Interview with Mr. Segun Showunmi on 25th Nov. 2021.
Q1. Can we meet you by your new designation?
Ans: My name is Segun Showunmi. Most people recall very quickly that I was and truly am still the spokesperson of his excellency Atiku Abubakar’s presidential campaign in 2019. I am also a very long standing unapologetic PDP man who has supported the party in many capacities. I was a House of Representatives candidate for 2019 or so although we didn’t exactly win. I’m a pretty much known face and name when it comes to political narrative analysis, as such I’m a very frequent face on television and I’m frequented on newspapers and blogs. Other than that I’m just a simple Nigerian who loves the country passionately.
Q2. In your view, what was done wrong that led to PDP losing the last presidential election?
Ans: well, I always tell people I don’t agree that we lost the last presidential election in 2019. As a matter of fact I believe very strongly that Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the PDP in 2019 election won that election. It is what it is that the APC candidate Muhammadu Buhari is forming government and is leading now, but there is no tangible evidence to suggest that he won.
⁃ The first is that once you don’t have a credible electoral process where all parties; interested parties, stakeholders, bystanders, rabble-rousers, the entire country can ascertain clearly and transparently that the election was free and fair, we have a problem.
⁃ The second is that you must always ask the question of where the numbers come from. If you come up to the table and say you got one hundred million votes from a place, we must ask where that number came from and why you will know that what I’m saying is not far fetched is just to go to the northern part, especially that north-west. In most of the north-western states, you will notice that the disparities between the first election and the second election is too large. It’s not unusual for you to say that in the first election they would just allocate whatever number they want to the opposition and allocate everything to themselves, and two weeks later when you have to do the second election you will see that the numbers are fairly close. But the numbers you get in the second election is a fair representation of what the contest will look like. I’m not saying they didn’t win some of those locations but I’m saying they didn’t win by those margins, and the numbers that were inflated were mostly on their side and it was at the expense of the candidate of the PDP, that’s one reason. The second reason is that any election management template that requires the federal government or the actors of the state to under the guise of providing security suppress votes in the strongholds of their opponents is already being rigged, and you’ll notice what has happened in the whole of the south-eastern states and even in Lagos where we have a lot of persons that were supposed to come from the entire south.
⁃ Then finally, for a nation that has been practicing for some time now nobody should excuse indolence, the unacceptable liturgy, the laziness in thought and implementation that can justify why you can not have electronic transmission of results and electronic voting. There’s hardly any part of the world where GSM doesn’t work, and if you take your ATM card to any ATM in any part of the country, it will not only give you what you want, it will also translate the balance that is left almost immediately, such that you can not take ten thousand naira in Sokoto from your ten thousand naira you have in your account and then go to Lagos one hour later and hope to get ten thousand naira, it would have been recorded that it’s gone. But it’s not ideal, it’s not decent, it is not proper that the election process of 2019 was not acclaimed
⁃ Then the fourth and even perhaps the most compelling argument is that elections are a residual decision making event; what I mean by this is that people don’t just get to the day of elections and vote, they vote based on some of the things that they’ve been inspired by or inconvenienced by till the day they have to take that decision. The nothing in the horizon of the country between the hours where the APC was in charge being 2015 to 2019 that can suggest in the smallest number that anybody who is active, able to think or who’s impacted by their policies could have given them such huge numbers. So what we believe is that Atiku won that election. The democratic process did not do justice to the will of the people and the judiciary fell very short in using their legislative and final rule as those who can redress the situation and we didn’t really get to be given the price.
So when you say why did the PDP lose in 2019, I will say emphatically that the PDP was robbed in 2019. That doesn’t mean that the status quo will be the same in 2023.
B. Are there steps being taken to make sure this doesn’t repeat itself in the coming election?
Ans: I think the first thing is that you have to give it to the PDP. Democracy is not a process that people should not transparently see what’s going on. Nigerians transparently know what’s going on in PDP, they transparently know when there’s leadership issues, transparently know when the PDP is in court with themselves, they transparently know when we want to do conventions and congresses. Nigerians transparently see what the PDP is doing and that’s what democracy is all about. On the other hand I’m not even sure that the president of the country and leader of APC can transparently explain what is going on in that party.
