The National Chairman of the National Unity Party (NUP) Perry Opara, reveals that as the 2019 campaigns kick off, Nigerians from all works of life including members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are poised to finance, campaign and vote for former Vice President, and Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar. In this interview with INNOCENT ODOH, Opara, who is also the Acting Chairman of the Strategy and Planning Committee of the Coalition of the United Political Parties (CUPP), says Atiku will surely emerge as the consensus candidate of the coalition, which he says will defeat the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the presidential election. Excerpts:
There seems to be some prevarication on the over 40-member CUPP on how to pick the consensus candidate. We have not seen a streamlined process. So why has it been difficult to streamline the process?
I am not a member of the Steering Committee of the CUPP but I am acting as chairman of Strategy and Planning Committee of the CUPP. CUPP is still intact nothing has gone wrong in CUPP but we have gone beyond that. Some political parties who are particularly for Atiku Abubakar, some of them are members of the CUPP some are non-members of the CUPP. But we have a united factor, Atiku Presidency 2019. This is what binds us together. Yes, you are right the CUPP since inauguration on July 9 has had only one general assembly meeting on the October 16 and some members are not too happy about that and nothing seems to be happening. But that is not an issue, we are still members of the CUPP.
But within the CUPP and outside the CUPP, there are core supporters of Atiku of which we are the core supporters of the Atiku, wherever Atiku goes we go. We are not going for any other person in CUPP irrespective of any temptation. We have already made up our mind that Atiku is the man we are going to support and no going back. But what we are working now is no longer how to support Atiku, we have gone past that.
What we are working on is to make sure Atiku wins election in the next two and half months. Like I said in a couple of days we are going to announce the political strategy and planning committee which will work with the PDP and participate in all campaigns and also participate in structuring the agenda and the process that will put Atiku Abubakar as the President of the country.
So, our particular projection is that Atiku Abubalkar should form the Government of National Unity. This Government of National Unity is the only thing that can unite Nigeria now because Nigeria is more divided than ever. So, it is the proposal of political Parties for Atiku Abubakar (PAB) that we must encourage our principal Atiku Abubakar to form government of National Unity to bring Muslims, Christians, religious leaders everybody no matter your tribe, no matter your political persuasion including APC members.
Some APC members are going to vote for Atiku Abubakar and some APC members are supporting our cause and that is what we are doing and we call it United Nigeria for Atiku and we are uniting everybody. It is not about one political party, one particular tribe or one religion. It does not matter whether you come from Kaura Namoda or Oshogbo or Ogbomosho, what is important is who is a unifier.
The roads in Lagos are being plied by people from Adamawa and other places. The roads in Maiduguri are being plied by people from Imo and Niger Delta. So, once the road is built, is built for everybody that is the kind of thing we are thinking about. We want Atiku that can develop parts of Nigeria so that urban migration will reduce. So that people can stay in their home land and do some of these things. If there is electricity, pipe borne waters, good infrastructure, road network what are you coming to do in the city, spending humongous amount of money paying rents? You stay in your home and do your thing.
A welder can now stay in front of his house without getting a shop, tap current from his bedroom and do his work. A vulcaniser does not need ten miles away to look for vehicles from of his house, he can start his business and cars will come there with flat tyres and he will pump them. That is the kind of economy that we want Atiku Abubakar to bring in and we have no any aorta of doubts in our minds that Atiku is going to win hands down.
You seem to have foreclosed the chances of other candidates from emerging as consensus candidate in CUPP, is that not too direct a position to take?
Yes, I don’t want any other person. I am a member of the CUPP, I am a key stakeholder in CUPP. I have analyzed it and looked at the credentials and capacity of other candidate, there is no other person in CUPP as presidential candidate that can beat Atiku Abubakar. It is only Atiku Abubakar that can defeat Buhari, who else can do that in CUPP? There is no other person in CUPP as presidential candidate that can get one million votes, no other persons and we want to win the election. We don’t want people to share our votes, we want to win the election and the only way to win is let all of us join hands together with Atiku so that he can defeat Buhari.
You said that some members of the ruling party are also supporting Atiku why must that happen?
Because Atiku is a unifier, I told you that the APC members are going to vote for Atiku, the major chieftains of the APC are going to finance, campaign and work for Atiku’s success. You need to know who this Atiku is. In the National Assembly, Atiku touched more than half of the members of the National Assembly directly or indirectly over the years. Some Speakers, some Presidents of the Senate all passed through Atiku. He has touched them positively one way or the other. Mention the established state governors in this country more than fifty percent of them have benefited directly or indirectly from Atiku. So a large percentage of APC chieftains are going to work for Atiku Abubakar.
…To the detriment of their own party and presidential candidate?
Have you forgotten how Atiku helped the current government financially to win? Have you forgotten how Atiku helped serving governors to win their ticket? Have you forgotten how Atiku nominated serving ministers? Atiku is a movement and as God gives power, Atiku’s time to be president has never come until now. God has never destined Atiku to be president of Nigeria until when hardship has reached its crescendo, until when killing has reached its crescendo, until when divisiveness has reached its crescendo and this is the time for Atiku to come and unify Nigeria and once he gets this right, God will bless him and Nigeria will be a prosperous nation once again.
Do you really believe that Atiku will beat Buhari judging by incumbency factor?
Buhari does not have incumbency factor anymore because his party is already in shambles. I have said this before, you know I don’t attack Buhari as a person; he is a man of integrity. Muhammadu Buhari is more popular than APC. APC needs Buhari more than Buhari needs APC. What will happen is that the same way Buhari won CPC in some areas is what will happen. APC has dwindled. APC under Oshiomhole will lose this election and we can bet on that. They will lose because even some members of the National Working Committee, some members of the State Executive Council of the party are going to vote for Atiku Abubakar. Some of them are suffering and there is greater suffering in this country. Most of these people are dying and smiling. There is hunger in the land there is insecurity in the land.
Nigerians will revolt with their thumbs on the second week of February 2019. You will see what will happen, it will be like a Tsunami. Atiku went to Dubai, check the number of people using their money to buy ticket to go and be part of the meeting. Everybody is investing.
Go to the streets and hear what is happening even when Atiku went to return his form there was pandemonium. Even APC members accompanied him to the PDP headquarters to return his form. So the power of incumbency has gone. And to Professor Mahmud Yakubu, I give him 80%. He has been able to plug the loophole where people falsify results and rig it. But he has to be upright for 2019, otherwise Nigerians will revolt heavily.
I want to use this opportunity to call on the international community, the US government, the Turkish Government, Russian Government, Commonwealth, ECOWAS, I want to invite all international communities involved in election and good governance to put searchlight on Nigeria, monitor all moves, monitor everything that concerns this election because if they fail to do that Nigeria will be like Somalia. We cannot afford to suffer again for another four years, we have suffered so much.
Nigerians are going to revolt with their thumb. They are not going to carry stone or weapon. The weapons they are going to carry are their right thumbs. We are going to vote a government that is insensitive out of power and people are going to do that, people have vowed to do that.