Interview

2023 Presidency: Why Nigerians Should Vote Atiku- Barr Olumuyiwa Adu

One-On-One With BARR OLUMUYIWA ADU

Barrister Olumuyiwa Adu is a front line politician in Nigeria and a stalwart of the People’s Democratic Party in Ondo State. The two times House of Representatives Hopeful speaks with the Editor-in-Chief of the PATH NEWS MAGAZINE, Dupson Collins on divergent issues ranging from Politics, 2023 Election, PDP Presidential Candidate, Tinubus Health, Wike led G-5 Governors and insecurity among others.

One of the major challenges facing Nigeria as a country is high cost of governance and wastage; do you believe cutting cost of governance is achievable?

First and foremost, do we have a foundation for the government we have in place? The answer is no. Truly, we have a government, we have a foundation but the foundation is sandy. When you look at the structure of this country today, you discover that, it is the same structure that determines allocation of resources in Nigeria. You talk about Local, State and Federal. Is Local Government well structured? The foundation is not well laid and the structure is bad. Our government is wasteful because of the foundation problems laid by the ruling class that have governed the country over the years. Let’s look at the ministries we have in this country, what are they adding to the country? For instance, Ministry of Agriculture, you see thousands of workers on the payroll but contribute little or nothing to the ministry. No research related work on seedlings, no rural agriculture survey and the likes. Instead of locating their offices in the rural communities, their office is in Abuja, wasting away with no value being added to the sector. The same can be said about other ministries. Rather than employing skilled workers to build drainages and culverts, they will award billions of naira worth of contract to their cronies, who in return “settle” them. Corruption won’t allow them to look in the way of Okada Riders or Artisans. How could government cut cost of governance when those in charge are looking for a way to inflate contract fees? All the ministries, agencies and boards in Nigeria are just paying salaries but not adding values to the system. If most of the money wasted in Abuja is channel to Local Government, it will add more values to the life of an average Nigerian. It is not limited to the civil servants alone; politicians are more wasteful. Most of the politicians aspiring to become President, Governor, Senator and the likes are spending huge amount of money before getting to office; what do you expect from them by the time they get to office? Most of the Nigeria politicians see politics as profit oriented business where they invest their money.

State of origin seems to divide us and this is in contrast to the slogan of one indivisible Nigeria; what is your position on this?

I earlier talked about faulty foundation and bad structure, which is why we keep on talking about State of origin in this country, which ordinarily shouldn’t be. There is no reason a Fulani man residing in Akure can’t contest election. Tribal sentiment shouldn’t be the case. Provided he is a Nigerian, he should have the right to vote and be voted for in any part of the country irrespective of where he or she comes from. We are one and we will remain as one Nigeria; I repeat, there shouldn’t be anything like State of Origin. The countrys Federal Capital was in Calabar before it was moved to Lagos but today, Nigeria Capital is in Abuja by their own calculation. If Abuja is the centre of Nigeria, we are not the one that came up with South, North, West and East, it was a geographical terminology before we were all given birth to. If its a geographical terminology, it does not recognize your tribe, state, religion or wherever you came from. It is high time our government stopped dividing us with State of Origin.

Are you part of the school of thought that subscribes to regional government?

For any system of government, it has to pass through a legislative process; as at the time I was contesting election, I had 10 bills which includes restructuring, State of Origin, religion issues because to me, government has no business in sponsoring people to either Israel or Mecca. As a military man (Retired), I have worked with Nigerians from different ethnicity, I don’t see any difference between us. And for somebody to be creating problems among brothers just because he wants to win election is not acceptable. So, through legislative process, we can begin to think of one Nigeria and not dividing the country along ethnic lines. People are talking of regional government because the country is not practicing true federalism when compared to how it is being practiced in advanced democracy.

Peter Obi of the Labour Party is gaining popularity every day; do you see him as a threat to Atikus emergence as Nigeria next president?

Let me tell you one thing. If I must confess, it is practically difficult for Nigeria to believe that you can achieve the best through an individual. The pertinent question is, who are the individuals that surround this person? Will Obi leave Aso Rock and start controlling Wike in Rivers State? My own parameter of looking at this thing is quite different and it is not because Obi is saying all these things on television and you believe its practicable. If you bring 10 American presidents to Aso Rock now, they will have to clear all these “rubbish” and lay a new foundation. We don’t even have accurate data of Nigerians, so how is he going to do it? It is when you get there that you will know the extent of damages done to the country and you will be frustrated. Obi or no Obi, Atiku or no Atiku, Tinubu or no Tinubu, the truth is that, l know Atiku, he didn’t allow Obasanjo third term ambition to materialize; he checkmated OBJ. We may not have been where we are today and it couldn’t have been better but he is somebody that believes in the rule of law.

