Foaud Oki is the All Progressives Congress (APC) factional chairman in Lagos State. He bares his mind on the outcome of the party’s primaries and its consequence. ADEWALE AJAYI reports
Before the All Peoples Congress (APC) had its primaries for elective positions in Lagos State, you sounded a note of warning that, the party’s membership register needed to be upgraded, so as to be able to accommodate those who joined the party after 2014, but that advice was not heeded to. What is the next step by your group now that the candidates for the 2019 elections have emerged?
We are in court to challenge this act of impunity. I thank God my fear was also expressed by her Excellency Mrs. Aishat Buhari, the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari. Expressing her view through her twitter handle, she said APC is full of impunity. You can see what Adams Oshiomhole is doing to APC. You can also recall that I said some months back that Oshiomhole is an undertaker, who has come to bury APC. Some people castigated me for that statement then, but today I am being vindicated, if you look at what the party’s national chairman is doing. Let us take Lagos State as a case study, Lagos East senatorial district as an example, they, leadership of the party held a meeting with all the senators from Lagos State and said because they stood by the party, they would be given automatic tickets.
Though, the party wanted to live up to its promise, but someone within the party insisted that the ticket for Lagos East must be competed for. The man who is representing that zone at the Senate had his name removed from the list of competitors, while the man that was not cleared by the party had his name on the list and was returned as the winner of the primary. How do you explain that, it is nothing but sheer impunity, nothing but lack of respect for party rules. It shows clearly that there is nothing like internal democracy in APC. It shows that the party has flagrant disrespect for the rule of law, so we are in court challenging the action. What I know is that Oshiomhole is full of disregard for the party’s constitution and his action will lead the party to oblivion. It is very clear now that he is an undertaker that was engaged to lead the party to its early grave.
What is the import of this action on the party and what are the party’s chances in the 2019 general elections?
What chances are you talking about? The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has spoken and has signaled that it is determined to win the 2019 general elections. Unfortunately, the APC that is in government is playing with the sensitivity of Nigerian voters. Between Oshiomhole and the emperor of South-West politics, indeed Lagos politics, they have clearly given the South-West to the PDP. Though other states in the South-West will strive to deliver to the APC, Osun State unfortunately will not be delivered to the APC. You know the most shocking thing, Lagos State have about 6.3 million votes and only last week, the party delivered 1.9 million votes at the presidential primary, it is nothing but a shame. How did they come with such figure? It is nothing but fraud, how did they come about 1.9 million votes in the presidential primary? Let them come out and prove it to us.
In the same state where the party barely delivered 800,000 votes in 2015, it has suddenly grown its membership base to 1.9 million, even when out of the 1.9 million; there were thousands that were disenfranchised. No wonder the other factional chairman, Tunde Balogun, said APC members in Lagos are five million people. Let them justify it at the poll. If APC has such a large number of membership, that means there is no need for the party to campaign. What it needs to do is to encourage its membership to vote for the party in the general elections. That means APC should deliver five million votes in the presidential and governorship polls in 2019.
What is the effect of godfatherism in Nigeria politics, considering the fact that it played a major role in denying Governor Akinwunmi Ambode the opportunity of getting APC’s ticket for a second term?
Lagosians are grumbling seriously over the action and at the appropriate time, the party will be shown how not to disrespect the wish of the people. Majority of members of APC whose voices were muscled on the issue of Governor Ambode will also come out to speak at the appropriate time. Let’s just be patient, the day is nearer, just about three months from now. You will see, what will happen. The unfortunate thing is that the beneficiary of this charade is a gentle man, who does not deserve to be used as the whipping tool. A situation where minority members foist their aggrandizement over the majority, you should expect the majority to reply at the appropriate time, I can assure you they will be shocked with the outcome of the poll. It is said you can’t fool all the people all the time, so let’s wait whether Lagosians will rise up against the impunity or not. Remember that there is a poster boy around the corner.
