Emmanuel: No Candidate Matches Atiku’s Capacity
•Says PDP going into 2023 election to win
Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Council and Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, says there is no candidate in the race for presidency in 2023 with the kind of capacity and knowledge of national issues that the candidate of PDP, Atiku Abubakar, has. Emmanuel stated this in an exclusive interview with THISDAY.
The governor said he was confident the main opposition party was going into the 2023 presidential election to win.
He said, “I’m not boasting, but among those contesting today, there is no candidate with the same capacity, knowledge and understanding of the problem and what to do for Nigeria like Atiku. There is none, not even one. I’m not being biased at all; I’m giving you a very objective opinion.
“There is none. So, that is why you see me following, because I love my country. I love my people. I want this country to get better, and even in terms of the assemblage of good people with genuine intentions, give it to Atiku; he can put a square peg in a square hole and get the result.”
The Akwa Ibom State governor added, “I started by saying I’m very, very optimistic. But I don’t think the issue is about any party. The issue is about Nigerians, because, you see, Nigeria is a peculiar country, and we are a peculiar people, too: suffering and smiling, like Fela said. You don’t need anybody to tell you this.
“If you’re feeling the heat of the sun outside and it is left for you to come under an umbrella and basically you refused, then what do you want God to do for you? Even God Himself said, ‘I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me and open, I will enter.’
“So, God has given you the willpower to get out of the storm and come under the umbrella. PDP provides an umbrella, and you refused to come under the umbrella. Nobody can force you. So, the issue is not about the party.
“The issue is about Nigerians, who have the power to say, ‘Hey, I am tired. You guys took over power, when the exchange rate was N186. Today, it is almost N900. You guys took over power, when a bag of rice was N6, 000. Today, it is N42, 000. You guys took over power when corruption wasn’t even anything to go by. But today, it is on a very large scale — when fuel was this and today it is this.’
“Our economy’s growth rate was almost double-digit, and today we are on a minus. Every single index in this country is on a negative trend. There is no Nigerian, beginning from the least to the highest level, that is not feeling the pain. You don’t feel the pain, because you have food to eat. What about those who stop you by the way every time?
“They say you don’t have a good heart. If you have the heart of the people, by the time you see some people on the main road, you go back home and won’t be able to sleep. So, everybody is feeling it; it is left for people to just rise and say, ‘Hey, let us go back to what we knew worked well.’
“And this is not even the case of the children of Israel, who wanted to go back to Egypt and be faced with hard labour. In this case, there was no hard labour. It was actually a paradise you ran away (from). All you need to do is go back to paradise, and paradise is with those who have the capacity.”
Regarding his thought on the 2023 polls, Emmanuel said, “I say I’m not looking at any permutation. I’m going into this with optimism, because if I’m going with permutation, it means I shouldn’t be the chairman of the campaign council. I’m going with optimism. I would not have accepted been the chairman if I was not optimistic that I’m going to win. So, we are in the race to win. There’s no permutation in this case at all.
“We are trying to take the right step. That’s why you are asking about a few issues in our party, and I said, of course, we are making progress. We’ll resolve all issues. You can’t let anybody go in an election; every vote matters.
“Every single person is important in politics, not to talk of when you’re talking about very big men. Small men like us will go and prostrate ourselves before them: please oh, big men, don’t let us down. I’m into this game to win. I don’t think anybody will get to this point and be doing permutation. What kind of permutation?”
Emmanuel spoke on the group of five aggrieved PDP governors, G-5, saying, “But they are not unhappy with me as Udom Emmanuel. Did they tell you they were unhappy with the party? Four of them are candidates of the party. They hold tickets of the party. They’re members of the party; you are getting it wrong.
“Even spoons and plates hit themselves and create a lot of noise; that doesn’t mean they’ve broken. It doesn’t mean they’ve broken. I think that is the situation here. For the fact that people are unhappy, it is inevitable, definitely inevitable, with a large party like PDP. It is the largest party in the whole of Africa.
“So, certainly, we all make mistakes. I must also confess as a party, we’ve made mistakes, and as individuals, we’ve made mistakes. But these mistakes, I can assure you, will not break us. We are trying to come back, review and then reappraise and see how we can move forward, and I can assure you, we’ll do that.”