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By NBF News
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Dr Godwin Daboh is  Chairman, Board of Trustees,  Move Nigerian Project, one of the platforms  galvanizing support for the ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan. In this interview, Daboh declares that former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, who lost out in the screening conducted by the Northern Political Leaders Forum, [NPLF] to produce a consensus candidate of Northern extraction for the Peoples Democratic Party, [PDP] presidential ticket would soon ditch the former vice- president, Atiku Abubakar for President Jonathan, just as he submitted that delegates from 28 states would deliver their votes for Jonathan at the party's national convention slated for January, 13, 2011.

You and IBB have had robust relationship, but we are surprised that you didn't buy into his presidential ambition—somebody you acknowledged as your friend of…

[cuts in] not that I called Babangida a friend; he has been my friend, my mentor  for 48 years. This is 49 years of our relationship. But you see, IBB was president of this country for eight years, he took landmark decisions that have left permanent input on the history of this country.

After ruling Nigeria for eight years, from one geo-political zone, why do you want to rule Nigeria again? Secondly, Babangida during his presidency, there were a lot of controversies surrounding his person; some of these things are dying now people have started forgetting some of the things that happened during his presidency. But now wanting to go into the presidency will revive this memory, things that were almost forgotten.

You know, IBB has become an institution to many Nigerians, throughout the world he has  become an institution. Somebody that should be a reference point, not a competitor. Babangida is going to be seventy years next year. Now, when you get to this age, there should be a generational change; that was what I explained to him, that was what I pleaded with him. I said, ''listen, Nigeria must move from where we have been — for the past fifty years to new generation and that new generation has to be made up of young people—there has to be  a generational change. People in their fifties, or late forties  can take over from us.

Look at Obama, how old was he when he became the President of America?

So, there should be a  generational change, because the world is changing, the world isn't static. Not only that, I believe that Babangida  should be an elder statesman and he should be a reference point, not a competitor in any political party.

He has paid his dues to Nigeria, he has made his landmark. He moved Nigeria to Abuja; that can not be denied. Some of the magnificent buildings here like the Women Center, they were done by his government, the federal secretariat—so many things had been done, he made his marks on society, on Nigeria, he has so much affected so many lives in this country that he needs not attempt.

Babangida has become an institution ,a mystery to many people and I didn't want him to demystify himself. But unfortunately, he refused to listen to my advice and he has been demystified. Otherwise, tell me, how on earth can you say Atiku defeated Babangida? Babangida has got the goodwill, which cuts across every geo-political zone, he has the political reach. He touched so many lives, positively, including myself.

But don't you think you may be one of the beneficiaries of a Babangida presidency?

No,  I didn't want IBB to demystify himself that was my plea to him. Look at what has happened to him? How can you imagine Atiku defeating Babangida?

It was a contest.
Are you doubting the integrity of those in the NPLF Committee?

The NPLF was an inconsequential amalgamation of people who aren't productive. These are people who have no constituency. Ciroma cannot deliver any constituency in his state; none of those people has a constituency. How can you talk of the North without the Tiv? It is impossible for you to talk of the North  without the Tiv people. We are  the most formidable part of the northern states; we stood, we fought for the North. During the civil war, it was the Tiv people and the Plateau people who fought.

Who in Plateau was on that committee?
Who is the Tiv man on that committee? It was a rubbish committee.

It was  gathering of a group of people who met, who are expired, who have no political value, who couldn't do anything, because obviously.

What was the criteria they used in selecting Atiku Abubakar? Atiku Abubakar was with Obasanjo. He and Obasanjo failed, they were no longer together and he had to leave government. How can Atiku and Babangida go into a competition? It is a contest of two unequal people. You can not equate Atiku with Babangida. You can not!

But IBB had accepted the result of the NPLF committee

Yes, he has accepted, because he is  a man of honour. He has  said, whoever was picked he would support. So, he has to accept Atiku , but

I am saying that Atiku cannot defeat Jonathan in a presidential election, even at the primary. That's why I  am pleading with IBB to support Jonathan; he shouldn't support a losing team, because Atiku cannot defeat Jonathan.

What gives you that impression?
Look, this is a man who rose from a very humble beginning, this is a man who didn't struggle, but became chairman of a local government; became deputy governor of Bayelsa state; became the governor of Bayelsa State; became the vice-president of Nigeria. Without printing one poster, without spending one kobo, without bribing anybody. This is a man who is incorruptible, God fearing. He was governor of Bayelsa state; how many houses have you heard that he acquired? Some of Nigerian past leaders, I  can count twenty buildings owned by them.

Can you mention names?
Well, I am not going to mention their names, but they know themselves. They have amassed wealth, they are billionaires.

Sir, there is a problem that hasn't been solved;  the zoning formula in your party, the PDP. Some are squealing, insisting that it is about to be observed in the breach, by Jonathan aspiration and they rely on Article 7.2[c] of the party constitution.

Was that section of the party constitution not there when Gemade contested with Obasanjo? When Rimi contested with Obasanjo? Answer me! Were those sections not entrenched in PDP constitution? Where was Article 7.2[c] was it not in the constitution at that time?

So, what I am saying is that listen, the emergence of Jonathan is God divine, because nobody knows that Yar'Adua was going to die. You tell me, Yar'Adua and Jonathan were elected on the same ticket. God called Yar'Adua home, consequently, Jonathan has to continue and complete Yar'Adua's tenure. That's the logic. It is God design, it is God's will and anybody who challenges God will fail.

