Chief Willy Akinlude is a former chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In this interview, he speaks on the spate of insecurity in the country, the South West security outfit, Amotekun, and the state of the PDP in the state. WALE ELEGBEDE brings excerpts…
There has been a resurgence of Boko Haram attacks in some parts of the North East. What do you think is responsible for this?
The insecurity in this nation is quite worrisome and I think the present administration has been a bit lackadaisical about it. I was surprised at the attitude of Mr. President and his team to these killings. I think they are gambling with the lives of Nigerians. Don’t forget that at a time, this government told us that Boko Haram had been technically defeated. Two days ago, the insurgents struck in Borno State killing people, burning properties and even kidnapped some people.
Mr. President should heed the call of Nigerians, remove the service chiefs and appoint some new sets of military chiefs. That way, we are going to have fresh infusion into the war against insurgency, banditry and other security issues in the country. It’s clear that these set of service chiefs have overspent their ideas on security issues in the country, let us bring new sets of people up, after all, the new officers that will be appointed are from the same military system. President Buhari should do the needful and save the country from further attacks from Boko Haram.
I commend and congratulate the South West governors for initiating the regional security outfit, Amotekun. It’s an outfit that will redefine security measures not only in the region, but across the country. You can see now that almost all other regions are trying to take similar measures to protect their areas. I feel it’s a good initiative from the governors especially when you consider the fact that the governors are not all from the same party but they still came to the agreement that they must protect their people and region. In a nutshell, President Buhari and his team must find a way of adjusting to deal with the high rate of insecurity in the country. It’s getting tensed and he, as a retired General in the military, must arrest this situation fast.
It is believed in some quarters that those calling for the change of service chiefs are doing so for political reasons. Don’t you think so?
How can the calls for the removal of service chiefs who have exceeded their term and also ran out of innovative ideas to keep insurgents at bay, be a political issue? I hope they are aware that service chiefs are not politicians; they are to defend the territorial integrity of the country. They are trained military officers and have nothing to do with politics. Is the PDP asking Buhari to put its members as service chiefs? Whoever become service chiefs are suitably members of the Armed Forces. Or are you telling me that there are no senior officers understudying the present crop of service chiefs as to fittingly succeed them? You will even be shocked that there are officers in the Armed Forces that are corrupt are being alleged. While we can’t deny the fact that the current service chiefs have tried their best over the period of time, I think it’s time to bring new people on board for fresh input.
The resurgence of Boko Haram in the North East cannot be divorced from the lackadaisical attitude of this administration that I spoke about earlier. If the President is in charge, he must be in charge. As a retired General, one expects him to know what to do. When somebody is not working, we should not keep him or her.
So, what is your advice to the President on how to end this insurgency?
President Buhari should, first of all, remove the service chiefs because they are not performing. After that, the Federal Government and the state governors should create a new blueprint in line with the realities of the challenges we are seeing. If it is a fact that politicians are the ones behind the resurgence of attacks, then the military and other agencies should pick them up. We need an end to these killings and whoever is hampering it should be dealt with decisively. The President must change his tactics in the fight against insurgency and it must start by injecting fresh blood as service chiefs.
The Amotekun outfit generated concerns at its formation. Do you agree that it may be a cue for the creation of state police?
The way I see the formation of Amotekun, it is not and can’t be. Like I said earlier, this idea is not political, otherwise you wont see APC governors coming to agree with a PDP governor. The essence of Amotekun is to guide the people of the Southwest because the region is not a coward. Until we all sit down and agree that we must restructure this country, let us make do with these arrangements that we have.
Don’t you think Amotekun can be politicised ahead of the 2023 polls?
I can assure you that Amotekun will work. Did you see the positive reception that greeted its pronouncement from the people? More so, you can see that the people of the South West are more united and enthusiastic about it. Security does not know politics or political affiliation. The truth is that the people of the region have already embraced Amotekun. To what purpose would any politician want to hijack the outfit? You can only hijack a particular process to serve your purpose, but in this case, Amotekun has overlapped the interest of any politician. If you hijack it, you hijack the people along and that is impossible. Amotekun has been institutionalised and legalised in st all the six-state assemblies of the region. How can a politician hijack such a process? Amotekun is bigger than any man or group of people. The people are monitoring the process because it concerns them and all about their security. Also, for the fact that the promoters of Amotekun are not from the same political party, they cannot push the same political direction in 2023. For instance, the APC governors want a return of APC but Seyi Makinde of PDP wants the enthronement of his party in 2023.
What is your take on the argument about where the Presidency should go between North and South in 2023?
I think we should not confuse what the APC wants to do with that of the PDP. The APC is the one that would have done eight years with a northern President in 2023, not the PDP. The PDP can still decide to pick from the North in 2023.
But the North, regardless of the party, would have done eight years by 2023?
Yes, I agree. But the South has also done 16 years as well. If we know that a competent Northerner can sort out the problems we have in Nigeria, so be it. Politics is a game of number, nobody should be denied based on where they come from. We need competent hands to change this country. The PDP is not bound to look for a candidate in the South like the APC, which will have a Northerner complete two-term by 2023.
One of the leaders of your party, Chief Olabode George is contesting the Presidency from the south. Where does that place your argument?
If Chief Bode George is competent and people feel he well deserves it, so be it. We will only look at the antecedent and logic of those coming out for the Presidency in 2023.
The National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Uche Secondus, and some members of the NWC were in court in Lagos during the week over the crisis in the state chapter. What is going on?
Some people in the state chapter of the party are trying to create a problem for the national body with contempt charges. The court said Secondus must appear and he did just that as a respecter of rule of law. Some people are trying to question the election of Engr. Adedeji Doherty as PDP chairman but we, members and leaders of PDP in the state voted for Doherty and he is our substantive chairman.
Dr. Dominic was only appointed for just 90 days in an acting capacity and his tenure has long expired. Even his so-called acting administration divided the party more than uniting the party. The result was feasible at the 2019 election. But now, we are happy that we now have a better competent leader in Doherty. I am in support of the Doherty administration because it was legitimately voted by members.
Why has the crisis in Lagos PDP defied solutions for so long?
Internal squabbling and crisis are not peculiar to the PDP. Look at the APC, especially in Edo State. Parties and crises are two of a kind because politics is all about resolving issues. But PDP is a very huge and purposeful party whereby the mechanism of crisis resolution usually supersedes personal interests. That is why some of us are unrepentant PDP member. The problem of PDP in Lagos State has been sorted out to some extent with the coming on board of the new chairman, Doherty. Before now, it’s an individual that had been nominating our leaders for us and there had been no problem. But this time around, the members decided to bring in their own leaders. The PDP is better organised now and about 80 percent of the party members are with Doherty. We are expecting an exodus of defectors from APC and other parties anytime soon.
What is your take on deregistration of 74 political parties by INEC?
INEC should have deregistered more than 80 political parties. Those parties just exist in the books, not on the streets. Their chairmen and secretaries are nothing more than businessmen who use those platforms for merchandise. They are not more than business centres.