Prof. Shedrack Best.
Professor Shedrack Best is a former Secretary to the Plateau State Government, a lecturer with the University of Jos, and recently a gubernatorial aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. In this interview with Marie-Therese Nanlong, he gives insight into some issues within and outside his political party.
Q. The All Progressives Congress, APC has adopted a Muslim/Muslim ticket against the outcry of many Nigerians, do you see it as an affront to other religions in the country?
A. The adoption of a Muslim-Muslim ticket by the ruling APC is a big shame. It is disrespectful to the Christian population in the North; in Nigeria as a whole, and to the Nigerian diversity. And this is coming at a time when militant Islamists are visiting this nation with assorted forms of terror, for which Christians are major victims. Even more insulting is the reason advanced by the flag bearer BAT, that he did it in search of competence. The evidence shows that when it comes to competence in the North, it is more abundant in the Christian and non-Muslim populations. You can see what destruction this type of trick, like the one experimented by Governor El-Rufai of Kaduna State, has visited on that State and the North. Kaduna is now the headquarters of kidnapping, banditry, herdsmen killings, land grabbing, and armed activity. Why did the Muslim-Muslim ticket fail to deliver the competence that will bring peace to that State? Is this the model BAT is hoping to replicate after the elections, in the event he wins, in Nigeria? I am deeply disappointed. I know it is a plot to win the Muslim votes of the North, but I pray that the Christian and non-Muslim North will punish the APC hardly for such a senseless choice. May God also not allow the APC to smell the villa on account of this insensitive outing.
Q. Some Nigerians believe that neither the APC nor the PDP can fix Nigeria, why do you believe so much in the Atiku candidacy to the point of canvassing votes for him?
A. Atiku Abubakar remains the most experienced candidate of all those seeking the office of President today. He is mature and exposed and a detribalized Nigerian. As a businessman and an investor, he is a job creator and a wealth creator. He has been tested and has proven capacity. He has invested in education, up to owning a state-of-the-art university, meaning he is investing in the younger generation. He has been Head of the National Economic Council and understands how to grow the Nigeria economy. He will tackle the slide in the economy and the national currency head-on. While in office, he invited some of the best brains like Ngozi Okonjo Iweala to serve on the economic team with good results. He knows how to source good hands and put together a working team. Alhaji Atiku blends well with the young population of Nigeria because he is a giver of hope. His acceptance is beyond one region as he has support from all the geo-political zones of the country. He has contested severally and so he is ready for leadership and the office. You can see part of this demonstrated in the efficiency with which he has managed his campaign and how he picked his running mate. No confusion, no foot drawing, no hesitation but the clarity of mind. I am convinced that Atiku is a man of capacity and can give Nigeria the needed leadership, security, unity, and healing that is badly needed now.
Q. Your former principal, Senator Jonah Jang has faulted the choice of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as Atiku’s running mate, do you have a contrary view?
A. Senator Jang is entitled to his own opinion. Like any politician, he has his interests. He is also experienced enough in politics to know that whereas consultation is important, the flag bearer has the prerogative to choose who he believes he can best work with. He has been a Governor and worked with two deputies both chosen by him. While I will avoid joining issues, I have made my position and that of the Atiku group I belong to, The Plateau for Atiku Movement, public. This is to the effect that we stand with the decision of the flag bearer to choose Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa as his running mate because of the qualities in him, such as humility, a sellable candidature in the South East and South South, his experience in governance and record of performance. We have equally commended Gov Nyesom Wike for being an invaluable leader in the PDP and for standing by the Party always. As we look ahead, we know and urge these leaders to work together for the victory of the PDP. It is a win-win situation. There is no loser.
Q. What do you envisage leadership in 2023 should look like?
A. I envisage leadership in 2023 to focus on reclaiming Nigeria and giving back hope to Nigerians. There is a sense of deep despair and hopelessness in the nation. The leaders should begin to unite the nation again, restore security by all means and end all forms of armed activity, build back the national economy and restore the national currency, thereby creating jobs to absorb young Nigerians and making them believe in their country once again. Leadership should tackle corruption and re-establish the much-needed relationship and trust between the populace, politics, and its leaders. Nigeria should once more look like a proper country that is properly governed for the benefit of all.
Q. With the influx of moneybags into politics, what chances do women and youths with ideas and solutions have in the nation’s political space?
A. Women and youths should continue to push for better inclusion in politics. The political class will not award opportunities just like that. Today, the youths have discovered their power in the public space of Nigeria and they must continue to affirm that power. Once they demonstrate this power in the 2023 elections as they did during #EndSars, they will take this country. I urge youths to build networks and political partnerships with women and to develop models of politics different from the typical Nigerian model which depends on the state to share money. It should be based on service and a sound economy.