Why PDP Will Lose 2015 Presidential Election – Oyegun
National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress,(APC), Chief John Odigie Oyegun in an interview with Journalists in Benin City, Edo State bared his mind on a lot of issues including his party’s quest to take over the mantle of leadership at the Nigeria seat of power come 2015, the just concluded Etiki governorship election and other sundry issues. Excerpts
After your election, some people who contested with you were aggrieved and after that your party lost the Ekiti state governorship election. How are you trying to bring everybody together and what is the way forward?
Well, everything is happening rather quickly, changes are going on even before one has settled down for the new job. The first one is straight forward and easy. For those who felt rightly or wrongly aggrieved, it doesn’t matter if they are right or wrong, my job is to make peace and it wasn’t just my level, there were several levels during the convention, I have given equal attention to all. There was a little bit of bad blood over the secretary position and over other positions and I have reached out to every one of the significantly aggrieved people. Some have responded, some have not responded but there is no giving up. What I have realize is this, in a party that has no prospect, you beg people to volunteer for office, you virtually plead with them to accept offices. But because the APC has very bright prospect, it has become virtually the government in waiting giving the mood of the nation and the universal cry for change. The APC is a party whose time has come, because of that the contestation for offices becomes a little sharper than it would have been with a party that has no prospect. So, those who naturally will feel a sense of lost is not been preferred for the various positions in the party. So we have reached out to all of them, most have responded positively, those that are still nursing grievances we will continue to reach out to. As far as that is concern, it is a good and healthy thing because if the party was not a growing concern, people will just walk away. But it is not like that. This is a movement that is going to end up in Aso rock in February of next year. So we are doing everything we can to talk and bring them back happily into the fold.
Shockingly, your party lost out in the Ekiti election, what really went wrong?
Ekiti election to some extent is still a mystery. It still has some aspect that we are trying to unfold. But the first point is because we are a party of change and because we are a party that wants to show Nigerians that there is a different way of doing things that politics doesn’t have to be bitter. In spite of all our reservations the governor was advised to concede inspite of reservation for a lot of reasons. One, given the heavy militarization of the area, we didn’t think it was worthwhile raising tension which may lead to the spilling of innocent blood. I was there in Ekiti, I had to leave virtually in the dead of light all the way from Ado Ekiti to Lagos and most of our people who got there by air couldn’t go back by air because the airport was close. So there was this state of tension which needed a little spark to set it off and we said this is not our style of politics. The governor do the honourable thing, we have a lot of questions about the elections. We are going ahead with something more detailed than a forensic examination of what happened. We knew all was not well. On the face of it, the processes before Election Day were heavily faulted and of course with the very unconstitutional militarization but the day of the election, the facade was given that made everybody think that everything went normally but we know that, that was not the case. We are looking into it in a very clinical way and when our findings are ready we will address the Nigerian Nation.
Like I said we didn’t think power was worth shedding of innocent blood so we have taken the part of honour and conceded. And you can see there was a little peace thereafter. If we had decided to dispute the election, only God knows what would have happened but that is not the APC way, we are a party of change and we hope Nigerians have taken note of what we did in Ekiti and we hope it doesn’t get repeated because a lot of what happened was totally unconstitutional. You don’t lock down a whole state for 48 hours. You are allowed to restrict movement within 24 hours before the election. And you don’t lock down a state and arrest the leaders of the governing party there. Lock them down completely but allow leaders of the opposition party who have no business at all being in Ekiti, Minister of state defense, minister of Police affairs, Chris Uba, were all there operating freely in that 48 hours. These are the fact that must not repeat itself in Osun election. We are taking various actions just to prevent it. We are not going to court but we are going to court to uphold the fundamental rights of citizens whether a governor, party leader or an ordinary citizen, you have that right of free movement in this Nation. Of course the issue of locking down a state for 48 hours, there is no such law in this Nation and bringing the military forcefully into the political arena, there is no law in practice that accept that in this Nation. All these things we will query and take the appropriate legal actions so that our legal authorities will tell us where the boundaries are for governmental action. Yes it was a public blow for us but we have gone over that. It is alright to get one state by bringing army and police to that one state election because you are in power at the federal level. To start with that is one of the best argument I have seen recently for state police. Secondly, we need the army and Police in Borno, Yobe, we would have been glad if these people were deployed there to get back our girls but because they wanted to make a point, because they are desperate, the PDP is desperate and they think that making a point with Ekiti will set a bandwagon effect for others. That exercises itself was deceptive and in delusion because when the time comes in February the whole nation will be voting at the same time, let them take all the soldiers out of Borno and come and police every single state and see if there will be a Nigerian left at the end of the day. Yes, it was a very regrettable lost but the D-day is still coming and we are very confident that when it comes the people of this country will decide for change.