February 25 Nigerians will go to the poll and cast their votes for candidate of their choices; why do you think Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is the best?

We need somebody that has experience and wherewithal to rescue Nigeria from its present state. Do you know why I am supporting Atiku? Party loyalty aside, Atiku is the only candidate talking about genuine restructuring, policing Nigeria nationwide. I want to believe these reasons highlighted above are inclining to true federalism. If you allow true federalism and restructuring of the country, Nigeria will be great again. For instance, if Ondo State is not doing great, I can easily relocate to Kano or Adamawa as a Nigerian. We fail to realize that this issue of State of Origin is a waste, which must be stopped if Nigeria is to be united and toe the path of greatness. We need people that can make Nigerians understand that our politicians are dividing us just to have their ways and get what they want.

Election is less than few days, Atiku is yet to settle with the G5 Governors led by Wike; do you see this jeopardizing the chances of the PDP presidential candidate?

Nigerians are no longer taking the G5 Governors serious. Wike inability to accept defeat in good faith is making him the jester of the moment. Yes, I can confidently say it that all the contestants in the primaries are good but Wike suddenly started creating problems for the party because he lost the primaries. Let the truth be told; don’t we know the best between the two of them? Who is widely acceptable between Atiku and Wike in this country? Let’s assume Wike is the presidential candidate of the party today, we would have known the result before February 25 election because this is a man that is at loggerhead with his neighboring governors. These governors are not friends to Wike because of his own personal way of talking and doing things. It is not a hidden thing that before the primaries for various positions, even in my own primary, the statutory delegates were prevented from voting, part of the ground work done by person crying foul today but has God will have it, the whole arrangement backfired. It is either he takes it or leave it; Atiku political structure is stronger enough to win election for the party. Come to think of it, between the two, who can confidently win election for the People’s Democratic Party? It is not Wike; Wike cant lead our great party to Aso Rock. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is more acceptable to every region of the country.

Are you saying Atiku will win the election with or without Governor Wike and his G5 members?

If he likes, let him bring the whole money in Rivers State on February 25, his people will have one or two things to say about his personality which might work against him. Take a look at the Governors in South-South and South-East, how many of them like him? He has issues with mostly all of them; is this kind of person PDP wants to present as candidate? If Wike wants to test his popularity, let him come out in 2027 when he will no longer be the Governor and contest the presidential primaries of the party and see whether he is going to get one-third of the votes he got during the primary. The next president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is Alhaji Atiku with or without Wike.

Insecurity has become an albatross the present government has failed to find solution to. As a retired military man, what do you see as way out?

I have been in the system; the Aso Rock we are seeing today, I happened to be one of the officers that led Julius Berger to the place and provided security. At a time, I was providing security for Dondan Barrack before the construction of Aso Villa. Besides, there’s this operation called Operation Zakin in Borno State before they began Operation Sweep in Lagos State by Col Buba Marwa (rtd). Right now, our security architecture is just like trial-and-error. Looking at the welfare and equipment our guards are carrying, it is nothing to write home about. In the first instance, what is security? It is the primary responsibility of government to protect lives and property of its citizens.

It is also the responsibility of the government to prioritize the welfare of these people protecting the country. No ammunition, barracks where soldiers live are eyesores. To perform effectively, government must prioritize their welfare and provide modern day equipment for them.

Modern security is not for people that can’t use technology; the Oyinbos (whites) are not better than us. I was trained in Russia and attended other courses in Pakistan, India and the likes. I know the experience I had. If I should compare their security architecture with our own, what we have here is rubbish. Our leaders are not sincere in providing solution to insecurity in Nigeria. How do you expect a man that is transferred from Maiduguri to Lagos to cope with meagre salary of say#120,000 per month? He has a lot of expenses hanging on his neck and you are saying such man should not be corrupt. The harsh economy is biting everybody; things are costly with no increase in salary. We don’t need to deceive ourselves; this set of people can kill to get money. What of their barracks? Dilapidated structures everywhere: in a country of over 200million, the entire security personnel are not up to one million and the funny part is that, rather than securing the lives and property of the citizens, you see one politician having more than 5 security personnel guarding him and his immediate family. What we need to fight insurgency in the country is technology; the world is exposed beyond fighting war with Stone Age equipment and ammunition. Our Government must put standard in place while recruiting security officers, provide modern day equipment and more also prioritize their welfare. If not wickedness, our politicians travel abroad, see how those countries are well organized, yet, to implement all these initiatives seen abroad becomes a problem. We must make political positions less attractive. The day we stop paying our politicians all the millions worth of emoluments and salaries, only those that are ready to serve us genuinely will be contesting for positions.

