Author Topic: How Atiku Missed Chance To Be President In 2003, By Idahosa  (Read 234 times)

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How Atiku Missed Chance To Be President In 2003, By Idahosa
« on: December 15, 2017, 06:38:23 AM »
Hon. Charles Idahosa, All Progressives Congress (apc) chieftain and Political Adviser to former  Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole, speaks with EMMANUEL OLADESU in Lagos on former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s defection to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and why President Muhammadu Buhari deserves a second term in office.

Former Vice- President Atiku Abubakar recently dumped the APC for the PDP. What is your reaction?

The reasons Atiku gave for leaving APC can be likened to the old adage that  says ‘you give a dog a bad name in order to hang it’. I think he left the APC because he wanted to give a last shot to his presidential ambition and he strongly believes that that opportunity may not come if he remains in APC considering the fact that in the last presidential primary of the party in December 2014, he came a distant third.  That is the major reason why he left APC. Every other thing he said about his leaving APC because of lack of internal democracy and no future for Nigerian youths does not hold water. He needed to go but you don’t expect him to tell Nigerians that ‘I am leaving APC because I want to contest for presidency elsewhere’.  If you remember, he said the APC will be his final bus stop in 2014, meaning that he will not join any other political party again. Atiku is a man I know very well and I have great respect for. I have worked with him before in the company of other notable Nigerians like Chief James Ibori, the late DSP Alamieyeseigha and others. We tried to work for him in 2003 to realise his presidential ambition, but he missed it at that point.

How did he miss the opportunity?

Atiku was a protégé of the late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua. He has  a political machinery that cuts across the country. When Yar’Adua was in prison during the Abacha era, he confided in some of his lieutenants that in case he dies in prison, they should ensure they draft in Olusegun Obasanjo in order to compensate the Southwest for what happened to the late MKO Abiola.  Yar’Adua’s key man then was Atiku so Obasanjo was forced to work with him.  When Obasanjo was contesting as president, he had no money. Atiku provided all the funds. I know all this because I was part and parcel of the whole thing. Having agreed on Obasanjo, they needed people to execute the project. It was Atiku that called Chief Anthony  Anenih to lead the campaign of Obasanjo. I was the first person Chief Anenih took from Benin in 1998. We usually meet in one very popular hotel in Abuja. That was where the whole plans started before we went to Jos for the convention.  Atiku had already won election as governor of Adamawa State because that was his ambition then. But, Obasanjo insisted that he wanted him as his running mate. So,  he contested so he contested as running mate to  Obasanjo, despite his position as the governor-elect of Adamawa State. According to sources available to us that time, Obasanjo said he will do a single term but after that, he decided to go for second term. I was physically present at Rivers State Governor’s Lodge when the heat became too much and Obasanjo in the presence of all of us knelt down in front of  Atiku, begging him to allow him do a second term.  I think that was how Atiku missed the opportunity by agreeing to Obasanjo’s plea. He thought at least if Obasanjo completes his second term, he will handover to him but you all know the story of third term and that was how they fell apart. Atiku had the best opportunity to become president in 2003 and lost it. He had the support of PDP governors then.  Now, in the process of jumping from one place to another to realise his ambition, he has lost woefully.

But, do you see Atiku as a threat now that he is in the PDP?

Atiku is not a pushover.  The political machinery of the late Yar’Adua is very awesome and still intact. But Atiku as I speak today cannot be a threat to APC or President Muhammadu  Buhari if the president decides to run which I believe he will do.  We must understand that it is easier to destroy than to build.  Buhari is taking Nigeria through a building process and he is doing a great job. I once granted an interview that what we are seeing in Nigeria today is a result of corruption fighting back. What pains me today is the fact that we have a presidency that is disunited. EFCC fighting DSS. DSS wrote a report to the Senate against Magu, Acting EFCC Chairman and that report was used in rejecting his confirmation by the Senators. Yet, both EFCC and DSS are agencies under the presidency.  That is why at times I am sick and tired of attacking the leadership of the APC. When I criticise, I am only trying to help the party because I don’t have any other party to go to. If I retire from APC today, I just go home and that is goodbye to politics. I have no intention of going to any other party. It is unfortunate that we are not putting our house in order and this is a very crucial time for us because the election is just around the corner.

You said you don’t see Atiku as a threat to President Buhari. What if the votes of the Southsouth and  Southeast goes to PDP and both Atiku and Buhari share the votes from the Northern region and  Southwest in 2019?

Yes, it is going to be a very difficult election. There is no doubt about that. I have been part and parcel of these things for a long time, so I understand the political narratives in these areas you mentioned.  One thing we must understand is the fact that the 2015 election was easy for APC because it was  Jonathan.  Jonathan does not have any idea of governance. He was just fortunate to become Deputy Governor,  Governor, Vice- President, Acting President and President. The  North was really frustrated because  Jonathan broke the accord he had with PDP governors. One thing we must understand that this time around, it is not going to be North vs South.  If Atiku gets the PDP ticket and Buhari gets that of APC, it will be  North vs North and it will be a very difficult battle for APC. But  Nigerians are going to look at their track records and vote for the best candidate. It will not be a matter of APC or PDP.