There is the impression that you are a lone ranger and that majority of APC members in Lagos State have aligned with the Tunde Balogun faction of the party…
There is a popular Yoruba adage that if it is the squirrel that controls what happen in the farm or the trap set for it, that would be determined within the farm. At the right time, each person will speak with his strength.
How do you feel about this impression that you are being sponsored to destabilise Lagos APC?
They should look at my pedigree and antecedent, which speak for me. The question should be, am I just doing this for the first time, have I been standing up against impunity and injustice? The people should cast their mind back to 2009 and 2010, when I was ingloriously suspended from the party. They should check what the issues were then. Was I been sponsored then? Those saying that are nincompoops.
Have you petitioned the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party over this development?
There has been several letters sent to the NWC of the party even before considering legal option and I don’t want to discuss the issue, so that it won’t be sub judicial.
If these issues you raised are resolved, is there any possibility of working together with the Tunde Balogun group?
There is no possibility of working together unless justice is done. Let justice prevail, if justice prevails, the likes of Tunde Balogun has no business running the party. He does not even know what it entails to run a party. So, working with him is not the issue, the issue is for him to stay away for the appropriate team to be put in place. It is not about me, it is about justice and equity. It is about fairness, it is about respect for the rule of law, it is about entrenching internal democracy in our political ethos. That is the issue. So, don’t make me the issue.
The 2019 general elections is four months away. If these issues you raised are not addressed, what step will you take?
We are in court and I believe so much in the judiciary process.
Is there any possibility of the court giving a ruling before the general elections?
That will be decided by the judiciary. When the right thing is done, we will take it up from there.
What advice will you give to your followers and those sympathetic to your cause?
I don’t need to advice them, we are in it together and they are the ones driving the process not me.
How about Lagosians sympathetic to your cause?
Whoever is sympathetic to this cause should wait for it to be pursued to a logical conclusion. Whoever is in this struggle for real, not being influenced or forced by anybody to join the cause, but by conviction, we all dey kampe. They will surely pay for this impunity and they will pay for it dearly. There is the Yoruba adage that a man with tattered dress is dancing in the night, soon there will dawn and everything will be exposed.
Kogi: We’ve support of 18 LGAs – PDP
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said that it enjoys over 70 per cent of registered voters in 18 out of the 21 local government areas of Kogi State.
The party, which will officially flag-off its governorship campaign in Lokoja, the state capital, on Friday, advised Governor Yahaya Bello to accept defeat in good faith and stop wasting public funds on his campaign.
PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said its victory on November 16 was inevitable.
The party however said it has uncovered plots by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to frustrate the flag-off of its campaign, but added that its members and supporters are ready to confront and stop the APC and Governor Bello in their plan.
“Since we kicked-off our grassroots campaigns in the last few weeks, the PDP has continued to receive overwhelming support, solidarity and endorsements from all segments of the voting population including political leaders and community groups, workers, pensioners, students, youth groups, business groups, professionals and a host of other Kogites, who have become despondent with the excruciating misrule of Yahaya Bello.
“This army of the Kogi people is fully rallied against any plot by the APC to derail any stage of the electoral process and they will not allow any infringement by anybody, no matter the machination,” PDP stated.
It further noted that the spontaneous jubilation that greeted the retrieval of PDP’s mandate of Shaba Ibrahim for the Lokoja/Kogi Federal Constituency at the Court of Appeal despite the machinations of the APC has reinforced the imminent triumph of the PDP and the people in the November 16 governorship election.
“The people of Kogi State are ready for this election and cannot wait to kick-out Governor Bello and vote in their candidate, PDP’s Engr. Musa Wada as their next governor,” PDP added
The party called on Kogi electorate, including those impoverished by the state government and unjustly sacked by the APC government in the state to continue in their determination to rescue the state.
Diri’s kinsmen endorse APC candidate
The people of Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Council in Bayelsa State have declared support for the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief David Lyon, ahead of the November 16 governorship election in the state.
They said their son, Senator Douye Diri, who is the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was elected without any form of consultation with them.
