From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Political Consultant and Erudite Newspaper Columnist, Mr. Clem Aguiyi, has said irrespective of the ugly situations which have characterised activities toward the November 6 election, it will be squarely won by the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and its candidate, Charles Soludo.
Aguiyi who spoke in Abuja, recalled that Anambra, for the past 16 years, has always voted for APGA, insisting that the dynamics will not change as far as the forthcoming election is concerned.
The governorship election has been generating a lot of crises. We have seen killings here and there. What is your take on the election?
The insecurity in Anambra regarding the forthcoming election is unfortunate. Anambra has been known to conduct very peaceful election. If you look at the history of Anambra State and the elections, we never had violence. But for some reasons, there is some desperation in some quarters by people who want to actually hijack power or take power and they have introduced what is not normally there in our politics. And it is very, very unfortunate and it is regrettable that people have to kill to get into power. The governor of the state has accused some of his counterparts in the Southeast as sponsoring the violence and there have been counter accusations between one party and the other on who is sponsoring the violence. But whoever that is sponsoring the violence, we say stop. We don’t need violence. What we need is for people to go and vote.
So, how can we have a free and fair election on November 6?
INEC doing the right thing; INEC making sure that the election is absolutely transparent, INEC making sure that they are not used to manipulate the wishes of the people because if they rig the election, people will resist.
Considering the insecurity witnessed so far in Anambra, are you confident that the atmosphere is secured for the election?
That is the duty of the Federal Government to make sure that the atmosphere is secured for the election. If we have democracy, people should be able to go out and vote without being harassed and molested. It is for the government to provide security. Our duty as citizens is to go and vote and vote the right candidate out of our choice.
There were rumours of a planned state of emergency in Anambra. Is that the right way to go?
It is unfortunate. It is not the right way to go. Like I said, the government should be able to put down insurrection and maintain security of lives and property. They don’t have to shift their responsibility to another person. For example, people who are asking the state government to do something about security in the state, what can the state government do when they control the Police, Army, DSS, all the security apparatus; even the Civil Defence are in the hands of the Federal Government? Is there any state government that has AK47 attached to its position to maintain peace and security? The answer is no. The 1999 Constitution does not permit that. So, it is only the Federal Government that can maintain security in this country and it is headed by President Muhammadu Buhari. And I am looking up to him to be able to use the apparatuses of his government, the instrument of coercion available to him to make sure that there is security all over the country, including the Southeast and Anambra State.
Anambra votes have always gone the way of APGA, the way of Ojukwu. Will it be so this time around?
Yes, I think Anambra has for the past 16 years, always voted for APGA. Not just Anambra, but the Southeast Zone has always voted for APGA except that the Federal Government has always had a way of manipulating the results which doesn’t reflect the wish of the people. But Anambra is peculiar. Anambra is the bastion of Igbo resistance and resilience and I don’t see Anambra State falling into that kind of gimmicks. The voters are very sophisticated. They know where they are heading to. So, all these things that you are seeing, all these hyper activities that have been going on, the ordinary person on the street actually know who he wants to vote and where he will cast his vote. That is one thing that is clear with Anambra State and I still see Anambra voting for APGA in this election and I think that Soludo’s winning may be bigger than we are expecting.
Does it mean your political interest is divided? At the centre, you are PDP and in your state, you are APGA. Why?
I don’t play partisan politics and I am not a member of any political party. I am a political consultant and if you hire me to work for you, I work for you. But even at that, I have my sympathy also in the affairs of the state. I have my sympathy regarding how Nigeria is led and I have my sympathy on how the state is led. Even if the APC wants my service, I will give them my honest service and if they cannot take my honest service, I drop the job.
What is your take on the candidature of Soludo, the governorship candidate of APGA in the forthcoming election?
I must thank Governor Willie Obiano, who was magnanimous in the choice of a candidate that will do better than he has done. That is leadership. Professor Soludo requires no introduction. Before he emerged in partisan politics, he distinguished himself academically as a Professor of Economics. He also discharged himself creditably as a public officer. As Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), he managed the apex bank very well, evolving sound monetary policies.