Corruption is feasting on the economy of Nigeria, despite Buhari Zero tolerance to corruption, there’s no end in sight. What is the way out?

I don’t speak against individual or making references to individual in or outside the government because I know they have their challenges. I remember mentioning it in the course of this interview that, if 10 American presidents come to Nigeria, the corruption won’t stop. The first step out of this mess is for the country to be restructured. Corruption can only become a thing of the past the moment the system that encourages it is eradicated and accountability takes the centre stage. The system on which Nigeria is built is the cause of corruption and not until that systemic issue is addressed, we are going nowhere as a country. Let’s be sincere, is there any person that is free of corruption in this country? Corruption is not about stealing our collective resources alone, what of moral corruption? Our system gives room for corruption at different levels.

The major contender against Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in the presidential race is Bola Ahmed Tinubu; how certain is the victory of Atiku in Ondo State not forgetting “Omo wa ni e je ose” factor?

I have said it time without number and I will say it again; I am a Nigerian with different attribute, even if its my mother that involves in anything, I won’t say because she is my mother and speak in her favour if I am not convinced of her intention. I am a Nigerian and my determination is to cause a change that will make life easy for the people. If I tell you Atiku or Tinubu is going to win, am l the only person that want to cast the votes? INEC has introduced new technology into this year voting, this is another way of making our votes count unlike before. One thing I’m very sure of is that, Atiku is the man I am casting my vote for. I have been canvassing for him among my people, telling them why Atiku is the best among the candidates. I am voting for Atiku not because he’s my party’s candidate, but because of his antecedents. We can’t shy away from vote buying which many of our politicians are relying on to win election. The N2,000 or N3,000 might make some voters to sell their future, but as a Nigerian that means well for the country, I will keep on talking to people to shun vote selling and buying. I can’t say Atiku will win but the people of the state must see reasons Atiku is the best among the candidates. Our people must do the right thing by casting their votes for Atiku. Nigerians need a healthy president. I don’t care where my President comes from provided he is vibrant, healthy and is ready to make life better and improve the living standard of Nigerians; such person is fit to be my President. The office of the President is too engaging for unhealthy person to oversee. President Buhari mental and physical status does not fit the office of the President of Nigeria. If Nigeria is a country that knows what she is doing, President Buhari would have resigned long time before now on health ground.

Are you saying Nigerians should put sentiment apart and vote for a President that is fit?

Exactly! My fear and I will say it anytime, any day; we are all aware of the health challenges of APC Presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, which is not good enough for the Office of the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is not the fault of President Buhari that his government is under performing but there’s little his health can carry him. He made his mark as the Military Head of State; it was under his watch when the “War Against Indiscipline” (WAI) was introduced among others; an incorruptible Officer but today, the cabals in his government are using his health challenges to milk the country dry. It is high time we stopped politics of “Omo Wa” (Our Son) because it won’t take us to anywhere as a nation. How many of the presidential candidates are talking of how to make Nigeria a better place to live aside Atiku? I am not saying this because of my party affiliation but we can all testify to his zeal to rescue the country from the maladministration of APC led government. If I’m opportune to be in Aso Villa for just six months, I will perform better than many of the candidates aspiring to take over from President Buhari. I’m not doing Follow-Follow politics, I am doing politics to cause a positive change among my people.

As for Peter Obi, I’m still looking at where I can place him because when you come out and start giving inaccurate figures and data as if Nigerians are fools, one thing is that, when he gets to the office in future, it is then that he will know that presidency is not a tea party. Obi has no political structure that can earn him the needed votes to become the president of Nigeria at this time. Without sentiment, among the three candidates, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is the best and he is the person I will cast my vote for come February 25. I’m voting for him because of his determination to restructure Nigeria and ensure devolution of power among other programmes.

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