It’s possible for US to lift visa ban on Atiku any time — Campaign spokesperson

    It’s possible for US to lift visa ban on Atiku any time — Campaign spokespersonThe spokesperson for the Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation, Mr. Segun Showunmi, speaks with Sunday Punch about efforts being made by the former vice-president to address all issues that can hinder his victory next year

    How prepared is former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to face the other presidential candidates of the Coalition of United Political Parties in order to emerge as the consensus candidate?

    We are not exactly clear on the modalities of whatever it is that is being proposed. That arrangement was entered into by the various political parties which came together to form the alliance. Therefore, it is the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party that will ensure that necessary things are done to ensure the emergence of its own candidate as the choice of other parties in the alliance by consensus. What we observe is that Atiku Abubakar has become so popular since his victory at the PDP presidential primary held in Port Harcourt. The outpouring of love and affection from Nigerians has been so massive and we really appreciate every citizen of this country for this. If that wonderful show of love and endorsements all over the places are anything to go by, that means that the majority of Nigerians, stakeholders in the nation’s politics and international community have agreed that the 2019 general elections would be a straight fight between former VP Atiku Abubakar and the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, President Muhammadu Buhari. Obviously, the work would be made much easier if other CUPP leaders and their candidates could rally support for Atiku and the PDP.

    SUNDAY PUNCH spoke to quite a number of the parties in the coalition and they are insisting that there must be a contest or a screening for all the presidential candidates in the CUPP…

    Of course, we are aware that some of them are insisting on the ballot but I am sure that the leadership of the PDP, especially those who are managing that alliance, would do everything possible to ensure that a seemingly simple process that would allow them to collaborate and present a credible, popular and a candidate that would be acceptable to all Nigerians, is carried out. We need a leader that can unite Nigerians, open up the economy for investors to create jobs, guarantee security, ensure the restructuring of the country, and device a holistic, unbiased means of fighting corruption. I believe that Atiku has demonstrated enough competence and capability to deliver on all of these critical areas which are very crucial to the growth and development of the country.

    Some notable religious leaders were presented as parties involved in the process that led to the endorsement of Atiku by former President Olusegun Obasanjo recently but these clerics have come out to say that they were not in Abeokuta because of endorsement but reconciliation between Obasanjo and Atiku. Can you explain what actually happened?

    I think we have to respect the opinions which have been expressed by everybody who was part of that event. The reason is that what is important for us is that the relationship between Atiku and his former boss has become significantly well repaired and the result, we believe, will lead to the good of every Nigerian. I believe that those who were there on that day were led by God to the place so that they could be part of history and to provide spiritual guidance for the progress of the country. We actually need to save the religious leaders from the murky waters of politics but our joy now is that there is peace between the former president and his former deputy.

    Leaders of the PDP in the South-East have said they were not aware of the selection of former governor Peter Obi as the vice presidential candidate of the party. Does it mean that Atiku unilaterally picked his running mate without the input of Obi’s kinsmen?

    The best way to situate this is to try and get the position of the former President Goodluck Jonathan and the views he had expressed on the issue. Atiku will never deliberately do anything that will upset the people in the South-East. Certain people are considered in terms of what they can do, not only to win the presidency but in terms of their ability to contribute meaningfully to the task of nation building in terms of economic repositioning and restructuring that can make the country really work. We believe that Peter Obi comes as a man of impeccable character, very good capacity, and diverse experiences in the private and the public sectors. The people of the South-East should know that the essence of picking one of their sons, who has shown capacity in managing businesses successfully and who is also reputed for the brilliant way he handled governance as former governor of Anambra State, is a good decision meant to benefit every region of the country. Leaders of the PDP are already speaking with our people in the South-East and I believe that the issue will be addressed within the next couple of days. I think we need to close ranks now and focus on the job at hand which is to get Nigeria working again.

    What is your reaction to claims by the APC that the PDP is overrating the popularity of Atiku as a politician and that President Buhari is popular than him in Adamawa, the home state of the former VP?

