You want the North-East to vote for a northern president rather than a northern vice president. Why is it so?
I’m a very realistic person. Even you, if you are given number one and number two for you to choose one, which one will you prefer? I will definitely prefer number one. We see how our system operates, the democratic system and the presidential system. A vice president will only function at the discretion of the president. Knowing Nigeria for how almost absolute executive power is in the hands of the president, anyone will naturally prefer to be the president than to be the vice president.
You see, what has caused a lot of this hullabaloo about the Muslim-Muslim ticket is not that we can’t have Christian-Christian ticket or Muslim-Muslim ticket . Our constitution does not stipulate that it must be balanced. However, in politics, every sentiment matters. You need to balance the sentiments.
Anybody who says that religion and tribal affiliation does not play a role in Nigerian politics is deceiving himself or herself. We know that the sentiment is very strong. So, we see a candidate who has looked at the Nigerian situation, and he wants these sentiments to be accommodated. He chooses a Muslim or a Christian to run with him. He has satisfied significant population and their sentiment; he is going for the president, not vice president.
So, we in the North-East, I’m a minority from the North-East. I’m a Christian from the North-East. I know what my people feel, and how they approach me with some of their feelings about the issue of religion. I am from Borno State. I know how the insurgency and other things have affected our area deeply.
Even though I know the effects of the insurgency is not only on the Christians, Muslims are also affected. But I know we suffered and bore the brunt more than any other community. So, these people are telling me everyday that they will vote for someone who has provided them some sense of belonging and accommodation.
I know how much votes come from my area. For instance, in the last election when I ran in only nine local government areas of Southern Borno, I got more votes than the presidential candidate in 27 local government areas, and this people are telling me that this is how they feel.
What will you say about Atiku Abubakar and Bola Tinubu’s presidential bids?
Tinubu, apart from being the governor of Lagos State, and a short stint as a senator of the Federal Republic, he built his career mostly as a party leader, who has supported the evolvement of some of his mentees to occupy positions. So, you will give it to Tinubu. But Atiku has been contesting election; he has been involved in politics for a very long time. I grew up to know Atiku as a politician.
Remember, he contested against Moshood Abiola in 1992/93. Ever since then, Atiku has been involved in one form of contest or the other. He became the Vice President of Nigeria for eight years. Whatever anybody says, he was instrumental to bringing some of the best hands to Nigeria. At least, from what I read, he (Atiku) was instrumental to bringing people like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Oby Ezekwesili, El-Rufai, a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the rest. We saw what they did with the economy. Atiku is known to attract best hands to work with him. He is someone that I believe has the experience that he can bring from politics and economy.
Also, Atiku has a network of followers all across the country. He has a network of global influences that he can bring to bear. I’m not saying that Tinubu does not have, but I want to believe a team that has more of those experiences than Tinubu. The fact that he (Atiku) has Okowa as a vice-presidential candidate is also an addition. Okowa is a brilliant governor. He was a senator; he also has experience from the legislature and executive. Atiku is contesting on the platform of a political party that is one of the most nationalistic in spread across Nigeria, because the national spread is deep.
The experience that we have in democracy is deeper. I believe the structure of the political party and its composition also matter because if you look at the other political parties, with all due respect, the PDP seems to be the one that does not have absolute owners. If you go to other political parties, they can decide it must be this or not. But in the PDP, it is difficult to claim that we are the only people that own the party. That is good for our democracy.
Do you think people want another northerner as president at the end of the current President’s eight-year term?
If you look at the PDP as a political party, it is actually the turn of the North. Take a look at the 16 years that the PDP was in power, a northerner has only been in power for about two and half years or thereabout. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo took eight years, Jonathan took about five, six years after Umaru Yar’Adua’s reign. God bless his soul. I believe he was one of the best presidents, but God did not allow him to complete his term.
We cannot say effectively that the North has been ruling on the platform of the PDP. If Atiku had won in 2019, it’s likely that he would have performed better than what we have now. People would have given the PDP another term, which means that the North will relinquish power in 2027. So, if you look at it from the point of the PDP, actually, if we’re going by zoning, it is not the time to zone it completely. However, I agree with you in the context of a northerner from the APC is ruling, and it is now time for a southerner to come.
I agree with you if it is with regards to an individual who happens to be a northerner. However, that is why in the wisdom of our party leaders, they threw it open. But it is a northern candidate that has been there for the past eight years. So, what do we do? Let’s throw it open. Whoever God gives becomes the candidate and all the political intrigues that played out thereafter manifested.