But Chief Daboh, what has changed? I could recall you granted Daily Sun an interview, even before Yar'Adua's  ailment degenerated and you said— if Yar'Adua dropped dead, the North wouldn't allow Jonathan to succeed him. So, why are you now against that North?

Look, Jonathan is president, because of the circumstances—there was nowhere I said in the interview that, if Yar'Adua dropped dead, the North  would not allow Jonathan .Who is the person that should replace Yar'Adua?

Who is the Northerner that was elected with Yar'Adua on the same ticket?

At the time I made that statement, I didn't realize the political implication of the decision, because Yar'Adua was elected with Jonathan on the same ticket. Who is the other northerner that was with him on the same ticket? That's the position; that's the deciding factor, because two of them were elected on the same ticket.

So, if God calls one the other one has a duty  and a right to continue to complete that tenure. That's why I am now supporting Jonathan. I am supporting Jonathan, because he is a child of God, he is a child of circumstances, because two people were elected on the same ticket. God calls one and the other one has constitutional responsibility to complete the tenure of the other one.

But if at the end of the primary, Jonathan fails to pick the ticket…?

[cuts in] It is absolutely impossible, because of the work we have done. I have toured the whole thirty six states of the federation, and I  can tell you today it is absolutely impossible. Whether the political anarchists, who are conspiring to operate option 'B' like it or not, Jonathan is going to win the PDP primary  and Jonathan is going to win the presidential election, because of the following reasons: one, Nigeria is tired of the old brigade; two Nigerians want a new leadership that isn't corrupt.

Thirdly,  Nigerians want a new leadership that is focused, a leadership of intellectuals. This is the first time we have a Ph.D holder in the presidency.

We want a generational change intellectually .
So, what I am saying  is this : there is nothing that would stop Jonathan from winning the PDP primary and  presidential election, because many Nigerians have resolved that they want a change; many Nigerians have resolved that what they want today is somebody, a leader who can lay a solid foundation for the Nigeria of tomorrow.

But sir, you know that in a contest, there will always be a winner; in the event that Jonathan loses?

Look, that isn't applicable! From the work we have done, the whole Nigerians—from the North, East, South—all of us want  Jonathan and from the work we have done in the past six months. It is impossible, unthinkable that Jonathan would lose.

As at today that I am talking to you, we are sure of Jonathan winning out rightly winning in 28 states in the country. That's the result of the evaluation, the assessment we did and the feedback from 28 states chapters. Jonathan is going to win in 28 states.So, there is no question of him losing. It is completely unthinkable.

But the governors have the delegates and they have been playing cats and mouse game with  Jonathan—he  isn't sure of their support Look, let me tell you. The governors who might not be rooting for Jonathan constitute a minority. I have been in politics for a long time now and I can tell you that Nigerian politics is driven by the person in control of the mechanisms of control. That's the history of Nigerian politics.

The point I am telling you is that  there is a historical phenomenon which we have to come to terms with. This is the first time in the history… I wanted to be a senator in 2006 and I spent N58 million, I didn't win. Okay.  How much  did Jonathan spend to emerge vice -presidential candidate of the party?

You see, there are certain things that God decides, there are certain human beings in  our  history. God picks certain creatures. What I am saying is that there is a divine coordination in this man called Jonathan.

I have done some investigations in the past four months, using my connection in the party, using my connection with the security agencies and I tell you I haven't  been able to find one thing and I challenge anybody  who has got any  act of corruption on the part of Jonathan. Others are busy acquiring property, but Jonathan is humble and satisfied. At any stage in the history of a country, God decides to pick a leader for that country. When He makes such  choice, anybody who challenges that choice courts His wrath. I want to tell you one thing: Jonathan is going to win the PDP primary hands down; he is going to win the presidential election and emerge as the president of Nigeria.

Let me also tell you one thing: this is going to be the first election in the history of Nigeria, since it was founded that would be transparent; this is going to be an election that money would have no role to play; this is going to be an election that stealing of ballot boxes would not be allowed; this is going to an election that we are going to have the choice, at all levels. The candidate that are wanted by the people are those who would emerge.

But what exactly do you have against the candidature of Atiku Abubakar?

Well, let me tell you what I have. He was part of the Obasanjo administration  that failed. He has no idea, there is nothing new that he is going to offer Nigerians, because one: Atiku served with Obasanjo from 1999 to 2003.

What was the impact he left? They continued till 2007; what impact did they leave? What did they do?

There was massive corruption, bad governance was at all levels. So, what I am saying is that he was part of the Obasanjo administration and that administration had no durable policy impact on Nigerians. Consequently, Atiku can not be different from what he did with Obasanjo.

But what can you enumerate as the achievements of Jonathan that you are  marketing?

Look, it is impossible for you to assess a leader in six months. A leader, particularly who emerged in difficult and controversial circumstance, like Jonathan. Having Yar'Adua's  death in May, it took time for Jonathan to become acceptable by  many people as the president of Nigeria. In fact, I can  tell you that it is only in the past three months, that is, after September - it was from October that Jonathan started consolidating his leadership. The other time he was trying to survive, trying to be acceptable.

So, let us give him a chance. How you can judge Jonathan is what happened say, by April  next year.  It is too early to judge him now.

For a very complex and complicated nation like Nigeria, you can't use six to judge a leader. It is unfair, absolutely unfair, because what he has been doing is to first of all draw up his own strategy, because what he inherited wasn't his strategy. It was the strategy of the late Yar'Adua.