Editor's note: The declaration by the former governor of Lagos state and national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to run for president in 2023 has continued to generate mixed reactions among Nigerians.
In this exclusive interview with Legit.ng, a former senior special assistant to vice president Namadi Sambo on media and publicity, Umar Sani, reacted to Tinubu's ambition to govern the country, PDP's chances to win the forthcoming presidential election, and zoning system among other issues.
How do you react to Tinubu's declaration to run for president?
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Jagaban of Borgu, is entitled to seek for the highest office of the land. His quest to serve Nigeria is equal to the philosophy of equal opportunity for all. He has served Nigeria as a senator, governor and party leader.
Why I am concerned about Tinubu's health, age
His experience in all spheres should be brought to bear in the leadership of the nation. My only worry is whether he is physically, mentally and emotionally stable for the assignment. Age as you can see, is telling on him and he doesn’t look fit and agile to take up the gauntlet as it is a huge challenge to restore the unity, confidence and prosperity of Nigeria.
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His party has not done well in the running of affairs of our dear nation. There is a loss of confidence in the party to live up to expectations, especially as they have failed in their three chosen areas of responsibility - fight against corruption, insecurity and economic prosperity. Perhaps if he were to be fit as a fiddle he could reenact the Lagos magic
Some people believe that he would be a good president if he eventually wins the election based on his antecedents, do you see him as the kind of leader Nigerians want now?
I have my reservations as regards such postulations by a certain category of Nigerians. Like I earlier mentioned, Asiwaju is no longer his old self when he served Lagos state. If you add 22 years to his age when he was first elected as a governor, you will agree with me that Nigeria is diverse, populated and occupies a landmass that is difficult to traverse by a man of his age and stature. Healthwise, he has not fared any better, he has been in and out of hospitals lately and it does not demonstrate a high degree or sign of fitness.
He is expected to put up a lot of time, energy and acumen if he must succeed as a president. Is he ready for such a gargantuan task? We are not ready to have another Buhari who spends little time in addressing national concerns. I pray he gets reinvigorated so as to meet the challenges of our nation’s leadership. I have nothing against him but I have my doubts.
The former governor of Nigeria state, Babangida Aliyu, recently said that your party - PDP has agreed to rezone the ticket to the north but his claim was later debunked by the leadership of the party. Do you support the idea that the presidential candidate should come from the north in 2023?
Babangida Aliyu is a senior citizen and an important stakeholder in our party. He participates in meetings both nocturnal and official. Perhaps, in one of their meetings such decisions was taken without it been committed to pen and paper.
Don’t forget the present National Working Committee members are new in the administration of the party and I doubt if they have received proper hand over notes from the right source and are adequately and sufficiently briefed on all outstanding questions or decisions earlier taken at various fora.
However, since the party has debunked such assertion, we await his further proof of the existence of such an understanding or decision. It is important that such an important and vexed issue be resolved much earlier so that progress can be made much faster. Disenchantment or confusion should not be accorded any place so as not to set the party backward. We look forward to the resolution of all outstanding issues early to allow our party reposition itself for the challenges ahead.
It is believed that the people of the southeast only play regional politics unlike the southwest, based on this, do you subscribe to Igbo presidency in 2023?
Whatever type of politics they play, they are part of a federation that has a constitution which guarantees a swathe of opportunities for all. They should throw their hat into the ring perhaps they might be lucky to clinch it. In 1999, if not for the gang up of the Generals, Chief Dr Alex Ekwueme would have been president.
I believe in Igbo presidency
Dr Sylvester Ugo a running mate to late Dr Bashir Tofa and Dr Chuba Okadigbo running mate to President Muhammadu Buhari would have since ascended the seat if their principals were elected. I believe in Igbo presidency but they hardly want to bother themselves with politics. Trade, commerce and industry are their primary concerns but Anyim Pius Anyim is giving the challenge a good fight.
Wherever the president comes from, there are three things that matter to me, patriotism, competence and capacity to deliver and above all being fair and just to all. He must be a brother’s keeper. Our major problem is that of leadership, if we get it right all things will fall into place. Most importantly, the next president must be a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Orji Kalu says APC belongs to Nigerians not Tinubu
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that a former Abia state governor and chief whip of the Nigerian Senate, Orji Uzor Kalu, stated that the ruling APC is owned by the people of Nigeria and not Bola Tinubu.
It was reported that Kalu made the comment while being interviewed by Arise Television on Thursday, January 13.
He made the comment days after Tinubu had visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Aso Rock, and told him of his ambition to contest the presidency in the 2023 general elections.