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‘Candidates should embrace issue-based campaigns, not violence’

By Moyosore Salami, Ibadan
27 November 2022   |   3:43 am
Prof. Olaiya Abideen is the Oyo State Coordinator of Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) Ambassadors. He believes the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has the capacity to deliver good governance if elected. He spoke to MOYOSORE SALAMI on why the group is mobilising for Tinubu/ Shettima presidency in the…

Abideen

Prof. Olaiya Abideen is the Oyo State Coordinator of Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) Ambassadors. He believes the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has the capacity to deliver good governance if elected. He spoke to MOYOSORE SALAMI on why the group is mobilising for Tinubu/ Shettima presidency in the forthcoming general elections.

What are your expectations on the 2023 general elections?
My expectation is that in the 2023 general elections, Nigerians will vote in Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu so that he could deliver good governance to the people.

He may not deliver on the eight indicators of good governance as highlighted by the United Nations, but Tinubu as governor of Lagos State has shown he has capacity to deliver. And we have seen in the 36 states in Nigeria, his impact while he was governor of Lagos State was fair compared to others who had similar opportunity to be governor of a state. So, we are expecting good governance from him and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

We know where we are coming from. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) superintended over the country between 1999 and 2015, and we had cause to change the government in power to a newly formed party – APC. APC has tried, but we need to give the party another opportunity to present what it can offer.

PDP had the opportunity of producing three presidents, while Buhari is the only president of APC that has governed the country. He has put in his best, but we still feel if we know what we are doing, it is high time we gave the opportunity to Tinubu.

We have 18 political parties running for presidency. From the look of things, no party can win presidency except a major party that has structures across the country. We are talking about the blocks, because voting pattern in Nigeria used to be in blocks and for a candidate to win the presidential election, he or she must have majority votes and at least 25 per cent minimum in two-third across the states.

The parties that can easily muster this advantage are the two major parties, which are APC and PDP – PDP having ruled us for 16 years and APC for eight years. It is better we give APC another chance; we have seen what they have achieved so far in the past eight years. 

Unfortunately, the APC came to office when the world is suffering economic recession, but the regime has been working to take the country out of the recession. At a time it was about succeeding, there was COVID-19 outbreak and it badly affected their economic prosperity agenda.

Secondly, APC with Tinubu represents the gentleman agreement when the country returned to democracy in the fourth republic that power should rotate between North and South at the federal level.

Since Buhari, the outgoing president, is from the North, having ruled for eight years, it is proper and appropriate for the presidency to come down to the South. And the two major candidates from the South are Tinubu and Peter Obi of Labour Party.

Obi was in the PDP, but when he realised that he might not clinch the presidential ticket in the PDP, he decamped to a party that many of us in the political field knew well cannot win in the forthcoming election. Our expectation is more on Tinubu and we are hopeful he is going to deliver well.

What is your take on the direction of campaigns by the major presidential flagbearers – Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar, Obi, Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwankanso and Prince Adewole Adebayo?
APC officially flagged off its campaign on November 15,in Jos, Plateau State. Our advocacy is that the campaign should be issue-based, not violence or personal attack on the candidates and their supporters.

The country is challenged, so the candidates and their supporters should talk about what they can offer in all the sectors, especially through their manifesto. That was why we were worried when Peter Obi said he doesn’t have a manifesto. It will not be appropriate for someone who has the interest of governing the entire country not to have a manifesto to present to Nigerians.

only candidate that has presented his manifesto is Tinubu. Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar said he is capitalising on the fact that he was once a vice president and a unifier. But during one of his electioneering engagements in Kaduna, he said that northerners need a president who hails from the north. This is too low a campaign from someone who wants to become the president of Nigeria, more so that he knew a northerner is vacating the seat of power. 

What led to the formation of the BAT Ambassadors?
The people clamouring and supporting Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s quest for presidency brought up the BAT Ambassadors. Those behind the BAT ambassadors looked at the antecedent, competence and capability of Tinubu to push for him. Also, he has been nursing the ambition of becoming the President since 2007, but when he realised that the coast was not clear yet, he kept pushing forward other people.

