“They are fighting back. But the average Nigerian is not going to align with those forces. No, we cannot return to Egypt.”
Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, has said that the ruling party has no reason to entertain fears over the 2019 general elections.
He specifically spoke on the candidacy of the PDP standard bearer, Atiku Abubakar and the state of the ruling party in Imo and Ogun States, arguing that the APC is stronger in those states now than before.
What will the APC tells Nigerians to convince them to vote for your party again?
Nigerians cannot forget that the PDP promised to provide stable electricity but failed in the 16 years they stayed in power. They will not forget that PDP spent $16 billion for power but the more money they spent, the more darkness. They will not forget that PDP claimed to have spent more money on rails but not one track did we see. Workers will not forget that all the industries were liquidated under the PDP. The textile industry employed more than a million people but 95 percent are out of job. Nigeria was exporting tyres to neighbouring countries but today, Michelin, Dunlop closed door under the PDP.
We should look at what the exchange rate was in1999 by the time they took over which was at the peak of Nigeria prosperity when oil went up to $140pb. Side by side with that is the country’s finance, you find out that Nigeria was into borrowing and deficit financing even at the time of surplus budgeting. These are the things we will put on the table and the good thing is that the PDP candidate was the vice president and people knew the role he played. According to somebody, he was one of the most powerful vice president Nigeria had. As a central player, he cannot say he did not know what went on in government. All the issues of huge corruptions like how his boss funded every National Assembly member with N50 million to House of Representatives members and N100 million for Senators, coming from within the system happened under them. Nigerians are aware of all those fraudulent activities under them.
We cannot return to those era of locust that Nigerians are very conversant with. Not only will women campaign, I strongly believe that the youths will campaign too. We cannot return to the situation where Nigeria became the highest per capital owner of private jets, yet the owners of the jets have no business addresses. The only thing is that they have connections at the NNPC, PPRC among others. We are aware that there are people across the divide that are fighting back and as the vice president said; we can see the gang up from people who are used to sucking the system without adding any value. Those ones are being cut off and obviously they are fighting back. But the average Nigerian is not going to align with those forces. No, we cannot return to Egypt.
What is your assessment of the peace committee?
I believe it is working very well and the governors have been very helpful in going from state to state talking to the people. Those that have negotiable grievances are being sorted out but if there are individuals who simply insist that it is either what they want or they will port, there is nothing we can do about that.
Nigeria has to go to a level that it is only rules that matters not person. Whether big or small person, the rules are not supposed to discriminate and those are the things we are trying to do.
Did the defection of Amosun and Okorocha’ men surprise you?
Our popularity in Imo and Ogun States are much higher. What you don’t know is that Nigerians always made me surprise by thinking that once you are a governor, you have electoral value. Yes, we have overwhelming majority of the APC governors with electoral value but we also have others without electoral values. I can concretely tell you today that in Imo State, APC will win more votes. As I said, it is about numbers and my focus is about the ordinary Imo electorate because the governor, his Commissioner for Happiness and the son in-law have only one vote on that day.
But those mechanics, market women, school teachers and workers whose salaries are unpaid for years that have the same weight of votes. They are excited about the new possibilities of a new government coming with new idea free from all the encumbrances of the present system. I am very confident in Imo.
Also, in Ogun State, don’t forget that the vice president is from there. We cannot focus on one person and not on the other. Ogun is one of the most enlightened states in the country and that is where Chief Awolowo came from. They have a huge history in a political kingdom headed by one person. I believe that if they are looking for reconciliation or truth, they would not have done what they did. They already have the mindset that once they don’t get their governor in, nothing is right; it is not how democracy works.
In America, a president can endorse someone yet the person loses. Don’t forget that Obama endorsed Clinton but Americans voted for Trump. Nigeria democracy must grow beyond this big man syndrome of ‘I am the governor and I will decide,’ yet you have only one vote and with all due respect, I was a governor but I know that I have only one vote on the day of election and in only one polling booth.
Overall, APC is a much stronger party now but we should not focus only on APC alone. Talking of Ogun State, the PDP has two governorship candidates and two deputy governors running, yet as we speak, the APC has only one in the person of Dapo Abiodun. When a child ran out of his father’s house to bear a new name according to history and the Bible, he returned when the weather thoroughly beats him as a prodigal son. That is why APC has prodigal sons. Those who think that their political future is tied to one person are poor students of history. They forget that some of these people thinking that they are invisible have run election before and lost deposit until they abandoned their parties and joined us.
If they return, history will repeat itself. We are not thinking of sanctioning them because the real sanction will come from the electorate but as for if any rules of the party has been breached, are the things we will have to look at. It is not my function. What should be the real headline is that we will deliver Dapo Abiodun in Ogun State and Hope Uzodinma in Imo State.
What are your fears for the 2019 elections?
I will rather tell you my hopes and that is that Buhari will win by getting more votes than he garnered before. Some of those people who misuse religion, which was one of the most potent weapons used very recklessly by people that have no issues in 2015, this time around they would have to speak to issue because the two main candidates are Muslims.
Secondly, we also had the issue of north and south responsible for Buhari retaining the key support in the north while the south suspiciously voted based on son of the soil. This time, ethnicity will be a non-issue because they are from the same region. They are therefore going to look at character.
Nobody has said that Buhari is a thief, but who said that the other person is a thief was the person he worked with. If you are working with me and I said that you are thief, that God will punish me if I support you and when you are confused because your supply line has been chopped off and you enter a new deal, you now come back to say I now support you, that God you invoked with your name to punish you if you support that person is about to go to work and He will go to work in February next year. He will punish you thoroughly and punish the person he is supporting in favour of Nigeria.