Hon. Fateema Aduke Mohammed is the Director-General of Atikunation, a political group in support of the presidential ambition of former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Aduke Mohammed strongly believes that Atiku Abubakar is the messiah the nation has long waited for. In this interview with JOY ANYIM, the Borno State born entrepreneur and a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says no political godfather, not even former President Olusegun Obasanjo can stop Atiku from becoming President come 2019.
******What is Atikunation all about?
Basically, Atikunation is an independent campaign group aimed at projecting, supporting and campaigning for Atiku Abubakar as a presidential candidate on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). We also educate and enlighten people on various political matters. The group is not funded by Atiku, but is in support of him because we trust his capability.
*******Why Atiku and what makes him credible and a better choice to occupy the presidential seat?
The choice of Atiku for me is a personal conviction. I had set my cards on the table and then chose him amongst the many that had indicated interest based on his track record. Usually during the period preceding election, or during political times, we have the pretenders, the contestants and we have the contenders. Right now we have a lot of contenders, everybody wants to come out, we have a lot of contestants, its fine but for me the only contender to that seat remains Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, because he is the only person from my personal conviction, the only credible candidate in every aspect. I strongly believe every Nigeria agrees with me that he will be the next president of this country. Looking at other candidates who have indicated interest to run for the presidential seat, some of them have cases to answer at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and most of the charges are charges bothering on tax payers’ money. So are you saying that I should take somebody who has a precedence of squandering tax payers’ money and I should be convinced to follow that person? I can’t and will not support such.
*******As an independent campaign group, how do you intend to sell Atiku Abubakar to the common man especially in states that are strongly controlled by the All Progressives Congress (APC)?
When you have a good product, you don’t have to go through the stress of hyping the product and looking for media advertisement. Atiku Abubakar is the most sellable candidate. When you talk about the APC, do not forget that it was Atiku Abubakar’s fund that made APC stand on its feet. And from the day he left the APC, things have taken a downward trend, because the pillar that held them had left and he has come back home to PDP. So selling Atiku Abubakar is not a problem at all. You don’t go through stress selling a product that is good. He is the largest employer of labour with over 50 thousand people; even Dangote has less than 30 thousand employees. That alone is a selling point. He is a lover of youth; most of his organisations are dominated by youths as heads. He is detribalised, he believes in the girl child. He believes in giving hope to the women and the youth. Above all he believes in restructuring.
*******Are you saying if given the ticket, Atiku has all it takes to displace the incumbent?
I have no doubt that he will be given the ticket, but Atiku is someone who believes in the rule of law, he believes in democracy, he believes in deepening democracy, so he says we will go through normal process of having primaries and he will be voted for and trust me, most of those delegates will give their votes for Atiku Abubakar and he will not only displace Muhammadu Buhari, he will send him straight to Daura.
********What if Atiku doesn’t win the ticket; will you collapse your structure for whosoever gets the party ticket?
I am a woman of possibility, so I don’t want to think if Atiku does not get the ticket, I know he will definitely get the ticket. I want you to know that even if the party decides to play games, Atiku would run for the President of this nation and he will win that election from whatever platform.
******* What if Atiku chooses not to run again?
One thing I know about Atiku is that once he puts his mind on something, he never goes back. He is not a child in this game, but an astute politician. And one lesson I have learnt from him is not to let any God father shut you up. If they had not shut him up in 1993, he would have forgotten he wanted to be President. The late Yar’Adua called him and said Atiku you are still a small boy, step down for these people and he obeyed and stepped down for late Abiola. But that is one lesson we must all learn, that no political leader no matter how much you respect him should shut you and say go and sit down. If they had allowed Atiku to be president then, we wouldn’t be where we are politically, economically and otherwise. Atiku is not a man that is thirsty for power, but has a great vision that keeps propelling him, he also has passion for the poor, although he can’t employ 180 million Nigerians but he can make our lives better by becoming President. He will inculcate into us the nature of multiplication, that nature that turns things around.
****** What is Atiku bringing to the table especially now that our economy is in shamble, what is he going to do differently?
Take Atiku Abubakar’s businesses as a case study, how well has he done businesswise? He is an industrialist per excellence. There is none of his companies that isn’t doing well, except the one that the current government is trying to frustrate. If you throw Atiku into the desert, he will turn around and make it a city more beautiful than Dubai. It is what is embedded in the inside of him. He knows what to do to turn around situations; he knows how to revamp the economy. He doesn’t believe in having 40 ministers all in Abuja and not able to monitor activities at the state level and that is why he is clamouring for restructuring. When you restructure, each zone will be responsible to ensure that governance is doable and achievable to the common man on the street. Atiku believes in having a monitoring and coordinating team.
*******Some are of the opinion that Atiku is a political prostitute, because he keeps jumping from one political party to the other, what is your view?
He is the founding father of these political parties we are talking about and the truth is that you can be in one part and not be comfortable about the happenings in the party and then you take your leave. It happens everywhere in the world. He hasn’t committed any offence. He has a right to move from APC to his original party which is the PDP, because the APC has failed and deviated from what it promised Nigerians, in terms of free school feeding, job creation and others, they have failed.
