Atiku

Atiku out to redeem Nigeria from APC govt’s failure —Bafarawa

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An elder of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa once run for the office of president. In this interview by KUNLE ODEREMI, he talks about preparations for the 2023 general election and the current presidential bid of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

 

THE National Peace Committee led by former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar raised the alarm that some politicians and their parties are flouting the peace accord they signed  to guarantee a peaceful atmosphere before and after the poll. What is your view the rising level of political intolerance in spite of the signing of the accord?

The issue is not about the signing of a peace agreement with the major actors and players in the general election. The most important thing is that each party presidential candidate, governors, and others holding political offices and other key stakeholders should appeal to their people to allow a peaceful election. We are one; we are one people with a common destiny. We are all fighting for one country. I do not see any reason why we should be heating up the political system. We do not have any other country we can call our own. So, we owe it a duty to allow peace to reign, for Nigeria to prosper and make progress. Peace is a key factor in whatever we want to achieve. We don’t need anybody to tell us that peace is not important. We need peace not just before and during the conduct of the election. So, it behooves on all of us to ensure there is peace at all times. We also need peace after the election would have been conducted. Otherwise if the country is in disarray, what can you achieve? Therefore, it is not a question of a party, of a candidate, it is for all Nigerians to make sure that there is peace all over the country.

 

Don’t you think that the parties and politicians in particular are stoking the fire in a way by not addressing issues that have direct bearing to the welfare of the people and the precarious state of affairs across the country? They seem preoccupied with mudsling and personality attacks.

We have passed that stage of personality attacks. We have to focus on pertinent issues and not engage in personal attacks. Let’s focus on issues. We should be concerned about how we are going deal with the issues of the economy, power, education, infrastructure, and others. What are the issues, how are we going about it, what are you bringing to the table that can be impactful and make a difference in the life of the people and country? How do we plan to go about bring about a new dawn of hope and progress? But when you start attacking opponents, that he is just a political rival and opponent. He is not an enemy. Poverty does not know tribe, religion or regional inclination. It is the same problem everywhere. Hunger does not discriminate neither does the question about security. It affects everybody. So, the problems are the same all over though with some variation in peculiarities and degrees. So I urge politicians, the stakeholders generally to unite and bring about peaceful, successful elections. The whole world in interested in how we conduct ourselves before, during and after the election. We must be ready to set the pace, uphold standard behaviours and practices.  Our mindset should be the urge to serve the country and our fatherland. Elections are means towards achieving that purpose.

I don’t know if you have read the comments of former United States President Barrack Obama where he was urging Nigerians to ensure a successful poll. That is the kind appeal and message we need and ensure we remain focused and dedicated to nation building.  We must not compromise the unity, progress and stability of our country on any ground.  The elections would come and go, but our country must remain united to occupy its proper place in the comity of nations.

 

But there is a complaint that the campaign of calumny is because there is no consequence over the diaregard for system? Nobody is being arrested and prosecuted for acts of political intolerance.

The National Security Adviser, Major General Mohammed Babagana Moguno (retd) has made a pronouncement that they are going to deal with anybody, who may try to cause problems during and after the elections. The laws regarding electoral offences are quite clear and explicit on this issue. I believe what he has said is in the direct direction. He made the pronouncement in the presence of top officials of the security agencies and I believe based on that statement, it is reassuring and there should be no cause for alarm, I mean based on what I heard the NSA has said. However, I want Nigerians to know that we are all one united family. We must sustain the spirit of brotherliness, love and patriotism. We should love each other, show respect one another. We are brothers and sisters and understand that the 2023 general election is not a do or die. I believe God gives power and whoever He gives power, we should give the person the necessary support to make sure he fulfills his campaign promises. And that cannot be achieved without maximum support from the people for the country to make progress.

 

In 23 years of civil rule, has the country been able to make any substantial progress based on the prevalent socio-economic and development in the country?

I think there has been relative progress. Take for example, that especially in my party, PDP. It is the oldest party in the country. So, we are making progress. That is how the Republican and the Democrats have come to stay in the US, whereas there are many other political parties in America, but gradually, the Republican and the Democrats came to be the two leading parties in US. So as far as we are concerned, , in the politics of Nigeria, the subsisting trend is PDP and others. Therefore, a number of members of the rest of the parties have been members of the PDP in one way or the other. Almost 90 percent of Nigerians were members or produced by PDP. So at least, we are moving forward if we can retain one party for almost 24 years. We have to be grateful to have a party that has lasted for close to 24 years now without changing its name, manifesto; it has been consistent and focused. Democracy is making progress in the country, more especially given the antecedent and pedigree of  PDP. Maybe, the All Progressives Congress (APC) will copy from PDP and then, we will come up with strong political parties and steadily  become institutionalized just like you have in US, where the two leading parties compete and alternate power in both the executive and the legislative arm of government based on the wishes and aspirations of the US electorate. Sometimes, when the Republican win the president, the Democrats often control the majority in the Congress, and so on and so forth. It is apparent that with time, there might just two leading parties in Nigeria as well, with PDP as the mother and others the junior sister of PDP. In short, for now, PDP remains the mother of the political parties. There is hardly any member of the other parties that has not been under the umbrella of PDP at certain levels since it was formed in 1998. It has the spread, presence and effects across the grassroots across the country.

 

Having spent 16 years in power, what is so special about what PDP plans to bring on board this time if it wins the 2023 elections?

Haba! What a question! You know all these things. How much was a bag of rice before the PDP left office and handed over power in 2015? You cannot even compare the situation when PDp was in the Nigerian government; you can’t compare PDP with others.  When APC came, they were abusing PDP look at the prevailing predicament of the country today, they have failed. They have admitted that themselves. So the only party that can salvage the country from going in the wrong direction is the PDP.

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What is the uniqueness of PDP plan for the country if it produces next president?

We have a lot things packaged to redeem the country from the abyss it has been taken to by the APC. Our candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. He has got great attributes: he has experience; he has got the exposure; he is not looking for anything ; he has just come to serve the country. He is not looking for money. All he wants to do is to serve the country. He will make a difference between today and tomorrow based on his pedigree, altruistic spirit. Our candidate has the knowledge, the health, mental aptitude, capacity, international expose, entrepreneurial background to deliver the good. So we cannot just waste out time arguing whether he is fit. He is more than fit as far as every Nigerian can think about. He was vice president under a president who served for eight years, he has contested as presidential candidate for various elections at different times. So, he has the experience and programme to make a huge difference and meaningful impact if elected. Nobody can doubt his performance in business, professional background and other experiences. Even his junior brother, who is now contesting under the APC knows his own him if it not because of politics, he would have probably come and say since you are the one, go ahead so that we can move forward.

 

Some Nigerians argue that having tried and trusted PDP and APC with power since 1999, yet the country is where it is now: groping in the dark in all ramifications, it was time for a paradigm shift in power locus.

It is because Atiku has not been given the opportunity to lead the country. I know what a sitting deputy governor or vice-president goes through. You only do what your boss has asked you to do. You don’t have the power. That is why he is seeking the mandate of Nigerians so that he can further prove his leadership capacity, resourcefulness, diligence and proficiency.  Talking about testing, APC, we have tested All Peoples Party,  ANPP, AD, APC, But unfortunately, the current president doesn’t have the experience; he is not a politician he is still behaving like a military. Atiku is  a democrat and you will need a democrat to guide democracy.


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