Fabiyi Oladimeji is the former chief accountant at Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) headquarters. He is also the national president, Turaki Vanguard and Deputy Director, Contact and Mobilisation of Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organisation.
He speaks on how the present administration has failed and urged Nigerians to speak with a loud voice and vote out Buhari next year.
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT, ATIKU ABUBAKAR HAS CONTESTED FOR THE PRESIDENCY ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS. WHY DO YOU THINK HE REALLY WANTS TO BE PRESIDENT?
If there is something you can’t take from a man, it’s their passion for something. I ask, why do people change jobs? Why do you feel you have to be working? Simply because you want to live a better life, live well. So you cannot really take it away from him. Atiku is very passionate about Nigeria.
At some point, they said this country has done a lot for him. He was an orphan at 14. No father, no mother and then he went to school through scholarship of those days in the northern region. The country gave him a lot. He studied law, diploma level at ABU. He went to the modern elementary schools and he went into customs.
He was recruited by the Nigerian Police and posted to customs service. He rose to the level of the deputy comptroller of customs. He believes this country has done alotforhimandhehastogivebacktothe country. For him and those of us that are close to him, it’s not about desperation, but about patriotism and passion to help the country move forward.
MONEY ALLEGEDLY CHANGED HANDS IN THE PRIMARY ELECTION IN PORT HARCOURT AND IT TRENDED IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA THAT ATIKU DOLED OUT DOLLARS TO SECURE THAT POSITION. IS THAT CORRECT?
Before I go into the details of that, where on earth do you have politics without money? Even in America, Britain, there is a way they play it and money plays a vital role. Who does not spend money? I’m just surprised the way the opposition were talking about it. Can they clearly come out and say they didn’t spend money during their primary election?
There are some logistic requirements that you have to spend money on. You have to spend money on media, transporting your people from their place to the venue of the convention. You would have to take care of their accommodation, feeding and welfare generally. That was the money and you can’t run away from that as an aspirant.
NOT MONEY TO BUY DELEGATES?
No. I don’t know where that is coming from. We knew when that happened. We experienced that in 2014 during the APC primaries. I was a key player and I knew what happened there, but this PDP convention, let me tell you two things that played out here: Nigerians and the PDP members understood the fact that they have to get it right and by getting it right means there must be a level playing field. They must be able to choose right and ahead of time, they saw Atiku as somebody that has the capacity, the will to take up this challenge.
So it was so easy for them when they got to the convention ground to freely choose their preferred candidate and that was exactly what they did. Who didn’t spend money, Tambuwal spent money to bring his delegates to that place, Saraki spent money, and so did Atiku. But these are logistics requirements that you need to put in place to make sure that your delegates who are going to vote for you are comfortable and are well taken care of.
WHY DO YOU THINK FORMER PRESIDENT OBASANJO HAVE SUCH DISDAIN FOR ATIKU?
Human beings cannot always agree at every point in time. I guess that’s what has been playing out between Atiku and Obasanjo. I wouldn’t know if there is any problem because I have asked Atiku, he said as far as he’s concerned, he has not done anything wrong and he doesn’t have problem with the former president.
So maybe the former President had problem with him and he expects that even if that happens, as men that have worked together before, they should be able to trash out that. Beyond that, I think the way Nigeria is going now, everybody has to come together to rescue this nation. We must be united to ensure that this country is rescued at this point in time. It’s so bad that we are not united. It’s so bad that we are not united and having a lot of challenges due to the failure and incapacity of the present administration. Everybody has to come together now, so I am expecting that to happen because former President Obasanjo loves this country and can do anything to make sure this country succeeds.
PEOPLE SEEM TO HAVE TURNED OBASANJO TO A TIN GOD. YOU CANNOT BE PRESIDENT WITHOUT GOING TO OBASANJO. WHY WON’T ATIKU LEAVE OBASANJO ALONE?
In every country, we have people that are referred to as establishment. We have them in the US. The Kennedys, Clintons. We have them too in Nigeria and Obasanjo is an establishment in this country. People may not want to agree with me, but it is the fact.
