“CUPP has a committee that is handling the manifestoes and whoever emerges will use CUPP’s manifesto.”
The opposition against former President Goodluck Jonathan in the build up to the 2015 general election and his eventual ouster by the All Progressives Congress (APC) have been attributed to the work of a cabal within his party other than lack of performance by the former president. Dr Japheth Ayanwu, a chieftain of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) and national chairman of Rebuild Nigeria Party (RBNP), one of the parties that formed the coalition, disclosed this to Sunday Sun in an interview. Anyawu who is also a member, Media and Publicity Committee of CUPP also revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC are currently facing more overwhelming opposition compared to Jonathan and PDP’s experience in 2015. He also gave more insight on major developments within the coalition.
Now that parties have concluded their conventions, how is the CUPP going about its plan to get a single presidential candidate from the 39 candidates that have won the tickets of their respective parties?
We are now 45 political parties under the Coalition of United Political Party, CUPP. We decided to come together to ensure that we present a single presidential candidate. All the parties can field candidate for other political offices other than the office of the president. But come 2019, we will present one presidential candidate. We have agreed, even before the MoU, that all the parties that come together to form CUPP would in turn vote among the presidential candidates of each of these political parties to pick the CUPP flag bearer for 2019.
As it stands now, CUPP may end up presenting the most powerful candidate, who may not necessarily have the best programmes. What plans do you have to ensure that the best candidate emerges?
CUPP has a committee that is handling the manifestoes and whoever emerges will use CUPP’s manifesto. CUPP is not a political party, but an amalgamation of political parties that come together to say that we must put an end to the sufferings of Nigerians: a lot of killings, widespread hunger. We decided that in order to put an end to the suffering of our people we must form a unity government before the election and immediately somebody emerges under the platform of the CUPP, you will see the manifesto of the coalition and the slogan and the campaign that we will present to Nigerians. I don’t have any doubt on my mind that Nigerians will agree with us.
There are feelers that the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as PDP presidential candidate is generating fear among other candidates who feel that the former vice president might get preferential treatment without due consideration about what they also have to offer. What’s your reaction to this?
The issue of fear shouldn’t arise, because as I said, even Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party did not know that he was going to emerge his party’s candidate. But people who signed the MoU knew that one of the aspirants then would emerge as the presidential candidate, likewise every other party. Like in my own party, Rebuild Nigeria Party, (RBNP) two people contested the ticket and one of them won. We all consulted widely before signing the MoU. We did that before the primaries so if any one comes out now to say Atiku will overshadow him, it means that the person wants to surrender before the CUPP’s primary. In coalition, every party is equal; there is no party that is bigger than the other. Even the PDP is as big as my party that was registered about two years ago likewise other political parties that were registered few years ago are also as strong as the PDP. What is important to us is the mission to rescue Nigeria. Atiku Abubakar is not bigger than his party; likewise the candidate of my party is not bigger than the party. So, the parties, by their national chairmen have agreed to the MoU. The MoU is to save Nigeria; it is not for any political party.
It is generally believed that the CUPP is made of 39 political parties, when did it become 45 as you mentioned?
When we called a meeting other parties that could not follow us ab initio decided to team up with the coalition when they discovered that the coalition is waxing stronger as result of the dream we have for Nigeria. We want to rescue Nigeria from APC and that is why every party is coming together.
What mechanism does CUPP have in place to resolve any crisis that may arise from the CUPP primary?
I believe there is not going to be any controversy because all hands are on deck. Since we have agreed that our mission is to rebuild Nigeria, all hands must be on deck. So, I don’t think there will be any problem. We must all work toward realizing our dream to ensure that Nigeria is not scattered.
Going by the trend in the history of elections in Nigeria, the electorate tend to lean toward notable and established political parties. How do you intend to change this in favour of CUPP?
If Nigerians voted for you and within your first term you failed to perform they will vote you out. They started it with Jonathan. Jonathan, despite all the sophisticated campaigns he did, upon all the promises he gave to Nigerians, they still insisted that they didn’t want him for another four years because Nigeria is bigger than Jonathan. And the current president cannot claim he is bigger than Nigeria. Nigerians have decided they don’t want him, no matter what he wants to tell them now, since he has failed to satisfy the yearnings and aspirations of the people for three and half years. Look at the killings in the country. Just yesterday look at what happened in Kaduna. Look at Plateau; look at Benue where Nigerians are being killed like fowls. God in heaven has said if you punish Nigeria, Nigeria will punish in return. So, whether he likes it or not, Nigerians have decided that another person should take over irrespective of the platform or party. If that person that is coming also fails to deliver and do what God brings him to do for Nigeria, Nigerians will vote him out. No Nigerian president will be reelected without performing during his first term, not again. So, the issue of second term should be a day dream for any president who failed the people during his first term. Nigerians won’t listen to you again. No, that won’t happen again. Look at Awolowo. Awolowo said give me the position of president of this country for one day. He knew why he needed one day. Some people would say 100 days, some say four years. So, if a country allows you to rule for four years and there are problems here and there, you now decide to ask for another four years. If you failed to deliver within the first four years what miracle are you going to perform when you are given another four years?
Many people still believe that Buhari stands a better chance of getting reelected because they are of the opinion that by way of comparison, the opposition against Jonathan’s re-election was more massive and overwhelming than what we are witnessing against Buhari now. What is your view on this?
The Jonathan’s problem was the cabal. What killed Jonathan (second term ambition) was the cabal. It was the cabal within the party, who decided to shut out other presidential aspirants. I was a member of the PDP then, but I left the party because of their style – imposition, wuruwuru and mago mago. You will agree with me that that was the reason Atiku, Saraki, Kwankwaso and co broke away from the PDP to join the APC. The same treatment they meted out to Jonathan and PDP is what is playing out now. So, what APC is suffering today is even more than what PDP suffered during Jonathan’s era. What they did to Jonathan is being done to Buhari now. Look at all the promises they made how many of them have they fulfilled? Boko Haram is still striking, fuel is N145 yet nobody has said anything. The labour has not gone on strike because of this. During Obasanjo and Jonathan’s regimes you saw a number of strikes and protests embarked upon by the labour, especially under Adams Oshiomhole. You can see how God is paying him back. After two successful tenures as governor of Edo State, he is today APC chairman and thinking that it would be business as usual. But look at problem here and there under him after their national convention and primaries. Jonathan did not perform as bad as the current administration is performing. The problem was caused by the same cabal who believes that the party was theirs and went ahead to print just one presidential nomination form, just only one. They just went to that convention, shared and ate the man’s money. But today you see how God is paying them one after the other. In a nutshell, judging by the political temper today, almost 101 percent of Nigerians want Buhari to go.