Speaking on behalf of the people of the area in Sabageria during APC’s governorship campaign rally, Alternate Director General of the APC Bayelsa State 2019 Governorship Campaign Council, Prof. Seiyefa Brisibe, said the PDP deceived the people of Kolokuma/Opokuma during its last primary election that produced Senator Diri.
He pointed out that the area had an illustrious son they wanted as governorship candidate, but Governor Seriake Dickson gave the PDP ticket to Diri without consulting with people of the area.
He further said that the PDP candidate does not represent the interest of the people of the area and therefore cannot attract any form of development to the people, just as they did not benefit from the Dickson’s government for close to eight years.
“They claim we should support them because they have given us a governorship candidate. But did they consult us before giving us the governorship candidate? I urge you to vote for APC because we are sure of empowerment and development when David Lyon is in power,” he declared.
The APC governorship candidate, Lyon, on his part, assured the people of the area that if voted into office come November 16, he will complete the Sabageria/Polako bridge project.
He also promised to provide soft loans and grants for small and medium scale businesses women from the area, in a bid to move the people above the poverty line.
“I am an Ijaw man like you, and I know your problems because they are the same problems I face everyday as a person. When I become governor, I assure you that I would work hard to solve your problems,” he said.
Diri to envoys: APC planning to rig, unleash violence
…promises to restore electricity to Ogbia
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, has alerted the United States (U.S.) and the United Kingdom about plans by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to collude with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to rig the November 16 governorship election in the state.
Senator Diri also raised concerns over intelligence reports, indicating that the main opposition party in the state is planning to intimidate voters and unleash violence during the election.
Diri spoke in Yenagoa after separate meetings with officials of the U.S. Embassy and the British High Commission.
The U.S. delegation was led by the Consul General, Claire Pierangelo, while the Second Secretary (Political), Mr. Sarabjit Singh, led the British High Commission team.
The Director, Media and Publicity Committee of the PDP Campaign Council, Dr. Jonathan Obuebite, in a press release, quoted Diri as saying that the APC is not planning for a free, fair and transparent election, but rather plotting to manipulate the process.
He called on the international community to ensure that democracy is not hampered in the country. According to him, democracy was hemorrhaging in Nigeria and if not quickly checked, it could lead to its disintegration.
Diri also appealed to the diplomats to impress on INEC to be fair as anything short of a credible election could spark violence that may affect the entire country, which he said is already bedeviled with security challenges.
In her remarks, the U.S. envoy, Pierangelo, commended Diri’s disposition and commitment to a peaceful electoral process.
She said they were in Bayelsa to meet with all the political players to discuss the upcoming election and expressed the hope that the poll would be peaceful.
“It is our sincere hope that we see free, fair, credible and peaceful election. These are important tenets of a successful democracy and this is what the people of Bayelsa want. We will come back as observers in November to help document and hopefully be a positive presence,” she said.
Similarly, Singh said they have been meeting the candidates of the different political parties, talking about how important it is that the election is free, fair and credible and for the people to refrain from engaging in violence.
“We came to Bayelsa to meet you, your main opponent, David Lyon (of the APC) and other candidates as well to get your thoughts and opinions on how and what you think about the election and its process,” he said.
Meanwhile, Senator Diri has promised the people of Ogbia Local Government Area that he will make sure that electricity is restored in that part of the state if elected.
The PDP governorship candidate, who spoke at Otiokpoti, when his campaign team visited the area, also promised to sand fill communities ravaged by flooding.
Diri, who said that the state has limited resources, however declared: “We have limited resources, but we will partner with agencies like SEEFOR to curtail erosion.”
Maintaining that he is a realist, Diri stated that he understands the workings of democracy adding that governance is a process.
Bayelsa guber: I’ll restore electricity for you, Diri promises Ognia people
The Peoples Democratic Party candidate for the Bayelsa State November 16 governorship election, Senator Douye Diri has promised the people of Ogbia Local Government that he will make sure that electricity is restored in that part of the state.
The PDP governorship candidate, who was speaking on Wednesday at Otiokpoti when his campaign team visited the communities, maintained that if elected, he will bring dredgers to sand fill most of the communities salvage the issue of flooding.
