Chief Abayomi Tella is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State. A former Council chairman of Ado-Odo/Ota,Tella is also the National Deputy President of Yoruba Patriots Movement (YPM). He speaks on the chances of the PDP in next month’s presidential contest.
Some politicians have been heating up the polity, making inflammatory statements. What is your advice to them?
First and foremost, in preparation for elections, there would always be statements and counter statements from politicians. As long as it does not go out of control, that is the beauty of democracy. But politicians should be weary of what they say. We don’t have any other country than Nigeria.
We learnt your people want you as either Deputy Governor or a federal lawmaker. But you did not get any. Why?
It’s true the deputy governor was zoned to my area but remember it’s the sole prerogative of the governorship candidate to choose his running mate, for whatever reason or reasons best known to him he preferred someone else. As for the House of Representatives slot, I actually dropped the aspiration for the deputy governorship slot. But my brother the rest is history…. For me, as a child of destiny, I hand over my political future to God. I am a loyal party man.
Do you think Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi will win the presidential election?
First and foremost, as a South West Exco member of the PDP, I will take a pragmatic look at Atiku/Obi chances in the poll as it relates to South West states. You will agree with me that there is a sharp decline in economy of South West in the last two years; industries are folding up while others are relocating to neighbouring countries because of poor economic policy of APC administration. Different exchange rates are jerking up prices of goods and services. Petty businesses are folding up. South west, which used to be center of business activities, has grinded to a halt.
Education is the worst hit under this dispensation. Students who are supposed to graduate in the next two years are now at home due to prolonged strike.
In area of agriculture, our farmers now live in fear from herdsmen attacks because of government’s inaction. If we have a government that checkmates the menace may be things would fall in line. So it is only Atiku Abubakar that can solve this problem permanently. I am of the opinion that Abubakar would win the election irrespective of what the opposition is planning. They would attempt to rig but such plan would fail, we shall resist every plan to rig the election. Come to think of it, unemployment is rendering our youths useless. Our people have now turned to beggars. Yoruba are not beggars, but the poor economy has pushed them to the wall.
Why Atiku? You would ask me. Yoruba vote for Atiku is Ibo Alajobi. Yes Atiku is one of us. The South-West was the first geopolitical zone to put restructuring before Atiku. Atiku is the first northerner to share in the belief that Nigeria needs to be restructured. A vote for Atiku is in the interest of the South West because of the following reasons: First his wife is a Yoruba from the South West. Secondly, it was Atiku that stepped down for late MKO Abiola. He had opportunity to contest the election and split Abiola’s votes in the North-East, but he chose to step down and supported Abiola. Without his sacrifice there wouldn’t have been June 12.
Atiku also worked with former president, Olusegun Obasanjo for eight years as vice president, for eight years even when some people urged him to go for the presidency after Obasanjo’s first tenure, he chose to remain loyal to him. He spent most of his time in Yoruba land and as such understands the temperament of the South West. These are some of the reason the zone is resolute in its belief to give Atiku their block votes. He is the only presidential candidate prepared to govern this country. Since three years ago, he has drawn up plans on how he would entrench good governance in the country. I am sure Atiku would create job just as he would attract foreign investors. Nigeria’s unity is threatened but as a bridge builder he would unite the country and save it from ethnic chauvinists. Through restructuring and diversification of the economy, he would return the country to the part of glory.
When you look at the present administration, you would discover a lot of deceit. All their promises have failed. But Atiku would keep his campaign promises. Based on these poor performances, Nigerians have resolved to vote against President Muhammadu Buhari so as to get the desired change that we really need. We are not just giving Atiku Abubakar our mandate; we are doing that with a warning that if within one year he fails to implement his campaign promises, the South West could change their mind. But I must confess to you that Atiku that I know and met is passionate about this country and would deliver on his promises.
Can you also take a critical look at Atiku’s chances in the South East?
I should believe that there is lots of dichotomy among the Igbo. But their voting pattern is always in block. The South East is more resolute in terms of voting pattern than other region. Just tell me one single project that has been initiated and completed in that region under this present government? None! South easterners are known to be businessmen, but today, industries are folding up, while small and medium scale entrepreneurs have collapsed. While the party is promising Igbo presidency in 2023, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is also promising South West presidency in 2023. So you can see the deceit and mago mago in APC.
The decision by Atiku to pick running mate from that region is not an error. In the history of governance in Nigeria, no any state governor was as prudent as former governor, Peter Obi of Anambra State. So, bearing in mind that southern Nigerians agenda is restructuring, Atiku /Obi ticket would ensure the realisation of this goal. Therefore, South East and other regions would vote for Atiku next month.
Again, Igbo people know that Atiku is not a religious bigot. Yes, he is a Fulani man, but a Fulani who has interest of all Nigerians at heart because he has related with them across the board. I have no doubt that the South-South and the South-East would give PDP block votes during the election.
Looking at the fight against corruption by the APC-led Federal Government, would you say it is achieving the desired result?
My candid advice to APC is to thread softly. A situation where the government of the day is intimidating opposition would definitely backfire someday. They should know that if intimidation gets to a certain level, the people might revolt. The former President, Goodluck J Jonathan was in power for close to eight years and never for once freeze the account of Buhari. Even Tinubu who was one of the major financiers of the party, his account or businesses were never harassed. Amaechi and even Atiku’s account were not in any way tampered with.
But today, what do we have? Peter Obi’s account has been frozen again and again. Above all, even when Jonathan knew that massive rigging took place, he still conceded defeat. APC must therefore better be careful. The party should not push Nigerians to their limit. They should ensure that there is free and fair election. They better leave people in peace to make their choice. The party better leave the leadership of PDP alone.
If this government is truly fighting corruption, why is Amaechi and others still walking about freely despite allegations of corruption against them from their home states? Why is Maina’s case not being treated the same way other corruption cases were handled? If this government is fighting corruption what happened to the millions of Dollars recovered in Ikoyi? Why has Buhari not flush out the corrupt people surrounding him? My brother, if you look at this so-called fight against corruption you would agree with me that it is just mere shadow boxing. Once you are a corrupt person and you flee to APC, you are saved. Is this how to fight corruption? I beg to disagree.
But the PDP’s presidential candidate, Atiku, has also been accused of corruption. What do you say to that?
Atiku has been in government for years. When he was financing APC in 2014, he wasn’t corrupt but immediately he declared to run for presidency, they declared him corrupt. That is double standard. Lying and cheap propaganda is the order of the day of the APC and its government.
In any case, should the fight against corruption be a barrier to infrastructure development? The answer is no. Today even a small child knows that road infrastructure nationwide is in poor shape. Look at the Lagos-Badagry expressway, the Atan-Igbesa road in Ogun State, the second Niger Bridge, all are in comatose and when you ask why, they will quickly tell you that they are fighting corruption.
Electricity, primary health care, education, rail line, all have grinded to a halt in less than four years of this administration. This is unfortunate. So in order to correct these anomalies and get Nigeria working again, Nigerians should vote Alhaji Atiku in next month’s election. His victory at the poll would erase tears of poverty from Nigeria.