A chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Modestus Umenzekwe, in this interview, speaks on the Muslim-Muslim candidacy of the party for the 2023 presidential election and other issues Anayo Ezugwu reports
What are the chances of the APC presidential candidate in the forthcoming 2023 elections?
APC as a political party is the party to beat in the forthcoming elections. It is a well-structured party that has put its footprints on the ground in every aspect of governance. If you watched what played out at the national convention that produced the flag-bearer, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, you will agree with me that we are already marching on to the seat of power because that particular convention was free, fair and credible.
The way other candidates stepped down for the flag bearer will tell you that the man is destined to govern Nigeria, having paid his dues as a politician, a giant one for that matter. His doggedness and political sagacity was brought to bear in the whole process.
So, I am convinced that by the special grace of God come May 29, 2023, Nigerians will gather at Eagle Square to swear in Tinubu as president.
What is your take on the Muslim-Muslim ticket of your party, which has been trailed by criticisms?
First of all, let me congratulate the APC as a party for making sure that the ticket went to the South. It is a welcome development.
You must not get everything perfect because you are human being but come to think of it, among all the things created by God, it is only human beings that challenged God by their character and conducts, Muslims and Christians alike.
Certain things that are supposed to be personal; we are bringing into the public domain. Yes politics is about interest; whatever we are doing is about interest. As a Christian, I would be glad if a Christian was taken, and if you are a Muslim, you would be glad, but then, we must be able to differentiate between winning election, governance and religion.
The most important thing is, are you going to deliver, are you going to pull Nigeria from the woods, are you going to give us good governance. Those are issues we should be talking about. But you see, human beings deviated from the spiritual injunction and went outside the spiritual realm, tdhereby creating problem to ourselves.
What is the way forward for the party?
Mine is to appeal to everybody, in as much as I tell you to vote your conscience, but I would prefer that you vote for Tinubu. Let us see what he is going to do, taking into consideration his track record in politics. I believe sincerely that he is going to do a lot.
You see, we had a Christian before, but the Second Niger Bridge was not done, I am talking now as somebody from the South-East; Nnamdi Azikiwe’s compound remained untouched, Onitsha/Enugu Expressway remained untouched, Port-Harcourt/ Enugu Expressway remained untouched and a whole lot.
Now, it is government led by Muhammadu Buhari, a Mulsim and a detribalized minister, Babatunde Raji Fashola that did it and by December, the 2nd Niger Bridge will be commissioned.
I have gone there, I have walked on it and it gives me joy. Azikiwe’s compound was like a tick forest, and it pained me. That was a man, who fought for our independence, but go there and see how that compound is, and a lot of other things I have mentioned. So, I don’t think that our problem is religion.
Yes, I would have preferred a Christian, but the party has calculated that this is where it should be because the cardinal thing is to win election and provide good governance.
Therefore I think we should look beyond religion and give this election what it takes, so that our flag bearer will go there and do what he did in Lagos. This is a man that fought the military to a standstill using his resources, risking his life and was forced into exile. He came back, contested, won and governed Lagos for eight years.
The running battle he had with the federal government then, it is not everybody that could have such running battle and sustained it, but he was able to sustain that.
Then from Lagos alone he captured the whole of South-West and all those states are performing very well, From there he went into merger to have APC and captured the federal government. He is a human builder, he has made a lot of people from the records available, the ones I know and the ones I have read. If such a man is able to build human being, because whatever we are doing human evangelization is very important.
There are also some complaints about his age and health because Nigeria is large and difficult to govern and therefore needs a president that is healthy and energetic…
What are we talking about; who is healthy? How old is Joe Biden? So, what are we talking about or is it because Tinubu is not an American? That was what they were saying when Buhari entered that he would die in four years but nobody is God.
You see young boys below the age of 30 years suffering diabetes, you see young girls bellow 40 years suffering one ailment or the other. I don’t want to attack anybody even my enemy based on his or her health. The only thing that can stop somebody from aspiring for the position is if you are a lunatic.
Is Tinubu’s chances not threatened by what many have described as quest for generational power shift?
Every party has various strata of human beings, we have the young, we have the middle age, we have the old and the very old. No one can exist without the other, No government can exist without them, even if it is a boy of 30 years that is there, he cannot do the work without those that have the experiences. If he is a man of 80 years he cannot do it without the support of others.
So, youths cannot be everywhere and old people cannot be everywhere. There must be a coming together of both the young and old. APC also has the youth wing; therefore APC has what it takes to do the job. xx