Diri, who said that the state has limited resources, however, declared that: “We have limited resources but we will partner with agencies like SEEFOR to curtail erosion.”
Maintaining that he is a realist, Diri stated that he understands the workings of democracy adding that governance is a process.
Bayelsa Decides: 10,063 ad hoc personnel for Bayelsa guber poll
he Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that it plans to use 10,063 ad hoc staff for the November 16 Bayelsa State governorship election.
INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner for the state, Pastor Monday Tom, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at a roundtable on INEC’s preparedness for the election organised by The Electoral Institute, the research arm of the commission.
“We require a total of 10,063 ad hoc personnel made up of collation and returning officers and others and we have sourced all the required number.
“Movement of non-sensitive materials to Registration Area Centres (RAC) Super RACs is to take place from November 11 to 13 and the police have assured of adequate security for the materials,” he said.
Tom said that political parties have been communicated to notify INEC of their activities and to submit list of their agents to the commission.
He said the Bayelsa election is unique because 75 per cent of the state is on water, adding that youths in the state are also vulnerable to violence due to drug influence.
He assured that the commission is working with stakeholders to guarantee credible, free and fair election in the state.
TEI Board Chairman, Mr. Adedeji Soyebi, said efforts are being made to strategically reposition INEC and strengthen its capability to deliver successful election in Bayelsa State, leveraging on lessons from the 2019 general election.
Soyebi said the state election would be approached differently due to its terrain, adding that the commission would work closely with transportation providers, especially boats and canoe owners for successful transportation.
Executive Director, Family Welfare Foundation and member of the Bayelsa NGOs Forum, Mr. Torki Dauseye, said though INEC is prepared in terms of getting electoral materials and logistics ready, deployment might be challenged.
Dauseye said in terms of deploying electoral materials and personnel to electoral wards and polling units, INEC’s level of preparation is yet to be ascertained.
This, he said was because Bayelsa is unique in terms of geographical layout, making communication and transportation very difficult for ad-hoc personnel on election duty as they take real and serious risks.
His words: “The state is 75 per cent riverside with a poorly developed transportation system in windy creeks and rivers make transportation difficult, due to this difficulty in movement, it has always been difficult for INEC to start elections by 8.am as directed by guidelines.
“In many cases, electoral officers find it difficult to see boats to hire on election days. Due to the serious security challenges been faced in some parts of the state, boats are made to navigate through longer routes. This makes it more expensive both in terms of logistics and fuelling.’’
PDP warns Oshiomhole against truncating Bayelsa’s peace
he Bayelsa State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Senator Douye Diri Campaign Organisation has warned the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) against acts capable of truncating the peace in the state.
Chairman of Bayelsa State PDP, Hon. Moses Cleopas, gave the warning, while reacting to claims by the National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, of attempt to rig the November 16 governorship election and cause violence during the exercise.
Cleopas said the intent and activities of the APC has been discovered and if not nipped in the bud would truncate the already existing peace in the state.
He further said that it is unfortunate that the APC national chairman could condescend to the point of encouraging violent activities before and during the elections in the state because of his ambitious intent to deliver their governorship candidate at all costs.
The Bayelsa PDP chairman insisted that his party will continuously stand for truth, peace and always preach against electoral violence by exposing the illicit activities of the APC.
APC alleges plot by Dickson to sell state-owned oil field
he All Progressives Congress (APC) has accused the governor of Bayelsa State, Serieka Dickson, of planning to sell the state-owned oil field, OML 46.
APC’s Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yekini Nabena, who made the accusation, called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the governor.
The allegation is coming few days after APC accused the governor of illegally withdrawing and diverting N17.5 billion from accounts belonging to the state government to prosecute the November 16 Bayelsa State governorship election.
In a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, the APC deputy spokesman alleged that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led government in Bayelsa is planning to sell the oil field to fund the forthcoming governorship election.
“Our law enforcement and anti-graft agencies cannot fold its arms while the state is being robbed to enrich the pockets of a few people and fund the election of the PDP in the state.