But, I strongly believe that the APC still has to do a lot of homework because I am very scared. I read an interview by Ahmed  Makarfi  recently where he said the PDP is expecting a harvest of defection after Atiku’s move from the APC.  He now said and I quote “As a strategic reason, we don’t expect a lot of people to move to the PDP now. People are in APC for different reasons. Wait for the time when anybody will be on his own, you will see the influx of people into the PDP”. He said some of Atiku’s men are still in APC for strategic reasons. That is my fear. There are so many of Atiku’s supporters who will stay behind in the APC and leave at the last minute. Don’t forget what Aminu Tambuwal did to PDP. As Speaker of the House of Reps, he waited till the last minute before joining the APC.

These Atiku’s supporters who are staying behind in the APC, do you think their intention is to sabotage the party?

Of course! I just quoted what Makarfi said now.  He said some of his supporters are still in APC for strategic reasons. He also said there are those who are still in APC and didn’t move with Atiku for different reasons. So, the APC needs to be careful. Some people are in there to do havoc. We must understand that there are some corrupt people who don’t like what President Buhari is doing and they are APC members. They will do everything possible to make sure the president does not return in 2019.  Many of them believe if Buhari could do this in four years, what will he do if he now gets another four years?  So, we have to watch it in APC and put our house in order.

If you look at the series of defections have done all in his bid to become president, do you see a man who is passionate about changing Nigeria for better or man who is driven by personal interest to rule Nigeria at all cost?

I think Atiku has an inordinate ambition to be president at all cost. If he is in one party and he  knows his chances are not bright, he moves to another party and so on. Maybe, he has a reason why he believes he must be president, I don’t know but as far as I am concerned, he is in a better position to tell Nigerians why he wants to be president having been a vice-president for eight years. I think he is just being driven by the ambition to become the president of Nigeria and will stop at nothing to realise that dream.

 You don’t seem to get along well with the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun. Why? I am a founding member of APC and for those who know me; they know I am always for the truth. I say things the way I see it no matter whose ox is gored.  I don’t even bother myself about people’s reactions. What did I say in the interview? I said Oyegun is a sycophant who is always telling Buhari what he wants to hear in order to help him keep his job. Is that not what happened at the last caucus meeting of APC in Abuja? Was it not President Buhari that saved Oyegun from being removed when he called Asiwaju Bola  Tinubu and some governors for a meeting before they went for the caucus meeting? Even Oyegun himself knows what I said is the truth. All I am saying is forget the messenger and listen to the message.  Those saying I am angry because he didn’t carry me along don’t know me. Carry me along to where? They should go and ask Oyegun himself.  Since he became national chairman, have I ever called him one day to do me any favour or give appointment to anybody because I don’t need it. I  am not going to talk about Oyegun again. I have made my point and it is there for the records.

Do you think President Buhari deserves an automatic ticket or should be subjected to primary?

I think Buhari deserves an automatic ticket because in developed democracies, he has the right of first refusal as a sitting president.  But, I think the Buhari I have studied will like to go through primary so that he can set an example of real democratic process.  But, in my personal opinion, I think he should be given an automatic ticket so that we don’t waste money and energy conducting primaries, since we already know that he is entitled to eight years. But like I said, I think Buhari will like to test his popularity and I believe he will get the party’s flag.

What is your assessment of Governor Obaseki’s one year in office?

There is no doubt that Obaseki has done well. We are very happy with him; he has not let us down. He has brought sanity to the system. The way they now collect tax is more civil, nobody is being harassed anymore. The school system is being reformed. The only area we, as party leaders, are not too happy is that he should carry us along in the sense that the infrastructure he is developing across the state, he should also develop our stomach. He is a strong governor and honestly there is nothing he is doing today that he did not say he was going to do during his campaign. But my advice is that the developmental efforts should be gradual because most of the things he is doing now are for the future. He has an idea of where he wants to take Edo to and he has said he does not want to be distracted and that is why he decided to steer clear of party leaders. But I think that after one year now, he has been able to lay a solid foundation that will take the state to the next level. Like the Alaghodaro Economic Summit that he organized, only few people in the urban areas understand the idea behind the project and it is we leaders that will always pass the message or the idea to our supporters in the rural areas. He is thinking of the Edo of the future. But the truth is that Oshiomhole over-pampered us as politicians and that is why it seems we are feeling left out by Obaseki. But we now understand his style; it is not as if he does not want to see politicians, he only does not want to be distracted which is good.

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How Atiku Missed Chance To Be President In 2003, By Idahosa
« on: December 15, 2017, 06:38:23 AM »

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