Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Former Lagos Governor Babatunde Raji Fasola has described the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as too weak an opposition to wrest power from the All Progressives Congress (APC) come the 2023 presidential election.
The Minister of Works and Housing, who berated the opposition party during an interactive session with APC correspondents at his Abuja office, however, warned that the only guarantee for the ruling party retaining power beyond the Buhari era would be to fulfil the party’s electoral campaign promises.
Fashola evaded commenting on speculations surrounding his supposedly eying the Presidency or Vice Presidency, saying that he is concerned with delivering the mandate of the party to the people.
Responding to whether the APC will retain power beyond 2023, the Minister said: ‘To retain power in 2023 will certainly be if we keep our promises; it is that simple. That’s politics. If you do what you said you will do, even if you don’t do 100 per cent and they see that you are making progress, they will even want you to finish some of what you started.
‘Our opposition has to think better than us in order to defeat us. Right now they are not doing that. When it’s election time they should come and meet us.’
On whether he would be contesting, the former governor said: ‘Which card are we talking about now, where do I belong? I belong to a party, APC, and is committed to good governance because I think the best politics is good governance.
‘The beauty of it for me is the opportunity it gives to impact peoples’ lives. We have elections only once in four years, but we have a responsibility to provide good governance every day and that’s the culture,’ he said.
The Works Minister reacted to the proposed extension of the tenure of the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee, warning detractors to stop distracting the Committee.
‘Now, in terms of the Caretaker Committee, perhaps this is a good opportunity. The first meeting of APC, don’t forget, what became APC was convened in my official residence in Lagos by 11 of us. Some of you were asking what we were doing, 11 governors, and I said: you just watch. But after that, there is a bigger responsibility.
‘Winning the election is not the challenge; it is delivering the governance that is the big deal and that’s what I am committed to doing. So, you see at that time some people decided that we wanted to be Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, Publicity Secretary, we voted for them. That’s what they choose. If there is a crisis, that has now led us to have a Caretaker Committee, we must also respect the Caretaker Committee; let it do its job.
‘Those of us who didn’t contest to hold party offices should focus on our jobs too and stop bashing in each other’s room. So, every support that the Caretaker Committee requires we will provide if it’s within our reach to do so. I am in touch with him, at the end of the day we are governed by rules.
‘I know quite a number of them on a personal basis. So, let us support them to achieve the immediate mandate of their responsibility. They brought some stability, at least we won an election. Some governors have joined us where we think that we could not get water before,’ he said.
Asked his take on the zoning arrangement of the party for the 2023 presidential election, Fashola argued that zoning is not a constitutional matter but for the party convention.
‘First, let’s talk about law, let’s talk about agreement, the law is the Constitution. Constitution decides the age which you can contest certain offices and there is nothing in the Constitution that says zoning. All are political parties; political parties are like clubs where you write agreements just like a social club.
‘We can decide that it is the youngest person who will be the Chairman of the social club or we can decide that it is the oldest person or the next female or the next male, that is the matter of agreement between people. But the Constitution that sets up the climate of political parties formation does not prescribe zoning.
‘The truth is that what makes an agreement is the honour in which it is made not whether it is written. If it was written there would be no court cases of breach of contract because it is a document that is written and signed that goes to court. But the private agreement you make with your brother and sister can be breached is [about] honour.’