By Nzeh Frankwhite
A frontline politician and national chairman of the National Unity Party (NUP), Chief Perry Opara, has called on all well-meaning Nigerians, especially members of the Coalition of United Political Parties, (CUPP), to rally round the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, with a view to endorsing him as the consensus candidate of the coalition.
Chief Perry, stated this recently in Abuja, in an interview with The AUTHORITY before a stakeholders meeting he had convened with the chairmen and other stakeholders of the over 30 political parties, within and outside CUPP, that had enlisted in the Atiku presidency project.
The Imo State born political strategist, who is also the National coornator of Nigeria United for Atiku, identified various reasons why he thinks Atiku deserves the endorsement of all the other political parties under CUPP.
In his words, “What we are having today is a meeting of stakeholders of various political parties under the CUPP and some that could not sign up for the CUPP, coming together for the singular purpose of galvanizing support from all the other political parties under CUPP and beyond, to see the need for a consensus endorsement of His Excellency, former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, for the 2019 presidential election.
“This is not a splinter group, but rather a group of like minds who wish to lobby other groups for our collective common purpose of fielding a presidential candidate that has the capacity to win the incumbent, and take Nigeria and Nigerians out of the woods. This is in line with our CUPP position, which is to adopt a common presidential candidate from among all the presidential candidates in the coalition. We are simply saying, let everybody come on board and adopt Atiku. That is the position of our group, and we are inviting other parties to share in our vision and let’s make progress together.”
Continuing, he noted that “Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is about the most marketable among all the aspirants in the race for the presidency, he is a detribalized Nigerian with a heart of gold, with the capacity to unite the brokenness of the present day Nigeria. Nigeria has never been this divided, since our history as a nation, hence we need the services of a true Nigerian, in the person of the Wazirin Adamawa, a man who has biological children, with Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba blood running in their veins, he is in a better position to understand how to galvanise our unity in diversity, to make our nation great again. This is a man with a proven track record of growing small businesses into multinationals, an entrepreneur per excellence, all his numerous thriving businesses are living testimonies to this, and he is in the best position to bring us out of this ignoble position of being the world’s capital of extreme poverty”.
On why he thinks the presidential candidates of all the other political groups would be willing to concede their individual tickets, to adopt Atiku, and why does he think those other candidates are less popular or qualified for the presidency, The NUP National chairman said, “We are calling on these presidential candidates to understand the fact that we are pursuing a common and collective purpose of liberating our country from the hands of misrule, and it is very instructive to understand the fact that there is a big difference between popularity, acceptability and winnability. You might be popular, but may not be as intellectually endowed as the other candidate, or may not have the reach out, contact base, financial war chest, etc. In Atiku Abubakar, we have a combination of all of this and more, he has even strengthened his ticket by choosing an erudite business manager as his vice, in the person of Peter Obi, so I think we have our best chance in them, that is why we are appealing to all of them to join hands in adopting this winning ticket in line with the CUPP resolution of adopting a consensus candidate for the presidency.
“No doubt, there may be one or two cases of candidates that may not want to fall in line with us, no problem, in such case, we have no option than to allow the person to enter the election and test his popularity, but, we just have to keep appealing to them to see reason with us.”
On whether he has any confidence in the present electoral body delivering on free and fair election in 2019, Opara, who expressed absolute confidence in the possibility of INEC conducting a free and credible election in 2019, adding that the Commission under Prof. Mahmood Yakub has shown that it possess the capacity to deliver on free and fair election, noting however that “even if they wish otherwise, circumstances surrounding the exercise has made it impossible for it to thrive, thus, they have no option.”