You can’t understand precisely what imagination, what democratic model justifies that a political party can not manage itself to organize its own processes that lead to a stable national executive working committee as prescribed by its own constitution. Now, any political party that delves or departs from a fairly transparent way of doing things can not be called a political party, and if you don’t find members of that party complaining loudly as they should, it must mean that they have come under excruciating fear, savitude or just patronage that makes it difficult for them to even express their fundamental rights to an opinion.
Now if you ask, we all did the presidential election on the same day, they were judged to go and win and carry the same day. We didn’t get the verdict we wanted, at least the system did not tell us we won, yet we have been able to transform our party, we have been able to run our party, we have been able to see the extent of work that Uche Secondus led chairman did which we applaud, I personally applaud to the extent of the work, we’re able to see when they are struggling to change the baton. We’re able to see how a court that said Uche Secondus parade himself, how that court order was respected, we’re able to see how the free nerves of the crisis and everybody having a point of view are chipping in. We’ve heard all Nigerians, we all heard it and you’re able to see the attempt to exit that via a convention. I plead with you, what can you explain to a decent Nigerian who is not bought, cowed or paralyzed to explain precisely what is going on in that other party.
Now if they can not even run a Democratic Party that they self created under the reach they created for themselves. I think the question then is; what do Nigerians plan to do about it? And I think what Nigerians should do about it is that the Nigerians must know that democracy is not as simple but it is also not open to the level of opaqueness that the APC is running with.
Q3. The National Assembly amended the electoral act that gives room for direct primaries, what are your views about it and how ready is the PDP to amend it?
Ans: I think that act has been passed by the house but hasn’t been assented. When we get an assented copy of it, it will be ideal for us to study and determine those actions that will make its implementation easy. I understand that people must be nervous as to how it will really play out and in reality. But I believe that any step taken to give the people a bigger say in how candidates emerge, to the point of how candidates are elected, I think it is deeply democracy. If you insist that all fee-paying members, registered members validated by a register can participate in the election of candidates, you have brought that decision closest to them.
The logistics nightmare that will be involved is a completely different kettle of fish, but nature must not abore the desire for improvement. So I believe that somehow they will be able to get round that problem. I just hope that the kind of self inflicted egoist figures that the APC typically always say it get from its direct primaries does not become copied because if you go to an APC primaries, take for instance the one of Anambra; they did a primaries there which they claim was direct primaries where they allocated as much as two hundred thousand (200,000) votes to their candidate, only for him to get to the general election and did not even get as much as fifty thousand (50,000). So what we’re saying is that be mindful of of adopting fraud and lies as the directory principles of democracy. What we need to do if we’re going to follow this route is to go and tidy up the register of the political party to set the rules as to how people campaign and all that, and to figure out a seamless model of voting so that it does not become unduly chaotic and rancorous. Both sides have been styled before. Some of us who have been around who understand what happened during the June 12, the elections of 1991/1992, we are well aware that it was an open direct primaries, everybody lining up kind of thing, and we also know the indirect primaries which is some kind of collegiate system. None is full proof but one gives people more space to participate than the other.
Q 4. Why has the PDP failed to provide strong opposition over the last two and a half years?
Ans: I think it’s a function of the people that have been given the responsibility. And people can only give what they can, and I think political parties especially when in opposition must ask one question; what exactly is the important thing for you? If the important thing for you is to give your party the best chance then it is senseless for you not to give the best men or the best people, the best women, the best youth the role that you need them to play. It is not enough for you to think that the idea of running a democratic association is for you to be looking for your lackeys, your lickspittles, your cronies
and your sycophants to occupy office, no matter what, they can not give more than what they have. So whatever it is that Nigerians are complaining about, it is a function of the people that have the responsibility. Just like when we complain about Nigerian today in the saddle.
