The presidential candidate of the New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP), Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, has dismissed the allegation making the round that he would step down for his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar during the forthcoming general elections February 25, 2023.
He spoke Sunday in Lagos at an interaction with members of the Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE).
Kwankwaso said: “Some people are saying that I am stepping down for Atiku; why then did I leave the party? These are the issues. You see, the problem with that party was that there are so many people who believe that they are highly privileged. In democracy, people are free to follow any political party, you cannot sit there and start dictating that one I like, or you do not like.
The NNDP candidate said his ideology and experience which could be traced back to when he was Kano state governor, were different from his opponents.
He said his journey in governance dates back to his days as an artisan, saying this had taught him how to manage public resources and remained “a huge distinguishing factor separating him from others.”
On the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), he said: “Of course, we are happy that it is now a law to make sure that the NNPC is moved forward and we are very committed to involving the private sector in this country. We will support the bill and do whatever it takes to make sure that the oil and gas industry are better for the interest of each and everyone us.”
Speaking on the Constitution review, he stated that when elected, his government would be open to the yearning of the people.
He said: “Now on the issue of constitution, as I said earlier on, we are open to discussion each and every day to listen to you and if Nigerians require a new constitution we will be very happy to follow our process to get it done. But the fact remains that from my own experience in the last two decades; the problem has not mainly be that of Constitution but the operators, which we believe by 2023, we will have the right people to handle the Constitution.”
On his political movement from the ruling party to the opposition, he noted that the difference in ideology and governance led him to seek his presidential ambition in another party.
He said: “I think you know that they are not serving the interest of the majority of Nigerians, but just underline what I said. You see, the PDP and APC put together, that is about 24 years, are responsible for the mismanagement of the Nigerian resources.
“I had all the experiences when we formed PDP in 1998; it was not based on anything rather than issues-based matters. Mainly, all of us came together that the military had to go, it was only after then we started to see issues and we believe the leadership at that time has failed. Of course, the privileged people now can argue now that even the bad PDP is better than the APC. That was why I feel that PDP was lucky even kicking out its members, including my humble self, Peter Obi, even including Wike.
“They were kicking everybody because they think once you get the PDP ticket-they still see it as 1999, the children born from 1999 are the ones now in charge of polling units and so on and so forth.”
On insecurity, Kwankwaso said: “I will contribute more to the society and in politics through services for the economy and ensuring deployment of huge resources to employ more security personnel. So, we are going to employ about one million of police and one million of the military to help solve the insecurity issues.
“There are many places, villages and towns where people have been chased away, many people have lost their livelihood, and some are living in the IDP camps. The issue of insecurity affects almost everyone, especially the economy, infrastructure because they are in a place where contractors will not be able to get there. So many abandoned projects, farmers are not on the farm. So, no development in Nigeria unless we solve the issue of insecurity.
“And fortunately, since that time in my opinion the leadership has been coming down except probably the government of a Obasanjo, who I believe have done so much to make sure that all these issues of insecurity and been a minister of defense, I know his position what was being done to bring sanity and peace to Nigeria and to the economy.
“It was only at that time there was cancellation of payment of debts in this country. Now, debt is coming into Nigeria on daily basis. In 1999, we had no problem forming the party-PDP- it was when we started that we realised that we were together with some wrong people, we sought change and we came to APC. At that time, we were happy that we were going to bring some positive change but unfortunately as time went on some of us who have worked hard were declared as people who should not be close to the government.”
For him, his party remained the best alternative to Nigerians at the forthcoming elections.
He said: “The issue is that do they (PDP) have the right caliber of people to run a good government and we are so happy that we are outside now doing the right thing for the country? So, I believe leadership is very key to the country.”
13% derivation, restructuring
On the 13% derivation for the oil-producing states, he said: “I am one of those supporting the 13 percent derivation and we will ensure it is increased adequately.”
On what he hopes to do about the controversial restructuring, he said: “On the issue of restructuring, our position in the party has been very clear. We believe that there are things that must be done as soon as possible once we have the opportunity; the issue of insecurity because everybody is concerned across the country.”
NGE president remarks
In his remarks, NGE President Mustapha Isah said the forum was designed to provide the candidates an opportunity to address editors on their policies and programmes ahead of the elections.