If you will recall, when he was the CBN Governor, he was a CBN chief the people believed in. His life story seems to confirm everything that was good about this country. As CBN Governor and economic consultant, he has advised presidents, governments and international financial institutions. Anyone who knew him or has had personal interactions with him will confirm that he is quite impressive. He is legitimately smart and intelligent and deeply knowledgeable about the world. He is openly patriotic and obviously superior to a lot of people that had been around the corridors of power during his time and after.
He got to the peak of his academic and professional career on merit. Then at that time, our system elevated the best and it worked. Then meritocracy was one of our unifying factors and Soludo embodied it. Soludo’s candidature as governor is important now than before to the Igbo. At a time when the voice of the Igbo people is diminished, he represents a strong voice for our people, a voice of reason for that matter.
In my view, he is much bigger than partisan politics. He stands tall above all other candidates in the eyes of the people as far as this election is concerned. This is why his candidature is both exciting and attractive. I am convinced he will be a good governor if elected. I am supporting him to win and will do all in my power to support the administration he will run in Anambra State.
At the centre, you have also played prominent roles where you worked for the PDP in 2015 and 2019 and on both occasions, the party did not succeed. How do you see the outings?
In 2015, I was one of the PDP consultants for the presidential election. We tried our best to bring up the party to see that they win the election, but we all know what happened during that election even though it was declared free, fair election. The actual question is, was it credible? You saw the under-aged votes in the North and we saw manipulation of figures in areas where ordinarily, people are supposed to be on the run. There were millions of votes. But be that as it may, because the incumbent lost, Nigerians said it was a free and fair election. So, that we took it like that doesn’t mean that the PDP actually lost that election if we are to go deep into the analysis. And given the fact that the president then, Goodluck Jonathan, did not contest his loss during the election, I believe Nigerians have taken it as a lost election. But if we look deeper into that election, it wasn’t a lost election.
How about 2019? You also worked for Atiku?
No. I did not work for the PDP in 2019. I did not work for any of the political parties, but I had sympathy for the presidential candidate of the PDP. I would have wished the election was won by him because between 2015 and 2019, the way Nigeria was led and governed, which didn’t go down well with people like me, we knew that the government was going to be a disaster because we saw a catastrophe unfolding everyday in Nigeria. Assuming Atiku won that election, maybe we would have had a new beginning by now. But unfortunately, we didn’t have that new beginning and we are still continuing on the same trend that we were in 2015 to 2019 and 2019 to 2023 and Nigeria is worse for it.
Do you think the chances of the PDP are bright to reclaim the presidency in 2023?
Yeah. There is a bright chance for any political party to claim presidency in 2023 because the major interest of any political party is to be in an election and to win the election. Whether you hate or like APC and the PDP, they are the two emerging factors in the political party system in Nigeria and I see power alternating hand between PDP and APC or APC and PDP. Will APC continue to be in power after 2023? That depends on what Nigerians want and also INEC living up to the responsibility of organising free, fair and credible election. But if INEC would have to organise the kind of election that was organised in the past, then it is going to be a long story. But I see the PDP having a good chance to reclaim the presidency.
What is your take on rotational presidency? Should it go to the Southeast in 2023?
Naturally, if you are four brothers and there are four pieces of meat in the plate of food you are eating, you will naturally think that when somebody takes one and another person takes his own, the next one will be yours. And if you look at Nigeria, the way the presidency is rotated between the North and the South, every sub region in Nigeria has been able to take a shot at the presidency. The Igbo man, naturally, having lost the civil war and after the civil war, we want to take a shot at the presidency. And naturally, they would believe it is their turn. The issue of turn again is not in the constitution of Nigeria. It depends on what the party constitution says and the PDP constitution actually recognises zoning, likewise the APC constitution. That the PDP zoned its chairmanship to the North does not mean that the presidency cannot come from the North or that it cannot come from the South. It can come from anywhere. I see the PDP actually throwing open the presidential race ticket and I think Southerners should be able to compete at the party level and I think the South Easterners should not be averse to competition with other zones. We shouldn’t be timid about it.