“The EFCC and NFIU must take immediate action before outgoing Governor Dickson and his cronies bankrupt the state and sell our resources to themselves.
“Atala-OML 46, which was awarded to Bayelsa state by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), a subsidiary of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in 2003 is managed by the Bayelsa Oil Company Limited (BOCL). Hardy Oil Nigeria Limited (HONL) and Century Exploration and Production Limited (CEPL) are technical and financial services providers.”
Details of the planned sale of oil field, according to the APC chieftain are contained in a September 5, 2019 leaked letter by the Secretary/Legal Adviser of Bayelsa Oil Company Limited (BOCL).
Lagos PDP: Defection depletes opposition party
The rate at which prominent members of the Lagos State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are dumping the party for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has made many to wonder if Lagos State is heading towards a one-party state, ADEWALE AJAYI reports
he Lagos State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was perceived to be the credible alternative to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. But, the rate at which members of the main opposition party in the “Centre of Excellence,” are defecting to the ruling party has continued to deplete not only the membership of the PDP, but its strength.
APC being an offshoot of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Action Congress (AC) and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has been running affairs of the state in the last 20 years and Lagosians, who are dissatisfied with the APC administration in the state had looked up to the PDP to take over from the ruling party.
At every election, the expectation of those who want a change of guard in the state is always high, but irrespective of their optimism, such hopes are always dashed.
Perhaps, the only times the PDP made serious moves of taking over the state were in 2003, when late Engr. Funsho Williams was its governorship candidate and 2015, when Mr. Jimi Agbaje was its standard bearer.
Despite losing Lagos again to APC during the 2015 elections, the PDP made unprecedented incursions into governance in the state by producing eight House of Assembly members. The party also won five House of Representatives seats.
With the good outing, there was an impression that the party would improve on its performance in subsequence elections, but the result of the 2019 general election has proved political pundits wrong. Not only was the performance of the opposition party abysmally in the governorship poll, it also lost all the seats it earlier won in the Lagos State House of Assembly, while retaining only three House of Representatives seats.
The outcome of the 2019 general election jolted those who looked up to the party to free them from what they described as “harsh policies” of the APC government.
And rather than leaders of the party to subject themselves to critical analysis of what went wrong, they were engrossed in apportioning blames, accusing their governorship candidate, Agbaje of sidelining them in the preparation for the election.
This, according to them, led to the huge loss the PDP suffered in the last general elections. Agbaje was also accused of failing to disburse funds given to him to prosecute the election.
Since the conclusion of the 2019 election, things have continued to go bad for the party and the centre seems not to be holding anymore for Lagos PDP. Some of its prominent members have decided to jump ship on the premise that the way the party is composed; it has become impossible for them to actualise their political ambition through it.
First to leave was a former Minister for Works, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, along with his son Moyo, who was the PDP House of Assembly candidate for Kosofe I State Constituency during the 2019 polls.
Giving reasons for dumping the PDP, Ogunlewe said the party’s wing was rudderless and that it had been perpetually enmeshed in crisis. According to him, he saw no future in the PDP and that nobody should expect a politician of his stature to stay in a house, where some leaders were only after their selfish interests.
He added that issues arising from the governorship election exposed the fact that some people were only after money and not the progress of the PDP in Lagos State.
Though, he was condemned for leaving the party, having benefitted a ministerial position, many had expected that he would remain in the party and fix the problem militating against the party progress.
Speaking on Ogunlewe’s defection, a former Publicity Secretary of Lagos PDP, Chief Willie Akinlude said: “I don’t know what informed his decision to dump the PDP after he has been made a grade one minister. It was unpalatable news. Instead of dumping the party, he should have remained in the party to be part of those who will build the party, but he decided to leave the party.
“He can never be given a position in APC. They will just use the decampees and dump them. That is what has been happening; some are even regretting dumping their former parties.”
Another notable member of the party and its House of Representatives candidate for Lagos Mainland Federal Constituency in the 2019 elections, Hon Tajudeen Agoro, also dumped the party, hinging his reason on the fact that Lagos PDP has become a useless political vehicle to realise his dreams and aspirations.