If you want to be Nigeria’s President, you have every reason to go on consultation. He’s a former president. Two time former president, head of state and military. You need to consult people like that; if not for anything, their guidance, wisdom or for support and President Buhari did the same thing despite their differences. You would agree with me that they had their differences; they were never friends, but when it was time for him to go, he went there to visit. I don’t see anything wrong with that. In addition to that, he was his former boss. When you listen to his acceptance speech, he paid tribute to Obasanjo because if not for this man, probably I wouldn’t have gotten here. Atiku wanted to be governor and Obasanjo said come up and made him Vice President, placed him on that national and global map. He owes Obasanjo that; apart from that, they are both my leaders.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN ATIKU?
My first contact with him was in 2001, then I had already resumed as the chief accountant at the headquarters of the party and I remember him as one of those leaders that always listen to us as a party, when we have issues we go to him, he will advice, guide and say let it go this way. There was a very cordial relationship between him and his boss at that time.
I started picking interest in him because two things were very dear to his heart and I discovered those early. It was his passion about youth development and development of the country generally. You could see that during his time as the Vice President. Then he had this ability to identify talent. The very first day he saw me, he said you are a leader in the making. I don’t know where that came from but that was the first thing he told me and since then we have had this relationship, he encourages me and gives assignments that challenges me.
I got to this point today because of things like that. You feel you cannot do it but by the time you get there, you’ll work extra hard and he’s a man who is always result oriented. So when you come back and you perform, he will encourage you to do more even if you didn’t really measure up.
I am proud to be supporting Atiku; he has been a wonderful mentor to me and to some of us who have been around him. He listens to you even when you have a contrary view, he won’t shout, instead he listens. He told me one day that if ‘I cannot learn from you whether you are my age mate, older or younger than me, then, you have no business around me if you can’t up your game.’
WE HEAR THAT ATIKU WAS INVOLVED IN SOME CRIMINAL CASES IN THE US. HOW TRUE? CAN HE VISIT UNITED STATES?
This question has been coming up several times and my view is why Atiku can’t visit America? There is a treaty that exists between the Nigerian and American government. If Atiku is wanted in America, because of this bilateral treaty between both countries, Atiku would have been arrested.
Apart from that, a request was sent to the US department of state on whether there was a criminal case against Atiku Abubakar and they said ‘we have no criminal record or case against Atiku.’ Again, if Atiku is afraid of going to the United States, would he have applied for visa on three occasions? Somebody who is afraid of getting arrested won’t apply.
REMEMBER ATIKU WAS WITH BUHARI, WHAT IS ATIKU BRINGING THAT BUHARI HAS NOT BROUGHT TO NIGERIA?
It was full of deceit. It was later we realised that they were deceiving Nigerians. They don’t even have blueprints. They don’t have capacity. This present government has shown that they lack the capacity to fix this country. If you are in a position of power, you are meant to fix things. At that time, they reached out to Atiku to support them with his own economic blueprint, which he did. But because of internal politics, they could not do much with it. The fear of Atiku is the beginning of political wisdom in Nigeria. Atiku has no problem with the grassroots of this country, it’s just few elites that always conspire so that he won’t get there and to God be the glory, that hurdle has been crossed.
So they reached out and he did, but in their caucus there, those referred to as the cabals went to meet President and said if you implement Atiku’s economic blueprint, he’s going to get more money to fight you. They tried to crumble the man’s economy. Who told them that when they do that Atiku wouldn’t be able to finance his election?
How much did President Buhari have when he was running? God brought people like Atiku to come and support him financially. He came out and said he doesn’t even have money to buy forms. Now Atiku is coming to fix the economy. He will do those things they don’t have the capacity to do, and he has come up with a four point agenda which is called Jobs and Employment Opportunities for the younger generation to excel, Being United and Security (JOBS) and in addition to that, he talked about restructuring.
Federal Government has no business in agriculture, transportation even education. So just stay with foreign affairs, financial regulations, defence. This is what Atiku is talking about; he knows what it is even as number two when he was Vice President. Another four years of hardship, senseless killings, economic downturn, and poverty would not go well for this country. That is why God has listened to the prayers of Nigerians and gave us Atiku in the PDP.