A couple of weeks back, the Coalition of aggrieved Support Groups numbering over 145, formally withdrew their support for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and pledged their support and loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), for the 2019 presidential election. The leader of the coalition, Bello Osaretin, recently spoke with Assistant Editor, Dare Odufowokan, on why they took that decision. Excerpts.
YOUR group during the week dumped the PDP and Atiku to work for Buhari. What informed such decision?
It is quite obvious that the leaders and chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has not learn their lessons. It is now very clear that the party is not serious about returning to power in 2019. How do you expect a party that betrayed itself in 2015 to still win election come 2019 with the same set of characters that were at the saddle of command when APC defeated the party four years ago.
That was when the PDP was even a ruling party. They say they have changed and are now true democrats, but the issues of imposition and impunity have not been addressed. Coupled with the symptoms of the use and dump syndrome that has vastly infested the party. Sadly too, the party lacks a reward management system for true members to be fully integrated into party activities.
It is for these reasons and many more that we decided to be separated from the PDP and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who we have been supporting and worked tirelessly for since he declared his interest in the 2019 presidential race. As I am speaking to you, we are no longer in support of both the PDP and Atiku. We have decided to move away from them both.
Our decision to quit the Atiku project was occasioned by the total neglect and disregards for the sanctity of support groups existence, acknowledgment and recognition of groups contributions coupled with nepotic deployment in favour of some selected support groups with ethnic affinity, administrative recklessness in management of support groups goodwill, rebarbative use of derogatory terms such as mere volunteers and nuisance to ascribed support groups instrumental for Atiku to defeat eleven co-contestants in PDP Presidential Convention and the use of coercive force, such as thugs and political touts to unleash mayhem on support groups that we are disgruntled to the injustice prevalent in Atiku’s camp.
But some analysts have described your actions as mere political stunt. What do you have to say to this?
Whoever think our actions are mere political stunts must be a new entrance or a political neophyte in the game of politics. How would any rational politician think it is a stunt. Believe me, there was a good ground for us to be disgruntled. People need to understand how we feel that after our support had led to the emergence eam abandoned us. of Atiku Abubakar as presidential candidate, his team abandoned us.
Following his victory at the presidential primary election in Port-Harcourt, we were referred to as mere volunteers. We were neglected and left abandoned. No letter of appreciation. No acknowledgment. No recognition whatsoever.
After the victory in Port-Harcourt, the celebration was moved to Dubai, where people who never laboured for Atiku’s victory were the first to sit at the tea party, while the support groups that labored through thick and thin were neglected, abandoned, used and dumped, confirming the usual parlance of “monkey dye work baboon dey chop” which has been the usual style of PDP as a political party.
You claimed to be aggrieved Atiku supporters. First, what are the proves that your group actually worked for Atiku?
If we didn’t work for Atiku Abubakar there wouldn’t have been the need for this agitations. We worked serious for him by using our resources to mobilize and engage critical stakeholders, especially the delegates, because it was a structured delegates campaign. Vehicles, banners, billboard, sourvires were branded to create serious public awareness for him, amongst other things.
And we are known to him and his handlers. That is why nobody has come out to deny us. They are now doing what they ought t have done long before we decided to cut ties with them. Our decision to quit Atiku’s presidential project is informed and inspired by the outcome of wide consultations and engagements embark upon over the past few months. We didn’t just leave, we consulted widely.
Since when have you been supporting Atiku and what sort of relationship did you have with him and his political camp?
We have been supporting Atiku since 2011. The relationship has been a ecame Aggrieved because we were being used and dumped. We made efforts tot get issues resolved. We wrote several letters but all to no avail. political one. But we became aggrieved because nobody seems to give us recognition for the good job done by support groups. It was very very appalling. We became Aggrieved because we were being used and dumped. We made efforts tot get issues resolved. We wrote several letters but all to no avail.
Do you think President Buhari can win the 2019 election?
Why not? The man has done extremely well He has brought integrity into the governance system of Nigeria. There is no match to Buhari in 2019. It is integrity versus corruption. Nigerians are still remembering the past and comparing it with the current situation. Buhari has won the next election for the APC across the country with his performance.
Like I told you, we didnt just leave PDP, we consulted widely and I can now tell you Nigerians prefer Buhari and the APC to Atiku and the PDP. That was why we unanimously agreed to denounce our membership of Atiku Presidential Campaign Office and as well withdraws total supports for Atiku Abubakar’s presidential ambition nationwide with immediate effect and direct all affiliate bodies to do same forthwith.
On the flip-side, we the members of aggrieved Atiku Support Groups Coalition, warehousing more than 145 aggrieved support groups across Nigeria, are now promising to mobilise our members to give President Buhari six million votes across the country to ensure that he is not stopped by the PDP in 2019. We are of the opinion that he should be allowed to continue the good works he is doing.
Integrity question will be at stake here. We need to put that in context. I still believe Buhari will come on top at end of the day. Also the choices of the running mates have set a voting pattern in motion. The west and the east will look at the persons running as vice president and decide which party should be given the chance. The south will determine the next election. Take my words for it, Buhari will win in 2019.
Are you now members of the APC?
We have not officially declared for APC, but we have pledged allegiance to Mr. President through Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. But let me say this categorically; it is a sin to remain in PDP. Nigerians have spoken, they will never return to Egypt, so PDP will never return to power in Nigeria.