The PDP has been lucky a lot of its young people, some of us have pushed really hard to try to be wingers on the side helping out, but for the directive principles of opposition work you need to fit the place with the right type of people, with the right type of process, with the right type of ideology, with the right type of energy, with the right type of skill, with the right type of grit to be able to get the job done.
B. So does that mean all of these (mentioned in the answer above) are not in place?
Ans: well, I think that it could be better. It’s not my duty to hold brief of them for some of the complains they themselves have also been hearing over the years. But I will just say that it could have been better.
They tried on somewhat. I had always excused what they did on alter of the fact that everytime this question has been asked I’ve always said to myself that perhaps Nigerians don’t understand that it is not necessary for you to implode your country just because you’re in democracy. I’ve always felt that Nigerians must understand that the fact that they even write those press releases, the fact that they also pick on all these issues has already posited their view. Yes, more could have been done, but all that propaganda; telling lie, fear mongering and that propagandist irresponsible attitude is fa the APC when they were in opposition can not be standard; the standard must be a contestation of ideas. Of course for the PDP great room for improvement existed with the last executive, and these ones have just come on board, maybe we should give them some time to see precisely how well they will go.
Q5. Nigeria’s debt profile has increased under the Buhari regime. The president recently borrowed 4 billion dollars, and another 16 billion dollars was just approved by the senate, why has the PDP not been opposed to these borrowing?
Ans: well, I don’t know what you mean by opposed. Everybody and anybody that has a voice in PDP indeed has a voice in Nigeria and has queried these debts. The house of assembly and the senate or the representatives where these approvals are given, the process of which you get approvals of this nature is by simply majority, and because they have the majority in that senate and in the house of assembly they are basically just doing whatever the hell they like. I think that going forward, a constitutional adjustment or a house rule adjustment may be required such that on things that have far reaching implications on the nation, maybe a simple majority would not be enough so that some parts of the opposition voices can also impart those approvals. It will be worked out in the details; there are legislative framers who can frame it properly otherwise it’s very possible for the party in government that majority in the senate and the rest to run the country to war or run the country aground like the Buhari government has done now.
They like to fool themselves by saying that Nigeria has the capability based on the average debt to GDP ratio than people talk about, but I had queried them often. I had queried them for a long time and have also insisted very early in the day that look, you can not be fixated on your debt, and unfortunately for them, about 98% of whatever revenue they’re going to get now is going to go not into the payment of debts but to the servicing of those debts. So truly Nigeria is in a financial mess. Now if the country is in a financial mess, what does the country need to do? I have insisted that arguing, talking, screaming, even advising the APC at this material time is a waste of time. Whatever advice they did not take in the last six plus years, they are not likely to take it going forward because they are in the twilight of their administration. What the Nigerian people can not afford to do, in my opinion is that they can not afford to be irresponsible with their votes for it will have very far reaching implications.
Any other party… the PDP can come and tell you this is what we’re going to do, this is our experience, we have the ability to do it, we will fix it and all that. If they do not do what is required by getting involved with the process, by voting, by getting their PVC, by voting out this irresponsible party, we are all going to be stuck in this, and the painful part is that it impacts majority of the people much more than it impacts their leaders. A great number of their leaders will pack their bags and go abroad, a great number of their leaders have their kids all schooling abroad, a great number of their leaders can maybe manage themselves….What about the vast majority of the people? So far Nigeria, because of the level of debts that this administration has gotten this country into, we can not afford not to be responsible with the future, and in trying to be responsible with the future, the only one responsibility that we have is to vote out the APC. Nothing they say, nothing they bring, nothing they present must be taken by the Nigerian people because they have presented better in the past, they have presented more in the past, they have promised more in the past, and they have failed on all score.
They failed on the Economy; we have never had the impact of inflation to be this painful. You can hardly buy food. They failed on security; there’s not part of the country now where you don’t have soldiers doing policing duties. And even at that it’s still not secure. They failed on national cohesion; Nigeria has never been this divided with every part of the country feeling like they don’t want to be part of the country. They failed on debts; they have borrowed and borrowed…that we’re practically a nation on our knees now. We’re on our needs because we’ll be needing some understanding from those we borrowed from even to be able to fix the mess that they have created if those we borrowed from began to ask for their money today. We are literally, to put it mildly, just doomed. And when you go borrowing in some countries of Europe, with their Euro bond and all sort of nonsense you get scared because…you are young and unaware, countries in other parts of the world…Greece failed at one point and it took a lot of effort, interventions and all that.
