Hon. Charles Anike is the National President of Eastern Union (EU), a socio-political pressure group for the interests of the people of the Old Eastern Nigeria, in this interview with Daily Mandate Team, he speaks on Atiku-Obi presidential ticket and All Progressive Congress’s primaries including former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s influence in removing the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 and other issues. Excerpt:
What is your first reaction after hearing the name of the ex-Anambra State Governor as Alhaji Abubakar’s running mate in the 2019 presidential general election?
The choice of the former Anambra State governor as Atiku’s running mate was well calculated. Mr. Peter Obi is a man of impeccable personality that is well suited for the position. The point is that in Igbo land we have a lot of qualified and capable people for the position but you must understand that, there will always be one person on the driver’s seat at a time. Mr. Peter Obi is a man of quality and a man that have passion for good governance and service delivery. His legacy as Anambra governor for two terms is still speaking for him, even when the does not make noise like others.
The PDP leadership and its Presidential Candidate-Alhaji Atiku Abubakar are so far getting it right because wrong choice of running mate could have destroy the success recorded at Port Harcourt convention.
The reason we believe that the choice of Obi was perfect is that if elected in 2019, while Atiku will focus his attention on politics, Obi as a renown economist will focus attention on the economy.
Can anything good come from Atiku-Obi led government?
We have said it over and over, even before Atiku emerged as PDP candidate, that he has all it takes to deliver on promise. Our reason is based on the fact that Atiku is most prepared for the job than his contemporaries since the return of democracy. Like we tried to explain sometimes ago, while he is most prepared than Chief Obasanjo, who became president almost from the prison. Then Alhaji Umar Yar’adua became president due to the frustration of Obasanjo’s third term bid; Dr Goodluck Jonathan became president due to yar’adua death.
And you know Buahri became president because Nigerians were tired and desired a change. Therefore, Atiku if elected, will be the only president of Nigeria in this dispensation that actually prepared for the job. Just like MKO Abiola who was very prepared to govern, but for his sudden death, Atiku we believe will restore and revive the hope that were lost by Abiola’s death. Recall that Atiku has always tried to get a good platform since 2007, but this is the only time he succeeded in getting a formidable platform to contest. Therefore, his emergence as the PDP standard bearer should be seen as a good omen and a sign of good tidings.
Do you think he can restructure Nigeria?
This is the point where we cannot beat our chest to assure of Atiku. The issue of restructuring Nigeria will be the biggest test to Atiku’s credibility and integrity. Considering the fact that the issue of restructure has became a topical issue and uppermost in the heart of many Nigerian. Atiku as a Northerner may find it extremely difficult to keep to that promise since the position of some of the northerners in the matter differs. But this is where the need to show some measure of courage and firmness as that will well define the man Atiku Abubakar in particular and things in Nigeria history generally. The East fought three years war because they wanted Nigeria to be restricted, i.e regional autonomy.
Do you think OBJ still relevant to cause Buhari ouster?
OBJ as he is popularly known is still very relevant and formidable in the affairs of Nigeria. This is because, over the period he has networked himself across the country and even globally. His influence here in Nigeria and among the world leaders cannot be undermined. It was only reasonable that Atiku reconciled with him. Obasanjo can cause Buhari ouster because, his influence cuts across. He has the capacity to influence external forces and aggression against Buhari. Recall his role in the ouster of Goodluck Janathan. Therefore, it was a great wisdom by Atiku and some notable Nigerians (Religious leaders and others that mediated for their reconciliation).
Let’s look at the ban on 50 Nigerians from travelling abroad and the executive order 6, what are its implications.
This is the reason we believe, we have once again lost our hard earned democracy. And this is also why many Nigerians didn’t want Buhari at all from the onset; because we know that it will be extremely difficult for him to imbibe democratic culture, for the fact that a lion cannot change the colour of its skin over night. President Buhari is too rigid to practice democracy and to apply the rule of law. This is also why since 2015 when he assumed office, Nigerians have become more divided than ever before. He has remained autocratic in all his dealings. Buhari can be likened to the character named Casus in William Shake spares’ Julius Caesar.