One of the aggrieved leaders of your party, Chief Tom Ikimi, has threatened to pull out of the party, what is your party doing to calm frayed nerves?
Like I said earlier, talks are still on ongoing. But it is unfortunate that when you feel hurt, you threaten your party, that alone creates suspicion about you in the party that you still belong to. Let me just say it is an ongoing process and it was a mistake for him to have threatened to leave the party. We value him and respect him. I used to go to him quite often and share a lot of goodwill and I hope this has not separated us. It can’t. Politics can’t separate us and I pray that when he calms down, we will resume our very warm and close relationship. Not just with me personally more importantly with the party.
Your party appears to be disposed to a Muslim-Muslim ticket, a development that may create ripples in the party ahead of the 2015 election. What is the true position of the party?
I don’t know where you get this Muslim, Muslim ticket, Christian, Christian ticket, Pagan, Pagan ticket or whatever you want to call it. Am a national leader of this Party, what I can guarantee Nigerians is that we are going to have a totally free and fair primary from the rank and file of the party members to decide who will be their candidates and that is the way it’s going to be. We want to win election, so the party members whose job it is to select their candidate will do whatever they need to do to win an election, so its whatever the party decides. It is not me or any individual, it is not about any group of individual, not any zone, it is not south, and it is not north that will decide. It is the totality of the members of the party properly acting through their delegates who will select a candidate for the election. So whether it’s Christian-Christian, Muslim, Muslim, it will be the decision of the party, so let us not cross bridges that don’t exist. When we get there we will deal with that issue.
It appears your party is still far away from picking its candidate
Every party is still far away, even though the case of the PDP, there is a presumption. Don’t be fooled it could change. Very dramatically, it looks like a one man race but the reality is on the eve of selecting candidates, they dictate otherwise. APC has a fair selection of prominent Nigerians, we are listening to the people, and we are hearing what they are telling us. Because we have a drag net spread out. We have people we are talking to all over the nation who are telling us and giving us vibes about what the people feel, want and expect. So presenting a candidate in another 2, 3 months will not be an issue, what is important is what the party stands for. How can it prove that it is different and serious, that is the task that we have between now and the selection of the candidate. Once the people of Nigeria buy the fact that yes this is a party they can trust to deliver change, the candidate become number two issue. As far as John Oyegun is concerned and as far as the constitution of the Party is concerned, anybody from any part of this country is qualified to vie for our presidential ticket. That is the law of the party.
What is your party doing to ensure that Amaechi and Nyako are safe?
You know that in desperation, the Federal government is creating problem for us in all our states. Let us start with the present insecurity. Once or twice I have read that it is the opposition that is doing all this because they don’t like the government, they hate the government, but do you kill your family to prove that you hate somebody else. How come that these things are in APC states, former ANPP. Now it is crawling into another APC state, Kano where violence is not used to being the case. The issue of impeachment, they have money, we know the kind of figure that are been mentioned and offered to dump the APC and in Adamawa to impeach the governor. In Rivers state, they have a courageous young man, even before we ended in one party; he is one person who started as governor from day one saying that these people are not defenders of the rights of the riverine Niger-Delta people. He called them common criminal from day one. I was alarmed on his behalf and then he was a strong member of the PDP. I said how can this young man, I call it being foolish. But he succeeded. He brightened the security problem of Rivers state. He was a very principled man.
Whether it is PDP or not we will fight it on the basis of the fact that he is the leading chairman of the governors forum, because of that, he got into the bad book and since then they have not let him know peace. As we speak today, he is still very much under stress and attack all in the bid that since he left, things have been worst. We are fighting the Adamawa case and by the grace of God they will not succeed. As far as the other issues are concerned, when a party is seen as having prospect, the struggle for offices get a little bit keener and that is what is happening in all of these states. All of these things will be resolved. In a quick order, the resolution of the crisis are the first priority that we are handling, we already have a high powered committee working on Ogun. As a matter of fact, Ogun is the most delicate of all of them. We already have a high powered committee headed by former vice president Atiku Abubakar, including some truly respectable senior party leaders working on the Ogun case. These things are going on parry parsu with building and solidifying of the party. The Edo state case is clear. From the time we had some defections; I think the PDP saw it as a wonderful opportunity to undermine the state government particularly as four members of the House also defected with the group. They thought it was a wonderful opportunity to destabilize and undermine the state government, keeping it preoccupied with crisis but what people should see in it is this, it was this defecting members who went to court to seek two redresses.
