Tunji Omoregha, the Deputy National Coordinator (South) of the Buhari Campaign Organisation, has no doubt that the reelection of President Buhari in the forthcoming 2019 election will go down well for the All Progressives Congress (APC). Despite the rumblings in the party and vehement opposition against the party in some parts of the country, Omoregha is optimistic of the APC triumph at the presidential polls scheduled for February. He gives President Muhammadu Buhari a pass mark even as he deflects some of the criticisms against the president, his government and his party in this interview by MUSA JIBRIL. He also accused Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun and his Imo State counterpart, Rochas Okorocha of playing political rascality in their bid to support candidates of other political parties for the coming governorship polls in their respective states.
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is presently in charge of President Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign for the 2019 polls. Many people blamed him for the way Lagos State’s politics turned out in the last four years, why does he seem to be so misunderstood?
First, I would say the Afenifere, which happened to be a socio-cultural group from my own race, should apologize to the man because he meant well for this country. Asiwaju is a strategist that you cannot wish away. The man loves this country and he loves the Yoruba race with a passion to the extent that he set the path of progress for everybody to follow. Lagos State is one of the luckiest states in the federation when you look at the antecedent of Lagos, right from Asiwaju’s time as governor. He rolled out development plans that the state has been following since. He doesn’t associate with failure. He works with technocrats he believes can deliver. Those against him today do not buy into his ideas. Some will tell you he is domineering, he is this, he is that, he is everything. If there is anybody in the issue of Lagos State that does not even want Ambode to go, it is Bola Tinubu, but the pressure on him from the members of the party was so much that he had referred the issue back to public hearing. He is a visionary and he is a leader that meant well for this country. He has demonstrated that he is capable of leading the Yoruba race. So, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a leader to be respected, not only in APC but the country at large.
The discord in Ogun State should bother those of you in charge of the campaign to win the 2019 polls for President Buhari in the southwest.
It is not only Ogun State that is affected. There is also Imo State under Rochas Okorocha. Ondo too is not exempted. That idea of Ibikunle Amosun of saying he is supporting APC for the presidential poll and doing otherwise in the governorship election, I considered it a political rascality. It will never work. There is no partial belonging. Its either you are in or you are out. But whether Amosun supports APC in Ogun State or not; whether Rochas supports APC in Imo State or not; with or without them, APC will win that election. There are bound to be issues and disagreements sometimes in a party, but the spirit of oneness must prevail towards the achievement of a particular goal. Amosun and Okorocha are still strong party members and it’s not too late for them to retrace their steps.
Afenifere has narrowed its support down to restructuring, a serious condition that will lead to a head-on collision between the group and the Buhari Campaign Organization in the southwest. How are you going to tackle this?
Afenifere as a group spoke on behalf of Afenifere, not on behalf of the Yoruba. Yinka Odumakin who happened to be their secretary, speak for the Afenifere, and whatever they say is not a Yoruba view. The PDP presidential candidate has come up with a mantra of Get Nigeria Working and has promised to reform Nigeria within six months of getting into power. It is unfortunate that most people cannot read the handwriting very well. Restructuring means a lot of things to so many people, but I want to tell you that restructuring is not an issue of six months. It is a constitutional matter. Labour, State police, salary, et cetra, are all parts of restructuring. There is no way restructuring should be a campaign issue because it is a constitutional matter. Anybody who is saying, “I will restructure Nigeria in six months” is just telling Nigerians a lie. State Police, for instance, is an issue that is going to be discussed by the National Assembly. Senators that receive about N16 million salaries will want to stand it down and ensure that this discussion does not see the light of the day. So, all the noise about restructuring is a political gimmick. We are not against restructuring––it is purely a constitutional matter. It is an issue that should be directed at the National Assembly, not an issue for one politician to continue to trumpet “I will restructure Nigeria in six months.” Is the country his private company?
Nigerians are sceptical of the Buhari-led government performing better in another four-year term.
The first two years appeared to be very hard for Nigerians because the foundation has to be laid for a balanced economy. After the country came out of recession, the president has been building on the foundation. Nigeria has always been a monolithic economy, but this government has successfully diversified the economy. In 2017, the income from agriculture was in excess of 577 billion. People are now encouraged to go into agriculture and to set up industries. With the foundation laid so far, I believe the Nigerian economy is picking up strongly.
The fight against corruption in public’s opinion has been reduced to a political witch-hunt
What witch-hunt are they are talking about? Since Buhari came into office, EFCC has recovered from looters some 794 billion naira, 261million dollars and 1.1million pounds. In 2015 alone, EFCC had 103 convictions. In 2016, the agency recorded 194 convictions. In 2017, they have 189 convictions. So far in 2018, 217 convictions have been recorded. How can someone say the fight against corruption is not working? It is only in Nigeria someone will say what they are doing is recovery of money not fighting corruption. What is recovery of money, what is fighting corruption? When you raise an alarm and a thief drop your property, what do you do? You pick your property and go your way. Yet a senior advocate said what we are doing is recovery of public fund, not fighting corruption. That is a sad thing. Can you recover what was not stolen? A total of 407 mansions were seized by the EFCC, of which 127 are permanently forfeited to the federal government. And they still claim that the fight against corruption is not real. We have 57 billion naira abandoned in a particular bank because of BVN. This BVN was not introduced by this present regime, it was introduced during the time of President Jonathan, but it was not effective because all the people around him will be affected.
The major criticism is that the fight against corruption seems directed against the opposition party
When they complain that it is only members of PDP that are prosecuted, the question is which party was in power before now, was it not PDP?
Let me tell you this, one of the prominent members of PDP returned a lot of money. But still, he claimed he has not been convicted. Now, when they returned the money, they have not been convicted legally, but what had played out is that they have been able to crucify their conscience, that is even more than being convicted by a court.
There are those who crossed from PDP to APC and have been spared the investigation of the EFCC
The people that are in jail today are APC members. How many were they able to convict during their time?
Nigeria is divided. How can APC heal this country and bring unity if they win the election
As to whether we will win the election, that is a foregone conclusion. As for the division, it was caused by PDP. Has anyone seen President Buhari kneeling before an imam to pray for him? Has anyone heard he invited marabouts to pray for him to win the election? We knew what happened when President Jonathan was going around the churches to pray for him to win the election. So, if there is anyone that divided this country, it is the PDP. APC is trying very strongly to reunite the country. What they did is now haunting them and they are now crying wolf that President Muhammadu Buhari is dividing the country. Buhari is not a religious fanatic. He is a good Muslim.
What are the lessons you have learnt in politics?
So many lessons. But there is one bitter lesson: politicians are very deceitful. They know that something is bad, but they would indirectly push you into it simply because they want to derive some advantages from it and even when you are dying, it doesn’t bother them. That deceit has gone a long way to affect so many things that we are seeing today. Nigerian politicians are not honest. When you listen to some of them talk, you will begin to wonder: are these the people leading us? Even in the National Assembly, when some of them talk, you begin to worry that if these are the people leading us, then we are in trouble. Deceit is one of those ills that have eaten deep into Nigerian politics. Most of our politicians are not honest, otherwise, They should all clamour for President Buhari to return unopposed, because of what he stands for.