Nations will come and do receivership of your land, your asset and what have you. We can’t have it that way. And it is so unfortunate because haven being elected into the senate, house of rep and all that, those who should be patriotically Nigerians have allowed the colors of their party to allow them run the country aground and it will only be telling how the future will be. But I can guarantee you the PDP took power on 1999 and met a pariah country where we were really almost in a worse situation because at that time we couldn’t even write a letter of credit. At least some of our private banks can still do well and we did everything humanly possible under leadership to bring the country to some form of prosperity and double digit growth at the height of it.
We have the ability to do it and I pray and believe that if the Nigerians can keep faith with us we will get them out of this mess because it is a mess that all of us are in together. I’m not even sure whether the cost of transportation is not too high. We’re being told now that they’re going to impact it madly by the removal of subsidy which I agree with. But what I don’t understand is if you don’t have money to to subsidize petrol, where are you going to get the money to dash people five thousand naira (5,000) each? So I think that when you have a people whose economic policy resembles their propaganda playing to the gallery, this is the kind of mess you have. But I believe that a nation never dies unless it goes to war. Once a nation is not at war, and the people wake up every morning and give thanks to God for being alive and strap on their stripe and get to work, a nation can always reboot from the brain. And I have a few people in mind who I think can do that for the Nigerian nation.
Q6. Do you feel PDP should zone the presidential ticket to the south?
Ans: hmmm… you have asked a very tough question. I’ve asked myself that question too privately and I’ve always said to people that we have to see the intended candidates. Nigerian is at such a tipping point that we can no longer say that oh! We’re going to put the presidency in a village when we don’t know which of the sons or daughters of that village that can get the job done, that’s where we are now. If the south wants to be president, southern candidates have to come out. If the southern candidates are not coming out, it’s because they know it’s a very tough order. And what we have seen in the PDP is that most of the people who have shown promise are from the north, and therefore a political party in opposition has not business discussing zoning with the main party. In 1999 we were with Olusegun Obasonjo, some other parties zoned their things elsewhere. In 2003 we were with Olusegun Obasonjo, Buhari was son the ballot and he’s from the north. In 2007 we were with Musa Yar’ Adua, Buhari was on the ballot and he’s from the north. In 2011 upon the demise of our great leader Umar Yar’ Adua (May God continue to rest his soul) we were with a south-south man Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Buhari was still from the north. In 2015 we were with a south-south man called Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, they were still with Buhari. In 2019 we were with Atiku Abubakar of North-eastern extraction, they were with Buhari of north-west. So is it in 2023 that we’re now going to be asking APC where should we vote or zone? No. We will zone according to five things:
-the first will be some form of equity
-the second will be capacity and competence
-the third will be national appeal
-the fourth will be electability
-and the firth will be consensus of those who have to weigh in on this via their votes in primaries.
It is whoever emerges from our primaries that we’re all going to go with but all five indicators will be there.
Q 7. Haven served und the Vice President Atiku Abubakar as a media aide, do you think Atiku who is close to 80 years should groom the younger ones to aspire for president?
Ans: let me first of all say happy birthday to his excellency Atiku Abubakar because today happens to be his 75th birthday. I think that young people should be careful. Be careful that you do not assume that your youth translates to competence, be careful that you don’t assume that your youthfulness does translates electability, be careful that the youth demography that we’re talking about, you even know where they are. For the benefit of those who are interested the election youth demography does not reside in urban cities. The rural youths were talking about reside in the rural areas. So if you’re looking at Twitter, Facebook and all of that, the data spend in the country will give you an idea of where they are: Lagos, Ogun, Oya, port harcourt, Abuja, urban Kano, and maybe about three more. That’s where the data spend is. You can take the totality of available votes in those areas, it powers out.