According to him, editors would also use this forum to seek clarifications on different issues and ask critical questions on national issues affecting the common man.
Mustapha said: “Senator Kwankwaso, Nigerian youths are agitated. They are rightly aggrieved and they want to know what plans you have for them if elected as president of this great country. We want you to use this forum to speak on the plans you have for them. The Nigerian Guild of Editors pleads with politicians to avoid attacks on individuals. They should, rather focus on issues, the real issues concerning the ordinary people. We want issue-based campaigns.
“Let me use this opportunity to urge the presidential candidates to call their spokespersons to order. Some of their press statements and interviews are heating up the polity. Maybe, they should be made to sign a peace accord as well, just as the presidential candidates did in Abuja recently.
“We noticed that the candidates themselves hardly attack one another. They exchange pleasantries whenever and wherever they meet. This is maturity. Their spokespersons should learn from them. To my colleagues, you are not bound to use any toxic press statement sent to you.”
Jonathan’s men back Tinubu
In a related development, some political allies and kinsmen of former President Goodluck Jonathan have endorsed the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The supporters and kinsmen, who are members of Citizens Network For Peace and Development in Nigeria (CNPDN), said since Jonathan declined to join the presidential race despite their consistent urging, the right thing to do is to support Tinubu, who they said, has the structures and capacity to win the elections.
The group was among the first southern coalitions to openly call on the former president to recontest for presidency on the APC platform.
Addressing journalists Sunday in Abuja, the national secretary of the coalition, Francis Okereke Wainwei, who hails from Bayelsa state, said as patriotic citizens, they can’t sit back and not participate in the electoral process of the country.
Mainwei said: “As patriotic citizens under the auspices of the Citizens Network For Peace and Development in Nigeria, we took it up as a burning need for us to be actively involved in the process leading to the election of Nigeria’s next president, who shall be taking over from President Muhammadu Buhari next year.
“We consider it as very important and necessary because Nigeria needs a truly visionary, competent and detribalized leader to enthrone a more united, peaceful and prosperous nation. As patriotic citizens we feel obliged to take some proactive measures to ensure that the right president is elected, come 2023 by providing proper information and guidance that will enable the electorate elect the right candidate as president.
“We therefore, took it upon ourselves to do thorough investigations, opinion sampling and interviewing of major stakeholders from across the country to know the exact mood of the nation, to enable the electorate make the right choice for the 2023 presidential election.
“We also took into consideration the declarations of both the APC Northern Governors’ forum and that of the Southern Nigeria Governors’ forum, with respect to which part of the country that should produce the next president in 2023.The both groups declared that power should shift to Southern Nigeria for the purpose of promoting equity, justice and fairness, which they argued would strengthen the unity of the country.
“After a forensic analysis of the declarations and opinions of various groups and stakeholders across the country, we also came to the conclusion that for the peace, unity and progress of this country, a competent and experienced presidential candidate from Southern Nigeria be elected as president, come 2023. This is to strengthen the fragile unity we are experiencing at the moment, as a nation. It will appease some groups and individuals agitating against the political domination of others by any one part of the country.
“We went further to examine the capacity, competence, political experience and nation-wide acceptability of the presidential candidates from Southern Nigeria and we discovered that Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress tops the other candidates.
“We hereby declare our total support for Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the APC Presidential candidate, as our preferred candidate for the office of President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, come 2023.
“We are therefore, using this medium to also call on all patriotic Nigerians to support and vote massively for Bola Ahmed Tinubu as president in the 2023 presidential election as that is the best interest for Nigeria at the moment.
“Our choice of Bola Tinubu is strongly premised on his wealth of political experience, intellectual sagacity, a knack for identifying and recruiting competent people and the capacity to mobilize human and material resources for the accelerated and holistic development of the country.
“We believe strongly that the next president of this country should be someone who firmly believes in the philosophy of “building the people to build the nation”; he should be a people-oriented president.
“Tinubu fits perfectly for the kind of president Nigeria needs in the next dispensation. He has the capacity and the wealth of political experience to re-enact the Lagos State magic in both the economic and political stability of this country. He is a national patriot and a detribalized leader that has the visionary mindset to build a prosperous, strong, peaceful and united Nigeria.”