Peoples Democratic Party, PDP's governorship candidate in Adamawa state, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu has talked about his resolute belief that President Goodluck Jonathan will come out victorious and get get re-elected for a second term on Saturday.
He granted an interview to Premium Times editors and talked about his plans for his state and how his campiagn trail has been so far.
It’s just a few days to the general election, which your party hopes to win. So how has the campaign been so far? What are your chances in the election?
Thank you very much. I believe that whoever works hard will see results. If you work hard and sell your programmes properly to the people, you will get listening ears.
If you reach out to most of the people in the rural areas where the majority reside, and sell your message properly and correctly, you are likely going to get a favourable result and that is exactly what is happening with the PDP.
We have worked very hard especially in the last couple of weeks or months; we have reached every part of the country. In my own case, here in Adamawa, we have worked very hard; we have visited almost all the districts, wards and of course the local governments and we are beginning to see the result of such visits. Already, four gubernatorial candidates of other parties have stepped down for me. And more than two thirds of the state executives of the APC have decided to dump their party to join our own. Again, the director general of the PDM campaign organisation has relinquished his post to join us. These are all good results of our intensive work.
The party is on ground and widely accepted. We simply sold a simple message of unity, peace and security, progress and development.
It is resonating very well with our people. I am very happy with the level of work that we have put in and the outcome we are seeing. I believe we are going to win this election; we will win at the national level and we will certainly win also at the state level.
People say there is underdevelopment here resulting from the actions of your party in the past; how do you convince the people that it is now a new deal?
Incidentally, what is happening in Adamawa, just like in many other states, is like a twisted thing; the people in the opposition today were the ones in the PDP and they were the ones who ran the state down. They did so badly and then moved on to the APC. Today, PDP is surely the new deal; it is the change in Adamawa.
The state began to see relative development when the speaker became the acting governor after taking over from an APC government. The PDP of today in Adamawa has nothing to do with what happened in the past. We were never part of the government, we did not participate in the government; so what we have is new and fresh. As the flag-bearer of the party today, I had nothing with the former government. It is therefore only fair to exclude us from the failure we are talking about.
He then talked about why he left the APC to the PDP despite being a former presidential candidate of the ACN
I think it is politics. You always look at your options and go for what you believe best suits the interest of your people. Don’t be afraid to take it. At the time I moved, I had the interest of Adamawa people at heart. I stand in a better position to contribute to the good of Adamawa state in my present condition. I believe my new party is the one that will give me the opportunity to achieve that objective.
Party differences are just in names; they are basically the same. You may not know it, but close to two-thirds of the APC gubernatorial candidates were in the PDP. Very few of us are the opposite. What matters is the individual. What he has to offer and his intentions and capabilities on what he wants to do for the people.
Adamawa is almost exclusively a PDP state and that is a fact. When the people that you relate with, those who are part of you continue to pass strong messages, a time will come when you have to listen. It makes sense not to feel that you are always right, and everyone else is wrong. What is important, as I said in the beginning, is that you put the people first; you put Nigeria first and I feel that I will serve my country better and do my best in my present party.
I also believe that there is need for unity in our country. We need to build a nation, not just a geographical entity. We need to build a bond of brotherhood and trust each other. It is in the best interest of Nigeria that President Goodluck Jonathan continues to be the president of Nigeria.
Ribadu then explained why he has been campiagning for President Goodluck Jonathan's re-election and perfectly explained why he feels the president needs another four years.
Because first of all I know him fairly better than most people. Secondly, I also know a little bit more than many people in this country. Thirdly, I am an unrepentant advocate and believer in the unity of Nigeria. I respect people no matter where they come from. This country should give all of us equal opportunity to be whatever we want to be. At a time, this country worked hard to promote unity; we worked hard to produce a president from the South West and he was there for eight years and it helped the unity of Nigeria.
It helped us to stabilize, especially those of us who knew what was going on in 1999. I can only imagine what would have happened to Nigeria if we had terminated the administration of President Obasanjo in 2003 after just one term.
