Dr Adetokunbo Pearse is the chairman, Strategy and mobilization, Social Democratic Party (S.W) and deputy chairman, Media and publicity committee, SDP national convention.
In this interview, he said that from the circumstances on the ground, the people of South-west would not vote for President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019, among other issues. Excerpts:
Not much is being heard of the coalition of parties which your party, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), is a signatory to. What is happening?
I do not think that is the format of the coalition. The coalition is not a merger. I believe that the plan is for every party to run its own presidential primaries and come up with one candidate from
each of the parties.
The coalition is mainly the PDP, SDP and the ADC and when the three parties have concluded their primaries and have one candidate each, we will now decide among the three candidates which one will emerge as a single candidate that will challenge the APC at the general elections. That is the form of our coalition.
Every party is maintaining their different identity, but we have an understanding that we have a common interest. The common interest is to bring about a more equitable governance in Nigeria in 2019, promote restructuring as a fundamental ideology and also advancing welfare programmes –free healthcare, education and affordable houses and mass transportation.
So, this is what the SDP stands for and it is important for us to maintain that and that is why we insist that anybody that is going to work with us, all of us have to agree that this is not just a question of removing President Muhammadu Buhari and putting somebody else.
That was the idea that prevailed during the days of former President Goodluck Jonathan when many said anybody, but Jonathan should be voted for. So, if you just say anybody, but Buhari, you get somebody worse than Buhari.
What we are saying is that the person that must replace Buhari must be somebody who is fully committed to the ideology that would promote progress in Nigeria –Social progress, peace as well as economic prosperity.
That is what we are doing in Lagos, for instance. We are talking to the ADC in Lagos. We have an understanding. So, we see how it will work out, but it is not a merger arrangement, but a cooperation among the parties.
Considering what is on ground with regards to how the ruling party, the APC is carrying on, do you think that the coalition of parties would be able to upstage President Buhari in 2019?
Today, the public opinion is that the APC and President Buhari are totally unacceptable, but if the PDP brings out an old man like Buhari and who also has an image problem, who may have an EFCC baggage, the party would also become unacceptable. And the shenanigans going on now in the PDP, all the people coming into the party from the APC are polluting the PDP.
The PDP is looking almost as bad as the APC now. That is why between you and me, I am looking forward to the emergence of a candidate from the SDP. That would be the alternative that Nigerians have been waiting for and everywhere you go, people say look, we are not happy with the APC; we do not like what is going on in the PDP and if there is no alternative, Buhari will win again.
And I say God help us; I do not know if Nigeria has committed some mortal crime, but God would help us for it not to happen.
Today, all we are waiting for is an alternative which will emerge with our candidate in the SDP. You will have that alternative and you would be very happy with it.
What is your take on the perceived desperation by the APC and the presidency to impeach the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki?
It is another example of Gestapo politics that President Buhari started playing from the onset.
Remember that as soon as Buhari came into office, some herdsmen went and abducted former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae who is the National Chairman of the SDP.
So many things are going on now that shows that the APC is operating as if Nigeria is a police state. If somebody offends you, you want to destroy that person, but they forgot that this is a democracy.
I think the reason the APC wants to impeach the Senate President is simply because Saraki has stood his ground against Buhari and the way the government is functioning which is trying to impose itself on the Senate and the entire National Assembly.
If you noticed, the President is acting as if he is still a military leader. He is acting as if he is an autocrat. As a president, if you bring proposals to the National Assembly, they may accept or not accept them. You remember he kept bringing the EFCC chairman after each rejection to be confirmed.
The National Assembly is not just Saraki; it is every member who has been elected into that office to represent his people. The truth is that the president has no respect for the institutions of democracy in this country; he has no respect for the rule of law.
He has no respect for the National Assembly or anything. He thinks that he must always have his way and because he is not having his way with Saraki, he wants to impeach him.
By the way, you have my word; if the president is not careful, it is Saraki that would impeach the president at the end of the day. His argument is very clear. You know what has caused the recent rift between the president, and Saraki and the National Assembly.
The president sent a bill to fund the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at the expense of community projects and the National Assembly said no; we must have community projects.
They said the project for INEC, you must go and look for the money. So, who is President Buhari serving; is it the people of Nigeria who are benefitting from the community projects or is it about his political interests to entrench himself in 2019 by funding INEC to the point that the commission can do anything?
That is what we are dealing with in Nigeria; we have never had it so bad. This is the worst and the
most evil administration I have seen in the history of Nigeria. He is going to go down into the trash bin of history.
You are from the South-west zone of the country, which is considered as one of the backers of President Buhari. Do you think that the zone would not vote for him massively as they did in 2019?
The South-west worked with Buhari in 2015 because of the former governor of Lagos State, the architect of this so-called APC which is not a real party, but a contraption put together for the purpose of winning that election and get rid of President Jonathan. When they came into power, they got confused because they never had any understanding of governance.
Tinubu was very powerful in 2015, but things have changed. Tinubu has lost election in Ondo State; he does not have control of Ogun State; he does not have control of Oyo State.
The only state that he has now is Lagos State and Lagos is divided even with the APC. Even within the APC, some are against the APC. You must also understand that two things have happened.
Tinubu has lost strength and support across board. So, the South-west people are not following him. They are following the issues and we know the South-west vote according to their own interest.
In 2015, it was in their interest to support Tinubu, but now, they have realized that he led them into a ditch. The main force in the South-west now is the Afenifere and the SDP collaboration. We are for restructuring and Buhari is not for restructuring.
We are for social welfare programmes, free education, free healthcare, mass transit establishment and affordable mass housing. And all these, Buhari has not been supportive of including the rule
of law and democracy. We also support decency and integrity in politics.
For all these reasons, nobody in the South-west is going to support Buhari. We as well as other Nigerians have suffered under Buhari’s administration. Prices of goods have gone up like never before.
The naira has been the weakest in the history of this country. Direct foreign investment has collapsed. Nobody wants to invest in Nigeria. The Stock Exchange and the GDP are down. The only thing that is up in Nigeria today is poverty, and unemployment and hunger. So, tell me who is going to support Buhari in the South-west?
He will not get 25 per cent votes in the South-west, he will not get it in the South-east, South-south
and North-central. Buhari is finished with regards to the 2019 election.
The only thing remaining now is for him to rig the election, but we will wait for him. If he succeeds in rigging it, we go to court and he will be disgraced from the court.
If President Buhari wins a second term in 2019, what should Nigerians expect from him?
It is obvious that there would be trouble in Nigeria. This is because there is so much disenchantment in this administration.
There is so much suffering in the land. There is so much poverty, hunger and insecurity. So, I do not see how he will win, but he is so dishonest.
The former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio defected to the APC from the PDP and the Federal Government is already punishing the state.
See what is going on in Benue State. The people do not want Buhari and if he tries to manipulate it and impose himself on the people, it will be terrible.
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The reason Jonathan lost was that the people were deceived into believing that he has failed. Watch Nigerians, when they believe in something, they would go for it.
They believed that Jonathan was bad and they voted him out and now that they believe Buhari has failed, they would vote him out.
The people now believe that Buhari is the worst that they have ever seen. That is why he cannot win the next election and if he tries to rig it, he will regret it.