By Daniel Kanu
Umma Getso, courageous and vibrant political activist and former vice presidential candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) in the 2019 presidential elections is a firm believer in the Nigerian project.
But she is worried the way the country is slipping towards the precipice as she urged the youth population to make a bold statement with their votes in 2023.
In this engaging encounter with Sunday Sun, she spoke further on why she left the YPP, women participation in politics, the Peter Obi movement, and advice to Ndigbo on what not to do the Obi presidential campaign, among other critical issues. Excerpts:
You recently resigned your membership of the Young Peoples Party (YPP) where you were the vice presidential candidate of the party in the 2019 elections. What is the next line of action for you politically?
I am still understudying the political environment, but I can tell you a lot of political parties have been trying to woo me, but I don’t want to rush again. One needs to sit down and watch what is happening and which political ideology of the ones on the ground now will suit mine. I have certain principles which I cherish, so I must look out for them before I jump in, I do not sacrifice them for anything, so I need to look critically before I leap into any of them again. There are some parties I cannot align myself with because they have terrible antecedents, don’t ask me to tell you the parties (laughs). The Labour Party are getting in touch, but I am still watching because as I told you, I am not the type that wants to rush into any camp, no. So, to answer your question, I am still studying the political scenario, so as to make the best choice, not only for me, but for those that believe in me. So, for now, I am still holding on, looking, listening and learning too. You know I am in this politics for a mission, I represent the youth and I will ensure that wherever I go I will still carry them along. I don’t know how to throw away my principles and start thinking like a Nigerian. Nigerian politics has never been this ugly. People are just rushing to some parties not because they have something to offer, but because of the money they will get from those money bags. You ask yourself, what is it about these ones that are emerging as presidential candidates in these major parties that we don’t already know? We are trying to do another fire brigade approach again. I have never been afraid for Nigeria the way I am now. If you look at the prices of commodities you shrink and I always imagine how some people are coping with this hard time. People are angry everywhere. Look at what is happening in the North today people want to become bandits because they are hungry. It has become the easiest way to get money. You now see them (bandits) having access to millions. The people are suffering and they just want to hold on anything to survive and the government is there not doing anything that produces the right results. It is worrisome that the government has not shown the required commitment to stop this mess. The truth is that there is leadership failure and you even begin to wonder if there is any government in place. How has the government cared and responded to the peoples welfare? How is the government responding to the security challenge? Most times I weep over what Nigerians seem to be passing through and there is no reason for this suffering given our potential both in human and material resources. I think we need a clean break from what we are getting and I hope Nigerians will ensure their votes count this time round.
Which of the political parties, so far, has approached you…?
(Cuts in) A good number of them, but as I said I don’t want to rush into any of them so as not to end in regrets again. I don’t think it is politically-wise to begin to reel out the names of the parties that have approached me, because I am still engaging some of them to know if their ideology suits my political perspective. Of course, as a politician your door will always be open, but I want to watch deeply now before any commitment. You know I have followers too that share in my political vision, so I need to tread cautiously. I am not thinking towards any party now, to be frank, let me watch first and be convinced. I have had a talk with almost all the big parties, but I think the one I have not had talk with is Mr Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP). You see, I have not seen what I want in all those I have engaged that will make me jump into any of them for now. I need a concrete reason and as I told you, I represent a constituency which is the youth and they are the future, so I just don’t want to rush because the Nigerian politicians don’t just make decisions for the benefit of anybody, the majority are selfish. I am a politician that is not in the political journey by accident, this is my passion and whatever I want to do I ensure it is in the best interest and not one to regret later. I don’t just follow somebody either because of what I am going to get, not for the case of just me being in the system, no. I have my own beliefs and views and I just want to see somebody that will offer something different. I am not in this thing (politics) alone so I still need to go back to brief my constituency on my findings and abreast them with our next political move.
How will you react to the recent surge among Nigerians towards registering and getting their PVC for 2023?
