“The real Court of Law which we are sure of is a constructive one and not a court for public opinions where the president is the Chief Judge…”
Wole Balogun, Ado Ekiti
Umar Garba, (PhD) is a lecturer with the Department of Political Science, Adamawa State University. He is also a consultant on World Bank projects and the Department for International Development (DFID) projects, USAID projects in Nigeria and currently Atiku Abubakar’s Director of Policy in the campaign organisation.
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He dismissed allegations of corruption against the former Vice President and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, as baseless.
How do you see the endorsement of Atiku by Obasanjo?
Well, it is a good development for democracy in the country. They are both good leaders. They had a good team; Nigeria had the best of democracy during their term, and was on a good path with a sound economy. Their fight really affected the country; now that they are together we hope Nigeria will find her footing again. Take or leave it, since 1999 we have not had a regime like theirs, any regime that came after theirs tried their best but non performed as theirs, all was possible because they were working together, so, it is normal to fight, it is also normal to reconcile. God has kept them together to save the country’s democracy, so with Obasanjo’s endorsement of Atiku; he has done the right thing. It is good for democracy.
The presidency recently accused Atiku Abubakar of corruption, what is your take on this?
The beautiful thing about Atiku’s candidacy is that, there is nothing new again. What they are saying now has been said a long time ago and there hasn’t been any proof, if you are accusing somebody of corruption, you should be able to prove it, Atiku has left the government since 2007 and if there has been any incrimination against him it would have come out. The truth is, as far as Nigeria is concerned, Atiku is a born-again politician, he is the cleanest of them all, all the cases filed against him, up to the Supreme Court, he won all of them. Since 2007, if you cannot prove that a man is corrupt, then it is you who is having issues not him. The president claims he is fighting corruption, if truly Atiku is corrupt, he would have been put in prison, you don’t sit down and make insinuations like the president and the presidency are doing, the real Court of Law which we are sure of is a constructive one and not a court for public opinions where the president is the Chief Judge, who looks for people to accuse and blame them for his own failures and wants people to believe him. If it is corruption, then, he is worse being a President than Atiku. It is his administration that we see so many people being accused, Atiku’s case has been an exception, there hasn’t been any problem at all, he is a free man and since he left government in 2007, it has been proven beyond all reasonable doubt that the man is not corrupt.
With the emergence of former governor Peter Obi as Atiku’s running mate, do you see Obi as a partner who can help Atiku win?
Peter Obi is a good complement. We should be happy with his emergence, in fact, Nigerians should be happy that we have such a combination, an experienced business man, a public servant like Atiku, a technocrat who has worked all the rounds, a God-fearing and a seasoned politician. For the first time, we are having a responsible combination that will augur well for the country and democracy. PDP has made the right choice. PDP has proven to the world that it is ready to deliver the country, even other political parties thought the presidential primary was going to be chaotic, but turned out to be transparent and we all saw the togetherness in action, we wanted a team who can deliver and there wouldn’t have been any other better combination as both are lovers of this great country.
Peter Obi is an epitome of a good character, with an exemplary life style, so, this very combination will save the country from its abysmal crises enveloping it, as Nigeria is seen and perceived as the headquarters of poverty. We need leaders who passionately love the country with very organised thoughts, leaders who will provide practicable solutions to the challenges confronting the nation, who will discharge duties effectively and efficiently well and revive the country from its close-to-rotten position it has been, not a leader who is bereft of good and thoughtful ideas and one who is a figure of unmitigated and theoretical approaches to the country’s enormous challenges. So, Peter Obi is a very good choice and the combination is a very healthy one and we hope Nigerians will see the beauty in this right combination.
With the rigging styles of the electoral system, how does your party intend to take power from the incumbent?
We have demonstrated that, we will demonstrate it again, if you see the way we handled our convention in Port Harcourt, PDP has proven to the world that we are the greatest party that is anchored fundamentally on freedom, fairness and justice. We had a transparent election and the same transparency we will employ in the forthcoming general elections and if APC is thinking that they will rig the elections, no way! That is why we are imploring and mobilising every Nigerian and we will continue to mobilise them to stand with, protect and defend their votes, their votes at this time should speak for them, no material or any method of rigging will succeed. We must stand to protect democracy! We must stand to protect the rule of law! The duty of an ideal democracy is a ‘free and fair election, if we lose, because we are losing, we will accept it, but not to somebody and party whose entirety is strongly based on the usage of rigging to win elections. We all belong to this country, we know what they can do and what they have been doing, and we therefore, cannot fold our arms and get rigged out.
Atiku is a Nigerian, a very patriotic one, who has gone through the rounds. Who is very passionate about his country, Nigeria and also passionate about bringing workable solutions to issues in the country. He has been evicted for so long and seriously wants to impact into the country. He says it every time, that Nigerians gave him their best; therefore, it is his duty to pay them back. At over 70 years old, what has kept him, what has been sustaining his ambition is that, he keeps saying the country deserves more than what it is getting, the country deserves more than the kind of leadership it is having.