We decided to support Tinubu by bringing together people at the grassroots, who in most cases don’t vote, telling them it is better they come out to vote. And based on the competence of Tinubu, we believe good governance is certain.

What methods are you adopting to ensure victory for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu?
We are deploying conventional and non-conventional strategies. We are meeting people through the media and advertisements, but now we are meeting people physically at their comfort zone.

Also, gathering everyone at the campaign ground is not practically visible now, so we are strategizing to reach a greater number of people on a one-one basis.

We do not want a campaign where people will find it difficult to get along, thus we are making information easily available for people to come out to vote like we advocated during voters’ registration and card collection to reduce voters’ apathy.

Why do you think Asiwaju towers above other candidates?
Asiwaju was one of those who fought for the democracy we are enjoying in Nigeria today. Everybody knew Tinubu when MKO Abiola was contesting in 1993. He was a senator and one of the backbones of Abiola. When the election of MKO Abiola was annulled, Tinubu with some other activists fought the military regime to a standstill, insisting that Nigeria should return to democracy and that is what we are enjoying till date. He is a democrat. 

An adage says there is no success without a successor. He is the only one among the governors of 1999 that has been able to sustain a successor in his state, even when the tsunami took the party in 2003. It was only Lagos State that was rescued from the PDP tsunami. He is a candidate that knows what he is doing and knows the value of presidency in Nigeria. He will gather people that can work for him to deliver just like he did in Lagos.

What, in reality, does this anticipated Tinubu/Shettima presidency signal to you and Nigeria as a whole?
Tinubu insisted that if his party cannot stand by the fact that the presidency should come to the South, it should give opportunity for a free and fair election at the primary, which eventually happened.

Like I said earlier, Tinubu is a strategist, the most important thing is to win election and it is when you win the election you can talk about fairness and right. If he picked the wrong candidate, it might affect his agenda for Nigeria and that was why he went for the most competent running mate. And that does not mean others are not competent, but he has to pick someone he can work with as far as his judgment can work for him and that was why he picked Shettima.

Shettima also had the opportunity to be governor in Borno State for two terms and now a senator. He has a large interest in the Northeast, which can turn to vote. We believe that the decision is a positive impact to him because his adversaries have been looking for a way to derail the winning ticket.

He is going to be fair, we shouldn’t have any cause to doubt him. If he is a Muslim from the South, has a Pastor as a wife and he has not changed her over the years, so Nigerians should not fear. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Lagos State also confirmed that nobody has ever dealt fairly with them like Tinubu and these are open facts. 

What is your main expectation and message to Nigerians as 2023 polls draw nearer?
Nigerians should give Tinubu this chance, we have been longing for this, especially in Yorubaland. Olusegun Obasanjo served the people, who worked for him during his time, but this is the real time we are having a democrat presented as a presidential candidate and they should be rest assured that he will deliver good governance to the nation.

Nigeria is going to prosper under his administration, because the entire Africa is looking up to Nigeria because if Nigeria is good, every other thing will fall in place. Nigeria is in a great position to bring good development to Africa and we are expecting nothing less from Tinubu. 

Kindly share your political trajectory and milestones that strengthen your hope in having free and credible elections in 2023?
I started my political career during the zero party election in 1995/1996. And we have seen a lot of improvement in the electoral process when Prof Attahiru Jega was the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman and that led to a lot of innovation and the current INEC Chairman is also doing his best.

I believe when they do the total cleaning of their data like they did recently and with the biometric evaluation, we believe sanity would be restored in the political dispensation and we are hopeful they will organise free and fair elections.

For example, in 2015, Goodluck Jonathan contested for election and he lost as an incumbent president and if that can happen, then it can definitely repeat itself. If it was the old system, no sitting president will lose election. We are improving and we hope 2023 will be an improvement in our electoral process.