The ban on travelling of prominent citizens has further shown that President Buhari remains an autocratic leader, even as a democratically elected President. Recall that since the emergence of Buhari as Nigeria President, there have always been wars between the legislature, the Judiciary and the executive. It has been a case of witch hunt ever since. And we cannot continue that way and expect to develop.
Do you think APC primaries can cause them the election in 2019?
The outcome of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) Primaries across the country confirms the fact that it was not a well constituted political party. It is a mere gathering of strange bed fellows who hurriedly congregated in 2014 to wrestle power from the centre.
Also looking at the structure of the APC, one will not be in doubt that its only agenda was to snatch power and not govern; its structure does not reflect and does not represent all interests in Nigeria.
The party has both ethnic and religious bias. One can confirm this with the removal of Chief John Odigie Oyegun who is a Christian to install Mr. Adams Oshiohmole a Muslim. Also the disgraceful removal of Akinwumi Ambode also a Christian for another Muslim man. The constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria is very clear on the issue of ministerial appointments, but look at the replacement of the finance minister and the minister of solid minerals upon their resignations. They are all from the southwest but were replaced with Northerners. So does this tally with the provisions of the constitution? Immediately the APC came up with Adams Oshiohmole as the National Chairman of the party, we knew it was the final blow that will break the camel’s back. Also because we know very well that he lacks the patient, required courage and tactical wisdom to manage the affairs of men, especially in a crisis surrounded party like the APC. He is a man who don’t believe on peaceful negotiations and necessary compromises required to manage a political party. All the years he has been in party politics, he has not learnt that politics is a game of interests that is why he talks and made himself a tin god upon assumption of office. Well the consequences of all these and many more is that after 2019 general elections, it will be to your tents Oh’ APC; because there is no one state across the Country that the APC primaries was well conducted without crises. You can see the cases of Zamfara, Rivers, Imo, and Lagos and so on and so forth.
What do the Igbo stand to gain in Atiku?
The Igbo nation stands to gain a lot in Atiku’s presidency in many ways: Firstly, the choice of Mr. Peter Obi by Atiku is a great honour to Ndigbo, which we believe will endure and will also be a preparatory ground for Obi to the next levels after Atiku’s eight years tenure.
Secondly we believe the Igbo-businesses will thrive and fair better with Atiku, being himself a successful business man, we believe that Atiku and Obi will open up more business opportunities which Ndigbo will not hesitate to take advantage to exploit.
Thirdly the Atiku presidency will surely re-launch the Igbo nation into the mainstream of the national politics once again.
Fourthly, is the issue of security of lives and property of Ndigbo and of course all Nigerians? We believe that Ndigbo will enjoy moderate peace and protection under Atiku presidency. All that the Igbos needs most to excel in their chosen careers is absolute peace and security.
Fifthly and more, is the fact that Atiku as a detribalized Nigerian, will give equal opportunities to all Nigerians to compete and excel in every sphere. And this we know will be to the advantage of the Igbos because the Igbos has capacity to thrive better in any competitive environment. The restructured Nigeria under Atiku will meet the long yearnings of Ndigbo for self determination (true federalism).
Do you think INEC can deliver a conclusive election?
The present INEC cannot be trusted; hence there is a need for a landslide victory by the PDP Candidate. The experiences of the past elections conducted by this INEC since inception shows lack of courage to stand for what are right. All the inconclusive we have had experienced in Edo, Ondo, Ekiti and lastly at Osun are all indications that the INEC under Prof. Mamudu lacks courage and competence. They always seek a way to satisfy their pay master. Under the present INEC, he who pays the piper has continued to detect the tune. The only way this present INEC can deliver is through option A4. Anything short of that, we will still experience inconclusiveness and the Osun experience in the coming elections. The over bearing influences of the presidency on this present INEC is too obvious, therefore they cannot be trusted, as they will hardly deliver a credible elections.