Sometime ago, Umar Labdo Muhammad, a Professor of Islamic Political Thoughts at Yusuf Maitama Sule University, Kano, came under fire for his view that Benue State belongs to the Fulani by conquest. In this interview, he insisted on his earlier position on the contentious issue even as he made another startling disclosure that the Hausa/Fulani…
From Samuel Bello, Abuja
Chairman All Atiku Support Group, Oladimeji Fabiyi in this interview said one of the challenges the country has been facing over the years is bringing people who are unprepared into power. He also spoke on other national issues.
Atiku is saying Jonathan dragged him into PDP, for the purpose of being the sole presidential candidate. What’s your take?
For Atiku Abubakar that I know, he is qualified under the constitution of Nigeria to contest for the office of the president. He has been the Vice President in the past and I think it’s the next level he can go to. He may have a good relationship with Goodluck Jonathan but the decision to run is his. They may have a relationship, but the decision to run for presidency is solely that of Atiku. Former President Goodluck Jonathan would not be doing anything bad to say Atiku has the capacity to do it, give advice, but to say he wants to impose him on the party, I don’t think that is true.
Sule Lamido also wants to contest but it’s democracy, it’s about election, everybody would go to the field, test their popularity and the best candidate will win. I believe that the era of imposition and impunity has gone in PDP with this new leadership under Prince Uche Secondus. I have had the opportunity to work with him and I know he’s a man of integrity and strong character; it’s just for the party to create a level playing field for all the aspirants and allow the best candidate to emerge.
If PDP doesn’t pick him as candidate, what will be his next line of action?
He would be elected because the call has been overwhelming within and outside the PDP. I know there are people who do not want Atiku to be president of this country, who has been working against him. These people have ulterior motive. They are only trying to protect their interest. Atiku for me is a kind of person that attends more to the side of the common man; he’s passionate about this country and successive generations.
Let’s be honest, the only candidate that can win presidential election for PDP as we speak today is Atiku, the only person that can defeat the incumbent president is Atiku because of his track records, networks and structures across the country. The relationship cut across religion, ethnic and gender relationship. It has been so overwhelming and I see him getting the ticket of the party, the party should just create a level playing field for all the aspirants.
Now that Atiku moved from APC to PDP, how formidable are his support groups that have automatically moved with him to PDP?
I am the chairman of all the support groups working for him, go on social media every day, you will see the array of people. As a matter of fact, the positive comments now outweigh the negative comments that have been created by some people in the past.
Nigerians are now seeing that this is where we should have gone. I want to tell you that from day one, Atiku will start his government, he does not need a transition committee, he’s that prepared and that is what the present leadership is lacking. Things are showing that President Muhammadu Buhari is not prepared to lead this country; he doesn’t have any programme or plan.
Some Nigerians are saying the N1billion budgeted to fight Boko Haram is for Buhari’s presidential campaign in 2019. What is your take?
I have seen the ruling government and their agents struggling to defend this action. A government that has come out to say Boko Haram has been technically defeated does not need another one billion dollars, that is a question every person would ask.
They said the money is not for Boko Haram alone but some other things. 600million dollars out of it is going for attacks on helicopter or jet. They are buying 12 pieces at the rate of 50million dollars each, so what is remaining? We can see that there is no sincerity in all this; the money would just end up in the pocket of few individuals and for people that are saying it’s for election; I tend to believe that also.
What plan does Atiku have for Nigerians?
He was in APC, now he’s in PDP. One thing that is going well for Atiku Abubakar is that he has fierce loyalists. If tomorrow Atiku leaves PDP and say he wants to run as an independent candidate, we will see the massive vote he would get. As at today, under my care are almost 600 credible Support groups rooting for Atiku and there is none of these groups that its membership is less than 100,000. That can be translated to vote if effectively managed.
So the fact that he was in APC, now in PDP does not even change the kind of support base he has because while bringing up these loyalists, the thing on their mind was whichever way Atiku goes we go. For them it is about Atiku, not about the party that is where the APC should watch it. It was during Atiku’s time as Chairman of NCP, that Nigeria had the best of economy in this country and the record is unbeaten.
For anybody to say he has not done anything is uncharitable. It was during his time that PDP was much focused. The moment the crisis between him and Obasanjo grew, the unity of the party broke down completely. Nobody can say he has not done anything as Vice President, lots of landmark achievements. The so called El-Rufai of today was brought out of obscurity and given platform that made him a Director General, then minister, by Atiku. Today he’s a governor.
One thing you would give to Atiku is his consistency in everything he has been doing; he has made it a point of duty to always be on the side of people. Here is a man who has tasted poverty and affluence; he knows how it is to be poor; somebody who was an orphan at a very tender age knows how it feels to be one.
Everybody knows why he left PDP. He left because he was pushed out, the party he helped to build. When he went to APC, it turned out to be same.