Chief Willy Ezugwu is the civil society leader in Nigeria and he is the Secretary General of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP). He is also a first class traditional ruler in Enugu State as well as the Coordinator of the South East Revival Group and Save Enugu Group.
In this interview, he spoke on the recent wedding in Dubai involving Atiku Abubakar, which has generated controversy on social media, the stolen mace at the national assembly and other national issues.
You were a guest at the recent marriage in Dubai which has led to the allegation that the former vice president Atiku Abubakar took a new wife and paid $1, 000, 000 as dowry. What happened and what did you witness?
You see, Nigeria is the only country where when some political elites hate you for any reason, they look for a heavy stone, hang on your neck and throw you heartlessly into the lagoon and watch you drown. And if God and the people are not on your side, you are gone.
This is the case of the former vice president but thank God and the people who have always stood for him, right from when he was the vice president under Olusegun Obasanjo government.
You will recall that Obasanjo almost strangled the Turaki of Adamawa politically. But before then, and weeks before the landmark June 12, 1993, presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar had withdrawn at the last minute in the run-off primaries of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) to allow for Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola to gather more delegates against Babagana Kingibe, who later became his running mate. That tells you that Atiku is not a selfish politician.
Another issue to recall is that, according to information in the public domain, Oyewole Fasawe and Atiku, a mutual friend of both Obasanjo and Atiku, were in Otta farm the day Obasanjo was arrested for coup plotting by Abacha regime and it was said that Atiku was ready to fight the police officers that came to pick up Obasanjo but he was restrained by Fasawe. They had gone to alert him on the imminent arrest after he returned to the country despite warning by the then United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Walter Carrington, who got information of the plan to arrest Obasanjo for coup plotting allegation. So, as far back as 1993, Obasanjo and Atiku have been meeting. So, it should not be surprising why Obasanjo picked Atiku as running mate ahead of 1999 presidential election.
Yet, when political differences came to the table after the Obasanjo-Atiku ticket won the presidential election in 1999, Obasanjo forgot that this man was ready to even die for him few years back.
What was Atiku’s offence? He insisted on rule of law and also wanted to be president.
Remember that he had to take Obasanjo to court in 2005 or thereabout over the withdrawal of his privileges as vice president and that was because of Atiku’s refusal to support Obasanjo’s third term agenda. Obasanjo also de-registered him from the PDP because of that just to frustrate him and ensure he did not run for primary under PDP in 2007. Obasanjo then imposed late Umaru Yar’Adua, who was sick on us, and we all know how it ended.
Why am I saying all these? I laid this background to show you how people who benefited from Atiku’s benevolence have turned around to accuse him of one thing or the other. There are many instances of this backstabbing when their selfish political interest is in conflict with that of Atiku despite that Atiku has a large heart.
It is the same people who are behind the devilish rumour on the social media that the former vice President got married in Dubai to a new wife and paid $1, 000, 000 as dowry.
The allegation is unfounded, demonic, lacking any iota of truth, and a cheap blackmail from the imagination of the cabal who don’t want good people with independent mind to rule Nigeria. They are all afraid that Atiku would not be controlled by the clique holding the country hostage.
As a guest at the wedding, just as Atiku was a guest invited to the occasion by his step son, Mr. Anthony Douglas, who wedded former Miss Whitney Woods at a Church wedding ceremony in Dubai, I did not see the former vice President wed anyone, let alone pay $1, 000, 000 dowry.
The video of the purported marriage dance between Alhaji Atiku and his assumed new wife was where Atiku was dancing with Anthony’s mother, Mrs. Jamilah Nkoli Atiku Abubakar from Onitsha in Anambra State, who has been married to the former vice president for over two decades.
As a Muslim, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar by his religious faith is entitled to four wives and he has four wives since 30 years ago.
So, it is obvious that the allegation was a cheap blackmail meant to achieve negative political purpose but it has now help Nigerians to know that all other allegations against the man are fabrications.