You have to know where these youths are. Nigeria has a very young population, it’s one of the reasons why the youth demography impacts things a lot, but we need to very very careful that we do not interpret being young to mean being smart or being ready or being available. Any man who wants to be president, any woman who wants to president must come to the table with a vision, and if Nigerians buy into your vision, good luck to you. But if you ask me, where the country is today, the level of challenges on ground, you need a whole lot to be able to pull it back.
People don’t just come to invest in your country, they need to know you have a track record around keeping your word. They have to know you have a track record of how to attract those investors. They need to know you have a track record in your democratic credential. Young people actually think that the presidency of Nigeria is monarchy, it’s not! You tell the president you have all the bright ideas, if you don’t have a legislative framework and you don’t have the experience of managing the legislature, you won’t be able to do anything. So it’s not like you’re going to come into presidency and start barking orders, we’re not in a dictatorship so we must be willing, able and ready to understand that you grow in the process. You learn the law, you observe by being at the table, you take your time to be inspired by leaders, you serve. He who can not serve can not lead. And therefore I will say that Atiku is indicating interest, he has not declared fully yet.
When he does declare, the Nigerian people will have an opportunity to weigh in. But if you want to know for the record, Atiku has just concluded another round of medicals in one of the best universities that do it in the world in Germany, and when those who are younger than him that accompanied him on that trip, they don’t have as clean a bill of health that he has. Some people are lucky, some people have good genes, some have looked after themselves well, some people pay attention to their health and truly, Atiku is very fit, and we pray to God that he remains fit too. And Atiku has been thinking and worrying about these problems for so long and it’s almost as if he can think out solutions even when he’s sleeping. If Nigerians want someone that can deliver, you also have to think of someone that can do so democratically and there are only two Nigerians in my mind now where we are that I think can try and Atiku is one of them, don’t ask me the other.
B. What are Atiku’s chances if he chooses to contest for president in 2023?
Ans: he will win. Straight forward answer HE WILL WIN! The reason why he’ll win is that you see those numbers that president Buhari was carrying around for some time impacted their victory in 2015. Luckily, Atiku too has those numbers now. 12 million or thereabouts now following Atiku. So the numbers you need to be able to impart the election exists, the connect exists, the relationship across the pans of Nigeria exists, it’s as if God spared Atiku’s life for this time. And let us just hope that Nigerians do not miss the opportunity.
Q8. The 2023 elections are around the corner, what are your personal ambitions?
Ans: well, knowledge is both an asset and a liability. People tell me come and do many things but the knowledge on how the process works has been some kind of a liability for me because I know that two plus two is four if we’re using base ten. So when I start to see that the answer it’s giving me is three or two and a half, I know that something is not there yet. For anybody to win an election, you have to look at where you come from. I come from the south-west part of the country, in the south-west part of the country, all but one state are in the hand of the APC. I come from the yoruba stock. As we speak now those of us who are saying Atiku should be president, there are parts of the country that have thrown up names of people who want to be president and they are yoruba people. So if you want to run an election; maybe a governorship election in the south-west you have to be mindful of the fact that where will the mass of the people be tilting? For the way people run their governorship election in the north, Buhari was poised to win. That’s how it usually affects other areas. There are about three or four emotions that drive election decision in the country:
I. painfully but unfortunately so, tribe is one
II. Religion is one
III. Party then becomes number three.
So you have to look at the alignment and then decide. Then the other thing for me is that what exactly is contest? For me contest is an avenue to serve and to bring different destructive new ideas to how to do things. Now, for you to be able to achieve that, because we have not created independent candidacy, so persons that want to lead still have to fall under political parties. And we haven’t seen evidence. I haven’t. If anybody has seen, show me. We haven’t seen any evidence that the Nigerian people are ready or interested in choosing any other thing apart from the two main parties; the APC and the PDP, the PDP and the APC. And in the east we can see the APGA and the PDP.
