2023 Igbo Presidency: el-Rufai is talking nonsense ― Ohuabunwa, PDP Presidential hopeful

el-Rufai 2023 Igbo presidency

Mazi Ohuabunwa, is the President of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), the President of the Association of Corporate Governance Professionals of Nigeria (ACGPN) and the Convener of the New Nigeria Group (NNG). He is one of the few living Nigerians to receive two National Honours – Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) in 2001, Officer of the Order of Federal Republic (OFR) in 2011, and the National Productivity Order of Merit (NPOM) award in 2018. During a visit to Ibadan to launch the New Nigeria Group, he speaks on what the group stands for, his aspiration to vie for the presidential race in 2023 among other issues. OYEDAPO OYEWOLE brings excerpts:-

You are the Convener of the New Nigeria Group, what is it all about?

The New Nigeria Group is one inspired by God to work for the emancipation of our country, to bring our country out of this current destructive darkness into the limelight. Our vision and desire are to take Nigeria from third world development to a first world and to create a country where every citizen is happy to belong, a country that works for all i.e. the North, South, East, West, the weak and the strong. The nation that we all will be happy to call home where there will be no discrimination, no iniquity, no marginalisation, no bias, ethnic, religious biases and every Nigerian will be happy to belong as a nation. That is what we are trying to create.

What is your strategy to achieve this vision?

The strategy is to share the vision as we are sharing this document so that you will hold us responsible to look at the value that is necessary to achieve it and to be able to generate sufficient interest in the new Nigeria. So that at the end of the day, all of us, new Nigerians, will influence the selection of a new president and this president can then come and implement what the New Nigeria is going to be about because without power you cannot implement it. And that is why we are going to every state selling this vision about what we think we need to do and allow Nigerians to also make input into what we are about to do.

You visited the residence of the late generalissimo of Ibadan politics, Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, where you met his widow, Alhaja Bose Adedibu, who is now the South-West Women Leader of the PDP. Is your visit part of the consultation you are talking about?

Yes, it is because we cannot become president all by ourselves. People have to make us, and before they make us they need to know who we are and understand where we are coming from. This is necessary because Nigerians have had not too pleasant an experience with politicians and they don’t take us very seriously again. But when you talk to somebody and listen to him/her, listen to him/her, evaluate what he/she says; ask him/her questions then you see a different picture. So that is why I’m going round consulting and presenting this vision. As I said, no presidential aspirants have done what we are doing. I’ve never seen a presidential aspirant going from one state to another, sharing his/her vision with the people. They only go to campaign rallies to meet you at the stadium, you don’t have the opportunity to ask them questions, they say what they want to say, no question. Everybody will just dance and go.

I’m making myself available for Nigerians to ask me questions on how I will achieve the vision and I will answer, and I believe, will be satisfactory to them. So we came to late Chief Adedibu’s house in Ibadan because we know he represented what you might call an old generation of political leaders. Adedibu was not a politician of a sort, he was a political leader and I believe that he meant well when he was leading and I’ve been told that his legacy is that of fairness, is that of truthfulness which is difficult to find in politics. People will lie to you; they will take your money and will go and vote for someone else. People will promise you but will disappoint you. I was told that late Adedibu will not take your money if he would not work for you or vote for you. That is the kind of person he was. That’s why we deemed it fit to visit his residence as part of our consultation around the country.

You are a technocrat and aspiring to be president on the platform of the PDP which has not come upon which zone should produce its presidential candidate. If at the end the position is not zoned to the South-East where you come from, what would be your reaction?

If the PDP does the rotation, it will be nice for fairness and equity and for every part of the country to have a feeling of belonging. It is good to rotate so that we give every zone fairness and equity. But for me, whether the presidency is zoned to the South-East or North, that is not important to me. I am a qualified Nigerian to become the president of the country. I will stand on my own with any other presidential candidate from anywhere. Bring the best anywhere I can compete with them. I’m not looking for favour but it is fair if they give it to the South-East so that they build a sense of oneness.

So my qualification is not based on whether it is zoned to the South-East, let them zone it anywhere. I am as qualified as any other candidate and I’m going to stand my ground if they do a normal evaluation. I think I can creditably defend myself.

What is your take on the statement credited to Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State that the South-East cannot clamour for the presidency while people of the region are threatening and insulting other Nigerians?

Who are those the Igbos are threatening? Is Boko Haram not threatening? Are the marauders not threatening? Are the militant Fulanis not threatening? The man is talking nonsense. When the South-South protested, one of their own became president. When Ijaw people were protesting and breaking pipelines, nobody told them they were insulting Nigerians. When Boko Haram started their insult, Buhari became the President. What el-Rufai was saying is absolute bullshit. Nigerians know what is good and Nigerians are good people and they will do the right thing.

It’s been six years that President Muhammadu Buhari came on board. What’s your summary of his performance so far?

It’s a mixed bag. I think overall the government hasn’t done anything at all. The President promised us a good economy, good security and anti-corruption. If you check there is no one who will think the President has done so well. When President Buhari talked the other day that when it comes to the issue of security he has done his best and that his best is not good enough. That for me is a wonderful admission. I believe the President is working hard but the result is not showing and therefore we need some other people to take over. He has tried but the good thing gives way to better things and better things give way to the best.

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