A former Minister for Works, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe has said that it would be immoral for the North to field candidates for the 2023 presidency on the platform of the ruling APC and the opposition PDP. He warned that Nigeria’s democracy may not be able to withstand another mass revolt in the form of the recent EndSARS protest. He spoke further on this and other national issues in this interview conducted by TUNDE THOMAS.
How would you rate the chance of APC in this Saturday’s bye-election in Lagos East Senatorial District?
APC is going to defeat PDP hands down. PDP is very empty in this Senatorial District. If you talk about those who are going to vote, they are all for APC. By this, I’m talking about teachers, market women, market men, students, members of the various Community Development Associations ,CDAs and youth organizations, all of them are for APC. There is no way PDP can win the election at all. They don’t have the leadership, and they also don’t have the membership. PDP is very empty, in fact the party is dead in Lagos state now.
The leadership of PDP has killed the party in Lagos state. They have divided the party, they have ensured that the party is no longer cohesive, and they have destroyed the party totally, and this is why they don’t have any chance in this coming election or any other one coming up now or in the future. I’m speaking as a former insider, as somebody who knows that all is not well with PDP in Lagos state.
The party is totally empty. The party has nothing to offer Lagosians. Unfortunately for them again, their candidate has certificate problem, and that’s why he has not been able to come out to campaign with vigour .All the certificates he claimed to have, he doesn’t seem to have them. He can’t prove that he has those certificates. This has been hampering his movement, and there is no hope for him.
Many appear to be confused on where you actually belong between APC, and PDP at the moment…
I’m an APC person 100%. Anybody in PDP in Lagos state is wasting his time. Those people in Lagos PDP both the leaders, and the led are wasting their future. PDP leaders in Lagos state are very greedy, and this is one of the reasons the party has not been winning elections in the state. The party leaders will collect money for elections but instead of using the money for the purpose for which it was collected, the money usually end up in their pockets. This is also one of the reasons why the party is deeply divided in the state.
For example, on the Senatorial bye-election coming up on saturday, the party instead of having one campaign team has two. The chairman of the party is leading one, while another fellow is leading another one. Some members of the party are equally abusing the party chairman on the pages of newspapers, and if that is happening ,how do you expect the chairman to work for the party? They are abusing him, they are undermining him. How do you expect me to belong to such a political party?
PDP members in Lagos state are not principled. Even if you ask the party chairman, Engr. Deji Doherty to talk about the bye-election, he may tell you that he is not aware of any election ,and yet he is the chairman of the party. So how can I belong to such a political party that is in total disarray? There are 2,000 polling units in Lagos East Senatorial District but PDP doesn’t have 2,000 members to man the polling units, and some jokers are saying that I have returned to such a party that is completely empty. We know ourselves in Lagos politics, we know who, and who can win elections. There is no political leader in PDP Lagos state who has electoral value to win any election in the state .I’ve left PDP for good and nothing will make me return back to the party again .Even the electorate in Lagos state are fed up with PDP. To go back to PDP is like going back to one’s vomit, and that will never happen.
Some say you are again bitter with APC because your son was not given any position. How true is this?
That’s not true. Why should I be bitter when my son is a new member in APC? He has to pay his dues first. Positions are not given freely. He has to work for it. When he works hard for the party they can now give him any position they want. You don’t expect to be given any position when you are new in a political party but when you prove yourself , they will be impressed, and the party may now decide to reward you. You have to work first before thinking of getting rewarded, and that’s my own thinking of how a political party works. You must add value before you can be considered for any reward. You don’t expect to reap where you have not sowed.
There are indications that the North wants to field candidates for the presidency on the platform of both APC and PDP, how do you react to this?
As far as I’m concerned, that will be an anomaly. Why should that happen? It will be very strange for North to present presidential candidates on the platform of APC and PDP. The North or any zone or region should not have anything to do with this. Rather it is the parties that have that responsibility, and everything will depend on where the parties zone the chairmanship of the party. If they zone the chairmanship of the party to the South ,it means the North will produce the presidential candidates, but if the chairmanship is zoned to the North, then it means the South will present the presidential candidates. But let’s wait a little bit on the issue. To me, that is still a speculation. There is nothing to hurry about , so let’s still wait on the issue for now.
