Spokesman of the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organisation, Segun Sowunmi, spoke with journalists on some national issues. CHIBUZO UKAIBE was there for LEADERSHIP Sunday
The election has come and gone but you and your party insist that what happened was mandate stealing. Although you’ve churned out a number of narratives as to why you think it was a stolen mandate, looking inwards were there things you should have done that you didn’t do that perhaps that led to…?
This question comes up a lot from the media. There is no human engagement that is not open to improvement, observations after the event is always 20/20 you never make any mistake with it. So in that regard I would say maybe, topmost of them is that we could have used our support groups more, we could have relied on them more as Election Day managers, perhaps if our election group had been our polling booth managers maybe they would have resisted more. But then again you have to ask why put your supporters in harms way?
So from the point of view of how statesmen should approach election, Atiku did everything he was meant to do and whatever was asked of him he did. One of the things that marvel him about Atiku at that campaign was that he yielded to directives to the drivers of that campaign and that is really commendable.
For someone with his experience, being a strong politician himself, having been a vice president and even worked with Buhari, I thought he would be someone who would not yield easily to the directives of his managers but he did.
In the campaigns you all are witnesses that we spoke to issues; did we provide the minimum logistics required to organise things, we did; did we run on a clear agenda that can be given to the people which will help them to better their lives and move us into greater level of development across the country, we did. Did we prosecute it with the diligence and the discipline required we did. Did we engage the media and the public, we did. Did we get in touch with the traditional rulers and the owners of the emotions of our people, everything that was required and that was decent we did. Did we participate in debates as many of them as possible except for the one debate where it was clear that the main challenger was not going to be there, maybe if you think about it we could have come there but for us we felt that attending a presidential debate was not just for sport or fun, it was to interrogate the issues very well and it was an opportunity basically to put the person that was on the job on the spot so that people like Atiku who wanted to take the job off him can engage him.
Looking at the area where Buhari won majorly which is the north; was it a case of Buhari being very popular in the north or Atiku not accepted in the north?
You must first of all understand that our position is that Buhari didn’t win and it is hedged permanently in our hearts. And then you must also see that there is a lot of disconnect and inconsistency in the way the number from the northern especially the key states came in.
The various patterns of human beings towards election is actually to be studied, scientifically, predictable set of outcomes. It is a bit like how do people behave and do behaviour of people change dramatically between one week or two weeks? What we saw is that the north will have to come and explain itself how it was easy for the numbers that we saw at the presidential election could be so much different from the numbers at the state elections.
The people who will support a party or a particular candidate and a particular tendency usually the number does not change much; the consistency is almost always the same that is why you do sampling, exit polls, these things are supposed to be a reflection of predictable outcome and the margin of error is always very small.
What we saw in some of those areas that you are talking about in the north showed that something like ‘abracadabra’ must have taken place. We are in court already, therefore some of these matters we cannot delve much, I guess the court will do all it needs to do and we hope and pray that the court will be able to open this issue.
How do you react to those who say the former vice president should wait for the current president to finish his tenure and then contest again in 2023 ?
Men must be fearful of playing God, for God will be eternal and omnipotent, omnipresent, absolute ruler over the affairs of men. We are yet to bury the carcass of 2019; it is too early to start to speculate about 2023.
Democracy imagines that minimally there will be at least two or more point of views that would be running par time and then the people have the choice option.
If the people go through a dignified process and the credibility or otherwise of the process is not in doubt, then whoever it is that loses an election must be very proud of himself for he would have done the job of opposition. Even if the other man wins, you still retain with yourself a significant level of goodwill and space to be an alternative voice on all issues.
Atiku is already the winner of the 2019 election in the minds of the people; for he is the leader of the opposition now, his views are the yardstick by which we are going to measure the performance or otherwise of government.
Atiku is not going to be silenced whatever the outcome may be. We will bring alternative view points, even on policies, on ideas and directions. The reason is because democracy is supposed to be like that. Democracy does not imagine that once one man is declared winner, the opposition goes to sleep, it doesn’t work like that any where not in the parliamentary system or the presidential system. We will continue to throw up solutions, we will begin to say this is how it should have been, this is what we think, this is how it should be.
So I don’t believe that Atiku shouldn’t have gone in 2019, he was the best bet for the party, he was the best bet for the country, the entire process was energised as a result of him, we believe he won and we are waiting to see how that goes and most importantly Nigeria has been served because of the diligence and the perseverance and the democratic credentials and consistency of Atiku Abubakar.
Why didn’t Atiku heed the advise of some elders who asked him not to go to court?
Is Atiku himself a small boy, who are those elders, how old are they that they should be advising somebody that is old enough to take a decision. I think there are no elders advising anybody. What they ought to have done was scream before the election that anything short of a free, fair and transparent election would not be accepted.
Having failed to insist that this country should be able to select its leaders in the most dignified manner and having gone on again to fail in their ability to call for probe and to say that this is not acceptable, they can no longer wear the toga of elders.
Atiku is not rocking any boat and he is not interested in rocking any boat. Atiku wants peace in this country and he is for peace, if there is anything Atiku would do for Nigeria to have more peace, he will do it. The only thing is that a stolen mandate really means a stolen future and no stolen mandate should go unchallenged and it is not Atiku that is on trial, it is the future of the younger generation.
Our assets are our leaders and each of them has what they contribute including those that are not performing very well right now. But we have a duty to weave a nation together, the people who are calling for the breakup of the country are getting too many, the noise is loud and we need to be weaving it together every day and people like Atiku are the fibre that joins us all together because they have a nationalistic attitude to things. Atiku believes in the concept of Nigeria first before any other thing else. In fact I think he believes more in citizenship than indigene-ship.
If Atiku loses at the courts, would he consider contesting again in 2023?
You cannot pre-empt the judiciary. They are going to do what is professionally expected of them. We hope and pray that the court is immune from the cankerworm that is nepotism, corruption and lack of integrity that has eaten into the other fibres of the society. It is up to the court to demonstrate that.
On whether or not Atiku will contest in 2023, how would I know? I have heard some very strong and responsible stakeholder say to Atiku don’t give up, be courageous, your ideas are good but they are not mindful of how draining this process is financially and emotionally, psychologically. But I trust Atiku Abubakar, I believe that if he has to take a decision he will and until he tells me what he is going to do I think I will just say that we are still trying to retrieve our stolen mandate and by the grace of God we believe that the stolen mandate will be retrieved.
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