Wike not yet ripe to lead Nigeria – Fabiyi


Young, vibrant and politically savvy, Oladimeji Fabiyi, is a political aide to former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, a presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party. Atiku Abubakar has severally sought to be the President since 2007 without success. In this interview with BENEDICT NWACHUKWU, the aide to the Waziri Adamawa spoke on Atiku’s chances of winning the PDP ticket, saying that Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, is not yet ripe to lead the country. Excerpts:

Uba Group

Uba Group

Your Principal, Atiku Abubakar, has been going round the country talking to the delegates, how do you rate his outing so far?

Before Atiku Abubakar embarked on this delegates’ visitation, there was a technical committee that went round the country between November and January this year, under the leadership of High Chief Raymond Dokpesi. I am a member of the technical committee. Our job was like that of John the Baptist, to feel the pulse of the people because His Excellency has an attitude, anytime he wants to run, he will ask some of his trusted associates to go and sample the pulse of the people. I did that in 2017 to go round the country and meet with the people to find out what they feel and their pains. These aggregates are usually the pointers to what he would want to do and his policy indices. So under the leadership of Raymond Dokpesi, we went round to 35 states.

What we found was very instructive, especially in the zones that are agitating for the presidency, the South East, the North East and even the North Central but in the overall, we were received by people who really want to be engaged, by people who believe that we need to talk to be able to know the next direction. Even when we were threatened by one of the governors in the South-South that if we believe we were strong that we should visit a particular zone when we go to that zone, we were received with joy, with drums and everything not because of anything but because of the person of Atiku Abubakar, because of the relationship he has built over the years. The moment they heard that the Atiku team was coming, everybody turned out because they believe that Atiku has a relationship with them. The intelligence we had before embarking on the visit was that people were angry but when they saw him, they renewed that relationship and a lot of promises and commitments were made by those who were in charge of these delegates and even the delegates themselves. He only went there to go and tell them what he wants to do for the party and the country and he feels he is the best candidate for the job.

How does the Atiku Camp take the no zoning decision of the PDP for the Presidential ticket?

Atiku is a nationalist and he believes that Nigeria should be one no matter what happens. He equally believes that agitations were because of injustices that were done to zones of the country. He recognizes that fact but politics has a way of reshaping things; the PDP has zoning and as far as PDP is concerned, zoning as enshrined in its constitution as a working document is very clear, when it goes to the South, when they finish, it comes to the North. But when you look at the situation in PDP right now, it is still the turn of the North to produce the next president. PDP cannot continue to dance to the tune of the APC. All those governors that were talking about zoning were only talking for themselves. When we went to the South East, we asked them a very fundamental question whether they were sure those governors who were asking for zoning to the south were having them in mind. We have seen what has played out, most of the governors that were saying power must come to the South were only saying it for themselves and not for the South East, if not why are they going about campaigning? All of them should have said go to the South East, why did they not do that?

“To lead Nigeria requires somebody who truly understands Nigeria. Nigeria is not Rivers State. We have to be straight about that, let us not mince words about it. He is good for Rivers, he has built bridges for them, he is trying, but he is not ripe for Nigeria

Atiku believes that, yes, injustices have been done to some sections of this country and he believes he is the unifier who will bring everybody together under the circumstance and that is what we need. If you are asked today that between zoning and stability, which one will you want? I am sure you will go for stability. If I am asked, I want the country to be stable; I want it to be unified. And in any case, what is PDP sharing when you are not in government? Nothing! The burden is on the ruling party to do that, not on the opposition that is yet to win an election. So the overriding influence of this is that PDP must win and some of us believe that Atiku remains the person that can win the election for the PDP.

In 2015, Atiku decamped from the PDP to the APC to contest. His reason was that power should be zoned to the North at that time, so at that time zoning was expedient what has changed now?

It is not a matter of being expedient but what the constitution of the party says. Was it right at that time for Jonathan to have breached the constitution of the PDP? That is the question, it is there in the public because if President Jonathan had not contested; if he had listened to wise counsel at that time, that is why we are where we are in PDP. So it is still in furtherance of following the position of the party on that that is my take on it.

The PDP has 17 presidential aspirants. I heard that there was a time the northern aspirants did a kind micro zoning and the outcome didn’t favour Atiku but some other persons, what are then his chances?

Atiku’s chances have always been bright and I say that with every sense of modesty. Before today we used to believe that Buhari was always the best and will always do the best for Nigeria, but we have seen what has happened. Today, Atiku’s chances keep growing on a daily basis. Now the issue of the consensus you talked about is a charade and everybody has seen it, even those who promoted that have said the process was nothing to write home about. Even the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has come out to say the promoter of that was just talking from his personal opinion, so as far as we are concerned it was a charade and it only showed the desperation of those who were behind it and the other candidates involved, as far as I know, it was the height of desperation. Even the one that was done in 2017, we saw how it was done, it is the party that will bring the aspirants together and say ‘guys let’s do this’. It was just desperation, some people just wanted the thing to be brought to their doorstep; they are very lazy. My fear is PDP and its seeming laziness because right now this is not what we are supposed to be talking about. What we should be talking about in PDP is how to win elections.

Is there any aspirant Atiku is afraid of both in PDP and in APC? Secondly, is there any aspirant your principal can consider that if he gets to power, he can also do better for the country?

One thing you must first accept is that everybody that has come up, especially in the PDP they are eminently qualified but let me tell you that even in a beer parlour, there is seniority. You can’t compare someone drinking beer of N400 and another drinking champagne. Even shoe has sizes. Where Nigeria is today is to have somebody who has the capacity to help PDP win election. Secondly, somebody who can turn this country around; who understands the dynamics, who has the experience, who can unify this country because our major challenge is the unity of this country. When Atiku declared, he talked about five things; unity, security, economy, education and devolution of powers. These are germane questions that are begging for answers today and Atiku as a unifier fits into the bill of what Nigeria needs at the moment. We can’t miss it.

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State recently said he is the only one in the PDP that can wrestle power from the APC, where does that leave your principal?

You see, talk sometimes is very cheap. I recognize the fact that Governor Wike in aspiring is fulfilling his constitutional rights as a Nigerian, but what I can say is perhaps he is good for Rivers state, but he is not yet ripe to be a Nigerian president.

Why do you say that?

To lead Nigeria requires somebody who truly understands Nigeria. Nigeria is not Rivers State. We have to be straight about that, let us not mince words about it. He is good for Rivers, he has built bridges for them, he is trying, but he is not ripe for Nigeria.


How many states can you convincingly say are today in support of your principal?

The entire Nigeria is his constituency and there is no state he is not popular. In the last election, even in the places where they wrote results, they voted for him. This primary election is delegate-based, it is specific, they know what they want. They told us to forget about somebody bragging and talking about money. What is going to decide this election is not money. Those who had money have never become Nigerian presidents. If it was about money, Atiku would have been president long time ago and I can tell you in history; Shehu Shagari had no money and he became president, Obasanjo was brought from prison, how much was Yar’Adua’s worth? Buhari told us he borrowed N27 million to buy form. Those who had money have never been Nigerian presidents. So those who believe they can dole out dollars are just wasting their time because it is not going to work this time around.