerians should listen to them, believe them and don’t make excuses for them”, emphasising that this is not time for us to be led by such characters.
”For us at the campaign, we focus on the issues; the insecurity, out-of-school children, economy, unemployment etc.
”There are so many issues and we don’t want to be carried away. Nigerians must never forget that where we are now is as a result of bad governance both from PDP and APC. And now, APC has thrown the country to where it is now.
”We have the ruling party giving us someone that Buhari is more mentally and physically fit than. That’s the insult of the highest order and Nigerians shouldn’t take that lightly. We also have APC giving us what they want to give us. Its time for us to know that this is within our power, we have the power in this country and we must be the deciders of who gets elected, not parties
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