Mr. Adebowale Taiwo Jante, a social activist and the convener of the political pressure group, Concerned Citizens for Atiku in this interview with Gabriel Atumeyi, talks of his perception of the present state of governance, politics and the candidacy of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in the lead up to 2019 presidential election
Given your experiences how do you see governance under the present administration?
It is below expectation, especially if you are judging by the euphoria that greeted its ascendancy. It was as though Nigeria would become a paradise on earth.
But soon after their assumption to power we begin to see their denials, they said they never promised N5000 monthly stipends to the teeming unemployed youths amongst others. Also, the state of security and the management of the National economy are not impressive. Even in as much as there seems to be steep rise in our foreign reserve, how has it reflected on the wellbeing of the average Nigerian?
You cannot be pointing to such amount when there is high level of unemployment, where people can barely feed themselves adequately and pay their rents.
People have lost confidence. That is why we see large numbers of productive youths fleeing the country. They are leaving because they have lost hope on the leadership of the nation.
So when you have people with such impressions about their own country then a lot is wrong. So governance seems dubious. In Nigeria government has failed to provide security, has failed to provide good education and people now take their wards to private schools.
So the government has not displayed the capacity to deal with these persistent problems. As a matter of fact, the government has succeeded in dividing Nigerians.
How do you adjudge the present Anti-corruption war of this government?
It is deceitful. Deceitful in the sense that those who ran out of the country at the twilight of the Jonathan administration out of fear of the incoming president subsequently returned voluntarily because nothing was happening. The initial impression that this man will fight corruption, recover looted funds and imprison those who embezzled government money have disappeared because the government has been unable to do any such thing.
About a week ago the EFCC informed the public that the major witness in the case against former Abia state Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, had disappeared. Why didn’t he run before now? Why is he running now that Uzor Kalu is in the APC, and would probably be given an appointment? Which simply means that they are trying to cover up his case. So if you are corrupt, it is either you don’t say anything against the government or you join the ruling party. Then you have immunity.
What inspired the establishment of your organization, the concerned citizens for Atiku?
As you know, in life change is inevitable, if you feel uncomfortable with the way things are going, you strive for change; you try to galvanize a coalition of the willing. When you are not okay with the status quo you do something to change it. That is what gave birth to the “Concerned Citizens for Atiku”.
The body language of the government has signaled to the people that they cannot redeem the country. They have further divided us. Today we have the appointment of about 18 security chiefs, of which about 15 was zoned to one part of the country. What psychological signal are you sending to the other parts of the country? Today we have more jobless youths than we had in the past.
So we are losing potentials, we are losing generations, we are losing intellectuals by allowing our citizens to roam the streets or to leave the shores of this country to become slaves in a foreign land.
By the time you put all this together there is need for positive change, not just change alone and we are here to bring that about.
How do you see the chances of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar emerging as the flag bearer of the People Democratic Party (PDP)?
There is an article I wrote in December titled: 2019, what does PDP really want? PDP needs to decide what they want. Do they want to participate in the 2019 election because it is an election year or do they want to participate because they want to win? I think if they want to win then there are three factors to consider. One, they need a candidate that has its own structure, secondly, they need a candidate that has national appeal and thirdly, they need a candidate that is intelligent, that has economic imagination.
Nigerians want a candidate that can provide security, a candidate that believes in restructuring. Those are the factors that PDP need to consider and among all so far Atiku Abubakar has such pedigree. If PDP chooses any other candidate apart from Atiku, they cannot win the presidency. Accepted that power will be zoned to the North for another four years. Among the Northern politicians, it is only Atiku Abubakar that has a national appeal.
How do you see the third force, which is led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo?
Well, we know the reason why former president Olusegun Obasanjo is against Atiku, Nigerians also know that. To some extent you can deceive some people sometimes, but you cannot deceive all the citizens all the time. The third force came a bit late and they need to do more to create relevance for themselves ahead of 2019. Some say the third force is dead on arrival, others say it is a failed agenda. Someone like me would have expected them to have come out sometime around the middle of last year to create sufficient space and time for them to be able to organise themselves to give them wider coverage. Obasanjo is a man of honour, in the sense that he is not the type of person that will see things and keep quiet. He will call a spade a spade.
His issue against Atiku has to do with his third term agenda that failed, apart from that I don’t see any other thing. I think Atiku’s stand at that time is that democracy must remain the only system of government and that it must be safeguarded and not tampered with. If Obasanjo did not tear his PDP card, he would have reorganised the PDP instead of the so-called third force.
By that history, an Obasanjo will not support an Atiku. But Obasanjo cannot stop Atiku because Atiku has a destiny to fulfill and no man under the sun has ever prevented destiny from being fulfilled. He can say his mind but like every other Nigerian he has a single vote according to the electoral act.
How extensive is the coverage of your organization?
We have our national body in Abuja and our state and deputy coordinators in the 36 states of the federation and each state has its own leadership structure. At the national level we have the National strategy council. We also have coordinators in the diaspora, Nigerians in the Diaspora cannot vote but they can make material contributions, they can make content contributions. We have seen Nigerians in the diaspora writing stories and articles advocating Atiku candidacy. We are a group of young professionals.
Every one of us is either a founder of one organisation or executive director of one non-governmental organisation. Presently we are mapping out strategy and mobilizing both at the National and state levels to promote the candidacy of our Man. The state levels are mobilizing down to the local government and similarly down to the wards. We are spreading the Atiku gospel across at the same time. We have started marketing Atiku gospel to them, letting them know why it should be Atiku in 2019.
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