The founder of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), Dr Boniface Aniebonam, in this exclusive interview with Daily Trust Saturday, said Dr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso’s courage to leave an established party like the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to contest for the presidency of Nigeria on the platform of his party made him hand it over to him. Aniebonam, who is optimistic that the former governor of Kano State would win the 2023 presidential election, however, denied that he had grip of the party, but said that as the chairman, Board of Trustees, he was above every other person in hierarchy.
You are the founder of the NNPP, which has received a remarkable acceptance nationally; did you envisage this kind of growth when you formed it?
The NNPP was founded in 2000, but it became operational in 2001. The party has the mandate to provide good governance to Nigerians, and that is the journey so far. It is quite different from most of the political parties you know.
But it appears you are not at the helm of affairs of the party. How do you feel about it; do you feel you have been pushed aside?
When you are the founder of an organisation, what are the implications? I don’t know why you chose to make an issue of not being in control.
The party held its convention recently in Abuja but you were absent. You were also not seen in most of their functions, which has given rise to the suspicion that the northern bloc of the party might have taken it away from you; how would react to this?
Sometimes I feel reluctant to respond to questions of this nature because my reaction may not be too good for you. I am the founder of the political party and you are still asking me this kind of question. Does it make sense? It doesn’t make sense to me except you do not understand the word, founder.
The NNPP is an intervention from the almighty God and I am the leader of the party. You don’t expect me to be involved in its administration. Sometimes the media try to raise issues where there are none. If you do not see me in the convention, does that suggest that I am losing control? Even when the leader of the party, Senator Kwankwaso, has told you I am unavoidably absent as it were, you are still not satisfied. You are probing to know, and trying to create problem in the party.
There are insinuations out there that you have been compensated to hand over the party to Dr Kwankwaso, what is your take?
It is like you don’t know who you are talking with. It is unfortunate. You are the one who introduced me as the founder of the party and you are still asking me this kind of question. What you think would make a lot of news for you is to publish that Dr Aniebonam has left leadership of the party. That’s what you want to do; and who told you that? You are not a member of the party. Some of the problems in the country today are human elements. Now, let me tell you: I am the founder of the NNPP and there is nobody there that is above my hierarchy. More so, it is a divine intervention. I am not a politician, so if you think you would see me going up and down, you are not there because I don’t want to be part of that. I want you to get that right. My duty is to provide this platform, and as I speak to you, this party is about 21 years now. Of course we should have won an election, but when it is God’s time it will happen. And this is now the God’s time.
What would you say has been responsible for the party’s slow growth, so to say, because it has taken it 21 years to be where it is today? What have been the challenges?
Twenty one years to be afloat is commendable. Is there anything that is constitutional that a party must win elections in a day? In a political party where a lot is required, and in country like ours, it is better to grow quietly and get it done than being in haste. Look at the logo of the party; it is divine. A leader of the country will emerge in 2023 and that leader has the responsibility of trying to revive Nigeria. We must move from consumption to production in the economy. Security will be handled effectively, but we need to have peace first of all.
Do you believe your platform has the capacity to produce that kind of leader Nigerians need?
You seem not to believe in God. If you believe in God you wouldn’t ask this question. If you believe in God you would know that there is nothing above him. But I can excuse you if you don’t believe in God.
People out there are saying your party is the third force, what makes it the third force?
Did I tell you it is the third force? Third force of what? The NNPP is one of the registered parties in Nigeria and we are not a third force to anybody. We are not in competition with anybody. I can tell you authoritatively that we are not God, neither do we have the power to judge anybody, including the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). We don’t have the intention of being a third force.
What we are talking about is providing an opportunity for Nigerians. A lot has gone wrong. People sit down in the comfort of their homes and generate a concept. That the PDP and APC have been in power does not make other parties third force. I am speaking to you as the founder of a party. We are not an opposition to any political party, and people use that word all the time. What are you opposing?
What is your reaction to the emergence of Bola Tinubu on the platform of the APC and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the flag-bearer of PDP?
What is my business with that? Am I a member of the PDP or APC? Why would you ask me such question? APC members came together and elected their leader. The PDP did the same, the NNPP did their own and all other political parties.
But your party’s candidate will be slugging it out with those you have just dismissed?
Election is a very simple thing, whereby you put forward yourself for the public to judge, and that public judgement is the final decision. The leadership of the NNPP is not in competition with anybody. The leadership of the party and its members have presented Kwankwaso to Nigerians, and we are not in competition with anybody. We have presented our candidate for Nigerians to judge.
I am now telling you that Kwankwaso is a divine person. Have you thought about what gave him the courage to leave an established party to pick up the ticket of the NNPP? Do you really understand the courage in it? Do you consider that to be ordinary? His coming to the NNPP opened up the electoral space by way of creating a multi party system, which provides an opportunity for people to take advantage and showcase their popularity.
Politics is getting better because Nigerians can make a choice among Atiku, Tinubu, Kwankwaso and others.