The efforts by some northern elements appear to negate your support for the candidacy of Tinubu, what other options do you have for 2023?
Like I said earlier ,it is still all speculations about the North planning to field candidates for 2023 on the platforms of APC and PDP. I still insist that we should wait for where the parties will zone their chairmanship candidates to before knowing what to do. There is nothing to hurry about. But I can assure that Tinubu’s 2023 agenda still remains intact. He still remains the best candidate if the party zones the presidency to the South-West.
He has what it takes to deliver. However, an individual can’t dictate what the party will do, and that is why it is good to lobby the party first. There is nothing an individual or group can do outside the structure of the party.
Fortunately now, APC wants to go for its national convention, so any zone that wants any position will now lobby for it. These things are not given on a platter of gold. You have to scheme, you have to be strategic. You have to know what you are doing .Anybody assuming that the presidency will be given out on a platter of gold is day-dreaming. It is not an easy thing, you have to be on top of your game.
Even for those agitating that the Southeast should have it in 2023,there is nothing wrong with that but they have to work for it. There is no position again in Nigeria that will be given out on a platter of gold, you have to work for it. If the South-east zone wants to present presidential candidates, they have to start working for it now. They should also make sure that they have significant input in the conventions of the two major political parties. To win the presidency is not a joke. You have to strategize. It is not that somebody will just hand over the baton to you to become the president. No way. It is not automatic. It doesn’t work that way.
What does the recent EndSARS protest tell you about the determination of the youths to fight for their rights?
I’m so scared that we should not continue this way for another 10 years . If the EndSARS protest is repeated, we will run into serious crisis which may even jeopardize the nation’s democracy. The protest has also served as a kind of an eye opener that we should not underestimate the capacity of the youths to fight for their rights.
However, we can’t afford to have the protest twice. I pray it will not happen again . But to avert a re-occurrence we must do the needful. We must have a new orientation that will place emphasis on good government, and focused administration. Another EndSARS may spin out of control, and that’s why we pray it doesn’t happen but then we have to do the needful to ensure that measures are put in place to enthrone good governance. One of the best ways to achieve this is by restructuring.
Are you saying that restructuring…….
Cuts in….. There is no other alternative. Restructuring is the key. It is the key to the series of crises plaguing the nation. Luckily for us there has been renewed clamour across the country for restructuring. There is no way we can run from it, otherwise we are just postponing the evil day. Anybody that has the opportunity of reading the Gov. El-Rufai’s committee report on restructuring will realize that is the only way for us to go in Nigeria. El-Rufai’s committee’s report on true federalism should be presented to the federal executive council, for the council to look at how the report can be implemented. It is a very comprehensive report that will help move Nigeria forward.
There is over-concentration of power at the centre. The federal government is too overwhelmed. Look at what is happening to power supply in the country now. For some days no, many parts of the country have been in total darkness because of the collapse of the national grid. But why must we have one national grid? If we are practicing true federalism, nothing stops us from having zonal grids, and state grids. This will enable them to generate, and transmit their own energy instead of waiting for one single transmission station, which can collapse anytime, and this is what is happening now with the national grid. The National Assembly should also sit to discuss El-Rufai’s committee’s report, and look for how it can be implemented. That is the only way forward for us.
Some Nigerians have expressed concerns over increasing Boko Haram attacks, claiming the lives of many, what’s do you think is the way out?
It is really sad that innocent lives are being lost to these attacks. Federal government must take concrete steps to secure the lives of Nigerians who are becoming objects of attacks from the insurgents. Like some Nigerians are saying, the service chiefs should be replaced if that will bring the desired change.
Afterall, these service chiefs have reached the retirement age. Le them go. It is even not in the interest of the nation for them to continue being there when they are supposed to have retired. Once they have reached the retirement age, they are not indispensable ,they should go, and give others the opportunity .In every system, there is a retirement age ,and once you reach that retirement age, then you should go .Buhari should fire the service chiefs if that will bring the desired results. Nobody is indispensable.
Do you think PDP still stands a good chance to take Lagos state from APC in 2023?
That’s a mere wishful thinking. As far as I’m concerned PDP is dead in Lagos state. There is much disunity, disharmony ,and discord in the party. I don’t see PDP making any in-road in Lagos state either now or in the near future.