    The PDP and the Atiku campaign council have resolved to engage only on issue-based campaign and agitate for a free and fair election, a transparent process that will really allow Nigerians go the polls and elect the person they want as their leader. When the process that would give Nigerians the opportunity to freely choose their leaders has been achieved, we will then know who Nigerians actually want as their president and who has been rejected. All the current emotional narrative of the APC is nothing other than crying when it is too late to do so. They have more than three years to work on the goodwill that Nigerians gave them across board but they frittered away the opportunity. Under their government, the lives of Nigerians are more miserable, they have become poorer and divided more than ever before. The APC had the number of votes they got in 2015 because of the contributions of great politicians like Atiku, Rabiu Kwankwanso, Bukola Saraki, Aminu Tambuwal, Attahiru Bafarawa and others in the coalition who gave them bulk votes in their various states. These people also gave the APC the platform but unfortunately, they messed it up. Some Nigerian leaders like Obasanjo, Wole Soyinka, and others, who supported them in 2015, have now seen that the APC government is incapable of managing Nigeria economically, politically and socially.

    The PDP has alleged that the Executive Order 6 of the Buhari’s government, which places a travel ban on 50 Nigerians, is targeted at some prominent Nigerians in the PDP who will support Atiku. What is your reaction?

    We are not really interested in why the executive order was signed or whether the order is targeting certain members of our party. Our concern is that our leaders must be careful lest they slip into dictatorship. The only way to become a dictator is for a leader to take over the responsibility of legislature to make law; the power of the executive to execute the law and the power of the judiciary to interprete the law. If the office of the President has decided to take over the singular responsibility of the three arms of government under a typical African environment, then, we are in a dictatorial regime. The use of the executive order can be counter-productive to the growth of the nation in the long run. That is not to say that we support or tolerate that whoever that has been involved in financial infraction should be left off the hook. We are simply saying that let the rule of law prevail by allowing the court process run its full course. We have the Administration of Criminal Justice Act. There are a lot of things within the law that can achieve whatever we want it to achieve. It is too dangerous to be in a democracy and be issuing orders as if we are back in the era of issuing decrees because there is no really any difference between the order and the military decrees. They are aimed at achieving the same objective which is basically to side-step the existing structure of the judiciary, legislature and the executive. Such order allows the executive to fast-track a lot of things which may not really be in the overall best interest of everybody and would not be good for sanity to work. The present leadership of the country should be careful about its actions now because they (officials) could be the one that would fall into the same trap they are setting for other people (later). What happens tomorrow if power changes to the hands of somebody else who now takes that executive order, and put one million names on it? Such a situation will just put the whole nation into dictatorship. We will just have to admonish the APC government to thread softly. We do not want the powers of the president to be eroded but such powers should be used cautiously and in tandem with the responsible civilian dictates of a democracy.

    Don’t you think that the travel ban on your principal could affect his performance if elected as President of Nigeria?

    READ ALSO: Buhari Presidency’s Resort To Lies Against Atiku, A Sign Of Defeat

    All nations are sovereign entity. Each of the entity has to jealously guard its sovereignty. Within that broad concept, nations have the right to determine their own visa rules – how to give out visa, who should be given and who should not have it. Some of the reasons for such action are really, never made clear. Each country has its own administrative policy of visa issuance. We are the biggest black nation in the world. We should not insist that the evaluation of our own leaders should be based on a subjective issue around visa. One of the bigger economies of the world now is India. For one reason or the other, their Prime Minister, at one point or the other, had some administrative restrictions on his visit to America for a while. But when he became the Prime Minister of his country, he had visited America a couple of times. For all you know, this (Atiku visa’s) restriction may be removed even tomorrow. It does not mean that Atiku has never been to America before or he cannot visit America in the future. We even need a Nigerian President that would stay at home and work for Nigerians, not a globetrotter, who will be travelling from one country to the other when there are lots of issues that need his attention at home.

    Share this

    LEAVE A REPLY

    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here