By Daniel Kanu
Umma Getso, a vibrant political activist, was the former vice presidential candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) in 2019.
In this chat with Sunday Sun, she speaks on 2023 elections, presidential candidates, security challenge, the fears and what Nigerians should look out for, among other national issues. Excerpt:
What is your take on the conversations so far by the different presidential candidates in terms of issue-based campaign? Are you satisfied?
In fact, let’s be honest, the way our Nigerian politics is going, I am not satisfied with anything as at now. If you look at Nigeria’s political activity, it has always not been about the common man. In some other clime, they (politicians) talk about issues, real issues and how they intend to address them. They make promises based on the issues on ground and what they will do if they are given the opportunity. But here in Nigeria, especially in recent times, it’s no longer about promises, rather it is all about abuses, tarnishing one another’s image, bringing other’s skeleton from the cupboard. And sadly enough, the masses are not following them, the politicians based on what they can offer, but on what they can get from them, just the immediate gain. The masses are no longer following based on what they can offer, but are now assisting in spreading those wild rumours alive. If you also remember there was nothing that was not said about President Buhari during his own campaign. But that should not be the focus, the focus should rather be on capacity of the politician, what the person can offer, the competence, credibility and all that, but today it is either about the politicians’ health challenge, tomorrow they talk about the person’s financial capacity or about their family. And I don’t think that those are the things that should be at the front burner of discussion. It’s like this is a clear evidence that the Nigerian masses have lost it, they have lost their electoral focus in the sense that they don’t criticize people or the politicians based on what they can give them, based on what they can offer them, but they criticize them based on some irrelevant issues about their personality which should not be the main focus in the mainstream media.
So, what are you really expecting from the candidates looking at what they are offering Nigerians if the opportunity to serve is given to them?
Look, Nigerian politics has never been the way it is in this road to 2023. We are left with very limited option. The political parties have failed us, our politicians have failed us and we also the masses, the voters, we have failed ourselves because if you look at the emergence of, let me say the four major ones, the top four in my ranking , they all came or emerged out of questionable process. Let me take the first three. If you look at Atiku, imagine what is still happening in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) because of the way he emerged. If you look at Mr Peter Obi, you also ask if he was supposed to be the Labour Party (LP) candidate and you can also see the crises generated within the party. You can see an in-house fight, all because of the way they adopted him. What of the candidate of the All Progressives Party (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu? Look at the length that APC went in the display of purchasing or sale of forms. Look at the process that produced their candidate, so the first three that I have mentioned were unexpected, none of them came from a kind of clean door. Now, let’s look at what they are here to offer. Atiku was always seen as one that could bring a balance, but with recent developments you can see that our leaders are not for one Nigeria. They are only after their ambition and they can do anything that is going to bring them in power. Imagine him saying in Kaduna that Northerners should vote for a Northerner, imagine that kind of comment. Again, if you look from the Peter Obi side, I don’t know how Obi can emerge with this impression that he is a Southern candidate or Igbo candidate? Is it only the vote of the Southeast that will take him there?
But Obi has never displayed such attitude that he is a candidate of the Southeast because he has always said that Nigerians should not vote for him because he is from the South, but should be voted for based on his competence, capacity and experience?
I expect him to run a fair kind of election where he will present himself as a full and true Nigerian candidate, but if you look at his campaign council you will know it does not fully represent the Nigeria we are yearning for. He is doing as if he still believes in Biafra and that the Northern votes do not matter much for him.
Obi has said it’s a weapon his opponents are using against him to make him appear as a president of the South…?
(Cuts in) How can he have a campaign director, an Igbo man in Sokoto? It doesn’t happen like that. Of course, the Igbo have spread all over the nation, but inside the state, such a thing is wrong, unless you want to deceive yourself. But despite everything, I want to see somebody that meant well for our dear country, I want somebody that can unite this country, somebody that can fix our economy and tackle our security issue. I am a Northerner, but I have an adopted sister from Enugu, her name is Amaka, I have adopted sisters and brothers from all over the country, so I expect whoever that will emerge to have a national outlook, to have capacity to unite this great country with great people. What is negatively affecting President Buhari today in office is because the man is not a national person, he is lacking in an all-inclusive approach expected of his office. Any person that will come out to say that he does not trust any person from other parts of the country is not a true leader no matter how good you are as a person, no matter what you achieved or will achieve because Nigeria is a nation of diversity. We have different languages, religion, different culture, we are many, we are blessed, we are the giant of Africa, so anybody that aspires to lead us must be one that must ensure we are together in peace. It must be a person that has the capacity to harness our great potential which is both human and material resources. The only person now that is a bit representing a true Nigeria is Tinubu, let me be honest with you. I am not talking as a politician, but as an activist now and I am not an APC member. The way things are going, I am scared, I am afraid, I don’t know what is going to happen in 2023 the way we are going. I expect us to use this moment as a bridge between the younger generation and the older generation. Let it be that 2023 will be a time that we should get our mandate back, we the younger generation to save this nation. We need a president that has sense of belonging, somebody that thinks Nigeria and sees Nigeria first, one with the spirit of oneness, a person that can unify this country because now our unity has become very fragile. We need somebody who will be patriotic and will bring what is good to Nigerians, somebody who is not selfish, bringing family and friends on board. The person should not take governance as a means of earning rather than as a means to serve the people. We need a patriotic Nigerian that will take this great country to the next level in genuine development. We don’t need individuals with heavy baggage as president.
What will you say about the women that are participating in the election? Are you satisfied in their outings?
As far as number is concerned, I am not satisfied, we are not up to 20 per cent, we are not even up to 15 per cent, so how can I be satisfied? The number is even declining each passing day. I am not satisfied, and you can see that we have women that are capable also that are in the contest. I was not happy when the Adamawa woman governorship candidate was disqualified, but thank God, she is a fighter, she got it back, so we are looking forward to her, she is capable and she will pave the way for all of us. If we have a state governor in the Northern part of the country, it’s going to be an encourager for all the women in politics.
How would you react to the security challenge in the country?
I am worried because I am a core Northerner. If you look at places like Zamfara, there are some local governments now that they don’t have a constituency, they don’t have a place to vote because their villages are destabilized and they have turned to refugees. It is a thing of serious concern, because they are handicapped and most of them are not going to vote. In other parts of the country also, people are afraid and you can see the security terror alert and warnings that were circulated by the mighty United States of America (USA). I am sure some of these things are going to affect the elections. A lot of people now are not even after voting the right person, they are now after what is going to happen after the election or during the election process. People have become reluctant, there will be killings in the morning and there will be celebrations in the evening, killings no longer matter, and that is bad.