Agoro, who expressed strong belief in what he termed “Lagos dream,” condemned the approach of PDP to politics, saying: “The way the PDP is going about its activities in Lagos, there is no way you can add value to people in Lagos. I have been in it, I have seen it all. I need to move forward because I want to be part of adding value to Lagos State.”
Speaking during the defection of Agoro and his followers to APC at a ceremony held at the party’s secretariats on Acme Road, Ikeja, Lagos APC Vice Chairman (Central), Hon. Hakeem Bamgbala, said Agoro and the team he led in Lagos Mainland remain a very strong factor to be reckoned with.
Another member of the party, Hon. Ola Animashaun, who was its House of Representatives candidate for Ikorodu in 2015, equally dumped the party. But, refused to team up with other political parties.
Reacting to the development, a chieftain of the party, Engr. Deji Doherty, said those quitting the PDP are moles planted in the party. According to him, some of them chose to leave because their activities in the party are being investigated, so they decided to leave before their shady deals are exposed to members of the party which may lead to them being humiliated.
Lagos PDP Publicity Secretary, Taofiq Gani, who also spoke on the gale of defections, said everyone has reason for taking a decision, but whether it would be regrettable or not is left for the individual.
His words: “As a party, we are not happy that we are losing members, especially, those who have made names in the polity. However, we cannot force them down. The Lagos PDP is facing its hardest period. The decampment is unfortunately worsening the situation, but I can tell you that the PDP will soon settle its issues and move on. Unfortunately for the recent decampees into APC, they have made very weak judgements.
“We concede that APC has individuals who will always win elections, even if not as APC members, however the APC has become so unfashionable to lagosians. This government of Babjide Sanwo-Olu has nailed the coffin of likeable perception about the Lagos APC. It is thus laughable that such a party is where anyone will decamp to. We challenge these persons to come boldly and lay open the offence committed against them by the PDP.
“We are ready to accept blame and apologise. The truth is that many of these persons are laying credence to rumours that they were never sincere members of Lagos PDP. That they only acted moles, ‘stole’ away the chances of the PDP and now hurriedly joining the APC, their paymaster.
“We advise them to mind their utterances against the Lagos PDP as any falsehood against the image of the party would be met with equal exposé of these characters. We have a lot of plans to improve the image of the PDP in Lagos State, especially ahead of coming polls. We cannot open up now, but such will be felt soon.
“For the members of the party still loyal, we commend and appreciate them. They should remain steadfast. Victory is around the corner for us. We promise to rejig to their satisfaction.”
No doubt, it is expedient for PDP to put its house in order, so there is the need to set up a reconciliation committee to assuage all aggrieved members and reposition the party for future challenges because the way things are, it is the only political party that has the capability to challenge the APC and it will be unfair if it allows the state to become a one-party state, which may shatter the hope of the electorate looking for change of status quo in Lagos State.
Kogi Decides: Stop giving loans to Bello, PDP tells banks
he Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has advised commercial banks in the country to be circumspect in giving loans or any form of credit to Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.
This, the party said, was because the state is not willing to bear any responsibility for such facilities if the governor fails to win re-election.
PDP in a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said Governor Bello will not win the November 16 governorship election, adding that there is consensus by the people Kogi State to vote its candidate, Engr. Musa Wada, as the next governor.
The PDP accused the Kogi State government of misleading commercial banks into granting it huge loans under certain hazy items and conditions, after which the money would be allegedly frittered by leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and cronies of the administration.
The statement read in part: “Our party wants the nation to note that the people of Kogi State can no longer accept any further mortgaging of the future of the state by Yahaya Bello, whose administration has gone down as the most profligate in the history of our nation and which cannot account for over N700 billion of Kogi funds released to him in the last four years.
“Anybody or organisation in league with Yahaya Bello is directly supporting the torturing and impoverishing of the people of Kogi State by the Bello administration, which has manifested so much insensitivity in owing workers as much as 36 months’ salary arrears.”