First, that their seats should not be declared vacant, two, that they should not be impeached. They went to court, the court granted the first request that their seat should not be declared vacant and rejected the second request saying they can’t interfere in the proceeding. The APC complied, they didn’t declare their seat vacant but they went ahead since they had legal clearance in terms of the suspension and suspended them. These people are not obeying the orders of the court, they are now operating outside the ambit of the law and that is what people should see and tell our security agencies to please help in enforcing the laws of this nation, otherwise the two side can resort to jungle justice and God forbid we get to that situation.
It is a clear case of the opposition in Edo state, the PDP using totally illegal tactics to try to undermine the government of the state. That is unacceptable and illegal and must not be allowed to stand.
The opposition PDP have accused your party of lack of internal democracy?
Internal democracy mean that there is a law and you must conduct yourselves according to law. The APC has a constitution and it states clearly that consensus is a preferred way of reaching a decision. Because all leaders would have subscribed to that consensus and everybody will be happy, that means nobody have everything he wants but everybody has something. So we are able to live happily together. And it states clearly that when that consensus can’t be reached and even a single member insist on a proper election again according to the rule of the party, so be it. We then go and have an election. And that is what we are operating unless somebody has another definition of internal democracy. What is important is that we are abiding strictly to the constitution.
How to manage Atiku and Buhari Presidential ambition
I don’t know if there is a management problem, I am praying desperately that there should be more aspirants. Each of them will have a support base, each of them will be able to effuse a lot of party and non-members interest in the party. Each of them will get people to look with magnifying glasses at all the people offering to be our president and I will seat down smiling and hoping they come and pay our fees so we can make quite some money. It becomes the duty of the people, party members represented by the delegates to decide, which one in their opinion, in their wisdom, in their consideration is most likely to help us win the election and then provide good leadership for the nation. It will be the choice of the people, mine is to hold the ring and be a very impartial referee and provide a level playing ground for all the contesting interest. There is nothing to manage. I know a lot more who are interested on being the president on the platform of the APC and I have given them my word that their candidacy for the nomination will be most welcome.
We have already presented ourselves, the first message we preach is that the Nigeria nation is broken and change must come. Let the Nigeria people try something new even if you are not sure what the result will be. This nation has managed to maintain herself in such a way that they really don’t care anymore what the people think.
They fix the votes, they put themselves in power and so they rule us with impunity. It is now for Nigerians to decide whether to continue in that condition where nothing is working. I was listening to BBC and a Nigerian said we are going to wake up one day and like in Iraq, these people we are laughing at would be marching down south. Is that the kind of country we want? Are they the kind of politicians we want? Is that the government we want that can’t secure our lives? We are going to tell Nigerians, it is time to try something new and different for change.
They must vote for change, even if in their hearts they are not sure, we are presenting ourselves as something new, we are presenting the states that we govern as sign post. In Edo state if Oshiomhole is in Abuja and he can do in Abuja what he has done in Edo state, we will not have problems. We will see visibly what our resources are being used for, not when ministers now have two jets, people steal pension fund and get away with it, the fuel subsidy scam has disappeared from public discourse, the $20 billion has disappeared from public discourse, the over 200 poor young girls who were abducted is disappearing from discourse. In another month it will just become well! it has happened. Bombs going off and on and it has become like a normal thing. Is that the life we want for this country?
We are presenting our party as new and different. And we have done the study as people who truly care, there is no way we can prove it to you because we have never ruled this nation, but we can tell you look at our states. We are not pretending to be angels. Politics is not a seminary nor is it a pool party. What is important is, what are you doing with the lives of the people?
What is your take on the National Confab.
The only good thing I heard recently was that they are now in agreement with state police and I hope somebody is listening. Why people up till now finds it hard to see that basic point, I can’t understand. I don’t only want state police; I want Local government police because nobody in his right senses will want his state to become the habitat of armed robbers, kidnappers and all sorts of miscreant. How can one person at the top manage an organization of 400, 000 people, transferring somebody from Benin to Maiduguri to go and catch a murderer or catch a thief, how can he do it, where does he start? The whole system we have been having is so senseless. They say state will abuse it, has the federal government not abused it in Ekiti? So what is the difference? That is the only good thing I heard recently just because I accidentally came across it but it is a good diversionary thing. At least the people at the confab who would have been helping us overheat the polity too, are now busy, engaged in a room, doing their own thing. By the time they finish, the primaries would have been done and nobody will be listening to the reports of that Confab anymore.
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