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Why we’re reviving Atiku/Buhari alliance – Bugaje

Well, it is not a new move but a revival of the earlier move; because if you recall, in 2006 towards the 2007 elections, there…

Well, it is not a new move but a revival of the earlier move; because if you recall, in 2006 towards the 2007 elections, there was an attempt to put all the opposition parties and other political groups together for a number of reasons that we don’t need to go into at this stage. This was not possible and so they went to the polls separately. Now, in these last two years, they have seen the consequences of that mistake. They have seen how things have deteriorated over a very short period of time. So, they said the time has come to salvage this country and it is no longer about their ambition any more. It is about how we can come together, as responsible politicians to salvage this country. It is true they have met and agreed to work together. So I can confirm this. But the details on how they are going to do it are still being worked out. We hope by the end of this year, they should have finished working on the plan for the platform as well as the objectives of the alliance.

A similar move was initiated before the 2007 elections. What factors were responsible for the failure and what is being done to ensure that the current effort doesn’t suffer the same fate?

On this kind of issue, it is very difficult to pin a particular hand and say it was responsible for the failure because views differ. I can say, generally speaking and very briefly, too, that there was the hope among supporters of the three principal people that were involved that they can win on different platforms which is why they did not really push it to work. And I will like to say that the Peoples Democratic  Party (PDP) also created an impression to some greedy people around the major actors that they can be compensated, hence they capitalised on them and contested separately. But now they have seen that was an illusion. They realised that the need for them to come together today is much more than before. If in 2007, they thought they had a chance now they know they don’t because the PDP is not ready to conduct election. The fact is that, yes there was a mistake and they recognised that mistake which include false hope that was created that they can go on their own and still win some seats coupled with the fact that the PDP was subverting the process. So I think they now know that this is not correct, especially with the insincerity of Yar’adua and National Assembly. They are clearly not interested in ensuring the electoral reform really takes place.

Some of Atiku’s political associates that took part in the last dialogue with Buhari, like Abubakar Rimi, have now gone back to the PDP. What efforts are you taking to ensure that similar people don’t work for the PDP?

Actually, the move is going to succeed now because people like Rimi have gone to the PDP. Most of the bottlenecks that are likely to disturb the move by such kinds of people out of greed or whatever have now left. So the platform is much more sanitized now and involves more responsible people. All those that can be motivated by greed to work for the PDP to subdue the process, luckily for us have now all left. Therefore, all these would really help the process to succeed.

There are speculations that Atiku would likely get the presidential ticket under this alliance to contest the 2011 presidential election. Is it true?

No, I think they made it clear in the beginning that the issue of who takes the ticket does not even arise at the moment. All their presidential ambitions have been put aside because when you are faced with the kind of catastrophe we are faced in this country today, it will be irresponsible for anybody to start thinking of presidential ticket. What is important first is to galvanise the country and mobilise it so that we can actually salvage it, which is why we are in this. We are really on the brink and just about to fall into the ditch. So they are not thinking about that at all.

Don’t you think this attempt would crack the north since Atiku and Buhari and the President Yar’adua come from the same region?

No, it would rather galvanise the north because Yar’adua has failed. Yar’adua has failed the north. Yar’adua has betrayed the north and Yar’adua is destroying the north. And every sensible northerner will appreciate any effort by these two responsible politicians to come together to see how they can fight him to seize this opportunity so that the north can get a better deal. The north has suffered for eight years under former President Olusegun Obasanjo and it is unfortunate if it’s going to continue to suffer. What has happened to the north since he came into office? So much money has gone to agriculture but where is the money. Indeed, it a sad development and a treble experience for the north. I am sure people would celebrate this because they would see it as an opportunity of a united north emerging and doing things they are expected to by the northerners.

But all Yar’adua’s appointment especially in the economic sector are from the north. So what is happening?

Outside the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) I don’t think there is any sensible person appointed by Yar’adua in the economic sector. They are his boys brought in to make money and therefore they are making a mess of the whole thing. What have they done with power sector money and monies meant for development? Why did Suleiman resign from the PHCN and so on? They are not there to work for the country not less to work for the revival of northern economy.

What is the relationship between this alliance and the attempt to form a mega party by members of the opposition?

A mega party is an option. It does not have to be people coming into an imaginary party or a new party or a small party. It could be a coalition of forces into one particular party whichever the people choose. So, we are looking at different options but the idea is the same; that the opposition should be united, opposition should strengthen and opposition should be focusing on how to salvage this country from the disaster it has been into in the last two years.