President of League of Patriotic Lawyers, a platform of lawyers committed to social justice and good governance, Mr. Abubakar Yesufu, in this interview, explains reasons he wants Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, as Nigeria’s next President.
Yesufu, a former President University of Benin, UNIBEN, Students Union Government, is also a real estate expert, and consultant.
You recently called on Governor Nyesom Wike to contest the 2023 presidency. What informed your decision?
Our call on Wike to throw his hat into the ring for the presidency stands. Our support for him grows daily. It is a product of years of watching his strides in Rivers State. Here is a man who came into Government House in Rivers State in 2015, when everything was grounded to a halt. Even the judiciary wasn’t in good shape at the time. For instance, court premises turned into a battleground of sorts.
Rivers State was the hotbed of cultism, fear and morbid infrastructural decay. We all knew what Wike passed through before he established his authority in the state.
I am yet to see a man who was harassed by security agencies. We knew how the army, and police, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, were used to harass him. Being the courageous man he is, Wike defeated them using people’s power. Wike rolled up his sleeve and began the task of developing Rivers State. Posterity will surely be kind to this man who has redefined leadership in a period when partisanship takes the place of governance.
Are these the only reasons you want him to succeed Buhari?
Whenever the history of true federalism or restructuring is written, Wike will occupy a visible page. He pioneered the quest for states to reclaim their resources starting with Value Added Tax,VAT. It was after he commenced this popular battle that other governors followed suit. In every area of governance, we have seen Wike exhibiting a deep understanding of how to govern a diverse society. Recently, we saw him describing the current budget as implementable. The recent court order, which granted Rivers its application to recover funds spent on its projects, is another example of how Wike is deepening conversations around true federalism.
The young man is brilliant and full of initiative. I am not in doubt that he would do well as the President of Nigeria.
Wike sees no evil, he uproots it immediately. We are trying to move around to mobilise the youths that represent more than 70 percent of the voting masses for him. This is to ensure that their votes are not wasted on the table or altar of idealism. They should reserve their votes and voices for Wike.
Wike believes in leading from the front and that is what Nigeria needs at this time when it is threatened on all fronts. We saw how he stopped the illegal refineries constituting an environmental hazard to his people and the environment. We challenge anybody to show us Wike’s stolen wealth in Nigeria or abroad and our support for him will evaporate immediately. Without Wike, PDP would have long died or withered away. Wike rebuilt PDP and thus prevented the country from sliding into a one-party state under the evil grip of the All Progressives Congress,APC.
If the party decides to throw the ticket open, who do you think is the best option for PDP in the North?
I will surprise everyone with my response. I think it is time for Atiku Abubarkar to step down honourably as a statesman. The League and the entire youths will not back any aspirant with military or paramilitary background. Besides, anybody above 65 years is not fit to rule Nigeria. We need a breath of fresh air.
Nigeria must learn to go the American way. Theodore Roosevelt, 26th American President was merely 42 years old when he became the American President. John F Kennedy, 35th American President, was just 43 years old. Bill Clinton, 42nd American President was 46 years old. And Barack Obama the 44th American President was just 46 years old. How come Nigeria parades old and analogue men who cannot compete with rigorous state matters? Regarding the most acceptable aspirant to the League from the North, the person is former Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum, Bukola Saraki.
But Saraki is from Kwara State and also a northerner?
Saraki is much younger than Atiku who is still interested in the race. The young man is sometimes misunderstood. It is to his credit that the 8th Senate emerged as the most vibrant since 1999. Under him, the National Assembly provided the checks and balances required in a presidential system of government. The NASS under him wasn’t a rubber stamp that supported anything from the executive arm of government.
In the 8th Senate, we saw the Not Too Young to Run Bill, Financial Intelligence Unit Bill, Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill, Witness Protection Bill and Whistleblower Bill among others.
In Kwara, he democratised the political space forever. This is patriotic and very remarkable. I am shocked some analysts hardly remember this.
Are you against affirmative action that is being supported across the globe?
I think Nigeria is ripe enough for a female governor or even president. Women should support one of their own. A woman can aspire to any position in the land and I am in support of that.
Look at the good job Nneka Onyeali Ikpe of Fidelity Bank and Yemisi Edun of First City Monument Bank are doing in their respective banks.
These women have succeeded in turning both FCMB and Fidelity into a global brand that is the envy of the financial sector.
Government should learn to grow another Okonjo Iweala from these home-bred corporate giants and not from the bowels of the International Monetary Fund, IMF, or Brenton Woods with questionable loyalty and neo-colonial mentality. Let them revive our comatose economy, using their successes in both Fidelity and FCMB as a model.