From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Despite the criticism against the Muslim/Muslim ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for next year’s presidential election, a chieftain of the party in Delta State, Ogbueshi Adizue Eluaka insists that the party would win the election. Eluaka who is the state vice chairman of the party (Delta North) said with Senator Kashim Shettima as Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s running mate, the perceived popularity of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Atiku Abubakar, up North has been checked. In this interview, Eluaka stated that the chances of the PDP, and not the APC, would be greatly affected by the growing popularity of the Labour Party candidate, Mr. Peter Obi.
People are saying that Tinubu could not be running mate to Buhari in 2015 because he is a Muslim…
Is that what they are saying now? That time, Tinubu was a leader; for people to be saying that he wanted to be vice president at that time is very wrong. If we were talking about Muslim/Muslim ticket at that time, Buhari is Fulani Muslim; so taking another Muslim whether minority Muslim would have been very wrong. What people are really concerned about is ethnic nationality, not religion. Buhari is Fulani, and as he is leaving office, he would hand over to another Fulani in the person of Atiku?
Are you saying that it is because we have a Fulani man as head of government that we are having security challenges?
We started having security issues way back. In 1957, they killed one of my uncles in the North. The issues have been there. During the Shagari regime, there was one speaker from Bornu that waged war against Nigeria. At one stage, Shagari went to one desert and dumped the man. He was a big politician from Bornu State. He waged war against Nigeria; he was kidnapped and dropped in the desert. I just can’t recall his name but I know about the man, he was so powerful. So, there has been unrest, there has been restiveness in this country and other parts of the world. There has been war! Ijaw waged war against the Federal Government at a time. Former president Obasanjo went to war and leveled about two villages because they were rising against Nigeria. So it is not a new thing.
Immediately Tinubu emerged as the candidate of the APC, people started campaigning against the same faith ticket…
… Let me tell you, if you read Julius Caesar, the masses have no opinion, hence Julius Caesar was killed when Brutus rose up and told them that Caesar wanted to be king, that Caesar was over ambitious, so they went and assassinated Caesar. When he was going to be buried, MacAnthony told them that they came to bury Caesar and not to praise him but the evil that men do live after them; that if they remembered that they gave Caesar king three times and he refused. The same masses that killed Caesar and said he was over ambitious, so they went and pursued the person who deceived them. What am I saying, it is what you tell your family that they will follow. As a master, you will discover that your wife and children will follow you to wherever you are going. If you are in PDP, they will follow you to PDP as the head of the family. So it is what we tell our followers. The people at the top know that Tinubu has done the right thing, that he is poised to win the election, politics is not religion.
So the main purpose of this ticket is to win the election like you said?
It is to win the election, yes.
But what does that portend for Nigeria?
Don’t we have a pastor, or an elder in the christian community as the vice president currently. What has he been able to achieve, what has he done to protect Christians? Is he not the vice president? A spare tyre? What benefit have we derived from the vice president? That we are now talking about Christian/Muslim ticket. What have we derived from him as a Christian vice president, has he protected Christians? And this onslaught, massacre everywhere is not targeted at only Christians, if we are to be truly honest. It is even worse in the Muslim North, all the big Muslim politicians no longer go home, they live in Abuja.
But choosing a Muslim after the argument against it, does not show that your party, APC does not listen to the yearnings of the masses?
APC listens more by choosing a Muslim. Let me tell you, a Muslim Yoruba is a minority, he is not regarded like a Muslim North. A Muslim Yoruba that his wife is a Christian for over 37 years; they have been living in the same house and he has not be able to convert his wife. Yoruba Muslims are liberal, and not die-hard. You don’t even know the difference between a Muslim in Yoruba land and a Christian. What we are talking about is ethnicity not religion. From Fulani Buhari to Fulani Atiku, that is what people are kicking against.
Should APC win the presidency in 2023, what would be the implication for an average South-Easterner and South-Southerner?
If you are talking about good governance in this country, the people we can stand up and say they have done very well during their tenure, for me, you talk about Murtala Mohammed. He was a Muslim but not Fulani, he was an Hausa Muslim with a Yoruba Christian as his assistant. You talk about the Buhari Military regime with Idiagbon. Idiagbon was a Muslim, Buhari is Muslim. Let me tell you, we are talking about cleaning up Nigeria. Ironsi was a Christian, Gowon was a Christian, so this is not the first time we are having people of the same faith as president and vice president. Things are difficult in the whole world, it is not only in Nigeria, especially with this Russia-Ukraine war; it has brought global hardship, it is not only Nigerian something but because it has been here all along and the management of the nation’s economy has not been so palatable for so many average Nigerians.
In 1993, Abiola was a Muslim and he picked another Muslim from the North as his running mate and won. Do you feel that is the inspiration for this Tinubu/Shettima ticket?
Abiola was a Yoruba Muslim and picking a Kanuri Muslim, not a Fulani Muslim. Abiola as a minority Muslim also picked a minority Muslim from Kanuri as his running mate, not a Fulani man. You can see the chemistry. And there is no faith that asks us to go and slaughter people. There is a certain ethnic group that is involved because it is their nature. If you investigate this IPOB, you will discover that Anambra people are not there, it is Abakiliki people because of their backwardness. If you see a typical village in Abia which is linked with Ebonyi, these are the people in this IPOB issue. Most Abakiliki people live in Asaba here or even Warri, they are the ones creating problems here and there.
The rising profile of the LP presidential candidate, Peter Obi, is that not a threat to your party’s chances in the presidential election?
No, but it is a good competition, I love it. The only people that are disadvantaged is the PDP because the bloc votes of 2019 from the South-East for the PDP and Atiku will now go to Obi. PDP had the highest bloc votes from South-East in 2019. It is PDP catchment area that Peter Obi has collected, not APC catchment area.
The PDP is also banking on bloc vote for Atiku from the North…
…That is why they are afraid of the Tinubu/Shettima ticket, hence, this noise about Muslim/Muslim ticket. With the Tinubu/Shettima ticket, APC has kind of bottled up that North, that is why PDP is crying. Rivers gave Atiku the highest votes in 2019, followed by Kano. Kwankwanso brought that bloc vote from Kano to PDP in 2019 but he has now moved away from PDP. So, it is a disadvantage for the party; Kano votes have left PDP. Even there is no how Wike will settle with PDP that he will do what he did in 2019. Rivers came first for PDP in 2019, followed by Kano State. They will settle with Wike, but it is not going to be as usual. So, all the disadvantages are PDP.
In 2019, a former governor on PDP’s platform headed APC campaign in Delta, now heading to 2023; a former minister also under the PDP is in charge of APC campaign in the state. What difference will it make this time around?
Our people will say bring meat, bring meat, it is the cow that you are cutting. If you check the people in APC now, they came from PDP. I left the PDP and so many others. It is the PDP that is dying. If a former PDP governor was the arrow head of APC campaign in 2019, and now a former minister under PDP is also leading APC campaign, know that the PDP is dying.