The founder of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), Dr Boniface Aniebonam, in this exclusive interview with Daily Trust on Saturday, spoke of the courage of Dr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso to leave an established party like the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to stand to the presidency of Nigeria on the platform of his party passed the baton to him. Aniebonam, who is optimistic that the former Kano state governor will win the 2023 presidential election, however, denied having a stranglehold on the party, but said that as chairman of the board of administration, he was above anyone else in the hierarchy.
Yesou are the founder of the NNPP, which has received remarkable national acceptance; did you envision that kind of growth when you trained him?
The NNPP was founded in 2000, but it became operational in 2001. The party has a mandate to provide good governance to Nigerians, and that is how far it has come so far. It’s quite different from most political parties you know.
But it seems that you are not in charge of party affairs. How do you feel about that; do you feel like you’ve been left out?
When you are the founder of an organization, what are the implications? I don’t know why you chose to make a question out of being in control.
The party held its convention recently in Abuja but you were absent. You were also not seen in most of their functions, which raised the suspicion that the northern bloc of the party may have taken it away from you; how would he react to that?
Sometimes I hesitate to answer questions of this nature because my reaction may not be too good for you. I am the founder of the political party and you still ask me this kind of question. Does that make sense? It makes no sense to me, except you don’t understand the word, founder.
The NNPP is an intervention of Almighty God and I am the leader of the party. You don’t expect me to be involved in its administration. Sometimes the media tries to raise issues where there are none. If you don’t see me in the convention, does that mean I’m losing control? Even when the leader of the party, Senator Kwankwaso, told you that I am inevitably absent so to speak, you are still not satisfied. You want to know and try to create problems in the party.
There are insinuations that you were compensated to hand over the party to Dr. Kwankwaso, what is your opinion?
It’s like you don’t know who you’re talking to. It is regrettable. It was you who introduced me as the founder of the party and you still ask me this kind of question. According to you, what would make a lot of news for you is to publish that Dr Aniebonam has left the leadership of the party. That’s what you want to do; and who told you? You are not a party member. Some of the problems in the country today are human elements. Now let me tell you: I am the founder of NNPP and there is no one above me. More so, it is divine intervention. I’m not a politician, so if you think you would see me going up and down, you’re not here because I don’t want to be part of it. I want you to understand. My duty is to provide that platform, and as I speak to you, that party is about 21 years old now. Sure, we should have won an election, but when it’s God’s time, it will be. And now is God’s time.
What do you think is responsible for the slow growth of the party, so to speak, because it took 21 years to get to where it is today? What were the challenges?
Twenty-one years afloat is commendable. Is there anything constitutional that a party must win an election in one day? In a political party where a lot is needed, and in a country like ours, it is better to grow quietly and do than to be in a hurry. Look at the party logo; it is divine. A leader of the country will emerge in 2023 and that leader has a responsibility to try to revive Nigeria. We must move from consumption to production in the economy. Security will be handled effectively, but first we must have peace.
Do you think your platform has the capacity to produce this type of leader that Nigerians need?
You don’t seem to believe in God. If you believe in God, you wouldn’t ask this question. If you believe in God, you will know that there is nothing above him. But I can excuse you if you don’t believe in God.
People say your party is the third force, what makes it the third force?
Did I tell you it was the third force? Third force of what? The NNPP is one of the registered parties in Nigeria and we are not a third force for anyone. We are not in competition with anyone. I can tell you with authority that we are not God, nor do we have the power to judge anyone, including the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). We do not intend to be a third force.
What we are talking about is providing an opportunity for Nigerians. A lot of things have gone wrong. People sit in comfort of home and generate concept. The fact that the PDP and the APC were in power does not make the other parties a third force. I speak to you as the founder of a party. We are not opposed to any political party, and people use that word all the time. What do you oppose?
What is your reaction to the emergence of Bola Tinubu on the APC platform and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the standard bearer of the PDP?
What’s my deal with that? Am I a member of the PDP or the APC? Why would you ask me such a question? APC members met and elected their leader. The PDP did the same, the NNPP did theirs and all the other political parties.
But will your party’s candidate have a fight with those you just fired?
The election is a very simple thing, by which you present yourself for the public to judge, and this public judgment is the final decision. The NNPP leadership is not in competition with anyone. The party leadership and its members introduced Kwankwaso to Nigerians, and we are not in competition with anyone. We presented our candidate to the Nigerians to judge.
I tell you now that Kwankwaso is a divine person. Have you thought about what gave him the courage to leave an established party to win the NNPP ticket? Do you really understand the courage in that? Do you consider this to be ordinary? His arrival in the NNPP has opened up the electoral space by creating a multi-party system, which gives people the opportunity to take advantage and show their popularity.
Politics is improving because Nigerians can choose between Atiku, Tinubu, Kwankwaso and others.