2023: Atiku is the conviction for a better Nigeria – James Iniama
Mr. James Iniama is a staunch supporter and believer in the ambition of Waziri Atiku Abubakar, the Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Hear him – “Waziri Atiku Abubakar and PDP will take over power at the Aso Rock after 2023 general elections in Nigeria”. Iniama is a member of the PDP Presidential campaign Council.
In this exclusive interaction with UDEME UTIP, the renowned Estate Surveyor and Valuer who was in the race for the soul of Akwa Ibom State until May, 25, 2022, expressed optimism that Atiku will be declared winner of the 2023 presidential election come Feb. 25, 2023.
You are known as a close ally of the PDP presidential candidate in the February 25 election, Waziri Atiku Abubakar over the years, What would you say has sustained the relationship?
Well, I will not lay claim to monopoly of friendship with Waziri Atiku Abubakar because I am fully aware that he has a multitude of friends across the length and breadth of the country and beyond. He has political friends, social friends, business friends and men of renown as friends. He keeps international friends. He makes friendships out of his philanthropic services to humanity. He has made friends because of his flare for educational investments and development. So, Waziri Atiku Abubakar is a man who keeps relationships and he has a knowledge of the men who come to him and the relationships go a long way. For the number of years I’ve known him, I can say as well that he is faithful to his relationships with them. So I would say that one of the things I have found endearing about him is that he is not a uni-directional individual. Atiku Abubakar is a business man and as you very well know, I am a business man. He is a politician and I enjoy politicking. Atiku is a leader and I love his Leadership style. You will find out as well in Atiku Abubakar’s leadership style, that he is a very loyal follower. So for these years I have known him, I don’t find anything that is discriminatory and offensive about him or anything that is particularly personal about him. He is a man that gives his life in the interest of all. With those bits I’ve found about Atiku, I have loved to work with him. I first got to know Atiku on the platform of the People’s Democratic Movement [PDM].
I won’t be vast with details on the founding of this movement, but I know that Late General Yar’ Adua and his friends were the founders, and Atiku Abubakar was there. I met him again when he became Vice President of this country. I have been part of his political life and activities. There has been every reason why I will just stick to our relationship. For all of us who seek leadership in this nation, the focus is the service of Nigeria and if there’s anything contrary to the nation or country Nigeria, then that aspiration doesn’t have value. You will find with Atiku Abubakar that his burden and resolve is all about a great and better Nigeria. His leadership agenda has always been geared towards the common good of the nation. Those are some of the things I’ve found about him and his every political movement. When we founded Advanced Congress of Democrats [ACD], I was there, and when the negotiation was held to merge ACD with AD to found Action Congress [AC], I was with him. Do not forget that he contested the presidential election on the platform of Action Congress. I was gladly there with him and of course, that is when I was the governorship candidate of AC in Akwa Ibom State. So for me, there is every reason for me and approximately the 200 million Nigerians to find Atiku Abubakar trustworthy and deserving of the presidency of this country. He fits it.
He has contested a few times before now but couldn’t make it to Aso Rock, what gives you the hope that your friend would have a chance this time around?
People have passions and dreams and as I said, I have known Atiku Abubakar. He is a man who lives by his convictions, he has lived by the dream he has of a new Nigeria and he is driven by this dream and it is not to question what the chances are. He is the President. 29th February will tell. Atiku Abubakar has made bare his dreams for Nigeria to Nigerians backèd by a very capable presidential campaign council and Nigerians have heard him clearly. I have heard him clearly and I can tell you; never have I been more convinced than I am today that he is the next president of Nigeria. I had told you that I have known Atiku for many years. I have known him to be a man who has purpose, I have known him to be focused and unyielding on issues he believes in. He is unwavering. I know he carries the dream of the new Nigeria and if I find a man who Identifies with the dream of the Nigerian people, that is the person who deserves the support of the Nigerian people. He is a worthy servant. Did you follow his campaigns and interactions closely? He did not only outline the Nigerian challenges, but went ahead to profer solutions. If you ask me, Atiku Abubakar is the president of Nigeria beginning 29th May, 2023. It is not an issue for questioning, even if we have to put the plans and programmes of other candidates for the people on a scale, Waziri Atiku Abubakar towers above all. Nigerians must not be driven by the sentiments of statistical data rhetorics that are inapplicable to our circumstances. We appeal to Nigerians to listen to the realities of issues brought to the table by Presidential candidates. We must not be taken advantage of on account of the woeful state of affairs. Let’s look at the knowledge and the ability of the respective Presidential Candidates to address those challenges. I haven’t heard these presidential candidates tell us in clear terms how they want to confront insecurity, food insufficiency, how they plan to deal with the industrial problems of the nation. Only Atiku does It is not enough to tell me you will make Nigeria a productive economy… but How? Some people told us in 2015 presidential election campaigns that they will make the Naira to be at parity with the dollar. That has not happened. Rather, things are getting worse. I have heard my presidential candidate and by the grace of God the next president of Nigeria tell me the how. That candidate is Waziri Atiku Abubakar. He is the president.
You’re from the South-South region of the country and it is obvious that your people, some leaders of your party to be specific, are not comfortable with another Northern president after President Buhari. They had wanted a Southern president. How would you reconcile that or do you share in their emotions?
