Mr Phrank Shaibu is the Special Assistant on Public Communication to the Atiku Okowa Campaign Organisation.
In this interview, he speaks on the crisis rocking the PDP, Atiku’s chances in the 2023 presidential election and President Muhammudu Buhari’s assurance that the polls will be free and fair.
Having concluded your campaign this year, can you tell us how it has fared so far?
By the nature of campaigns, it can be gruelling. You must understand the peculiarities of all the states or electoral constituencies that you are visiting and you must connect with their agitations.
With particular reference to the Atiku Abubakar ‘Recover Nigeria’ campaign rallies, the challenges are even bigger than a normal campaign rally.
Because there are so many divisive agitations in almost every part of the country, we decided that we must hold meetings with stakeholders in each of the states that we visit.
During those meetings, we made commitments to the people that if and when the PDP is elected in the election next year, we will approach national unity with primal attention. Look, unity is critical to the core business of governance. If you cannot maintain unity even at the family level, it will be difficult and even impossible to build anything.
That is why, when you go through the Atiku policy document, entitled: My Covenant with Nigeria, unity is the first thing that you will find in the document.
In his family, for example, he has children who are half Yoruba, half-Igbo and Fulani.
And they have continued to live together in peace. Being able to maintain diversity should be a major task that will face the next president of this country and Atiku Abubakar is more qualified than other contestants in this race in that area.
Your candidate calls himself the unifier, but many still wonder why he hasn’t been able to unify your party after a long time…
As I said before, you need peace to be able to build structures for sustainable development. The fact that there is peace, even in a family system, doesn’t mean that there are no disagreements. There are no divisions in the PDP. There may be some areas of
disagreement but that does not mean that there isn’t unity in the party. I think what I more important is how we manage disagreements and make sure that those disagreements do not lead to outright conflict.
And I am you will agree with me that there is no conflict in the PDP. Your main opponent in the election and candidate of the
All Progressives Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Tinubu said recently that he would defeat Atiku and other contestants silly in the election.
What is your reaction to that?
I know from experience that every election is a game of chance. But apart from that, I think that the issues about the next election are not issues of who can beat whom silly.
And I also think that the facts about this election are clear to all Nigerians. Nigerians know the candidates who are in this race with truckloads of baggage. The people are aware of those who have refused to offer explanations concerning their name, education, character and drug-related offences.
This election is going to be a referendum on the performance of the APC in the past seven years and more. Interestingly enough, the candidate of the APC in the election is also the national leader of the party and he must be bold enough to address the media on the performance of his party.
The APC candidate has avoided public scrutiny. He hasn’t shared a stage with any of the candidates since he was nominated by his party in June. He doesn’t know that, it’s not business as usual. He wants automatic employment without a job interview and that will not happen in this electoral process.
Again, Tinubu and the APC should first explain to us why 90 million Nigerians do not have access to electricity despite the humongous loans they have taken from foreign countries. Instead of dwelling on an administration that has left office since 2007. Tinubu should explain to Nigerians what the seven years of the APC that he wants to take over from is all about. What should the people hold on to?
What have they done about electricity? The emotive billions they keep throwing about allegedly used for electricity during the Obasanjo Atiku administration is now stale. A ruling party should campaign with what they have been able to achieve so far in power. Elections are not won by wishful thinking. You must face the public and let them see why they should deliver their ballot in your box on the day of election. So far, I have not seen the APC candidate do that, and I must say that it is bemusing how he hopes to win in an election where you hold the people in contempt.
Do you believe that Atiku will win the election?
It is an election and whoever wins, of course, is the candidate that has the simple majority of the votes. What you can ask me is, do I believe that Atiku Abubakar has consulted with the people enough for him to win the election? In that case, I will say,
Look at it, as we speak, we rounded off our campaign with the Katsina State rally last Tuesday and that brings to 15, the number of states, including the FCT that the PDP has covered. Let me ask, which other political party has done that much? In all the states that we have visited so far, I am sure you should have observed the high turnout of people at our rallies.