Last night it was the turn of Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi, vice-presidential candidate of the same party, to take centre stage and offer answers to questions on ‘The Candidates’. ‘The Candidates’— held at one-week interval for the past one month — is a presidential town hall co-production between Daria Media and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), with the support from the MacArthur Foundation.
These are 13 takeaways from the two-hour-interview:
Attack, The Best Form Of Defence
Kadaria Ahmed, host of the town hall interview, asked Atiku why he threw his hat in the ring for the presidential race and the former Vice-President didn’t give a clear answer. Atiku, Instead of nailing his colours to the mast, unpacking his manifestos and political bona fides, launched an attack on the Buhari-led administration. Kadaria reiterated her question, though, to make him know that he had lost sight of the real question.
Atiku, A Candidate of the Future?
After straying from the question and being called to order by the moderator, Atiku said he should be voted as the next President of the country because he is a candidate for the present and the future. Future? A man born over 70 years ago who got his first job with the Department of Customs and Excise in 1969 when Kingsley Moghalu, one of the contenders for the same post, was still a kid and Sowore another presidential candidate was not even a foetus yet? Perhaps Atiku mistook the past for the future!
Atiku Defined Corruption
Atiku defined corruption as “the use of your privileged position to enrich yourself, your relatives or friends”. Is this not exactly what the former Vice President promised to do when he featured at a business summit in Lagos early this month? Atiku said “I am not going to enrich members of my family but my friends.” Atiku will need to expatiate on this statement. This is because Nigerians can not forget easily that as Vice-President he was the head of the National Council on Privatization which spearheaded the sale of several public enterprises that have not fared better — some are even faring worse — in the hands of private individuals.
Abandon A Car, Take An Aeroplane
Accused of dumping the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), a fringe party in national politics and the party on whose platform he won the overnorship election to serve as Anambra State Governor twice, for Peoples Democratic Party, Obi claimed to have opted for a faster and better means of transportation using the analogy of a car and an aeroplane. It is yet to be known what Mr Obi will do should the aeroplane he had opted for land in a wrong destination.
Atiku Promised To Curb Corruption Using Automaton
Citing the example of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Atiku believes the only way to solve the national problem of corruption is through technology, automaton to be precise.
Granting Amnesty To The Corrupt
Atiku said his government will not be jailing people as long as they are ready to plough back the proceeds of their corrupt practices back into the economy. Is this not an indirect way of endorsing corruption? Is the former Vice President saying there will be no system of reward and punishment and impunity will be the order of the day should he win the presidential election and wrest the rein of leadership from the incumbent President? He cited the example of Turkey. However, it can be argued that Turkey only granted amnesty to tax evaders and not to corrupt public office holders.
APC Is A Haven For The Corrupt
According to the gospel by Saint Peter Gregory Obi, APC is the haven for the morally bankrupt and when the corrupt run into the APC tent they become safe. Saint Peter said those in PDP till date are the righteous with moral rectitude. Indeed there is a difference between the two parties: The difference between six and half a dozen! Let’s not forget that Atiku, until the middle of last year or thereabouts, was a member of APC; he even donated, among others, Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, to the Buhari administration. That only is sufficient to tell us the magnitude of the latitude and influence they gave him while still in the party.
Poor Students Are Now Teachers
Again, Obi believes Nigeria should have borrowed a leaf from India on how they were able to lift 100 million people from the abyss of poverty. He said we could learn from them but the present leadership of the country is constituted by terribly poor students who are in desperate need of dunce caps masquerading as teachers!. Is Mr ‘Okwute’ saying what you don’t have you can’t give? Is Nigeria now the headquarters of poverty because our leaders are mentally poor?
The Referee Has Checked VAR and Rescinded His Decision
What can be called the climax of this drama of an interview came when one handsome but ‘handful’ man in the audience decided to put the duo of Atiku and Obi on the spot. The man dug his hands into the archives, brought up a material that contains a laundry list of unprintable descriptions made by Obasanjo, Atiku’s former boss, and went the whole hog to reel off the content of the material. He later said the referee has revised his decision about him. Peter Obi came to his boss’s aid by saying the referee has consulted the Video Assistant Referee and found out that his initial decision was wrong and therefore rescinded his decision.
Atiku, A Record Holder As The Most Investigated Politician
“I am the most investigated politician or former public office holder.” These words were straight from the horse’s mouth. The question is: Why is Atiku always investigated and by his boss of all people? Why is somebody with whom together they were at the helm of national affairs for eight years bent on finding something incriminating about him? (Un)fortunately they seem to be back in the same ship.
Conflict Of Interest
Both Atiku and Obi were asked to explain how public property and investments were purportedly converted to theirs and they didn’t sound too convincing enough. Nigerians might have cause to worry considering the fact that Atiku has been harping on privatization, especially of our grand patrimony: the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Hope these duo will not supervise the killing of the goose that laid the golden eggs and parceled the juicy parts between them and their relatives.
We Have The Willpower
Kadaria the moderator averred that most of our national problems remain unsolved for lack of willpower; Atiku replied in the affirmative but said the willpower is now here, pointing to himself and Obi. He said their credentials as accomplished politicians who have made their marks as businessmen speak volumes.
Atiku ‘Borrowed’ EFCC N300 million
Atiku claimed to have come to the aid of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commision with N300million naira when the agency was still a flegdeling organization struggling for survival and in dire need of money. Though he said the agency eventually paid back the money, some people may argue that — considering his ‘rumoured’ shady antecedents — Atiku tested the waters and used the money as hush funds in case they find a skeleton in his cupboard.