•Only Buhari can decide whether he would run
Obviously confident that the All Progressives Congress (APC) will win the 2019 presidential election, National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun has said that only President Muhammadu Buhari would decide on his possible continuity in office beyond 2019. In this interview with OJIEVA EHIOSUN in Benin, the APC boss spoke further on this and other issues.
What is your assessment of the performance of your party since President Muhammadu Buhari came on board?
You and I know that the present leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari inherited a catalogue of problems from the PDP –led Jonathan’s government. And the slogan of change, which APC brought is an electric switch that can be changed at will; it has to do with people, morality and basic necessity of lives. To destroy is very easy, but rebuilding takes a longer period. The previous government was run on illegality; people do things without caution; corruption was at its peak, there was breakdown of law and order in the society. So to clean up this mess is not something that will take four years; we need time to put things in proper shape. So for the few things the APC government has done, we should be commended. President Muhammadu Buhari has done very well despite his health challenges. Nigerians should count themselves lucky that we have a man of integrity on the top. You will agree with me that it is no longer business as usual. Whenever you as a leader tries to deviate from the existing norms, there are bound to be stiff opposition. What this government is experiencing now will soon be a thing of the past. Yes, we are facing challenges from all angles, but I want to assure you that we will overcome in no distant time. Anybody that posits that APC is not doing well is an enemy of development.
Recently, former President Goodluck Jonathan described the APC as a government of lies and propaganda. Do you agree?
Yes, there is an adage in Benin that when you want to kill a dog, you first of all give the dog a bad name. Most people in Nigeria never expected that a new party will come and take over government from a party that has been in power for good 16 years. So, it is still a dream to them. But we must face the reality; we came to power to rescue Nigeria from the hands of those who wanted Nigeria’s extinction. How can he say it is a lie when you find billions of monies stocked in one person’s account overseas; how can you say it is a lie when millions of Naira are found in overhead tanks of people’s compound? How do you justify it when a government wastes billions of monies on electricity yet we do not have electricity because of corruption? How can you say it is a lie? How can you justify the fact that a government spent millions of dollars on electricity yet we have an epileptic power supply system in the country? The present government inherited multiple problems which we are taking time to solve. These are facts on the table. The change is that we are rebuilding, we have a president that insists that things must be done according to the law of the land. Buhari wants due process and he is a president that believes in the rule of law. People are complaining that the APC government has not been able to jail the so-called corrupt politicians in PDP government but you do not just send people to jail when he or she has not been found guilty of an offence; the rule of law must be adhered to. You are aware that a special court has been established to try cases of corruption; it is a fight that must be won. Nigerians must be patient with us; no corrupt politician will go free. We are determined to bring total sanity to Nigeria and we will build a better Nigeria for the coming generation to live in.
Nigerians are crying that APC has brought more suffering to the land more than what it was before, what is your take on this?
Like I said earlier, change does not come over night; we are working round the clock to put things right. We are facing very serious problems. Nigerians are used to a particular system, so whenever there is deviation from the normal norms, people must definitely react but we are very determined to bring the needed change to the people. However, we must do it logically. Big countries in the world have passed through this stage; we cannot compromise in our fight against corruption, we are committed and very determined in building a better Nigeria for all.
What is your government doing to improve on the health facilities in the country, following the first Lady’s comment on the Aso Rock clinic?
I think that issue is being addressed, and very soon, Nigerians will know the true situation of things.
What are the chances of the APC winning Anambra governorship election on November 18, 2017?
Our chances are bright, we have a candidate who knows the needs and aspirations of his people. He is politically sound and has contributed to the development of his people; his choice is from the Anambra people; he is our candidate, we will give him all the necessary backing to ensure that he takes over from APGA. APC will win the governorship election. While the two big brothers are busy fighting, APC will be busy collecting the votes. It will be easy for us, because those with electoral values have left their parties to join forces with the APC. We have identified ways to victory and governance is about doing what is possible, not what is not possible. We have no other country than Nigeria, so we are working round the clock to build a better country for all.
The governors don’t seem to be in good working relationship with you as the national party chairman, what do they hold against you?
Well, I don’t know where you journalists get your information from. As far as I’m concerned, I have no problem with the APC state governors. Our relationship is very cordial; we are all working to achieve one goal, that is making sure that APC builds a good working economy for Nigeria. If we are not doing well, you will not see thousands of politicians defecting to APC. The party is on course and ready to deliver the needed dividends of democracy. My leadership as the party chairman is not in doubt; I will continue to do my best to be transparent in my dealings with people. I’m here to serve and not to be served.
Some politicians in Edo State are not happy with Governor Godwin Obaseki over some of his policies, what do you think is wrong?
As far as I’m concerned, the Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki is doing very well. You know in this part of the world, the moment there is a change from the existing rules, people will react. The era of breaking banks for politicians is over in Nigeria, so when that happens, people will definitely give the leader a name. So, I’m not surprised that Edo politicians hate Godwin Obaseki. But those who know the worth of his leadership will continue to praise him. When it is no longer business as usual, what you expect from people that the government is not favourable to is criticism. I want to advise the governor to continue with his good job; the masses that voted for him are expecting him to deliver the dividends of democracy. And after four years in office, the same people will want him to continue. APC will build an enviable country for all.
The 2019 presidential election is fast approaching, would you as the National Chairman of APC , advise or support the incumbent president to contest again?
For crying out loud, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari is 74 years plus. This is not his first time in governance and he is not a new person on the job; he knows what is good for him and the country as well. He is a man of proven integrity, transparency and accountability. So, the decision whether to run for a second tenure or not, depends on him. Nobody can take such decision for him. He is in a better position to say whether he would seek a second term or not. As far as our party is concerned, we will not impose any candidate on the people. APC is a party of due process, and we must follow our constitution.