Warning that the people of Kogi State are not ready to inherit any financial liabilities, PDP assured of its commitment to running “a prudent, transparent and productive administration where the welfare and economic empowerment of the people is overriding; where salaries are paid promptly, where infrastructure development in critical sectors take center stage and where accountability is the watchword.”
The party added: “In this regard, the PDP urges all financial watch organisations to join the people of Kogi State in monitoring all monetary activities of the Bello administration as well as all inflows into the state coffers, particularly, the N10.06 billion federal refund, which the PDP insists, must be declared and directly channeled for the payment of salaries so as not to allow the ring of APC leaders achieve their plot of diverting and stealing the money for their selfish purposes.”
Why S’West deserves 2023 presidency, by Adetoyinbo
Chief Yemi Adetoyinbo is a former National Publicity Secretary of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) and now All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain. In this interview with TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE, he speaks on the APC-led administration, insecurity and the 2023 presidency, among others
Nigeria recently celebrated her 59th Independence Anniversary. Do you think the nation has made progress vis-a-vis the present state of the nation?
Nigeria is yet to make any meaningful progress as expected in all spheres of life. The current bureaucracy, huge recurrent expenditures and our policy trust on our yearly budgetary rituals, year-in-year out had a hiatus of unstructured system, with duplicity of functions; complementary and composite functions by similar parastatals or government departments such that we could not have future rolling plans, but continued accumulation of salaries backlog across the country, not marched with productivity level.
We could have been able to manage an effective civil service and capital yearly estimates would have been in place to raise infrastructures, provide jobs for our teeming youths and social security, planned economies of scale, national planning, good transportation network, education standards and institutions restored. The bane of political will and leadership was a major drawback.
We need a determined leadership that will completely overhaul the nation’s psyche in all sectors of our national life. Apart from the oil wealth, which is our main source of income, agricultural sector has been neglected, and how do you explain a situation government’s macro credit loans and fertilizers, will end in the hands of politicians instead of the real farmers, Today, poverty abounds everywhere and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) rates us low in Internal Revenue Generation (IGR) as Nigeria replaces India as the poverty capital of the world, and inflation is now 11.42 per cent as against 11.02 per cent.
How would you assess the Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration and will you say the administration has delivered on its campaign promises?
President Buhari and the APC promised to fight corruption to zero tolerance, ensure a steady economy as well as to tackle security challenges headlong. After almost five years in the saddle, assessment of the President and his APC administration had been a fairy tale. To be sincere, the incumbent government had achieved much in the anti-corruption crusade, as it is no longer business as usual for corrupt public officials.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has prosecuted so many corruption cases, even though they lost some cases in courts. Some had argued that the anti-graft war was mostly against opposition members, but that cannot be looking at the cases of some APC chieftains. Even though some accused the administration of keeping some potential exposed corrupt men in government, the President had asked for proof and names and we are waiting and watching.
On the economy, the foreign reserves rising to over $46 billion from around $25 billion in 2015, but the economy had suffered largely from poor oil revenues and average receipts from non-oil sectors. Even though the exit from economic recession, coupled with the reported 25 per cent growth recorded in the last few months as a result of increased agricultural outputs and oil revenue, we are still in a high rate of poverty as headquarters of world poverty.
Forex restrictions by the Central Bank and recent boarder closures, would not attract international investors, while the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had not matched the Net National Product (NNP). with rising unemployment, hunger, high prices of goods, low purchasing power of Nigerians, rise in local and foreign food items, due to security challenges and failed economic policies, like SEEDS, NEEDS, Vision 2020. The recent Economic Team of the President led by Prof. Doyin Salami, with the likes of Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, among others should urgently chart a new way for a new economic regime, as nobody gives the economy any pass mark.