So we have seen that it’s almost like a little to the left and a little to the right. Therefore the greater challenge is how do you even get the ticked of the party then to run? And then there’s also the funding challenge. We have monitized everything in the country to such a point that it becomes scary. It’s so scary that we go to the polls in Nigeria and you hear people getting paid as much as ten thousand (10,000) or even more per vote and you see the mass of the people who own the franchise in the democracy happily participating in such without really understanding that they’re hurting themselves. Because when the people that come with the best ideas, the people you know, the people whose voice and opinion you know but still can not win elections in the country. Are you surprised that we are not making as much progress?
All of the nations in the world that are developing, they go for other things in the candidate beyond money. Ours in Nigeria is a bit pathetic, we seem to have created one God that we all worship, which is the God of money, and let’s see how far that can carry us. So in terms of what will happen next, we’ll continue to watch and study the environment. I’ll be happy if a good presidential candidate wins. I’ll be happy if Atiku wins, and I’ll be happy to just see that the Nigerian nation is making progress. I’ll be happy if they give me an opportunity to serve, I would definitely make a good anything they give me. But I’ll be also contented with just watching the country make steady progress. For me, I can never accept that you want to serve people and then you want to serve them by force. NO I will not do that.
WHO THE CHAIR FITS? POSSIBLE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES Live Ended
GOV. BOLA TINUBU (Declared)9% 336 / 3.5k
SEN. ANYIM PIUS ANYIM (Declared)2% 101 / 3.5k
V.P ATIKU ABUBAKAR (Undeclared)16% 595 / 3.5k
V.P YEMI OSIBANJO (Undeclared)10% 364 / 3.5k
SEN. KEN NNAMANI (Undeclared)0% 14 / 3.5k
SEN. BUKOLA SARAKI (Undeclared)0% 34 / 3.5k
GOV. NYESOM WIKE (Undeclared)2% 85 / 3.5k
GOV. AMINU TAMBUWAL (Undeclared)0% 22 / 3.5k
GOV. BALA MOHAMMED (Undeclared)0% 9 / 3.5k
GOV. CHIBUIKE AMAECHI (Undeclared)1% 47 / 3.5k
GOV BABATUNDE FASHOLA (Undeclared)0% 26 / 3.5k
GOV YAHAYA BELLO (Declared)0% 29 / 3.5k
GOV. ABDULLAHI GANDUJE (Undeclared)0% 12 / 3.5k
GOV. KAYODE FAYEMI (Undeclared)0% 12 / 3.5k
SEN. ROCHAS OKOROCHA (Declared)0% 31 / 3.5k
SEN. ORJI UZOR KALU (Undeclared)0% 21 / 3.5k
GOV. BABAGANA ZULUM (Undeclared)1% 69 / 3.5k
GOV. DAVE UMAHI (Declared)1% 44 / 3.5k
GOV. PETER OBI (Undeclared)19% 712 / 3.5k
KINGSELY MOGHALU (Declared)18% 681 / 3.5k
ALHAJI AHMADU ADAMU MU’AZU (Undeclared)0% 10 / 3.5k
GBENGA OLAWEPO HASHIM (Undeclared)0% 5 / 3.5k
SENATOR AHMED YERIMA (Undeclared)0% 8 / 3.5k
DR JOHN KENNEDY OSUALA (Undeclared)0% 7 / 3.5k
DELE MOMODU (Declared)0% 18 / 3.5k
GODWIN EMEFIELE (Undeclared)0% 12 / 3.5k
EMEKA NWAJIUBA (Undeclared)2% 77 / 3.5k
MAZI SAM OHUABUNWA (Undeclared)0% 9 / 3.5k
ROBINSON AKPUA (Declared)2% 73 / 3.5k
Dr. OGBONNAYA ONU0% 15 / 3.5k
Gov. GODSWILL AKPABIO1% 41 / 3.5k
Mrs. PATIENCE KEY0% 13 / 3.5k
KHADIJAH OKUNNU-LAMIDI1% 40 / 3.5k
WOLE ADEBAYO (Declared)0% 20 / 3.5k