The governorship candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in Adamawa state, Nuhu Ribadu, has given insight into why he believes President Goodluck Jonathn will get re-elected for a second term in the presidential election slated for this Saturday.
PREMIUM TIMES’ team of editors comprising Musikilu Mojeed, Emmanuel Ogala and Sani Tukur caught up with Mr. Ribadu on his campaign trail in Adamawa state, for a rare chat.
It’s just a few days to the general election, which your party hopes to win. So how has the campaign been so far? What are your chances in the election?
Thank you very much. I believe that whoever works hard will see results. If you work hard and sell your programmes properly to the people, you will get listening ears.
If you reach out to most of the people in the rural areas where the majority reside, and sell your message properly and correctly, you are likely going to get a favourable result and that is exactly what is happening with the PDP.
We have worked very hard especially in the last couple of weeks or months; we have reached every part of the country. In my own case, here in Adamawa, we have worked very hard; we have visited almost all the districts, wards and of course the local governments and we are beginning to see the result of such visits. Already, four gubernatorial candidates of other parties have stepped down for me. And more than two thirds of the state executives of the APC have decided to dump their party to join our own. Again, the director general of the PDM campaign organisation has relinquished his post to join us. These are all good results of our intensive work.
The party is on ground and widely accepted. We simply sold a simple message of unity, peace and security, progress and development.
It is resonating very well with our people. I am very happy with the level of work that we have put in and the outcome we are seeing. I believe we are going to win this election; we will win at the national level and we will certainly win also at the state level.
Why did you cross over from the APC to the PDP; especially being a former presidential candidate of the ACN?
I think it is politics. You always look at your options and go for what you believe best suits the interest of your people. Don’t be afraid to take it. At the time I moved, I had the interest of Adamawa people at heart. I stand in a better position to contribute to the good of Adamawa state in my present condition. I believe my new party is the one that will give me the opportunity to achieve that objective.
Party differences are just in names; they are basically the same. You may not know it, but close to two-thirds of the APC gubernatorial candidates were in the PDP. Very few of us are the opposite. What matters is the individual. What he has to offer and his intentions and capabilities on what he wants to do for the people.
Adamawa is almost exclusively a PDP state and that is a fact. When the people that you relate with, those who are part of you continue to pass strong messages, a time will come when you have to listen. It makes sense not to feel that you are always right, and everyone else is wrong. What is important, as I said in the beginning, is that you put the people first; you put Nigeria first and I feel that I will serve my country better and do my best in my present party.
I also believe that there is need for unity in our country. We need to build a nation, not just a geographical entity. We need to build a bond of brotherhood and trust each other. It is in the best interest of Nigeria that President Goodluck Jonathan continues to be the president of Nigeria.
This brings us to the next question. We notice you have been going around selling President Goodluck Jonathan. Why do you think he deserves additional four years?
Because first of all I know him fairly better than most people. Secondly, I also know a little bit more than many people in this country. Thirdly, I am an unrepentant advocate and believer in the unity of Nigeria. I respect people no matter where they come from. This country should give all of us equal opportunity to be whatever we want to be. At a time, this country worked hard to promote unity; we worked hard to produce a president from the South West and he was there for eight years and it helped the unity of Nigeria.
It helped us to stabilize, especially those of us who knew what was going on in 1999. I can only imagine what would have happened to Nigeria if we had terminated the administration of President Obasanjo in 2003 after just one term.
Many people also saw what Obasanjo did in his second term. So, it is based on that understanding that I feel that this man, this simple, honest person that I know, who is unfairly being painted in the opposite, should be allowed another term. I feel there is need to hear about the opposite side of him.
People say a lot about him that is not true. For instance, I don’t think that a single act of corruption can be traced to him as an individual. I know that he is the only president in recent years who did not allocate a single oil bloc to anybody, not to talk of himself. And these are the areas where you can tell corruption in its true colour. He did not allocate oil bloc to himself, family or friends up till now. He also did not give a single marginal field to himself or anybody else even though he is the only president that comes from the Niger Delta where the oil is coming from.
By your analogy, it shows that the only reason you want Jonathan back in government is for unity or a kind of pay back to the South South for supporting the north in the past. It is not about who is the best. What about the economic wellbeing of the whole country?
As far as I’m concerned, we could achieve all at the same time. It doesn’t mean that you will forsake one for the other. Please accept the fact that this is a federating environment. In a federating entity, people come to the centre from different backgrounds, locations and different interests. It makes sense for you to exhibit equity, fairness, justice and equal opportunity for all.
It makes sense for everyone from every part of the country to aspire to whatever office and others will be comfortable with it. I feel that it is in the best interest of Nigeria that this man should continue.
You must be speaking based on what you heard me telling the people in my rallies. It’s okay because I am communicating with the people of my own federating unit. I was reminding the people of Adamawa that we are a just and fair people and that we are such that if you do us a favour, we will return it at any given opportunity.
I gave them instances where people from the South-South stood by northern politicians in the past. They give us 100 per cent support, always. They took the same position with the Tafawa Balewas in the 60s. They supported the Prime Ministership of Tafawa Balewa. They voted 100 per cent for Shehu Shagari. They voted for Umaru Yar’Adua. Now, one of them, for the first time in the history of this country, has emerged as President. The constitution says you can only serve two terms of four years each. I think it is only fair that we give them the chance. So it is not about sacrificing one for the other. We can achieve both. Getting power should not be the monopoly of any one person or group.
You say you are confident the PDP will win because you have worked hard. So how many states will the PDP win?
The result may not be too different from what we had in 2011. Of course it is a guess. Nobody knows exactly what is going to happen. I feel that President Jonathan will win with a big margin.
Which and which state will he win?
For sure, he is winning Adamawa because I am here. I am not sure if it is right for me to get involved in other states. It may not look appropriate.
Are you saying Jonathan is going to humiliate Buhari again?
There is nothing like humiliation. It is a contest. If you go into a contest, you either win or lose.
With great respect for General Buhari, it is an election and when you go into election there is always that 50-50 chance between winning and losing.