Many people also saw what Obasanjo did in his second term. So, it is based on that understanding that I feel that this man, this simple, honest person that I know, who is unfairly being painted in the opposite, should be allowed another term. I feel there is need to hear about the opposite side of him.
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People say a lot about him that is not true. For instance, I don’t think that a single act of corruption can be traced to him as an individual. I know that he is the only president in recent years who did not allocate a single oil bloc to anybody, not to talk of himself. And these are the areas where you can tell corruption in its true colour. He did not allocate oil bloc to himself, family or friends up till now. He also did not give a single marginal field to himself or anybody else even though he is the only president that comes from the Niger Delta where the oil is coming from.
He then addresed the supposed notion that GEJ loves to appoint corrupt people into his government
That also is another different thing. That does not necessarily mean he is a corrupt person. Governance is a very complicated and difficult thing.
All my life I have been an anti-corruption advocate. I have always tried to be honest in my life. I dislike corruption. At the same time, I know situations do come up where certain issues may be far more important than other things.
Today, the unity of Nigeria is at stake, our continued existence as one united country is far more important than any other thing. Presently, the unity of our country is threatened.
Are you saying it is only a Jonathan presidency that can foster the unity of this country?
What I am saying is that we are facing an insurgency. We face a very serious threat. Many countries that face the same problem we are facing now have turned upside down. The government of Mali had to collapse, and France had to come to their aid. It is basically the same problem we are facing today. The same thing is going on in Somalia and Yemen.
So wherever you see this type of insurgency, the unity of the country is threatened. It is the same thing with Afghanistan and so on. So I am saying we need to be careful not to add other problems to the ones we already have.
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I recently made the point that you do not need to change your commander-in-chief in the middle of a war, especially if there is success. We are presently recording huge success in bringing back peace and order and recovering our territories hitherto taken over by the insurgents. At this point, it makes sense for us to be calm and stable to ensure that we do not add other problems.
If we had terminated Obasanjo’s government in 2003, only God knows what would have happened to this country. He did well after 2003 and I believe it is going to be the same with President Goodluck Jonathan. I am not saying he did not do well, but that he will do even better in his second term.
When asked if the only reason he wanted GEJ back was for pay back to the South South for supporting the north in the past.
He said: As far as I’m concerned, we could achieve all at the same time. It doesn’t mean that you will forsake one for the other. Please accept the fact that this is a federating environment. In a federating entity, people come to the centre from different backgrounds, locations and different interests. It makes sense for you to exhibit equity, fairness, justice and equal opportunity for all.
It makes sense for everyone from every part of the country to aspire to whatever office and others will be comfortable with it. I feel that it is in the best interest of Nigeria that this man should continue.
You must be speaking based on what you heard me telling the people in my rallies. It’s okay because I am communicating with the people of my own federating unit. I was reminding the people of Adamawa that we are a just and fair people and that we are such that if you do us a favour, we will return it at any given opportunity.
I gave them instances where people from the South-South stood by northern politicians in the past. They give us 100 per cent support, always. They took the same position with the Tafawa Balewas in the 60s. They supported the Prime Ministership of Tafawa Balewa. They voted 100 per cent for Shehu Shagari. They voted for Umaru Yar’Adua. Now, one of them, for the first time in the history of this country, has emerged as President. The constitution says you can only serve two terms of four years each. I think it is only fair that we give them the chance. So it is not about sacrificing one for the other. We can achieve both. Getting power should not be the monopoly of any one person or group.
On the issue of Adamawa elections being diffficult, he explained: Primaries are usually very difficult. It’s not just in Adamawa. You may be surprised, but this is the first time that primaries took place in Adamawa. We have never had it before. In the past, somebody is just picked and he will be governor. Boni Haruna never went through primaries. Neither did Nyako.
Many states have had difficulties and challenges. What matters is what happens after. In our own case, we reached out to those who we could and spoke to people, appealed to their right thinking faculties and convinced them that we should put Adamawa first and come together to salvage our state.
It worked because majority are reasonable people. It is natural to have disagreements but it is also normal for you to settle and work like we have done.
Ribadu defection from the APC to the PDP was said to be due to the fact he was promised a governorship position by President Goodluck Jonathan.