When you say my people, I am sure you are talking about the South and political leaders or the leadership of the PDP from the South. The Leadership of the PDP went into a negotiating room even before the primaries of the political Parties. We don’t know what they negotiated and what transpired at negotiation. If they were very clear as to what they negotiated or did not agree on, we will not be hearing and seeing some of the things we hear and see. If they were unanimous in disagreement with what they negotiated, I mean somebody like Governor Udom Emmanuel, we know him for his character, won’t stand down and accept the chairmanship of of PDP presidential campaign council, the governor of Delta state will not accept the Vice Presidency of this country. You see, these are men of principle. You go into a negotiating room and the negotiation collapses, then you will need to let your followers understand what you negotiated and agreed on. But the issue that became a screamer is the resignation of the National Chairman. We don’t mind Atiku Abubakar continuing as our presidential candidate; that is what we heard in the streets.
We are talking of the presidency of Nigeria. I would have been satisfied if we were firm to say no to the participation of a Northern PDP Presidential Aspirant in the party primary. For me, I have assumed that the South-South political Leaders in the PDP opened the door to the Presidential Aspirants of the North. Thereafter, we found ourselves box and can’t do otherwise.
We are loyal followers and we remain in the party to follow.
Do you think the activities of the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike could have negative effect on the presidential ambition of Atiku Abubakar and by extension PDP?
Well, I don’t know what Governor Nyesom Wike is doing. I don’t live in Rivers State. I am a member of the People’s Democratic Party in Akwa Ibom State and not in Rivers. Whatever he is doing I concede to him that he is a leader and has the right to act as he deems fit. But I also like Nigerians to be conscious of the fact that the people of Rivers State have their understanding of what they want in Nigeria and the election of the 25th of February 2023. They are politically enlightened so they won’t be led otherwise in the exercise of their franchise. We cannot for the time being say that it will be positive or negative but we are sure that our party will win even in Rivers State.
As an entrepreneur, you are in position to advise your friend whom you are so optimistic is the next president of Nigeria: what would be topmost on your priority list, considering the policies that will make Nigeria work again?
If I’m given an opportunity to talk with my Presidential candidate, I will say as a priority, let’s confront insecurity head on. As a young man in this country, I used to drive alone at night from Calabar to Kaduna and from Calabar to Lagos without the fear of bandits, kidnappers, etc. But all that changed. I would advice him to confront insecurity head long I do not know anybody that said “If I perish, I perish” and perished. Damn everybody and interests.He has to confront it in all the states. Let us have peace and security in this nation so that lives will return to normalcy. Again what I will say is that we must make deliberate policies that stimulate the micro and small scale enterprises. We must be deliberate in the programs that stimulate agricultural investment. We must not look at the mono economy again. Thankfully there is a diversification of our economy in recent times but we must give life to it. I believe when we do these and secure safety to life and property, people are happy and they are moving freely for their businesses, we will begin to return to the days of Glory. But listen to this I will tell my president we must de-emphasize ethnicity, tribalism, nepotism and religious bigotry in our national lives. These have killed Nigeria. Everything we do today is seen in the prism of what village you come from, what ethnic group you come from, where and what you worship. We must insist on remaining a secular. It is our secularity that should be non-negotiable. Let’s begin to look at competence. Those are the few things I would tell my president.
In Akwa Ibom State specifically, Atiku Abubakar is accused of masterminding the liquidation of the Aluminium Smelting Company, Ikot Abasi and NNMC, Oku Iboku. As a business man, what do you think is the implication of this?
The site of NNMC and ALSCON leave me bitter most of the time. Do not forget that NNMC is right in my backyard. Incidentally, the businesses of government are marked SECRET, and facts surrounding them are hearsays. I am unable to responsibly comment on the privatisation debate and I doubt very .much that it will impact our electoral fortunes.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was the president when Atiku Abubakar was the Vice. Obasanjo has come out on several occasions to caution Nigerians against trusting his former Vice with the number one office in Nigeria, Do you want to fault the former president sir?
This same President Olusegun Obasanjo endorsed Waziri Atiku Abubakar in 2019, didn’t he? He endorsed this government of APC that has failed us woefully. How does the same man deny a man he endorsed previously?
I would love all Nigerians to look up to God who knows it all. We are only men. We know in parts. The approximately 200 million Nigerians arebat liberty to think and make their choices in life; each Nigerian has the free will to adopt his or her preferred candidate and vote as you please. But, to think we are in a Nigeria that is anymore going to be influenced by the choice of the political leaders is an error because these leaders failed us woefully in their endorsements previously. So, I don’t need to worry my head over such cautions.
Sir, what do you have to tell Nigerians out there concerning Saturday, 25th February, 2023?
Well, I would say that up to this moment, I will commend the Independent National Electoral Commission. I will also say we have the Electoral Act 2022 that is helping in at least smoothening the rough edges of our political process. We are not there yet.
I was born in this country before it became an independent nation and I have not been able to find comfort anywhere else in this world except Nigeria. There is no country we have been given by God like Nigeria, Nigeria is ours. We all have equal rights to this country. Please love Nigeria, guard the affairs of Nigeria jealously. On the 25th of February, go out and vote for that candidate you know will take this nation out of the present darkness. And I have spoken about Waziri Atiku Abubakar as the only presidential candidate that resolve the current Nigeria crises. That is my conviction. That is what I have to say. Atiku fits it.
You have not spoken about Akwa Ibom State and the forthcoming elections. What are the chances of PDP in the face of litigations and the growing presence of the other political parties?
The position of Akwa Ibom State is very unique. God has favoured PDP in Akwa Ibom State and we are confident all the PDP candidates will be returned elected.