******** Considering the fact that the PDP while in government, allowed many cases of corruption go unchecked, and it is this same PDP platform that your beloved Atiku is still contesting on, do you think Nigerians would want to vote him in as president?
As corrupt as they say we were, we didn’t have monkeys, snakes and the rest swallowing money. As corrupt as they claim we were, we didn’t have cases of us finding money in a house, and not knowing who owns it. We have had worse cases of corruption in this administration that has gone unquestioned, un-interrogated and unmentioned. They are carrying on like it is just fine to keep taking the money.
*******Some political analyst believe former President Olusegun Obasanjo may never support the presidential bid of Atiku Abubakar, considering their fallout years back. Do you think Atiku can get to the seat without the support of his former boss?
Is Obasanjo God? Is he God’s personal assistant, has God called him to tell him he doesn’t like Atiku, Obasanjo cannot talk as an authority because he has just one vote, he is just one Nigerian and we have over 180 million Nigerians. Obasanjo will not determine who will be president. Obasanjo will be alive to see Atiku become president and he will come to Aso-Rock to congratulate him. Atiku has to give him a formal hand shake.
*******You aspired to go to the House of Representative to represent Ifako-Ijaiye in 2015, what happened?
I ran in 2015, I won the ticket of the PDP, but the bad eggs in the party went to play games in INEC and they took away my name, but that will not happen again this time around because I am well prepared for them.
********What would you do differently this time to ensure same doesn’t happen again?
I think at that time, we were taken unawares in that I just believed that since I had won already in the presence of the media and men from the Department of State Security Service, they won’t take out my name and I didn’t go the extra mile. But today, I have gone the extra mile, I have taken my time to sit down and strategise, I have repackaged my campaign and I am more focused and more determined. You cannot take away my name this time. It won’t work.
******** Do you still believe in the system, considering what happened?
It wasn’t the system that took away my name, it was some bad eggs in the PDP then that took away my name just because they do not believe in winning, they just believed in embezzling funds of the party, and unfortunately I saw them crying and saying oh they do not want to give us the ticket and I said okay, what goes around comes around.
********How do you intend to defeat the incumbent APC House of Representatives member representing your constituency?
I want to say this on record and I want to be quoted, before he won that election, all their leaders in APC came to beg me including their House of Representatives members and they told me to please help him win, so I helped him get that seat because I was aggrieved at that time. After they pleaded with me, I told everybody in that local government to vote for him because he wasn’t known. So I helped him win and he has been there for two years and he is still not known and he has done nothing, absolutely nothing. I asked him to do something, I told him I wanted nothing from him, but please ensure that governance is truly doable and achievable to the electorate of Ifako-Ijaiye, because Ifako-Ijaiye is the second largest local government in the whole of Lagos State, but the rate of poverty and under-development in the local government is disheartening and it is painful. Poverty walks on the street in Ifako-Ijaiye and up until now, nothing has been done, no single constituency project, yet there are allowances for projects. Instead such monies are given to the god fathers who put them there. We therefore say no more to that. Ifako-Ijaiye will get a new lease.
*******Don’t you think the old crop of politicians should be shown the way out while we allow the young generations take over political power?
I am an advocate of not too young to run and not too old to rule. The nascent democracy that we have in Nigeria requires those with experience. The politics in Nigeria is a school on its own, it takes time to learn. The people we are saying are too old are the founding fathers who have politics running in their blood. Governance is not something that you sit and cross your legs. It takes funding and doesn’t come cheap. They will print T-shirts and do adverts in the media, all that cost money and no young person has that kind of money, except we still want to encourage god fathers. It is not child’s play.
*******As a woman, in what way can you support other women and the girl child to live above poverty or alleviate poverty amongst women?
If you know me and what I believe in, I don’t believe in alleviating poverty but in palliating it. No single individual, no organisation, no government can eradicate or alleviate poverty, you can only palliate it, you can cushion the effect such that you don’t really feel it. You can help people live on more than one dollar a day. So on international women’s day, I will be empowering 300 women. Not only am I teaching them how to catch fish, after the programme on the 8th March, I am working with a Micro-finance house to give them Micro soft loans without interest. I intend to do that through the grooming method of empowerment, I will empower in clusters, they will revolve the loans amongst themselves and return it back without interest after six months.
******* What do you have to say about the Dapchi school girls kidnap?
That kidnap really breaks my heart, I don’t know when the liars will stop, first they told us no girl was kidnapped and eventually they said they were kidnapped and said only 110 girls were kidnapped. How can a parent who went through the pains of child birth open their mouth and say only 110. Well I am not surprised because how moved were they when their herdsmen were killing people, so our lives don’t matter to them. So you see why Atiku has to come because even during the Silverbird award, he requested for a minute silence for the abducted Dapchi girls and everyone who has lost their lives through the herdsmen and for me that is a father who believes in the nation and who value lives.