‘Tinubu has competence, pragmatism needed for rapid advancement of Nigeria’
Kayode Kassim Eleshin, a lawyer, is the national coordinator of Asiwaju Tinubu Nucleus Group (ATNG), a support group for the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the 2023 general elections. He spoke with SEYE OLUMIDE (Southwest Bureau Chief) on what stands Tinubu out as the best for the office, how the group is mobilising support for APC across the country and the brains behind the group’s operations such as former governor of Lagos, Babatunde Raji Fashola and Senator Gbenga Ashafa, among other issues.
Why does your group think Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the most capable among the leading presidential candidates for the 2023 election?
Let me begin by saying that as the name implies, Asiwaju Tinubu Nucleus Group (ATNG), is a support group for our leader, the presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu. Our support for him is borne out of our close association with him right from the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) days when, regardless of the ruthlessness of the military regime, and upon the annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election, which is acclaimed to have been won by the late Chief M.K.O Abiola, the former governor of Lagos State was one of the prominent pro-democracy protagonists, who fought fearlessly for the democratic dispensation we are enjoying today. Among those you might, by your evaluation, consider as leading presidential contestants for the 2023 general elections, such as former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Peter Obi of Labour Party (LP) and Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso of New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP), none of them were known during the crucial democratic struggle of the 90s.
Having made us so proud to be counted among those who now share his success stories in the governance of Lagos State between 1999 – 2007, when he governed the state, we are convinced that among all the presidential candidates, Tinubu is the only one with the prerequisite qualities and requirements that Nigeria truly needs to rescue it now.
He has the needed competence, capacity, knowledge, character, experience and pragmatism to rule this nation. It, therefore, behoves on all well meaning Nigerians, who prioritise rapid advancement for Nigeria, to have no alternative or option better than him, and to give unflinching, total and committed support to his candidature.
Do you factor in the support for Labour Party’s Peter Obi, especially among the youths across the country?
The first thing people must know, by my understanding, is that the ‘Obidient Movement’ is different from the Labour Party (LP). While LP is a special purpose vehicle for any aggrieved and desperate presidential aspirant seeking a political platform without any discernible principle or manifesto to be used and dumped just like former Governor Segun Mimiko of Ondo State did, the so-called Obedient Movement is a motley, directionless individuals that I would not say are politically naïve but are rather amorphous in structure, which would eventually amount and result in electoral emptiness and nothingness.
Such a ‘movement’ can never constitute any threat to a political party with an incumbent president, over 60 senators and over 200 members of the House of Representatives, 22 governors and 22 states Houses of Assembly with their members, ministers, heads of parastatals and MDAs, about 500 local council chairmen out of the 774 and their councillors, supervisors and the rest. Anyone propagating such a threatening notion about the Obidient Movement, must be living outside political reality and swimming in delusion.
What gives you the assurance that Tinubu will defeat Obi in the South-South and Southeast, and Atiku in the North?
There is no zone out of the six geo-political zones that APC will not be in the lead, if you bring all the states within each zone into an aggregate. The coming election is not going to be won on the social media as some candidates are making it look like. The multitude you are seeing praising a particular candidate today will not determine the votes. Let me tell you that the majority of them will not vote.
The recent collaboration between Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere and the apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze to form Ohanifere in support of Obi, may pull the carpet from under Tinubu’s feet…
The Ohanifere has never been a threat and will never be. In 2014, the Afenifere supported former President Goodluck Jonathan, yet APC won. And If I may ask, what influence has Afenifere wielded in the Southwest when it comes to electoral consequences? The answer is none. If they like, let them turn to Ohanifebi, they remain harmless in political calculations of the Southwest. Same applies to Ohaneze. Has Ohaneze ever been in control of the Igbo politics? All the Ohanaeze put together will not equal one late Chief Odumegwu Emeka Ojukwu, when he was alive.
Do you foresee any security threat before and or during the 2023 elections?