From what I saw, Atiku Abubakar’s large heart and maturity to accommodate everybody was seen as he gave his step son equal treatment with his own biological children. That is how a good leader should act, just like a father to all.
Why did those circulating the video not show where Atiku was wedding the wife? They only cut the social part of the event to back up their fabrications and make it look as if it was true. I now challenge them to produce the video where the former vice President was wedding.
Let us look at the former president Obasanjo’s Coalition for Nigeria working to evolve a third force and Alhaji Atiku’s ambition to run for president on PDP platform. Yes, you are an APGA BoT member, but at the same time, the Secretary General of Conference of Nigeria political Parties, do you think the PDP will give the former vice president the ticket?
First of all, former President Obasanjo’s interventions in Nigerian politics have always ended in disaster and the coalition for Nigeria will lead to more problems for Nigeria. Honestly, I don’t have anything personal against Obasanjo but he has ended up giving Nigeria more troubles than solutions. He introduced the Land Use Act and today, the government owns our ancestral lands that you have to go to government to get a C-of-O, which the government can revoke as it pleases. Obasanjo government saw the pioneer structure of NNPC, a corporation that has its operation shredded in secrecy.
He intervened and gave us a sick man as president; it ended in a disaster, which led to the Jonathan presidency. He intervened again and gave us President Muhammadu Buhari, and today all you hear is trillions of naira budgets with nothing to show. We now pay for fuel from our nose and have no roads, no new rail projects, nothing. So, that is another Obasanjo’s intervention confronting us.
Obasanjo’s third force or whatever they call it will end up a disaster for Nigeria if Nigerians decide to follow him again.
And as for PDP, if they are serious about winning election in 2019, they must open their eyes and know the man the people want. Go to the streets, meet young people and you will hear from them; they want Atiku as President in 2019 because they are tired of the pain they are going through now.
Everybody is tired and nobody is ready to endure this kind of incompetence for the next five years if the sitting president wins re-election next. These three years have showed us enough example of what APC government can do for us and we have learnt our lesson. I thank God that even the APC chairman, Oyegun, has warned his party that we are now wiser. Atiku is the bridge between the older generation and the younger generation. He is the bridge between the North and the South because he is married to southerners and northerners and has his businesses in both the north and southern Nigeria. Above all, Alhaji Atiku wants to restructure Nigeria; he should be allowed to use one term and restructure this country so that we can live in unity and prosperity once again. The killings and heartless bloodshed is too much and five years is a long time to endure it.
You are more or less advocating for an Atiku Abubakar presidency at a time the youths are agitating to take over governance…?
(Cuts in) I support the Not-Too-Young-To-Run campaign and I believe that the younger generation should get more involved in politics. However, the point I will make clear is that as Nigeria stands now, with the level of systemic decay, insecurity, unemployment, increasing job losses, hunger and other challenges, we need someone who has the heart of the younger generation and the experience of the older generation who would stand as a bridge between where we are coming from and where we are going as a country. As at now, among all the politicians that have expressed intention to contest in 2019 presidential election, none has the level of acceptance from both the younger generation and the oldies more than Atiku Abubakar. I can tell you that if you meet ten people and discuss who they want to be President in 2019, not less than 85% will tell you Atiku. Do you know how many Nigerians working in his companies?
As an individual, Atiku is creating jobs, how much more when he becomes the President? It is not about deceptive promises of 2015; it is about what you are doing now in your private capacity before seeking public office. Whose live have you changed? These are the issues at stake. Nigerians are not ready for empty promises. You must show your scorecard in private life and we will judge if you can do the job. Atiku is the person the cap fit now that Nigeria is at crossroads because he is a detribalized Nigerian; married to Osun State woman, Anambra State woman, Adamawa and Borno States women. He has friends and business associates across the Niger and at home in both North and South. To my mind, the youths should extract a one term pact, signed and sealed, with Atiku that after restructuring Nigeria in his four year-tenure he will hand over.