What is happening meant a lot to me. I have been making a lot of publicity, mobilising people to be politically conscious, on how they will get their PVC and all that. Little did I know this is how things were going to turn out for Nigerians. I thank God that people are politically awake now, especially the Nigerian youth, they have to come back and reclaim their country. Nigeria is in dire need of leaders patriots that will salvage our land. This getting PVC of a thing is clearly telling you that everybody within the voting age is taking part or wants to take part in the voting system unlike before when the feeling was that whether they vote or not their vote does not count. What is happening is showing you that Nigerians are beginning to believe more in Nigeria and with what we have seen in the last almost eight years of the present leadership, I don’t think any Nigerian is happy with what is happening, be it on the economy, security or in assessment of any sector. I am very happy with the positive response of Nigerians in collecting their PVC. Let me use this medium to appeal to Nigerians to make a good statement with their PVCs.
How do you see the entrance of Peter Obi into the Labour Party? Do you think he is popular among the Northern youths too or just a social media giant?
People may be deceiving themselves to think or saying that Peter Obi is a social media giant or restricted to the social media, no. It is not a social media event, it’s a real movement and many Nigerians have keyed into the movement. He (Peter Obi) is making giant moves across the country, but I wish Obi came out as a nationalist, I think he has what it takes for the leadership position. My only pain about Obi’s political journey is that his followers are making the thing look tribal. He has to watch it, the entire thing is taking tribal colouration which should not be. I so much wish my people from the Eastern region, my Igbo brothers and sisters will look at it in a different way rather than make it an Igbo cause. The people that have been there, even Obi himself are not parading themselves as Igbo candidate or candidates, but the followers are saying that “this is our own”. I wish my Igbo brothers and sisters should change that perception. It should not take a tribal narrative. You are not supposed to be saying such or bringing such sentiment in an environment that you want to be accepted. You see some of them in the social media saying “Biafra we want, Obi for Biafra, we are Obi-dient”. Such tribal sentiments will make others that are not from the same zone lose interest. It is a costly mistake they must avoid. Peter Obi is running his campaign well, but his followers, must watch their actions and utterances before they will derail the good intension of Mr Peter Obi for the country. To be candid, I don’t like the way they are messing with the Obi movement, it should be a dignified movement that it is expected to be, it should be seen that this man (Obi) is out o rescue Nigeria, I like the way the man has not been wasteful, he does not do what other politicians are comfortable in doing, just like Kwankwaso also…wasting resources. He has been very frugal, prudent, very economical in his lifestyle. Look at what Ojukwu’s wife (Bianca) wrote about him, I was touched by that testimony of Mrs Ojukwu. Obi even as a governor demystified the office. He is not one carried away by power or spoils of the office and was not carried away by power, no. He is very humble unlike most Nigerian politicians. That is the kind of people we are supposed to emulate. If the Igbo are now parading Obi as their own, they will make the man look like a regional president, I don’t like that. I wish the Igbo should stop seeing themselves as foreigners in this country. This is our country, let’s live together.
Women in politics so far, are you satisfied with the data on the ground?
There is no doubt that a lot of women are coming out for elective positions, either in the Senate, House of Representatives etc; but it’s still a big war. There is need for more action. There are a lot of obstacles against the women, but I still urge them not to relent. One day we shall overcome, we will not surrender. My advice to them is to believe in themselves, have confidence as far as you have what it takes and they have it. Let them go out there and compete, not waiting for anybody for approval. They should have “I can do spirit” and remain there. When they persist things will not remain as they are today and with time there efforts will speak victory for them. Nothing good comes easy. If we are waiting for approval we won’t make progress. My message to the youths is to also approach the 2023 election with a lot of creativity; we should not see it as a tribal issue. Our future is in our own hands and the outcome of the 2023 election will be a result of how we approach the election. We should not be violent, we should not be sentimental or tribal. We need to be very positive and put Nigeria ahead of all of us. Nigeria is always bigger than us. We were Nigerians first before any religion, it’s about our country and we must reclaim it back. There was a time Islam was not in the North and Christianity was not in the South and our parents lived and interacted happily among themselves. We must resist the danger of our politicians using religion or tribe to divide us. Let’s scrutinize properly those seeking for our votes, some of them brought us where we are today and have nothing fresh again to offer. Let’s be wise, let’s salvage Nigeria by voting wisely. Let’s avoid money politics. Let’s look for somebody who is willing to make Nigeria a better place.