Convener of the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, Professor Ango Abdullahi, has said the present crop of presidential candidates cannot fix Nigeria.
Though he gave what would pass for a fair assessment of the presidential candidates of Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi and that of the New Nigeria People’s Party, NNPP, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Abdullahi was emphatic about the presidential candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, saying they had nothing to offer.
He argued that they had been around the political climate for a long time without commensurate positives to show for it but noted, however, that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who contested the primaries in APC and a former banker, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, who also aspired for the ticket in the PDP would have made better President as technocrats.
To this end, Abdullahi, who was also former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria, said he would not queue behind any of the candidates in terms of providing support.
Abdullahi said he would rather tell Nigerians to brace up for the trouble ahead of them, should any of the candidates become the next President.
The elderststesman bared his mind on major contemporary national issues via a phone chat with Vanguard weekend.
He said: “No, we still haven’t got the man who we think will fix Nigeria. What we have on ground is not good enough. How can you look at Tinubu and Atiku to say they are the ones who will fix this country?
”They have been on the ground for the last 25, 30 years and so on. What have they done? What are we looking for? I was the one who encouraged a technocrat to join this consensus. You probably had seen Mohammed Hayatu Deen in the group of people going around looking for a consensus arrangements in PDP. I was one of those who encouraged him. We haven’t got the materials on the ground unfortunately.
“Peter Obi, unfortunately, I don’t know him that much. He is a young man, he was the former governor of Anambra State and he is a businessman.
“He (Kwankwaso) is a good, young man. He started his politics with us and he is quite smart. No doubt about it. Of course, he had some of these debts that he acquired or he must have picked in other political formations and so on but clearly, he is one of the bright ones around. No doubt about that.
“I believe we have not had good array of politicians. With due respect to some of them that one saw contesting, I am not being selfish here by referring to certain people like Prof. Osinbajo. He is a quality material but the political system will not tolerate him.”
Asked if what Osinbajo did by running against his political godfather, Tinubu, was not tantamount to betrayal of loyalty and trust, Abdullahi said those were not what the country needed.
“What has it got to do with what Nigeria wants? Is he a slave to the former governor? I don’t understand this kind of analogy. Professor Osinbajo is a human being entirely on his own merit and his accomplishments are entirely his own and people should assess him as such. ”Those who needed his services asked for his services.
When he served as the attorney general of Lagos State, he was invited by the political system of Lagos State. This is the way I look at it and when he became vice president, I understand it is the president/party that identified him as qualified and competent enough to be the vice president in the current dispensation.
”Why shouldn’t he be because he served under XYZ. He should be identified as an individual for leadership in the country,” he said.
While asking Nigerians to prepare for the troubled days ahead should any of the candidates become president in 2023, Abdullahi said: “What I will tell Nigerians is that we are in trouble and the way out is for Nigerians to agree that Nigeria is in trouble and that the machineries that are on ground today, that are expected to find solution to the challenges facing Nigeria are not appropriate and we have to go back to the drawing board to see what we can do to save the Nigeria of the future.
“I believe the politicians have failed. My belief is that the political class has over the years failed to produce the kind of quality leadership we require to deal with the problems of Nigeria and which means that we should look for quality materials, not necessarily within the mainstream political parties, from outside and there have been a lot of discussions in Nigeria recently about technocrats.”
Abdulahi also decried the N100 million cost of presidential nomination forms by the APC before the primary elections.
He regretted that the country’s elders had either gone to sleep or joined the politicians, rather than working to rescue the country from imminent collapse.
“How can you pick a form for N100 million, for what? I mean this is a clear sign of irresponsible corruption because somebody whose total salary in four years, assuming he is president, his total legitimate salary in four years will be, I think, N34 million, even with the current salary that is being given to president.
”Why should you pick a form for N100 million and you are not even sure you are going to win the election. So, these are signs that the entire political system is corrupt and unless we go back to the drawing board and do the correct things that will make Nigerians participate in the process, there will never be a time we will have good candidates from the grassroots.
How can you say it is only one person from my local government who can represent me to elect the president? How?
“The elders have relaxed themselves in the crowd of irresponsible political class and they are just shouting like all the politicians are shouting during campaigns. There is no difference between the elders now and the politicians on ground as far as I am concerned.
”But what I thought the elders should do is to agree that this country needs real fixing and, therefore, we should sit down and seriously look at all the issues and objectively and honestly and truthfully agree that these issues facing Nigeria; not the issues facing northeast, northwest or north central or southeast, southwest or south-south, should be tackled head-on.”