2023 GOVERNORSHIP AND
STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS
[EXCLUSIVE] Atiku wants to unite Nigerians by giving every group and section a sense of belonging- Billy Nwoye
Hon. William “Billy” Nwoye has served in the United States government in various capacities. He also contested and was elected Member of the City Council in Altadena, Los Angeles. He has been described as first African or Nigerian to be elected in the US and also first to hold such Executive positions in a Governor’s or Deputy Governor’s office in the US. He is a strong supporter of the PDP Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. In this phone interview with The Pacesetter Frontier Magazine’s correspondent, he reiterates his belief that Atiku will win the 2023 elections. Dateline: 22:9:22
Your office in the United States government, what was it about? Was it an elected or appointed office?
My first position in the United States Government was through an appointment in the Executive office of the Lieutenant Governor of California. I served as a Senior Aide in charge of Chambers of Commerce and later managed outreach to the Ecumenical community. I was also privileged to work in the office of the State Governor in California. While in the office of the Governor, I was appointed as Liaison to the Consular Corp. I managed relations between the office of the Governor and over one hundred Consul Generals with offices spread across California.
I contested and was elected as a Member of the City Council in Altadena situated in the County of Los Angeles. I came across a write up that I was the first African or Nigerian to be elected in the US and also first to hold such Executive positions in a Governor or Deputy Governor’s office the US.
The PDP’s presidential primaries have come and gone. How do you rate the exercise? Do you believe Atiku’s emergence has gone down well with a majority of the party hierarchy?
The PDP primary presidential election was the most competitive in recent years. I would say it was intriguing and interesting at the same time. It ended with a victory for Atiku Abubakar and the process that produced Atiku was acceptable to the majority of the leadership of the party hierarchy. Although there are a few exceptions but it is almost common in Nigerian politics to have aggrieved parties in every process. The PDP recognizes this and has necessary mechanisms to address these grievances so that in the end, everyone will be carried along.
How do you react to Atiku picking Okowa as his running mate? It looks like this very act has torn the PDP apart internally
The power to choice a vice presidential candidate lies in the hands of a presidential candidate. A presidential candidate knows who will work with him best. This does not mean that all other options are not outstanding. They are all outstanding but it comes down to the personal choice of the Presidential candidate himself. Governor Okowa is a gentleman governor, he is experienced, loyal and also a presidential material. The choice of Okowa is simply a calculated one. With the change that has happened in our politics these past months, the appropriate thing to do is to use one stone to kill two birds. Okowa is a governor from the state in the south south and he is an Igbo, a tribe that is spoken predominantly by the people of the south east. With his emergence as VP, it would be very easy to appeal to both the people of the south south and the south east at the same time. This is pure political strategy. Aside that, Governor Okowa will make a good Vice President seeing that he is a presidential material himself and have done considerably well in managing Delta State. He also doubles as an experienced legislator. His experience both in the executive and legislature, will be useful to the new government as it seems to navigate the complexities of governance in Nigeria. On whether it has torn the PDP apart, I don’t think so. The PDP is still growing stronger. You can tell by the defections to the party everyday up north and even down south. Yes, there are one or two grievances but I don’t think it has anything to do with the choice of vice presidential candidate anymore.
During the recently held NEC meeting, some reshufflings were made in the party leadership. Obviously, it doesn’t seem like Wike and his camp has been appeased, especially going by their recent decision to pull out of the presidential campaign council and insistence that the National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, steps down. Where does this leave the party?
The PDP is one big family. You can see that the party is committed to fairness and carrying everybody along by making efforts to solve all grievances. Conflict resolution is a process. The reshuffling at last Thursday NEC meeting is just a part of the process. The party is still on course to resolving all differences and carrying everyone along and this is what will happen before the elections.
In a big family like PDP guided by strong democratic values, no member is restricted on how they can contribute towards the growth or strengthening of the party. Contributions are not limited to material resources. PDP has the capacity to receive the concerns registered by any member of the family at any point in time. PDP’s current management is not ignorant of one of its guiding principles which states that the management of conflicts is the acid test of maturity. PDP is much matured as a party, stress tested and built to win and built to last. Anyway like I said earlier, the PDP is one big family. The internal mechanisms for peace in the party will ensure that in the end, everyone will be happy. All grievances will be addressed. In the end, the PDP will unite and go to the election ground as one family. Just wait for it.
It would appear that the control of the party has been left in the hands of state governors. Looking at the issue of electronic transmission of votes, can a governor still deliver his state to his party?
This business is a structure business. It is structures that mobilize voters at the grassroots. 90% of the elections are already done before the results will be transmitted. I don’t think the electronic transmission will have much impact on the capacity of governors to deliver their state; in as much as they are still in control of the party’s grassroots structures, they can still deliver their states to their parties.
What are the chances of the PDP winning the next presidential election? What fosters your optimism?
The PDP has the highest chance of winning this election. In fact the PDP will win the election. All the statistics and permutations are in the favor of the party. First is the superiority of the candidate of the party’s vision to all other candidates. Then, it is the fact that Nigerians are tired of the APC and there will be an umbrella wave in many states particularly states in the north. The other party, Labour Party, has no structure anywhere and are not really serious about grassroots politics and the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has proposed a government of national unity where every group will be carried along. This gives me hope that everyone will indeed fall in line and work directly or indirectly for the success of the party.
Speaking of the Labour Party presidential candidate, in the 2019 elections he was Atiku’s running mate. His followership appears to be increasing since he left the PDP. Do you not consider him a threat, especially with the belief that he represents a different system and that a majority of online presidential polls tip him as the most widely accepted candidate?
The Labour party is not a threat to the PDP. I have said it earlier that this is a structure game. While I expect the party to pull up a couple of votes in some metropolitan cities, it has not made headway in rural areas and this is where elections are really decided in this country. The candidate of the Labour party will be back to the PDP after this 2023 Elections. Statistically, he can’t win anywhere in the north or west or south. The east is his stronghold and trust me, he is going to be sharing the votes there with the PDP. Elections are not magic. It is a science and a process and unfortunately, the Labour party does not tick any of the serious boxes.
A Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket in a time like this in Nigeria, what feeling does it give you as a patriotic citizen?
Religion is a very sensitive issue especially when you look at things that have happened in the last 10-12 years. When you look at the activities of Islamist terrorists, Boko Haram, murderous herdsmen and the nepotistic style of the Buhari regime, you will agree that never has there been religious tensions and divisions and fear of religious domination as we have in Nigeria today. Adopting a Muslim-Muslim ticket is an insult to the sensitivities of Christians in the country both in the north and in the south. This is the more reason why the APC will fail because well-meaning Nigerians will oppose this attempt to completely alienate one of the two largest religions in this country and set this country up for a religious crisis.
Let’s get back to your presidential candidate. What are Atiku’s plans for Nigeria?
Atiku’s plan for Nigeria is well stated in his five point agenda. I dare say this is the most comprehensive plan for this country. Without Unity, there will be no security, without security, there will be no prosperous economy. All his plans are interrelated and connected. Atiku wants to unite Nigerians by giving every group and section a sense of belonging. His experience as VP and head of the national economic council that gave Nigeria its highest GDP growth since 1999, will be useful as he will replicate that feat and even more this time as President. Atiku will unlock the power of the private sector and engineer an economic miracle through that in this country. He will invest in the education sector and he is the only candidate who believes in restructuring. All these put together will get Nigeria working again.
Contents provided and/or opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of The Pacesetter Frontier Magazine or any employee thereof.
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