Yes, I have my fear about a safe political environment, mainly in the Southeast zone before and during the elections. It is a zone, which appears as if there was no one in charge, going by the incessant attacks on the offices and property of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the zone and general level of insecurity. I may be proved wrong.
There is the idea that the next presidential election may likely be determined more on ethnic sentiments than nationalistic patriotism. How will you react to this?
I don’t agree. This presidential election would be more issues-based. The clamour for economic advancement, corruption free society, infrastructural development, increase in the level of employment, health, education and security of lives and property are already taking the front burner. An attempt, by any rootless movement or any failed past regime, like PDP, to make it ethnic or religious are already being resisted. Tell me, what would the PDP campaign with when still fresh on our minds are the records of its profligacy and squandering of our money and resources. Have Nigerians forgotten so easily that as at 2004, Nigeria, under the PDP, had spent over $200 million on the repairs of our national refineries and oil facilities, over N300 billion on road with nothing to show for it, over N10 billion went into private pockets in the name of poverty alleviation, and money meant for the All Africa Games went into various personal accounts.
The latest PDP Chairman Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Adolphus Wabara, who was then the Senate President, described the PDP-dominated National Assembly as “investors desperate to recoup their investments.” Or what would you say of the $214 million National Identity Card fraud. Needless to remind you of some PDP stakeholders, who were convicted in overseas courts for money laundering, or the recent pension scam. I can go on and on, to mention to you the atrocities and calamities that the past PDP governments brought upon this country that led us to the present state, which APC has been cleaning.
The fear that APC may not even present candidates for the next general elections…
(Cuts in) If you are indirectly referring to the decision of Federal High Court, delivered by Justice Emeka Nwite on September 30, 2022, which nullified the nomination of Governor Isiaka Oyetola and his deputy governorship candidate, Benedict Alabi, on the ground that Governor Mai Mala Buni, who submitted their names to INEC violated the provisions of sec. 183 of the Constitution and Sec. 82(3) of the Electoral Act, by now, we all know that the recent ruling of the Court of Appeal has nullified that.
On what manifesto is ATNG working with Tinubu?
ATNG has seen through Tinubu and we believe he is the only one that can internalise our focus on Domestic Revenue Mobilization, so as to respond to the emerging economic recession now affecting all countries of the world. No matter the vision and the patriotic drive, funding is the most essential ingredient.
He has also demonstrated that in the sector of energy, our electricity infrastructure must be permanently overhauled for stable electricity supply, just as insecurity must be reduced to none. This would enable more farmers to return to their farms with consequential increase in agricultural products and reduction in consumer price index.
He will also focus on human resources capital development with particular focus on education and the educational system. He is going to increase the confidence of Nigerians in the unity of the country through adequate and more inclusive representation of ethnic groups without compromising merits. Then, we also believe that a Tinubu government will encourage foreign investors and SMEs confidence in Nigerian products, which will reduce the demand pressure on foreign exchange with attendant improvement on the exchange rates.
Give it to Tinubu, he can block completely all avenues of crude oil losses and theft to increase our revenue generation. All these and many more are within the inherent capacity and capability of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
How is ATNG mobilising support for APC and Tinubu across the federation and who are the brains behind the group?
I must first commend our patrons, former governor of Lagos State and incumbent Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, the Managing Director, Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Senator Gbenga Ashafa, Alhaji Lai Niniola and Honourable Abiodun Oki for their limitless support financially, morally and physically too.
ATNG commenced its mobilisation drive across the country beginning with Lagos State where our investigation revealed that in Lagos State alone, over one million voters cards were awaiting collection from the previous Continuous Voters Registration Exercise carried out by INEC in the state. As part of our efforts to sensitise the voters in Lagos State, we placed sensitisation adverts in three different national dailies with the aim of informing and urging all registered voters across the country who were yet to collect their PVCs to do so. We also collaborate with other support groups, for instance, the Lawyers for Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) is a group populated by about 70 per cent youths and the leadership of the group were in attendance during the inauguration of our Local Working Group (LWC) and ATNG continues to stand with such groups in terms of logistics support.