The final agreement on minimum wage has relativity added a renewed hope for workers even though mere wage, not a living wage in the face of rise in inflation, prices of goods and services, seven per cent increase in VAT, which more burden for the already comatose and downsizing industrial/banking sectors. The N10.33 trillion 2020 Budget is not enough to put smiles back on the faces of Nigerians as the N125 billion and N100 billion allocated to the National Assembly and Judiciary is a mockery of other arms of government, while allocation to defence and agricultural sectors are grossly underwhelming for a country with huge population, without commensurate productivity levels in terms of energy supply, personnel human capital development, micro and macro credits support for the capital market operators and commanding heights of the economy, wrong privatization schemes and collapsed infrastructural deficits.
Would you say that the APC government has met expectations on the growing security challenges?
On the security challenges, it is not yet Uhuru as the last two years security challenges in the country had been unprecedented with huge casualties of even security personnel and associated killings by herdsmen, bandits, gunmen, ethnic militias, kidnappers and Boko Haram insurgents, not yet completely defeated. The second term of the President and his budget speech of October 8 and the Independence Anniversary speech of October 1, are readiness to combat security upsurge and rising crimes in the country.
On the totality, the groaning and grimacing of average Nigerians points to an era of hard times, not caused by the President or the present APC administration, but how to managed the backlog of woes and maladministration of the previous administrations and the rots of the moment as the country lacks honest and transparent leaders like the incumbent President. Some of whose lieutenants are politically corrupt persons in government.
Almost three years to next general election, campaigns for the 2023 presidency have started. What is your take on that?
With clear three years to the next general election, l can confirm that campaigns for 2023 presidential race have commenced. That is coming too early, but any serious contender knows the race started immediately after the last presidential election.
What is your view on the battle for the 2023 presidency between the North and South? And which of the zones do you think should produce the next president?
After the completion of President Buhari’s two terms of eight years, unarguably the presidency should go back to the South, which comprised of three zones – South-West, South-East and South-South. Political permutations and calculations are that Olusegun Obasanjo from South-West had it for eight years; Goodluck Jonathan from the South-South had it for six years, leaving only the South-East yet to have it since the zoning arrangement started in 1999.
But irrespective of the political calculations, the zone to produce the next president will depend on the zoning arrangements of the two dominant political parties – APC and PDP. For APC, the pendulum favours the South-West because of its overwhelming support for President Buhari. APC since 2015 controls five of the six South-West states and it is time to pay back, which puts the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his godson, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, next line as far as the ticket is concerned.
For the South-East, they had the PDP whom they voted overwhelming in the last general election and the party controls the entire South-East and South-South, with the exception of Anambra and Edo states being governed by the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and APC respectively. So, it is a paradox for APC to zone its ticket to the South-East. The zone’s best bet is the ticket of PDP for another all Southern presidential candidates of the two main political parties akin to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo of PDP and Chief Olu Falae of All Peoples Party (APP) in 1999 presidential poll.
However, it is arguably the Northern PDP presidential hawks might not be disposed to giving the party’s ticket to the South, be it South-East or South-South, not to talk of the South-West. So, the battle for the 2023 presidential ticket is going to be interesting among the political parties.
Do you see South-West realising the 2023 presidency ambition?
South-West are well poised and well positioned to realise the 2023 presidential ambition only and realistically through the APC. It had all along established, worked for and fully entrenched in the region for President Buhari to return favour with his Northern massive unbridled huge cult-followership votes coupled with Tinubu’s popularity and followership across the country.
Tinubu has the war chest and the largest political structure in the land. The 2023 presidential race might have the incumbent Vice President Osinbajo trailing Tinubu if he is interested. But, I believe that the coming together of the duo for a common purpose will be better for the South-West zone on the quest for the APC ticket and the presidency come 2023.
Who will be the likely contenders if APC zones its presidential ticket to the South-West?
The surest bet is Tinubu. He is co-founder of the APC and he assisted Buhari to realised his ambition in 2015 with the merger of the legacy parties. He has a vast war chest, political and social networks and followers across the country. Vice President Osinbajo, a former Attorney- General Lagos State and Grade A intellectual, highly respected Pastor and Christian, is also a good candidate. Others are Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; former Ogun State governor, Senator lbikunle Amosun; former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko and Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, among others. The South-West equally boasts of business moguls who can give anybody a run for their money in the presidential race come 2023.
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