Former Chairman, Lagos state APC and Chairman Emeritus, Conference of APC states Chairmen, Chief Henry Ajomale has warned that there’s grave danger of disintegration ahead of the ruling APC as the nation gears up towards another general elections in 2023. Ajomale, who stated this in an interview with TUNDE THOMAS also warned that the crisis rocking the Edo state chapter of the ruling party could snowball into a national feud capable of truncating the nation’s democracy.
He described the former National Deputy Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olabode George as a day-dreamer, over his recent declaration to use 2023 presidential election to retire the national leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu from politics. Ajomale is Tinubu’s staunch ally.
The present state of insecurity across the country has become a source of grave national concern, what are your own worries about the ugly development?
There is no genuine patriot that is not worried, and alarmed by the ugly development. The general belief is that we would have found a solution to the problem by now. But it is not easy as some are thinking. In fairness to our military, they are trying their best to contain the insurgency.
However, I believe the time has come for our security agencies to step up the pressure and let the Boko Haram feel the heat more. As a former diplomat, and from my experience, what will quickly bring an end to the Boko Haram insurgency is application of intelligence. Our military should embark on more intelligence gathering in order to get more precise information about these insurgents, their hide-outs, their supply chain, and their mode of operation. Without doing these, it will be very difficult to win the war against terror. Intelligence gathering is the key.
Secondly, the federal government should deploy more soldiers, and weapons so that these insurgents can be bombarded from different positions. These insurgents are not spirits so it should not be difficult to neutralise them. If the world powers including Britain, France, and United states, applying the right strategies were able to defeat Germany, Italy and Japan who by then had constituted a big threat to world peace during the First, and the Second World wars, then the battle against the insurgents should not be lingering as it is going now. What we need to do is to apply the right strategies. A concentration of military bombardment using the right intelligence gathering I strongly believe will prove more effective in bringing the Boko Haram war to an end. Another thing is this, our armed forces should be taking the war to the Boko Haram stronghold, we should not be allowing the insurgents to strike first before we embark on counter-attacks. We should be the one pursuing these insurgents, and not the other way round.
Some Nigerians have suggested dialogue as a way of ending the problem, while some PDP members have accused your party of making empty promises to end the insurgency as soon as President Buhari assumed office in 2015,where do you stand on this ?
I have been reading a lot of comments by different groups and individuals on how to bring the insurgency to an end. Some are asking the service chiefs to go while others are calling on President Buhari to throw in the towel. For me, asking President Buhari to resign or asking the service chiefs to go is not the solution. Appointing new service chiefs now may be counter-productive. Bringing new service chiefs on board may create problems as the new appointees will not only have to study the terrain all over again but may have to start everything all over again. For those service chiefs that are there now, they’ve seen it all, and are more familiar with the terrain. So it is better we allow them to continue the war.
I believe that with the right approach, and tactics, this war should not be difficult for our military to win. The military should also not be starved of ammunitions because there was a time it was reported that our soldiers didn’t have sufficient bullets to fight the war. I wonder what those people at Defence Industry Corporation of Nigeria ,DICON are doing if they can’t manufacture ordinary bullet. Can’t they manufacture simple light arms? Do we still have to continue importing some categories of arms which ordinarily we should be able to produce here in Nigeria? This is why I give kudos to the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadiqe Abubakar. He is trying his best to ensure that foreign exchange is saved for the country with the Air Force manufacturing some light arms and spare parts locally. He has also ensured that some of our grounded combat jets have been refurbished and are now back in operation. We should emulate other nations like Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia who were almost in the same rank with Nigeria in the 60’s. Today these nations have advanced well more than Nigeria because they look more inwards in finding solutions to their national problems. Singapore is one of the richest countries in the world today, and yet they don’t have oil like us.
On the call for dialogue with Boko Haram, I will never support that. I believe the military is in a position to crush the insurgents decisively .Discussing or having dialogue with the insurgents will send a wrong signal. It may even encourage more people to join the terrorists.
What’s your take on the proposed amnesty for repentant Boko Haram members with the additional offer of sending them abroad for further education?
It is a wrong step. How can you give amnesty to people who have their hands full of blood. That will be very insensitive. How can you give amnesty to killers? I understand that it is the members of the National Assembly that are making that proposal and the proponents of such proposal are being very insensitive. My appeal to the federal government is that it should not have anything to do with such proposal. These insurgents, their hands are full of blood. They kill children, women, muslims and Christians including priests almost on a daily basis. It will amount to encouraging these killers to continue with their atrocities if they are given amnesty. Apart from the hundreds of innocent people these insurgents have murdered, what about soldiers they continue killing daily? We should also not forget that Leah Sharibu, the school girl has also been in their captivity for many years. Granting amnesty to Boko Haram members will create more problems for this nation. Those making such advocacy are enemies of Nigeria.
There has been so much controversy over the establishment of the regional security outfit, Operation Amotekun, even though some other geo-political zones have expressed determination to establish similar outfit …..
Cuts in……There should be no controversy at all over Operation Amotekun. It is a regional security arrangement designed to protect people of the South-West, and all the six South-West governors are part of the arrangement, and even in the North, you now have a similar group. The problem with us in Nigeria is that we always like to politicise everything. Operation Amotekun is not taking over police job or the job of the military. Operation Amotekun is another form of community policing, or what you call State Police; this is part of the restructuring we have been clamouring for. The operatives that will be working there are close to the grassroots, and also very familiar with the terrain, unlike a situation whereby you post a policeman from Sokoto to Ekiti state. Ask such an officer to go and serve as a DPO in Ekiti, he will be lost because he is not familiar with the terrain or topography of that area. But such an officer can perform very well if he has access to information which operatives of an outfit like Operation Amotekun will be providing him.
Operation Amotekun I believe has come to stay. The outfit is key to the security of the South-West, and politics or sentiments should not be allowed to destroy it. All the noise by Miyetti-Allah and any other opposing group is all politics. Are Miyetti-Allah government leaders? Or are they the ones making laws for us? On what basis are they talking about the security outfit? Miyetti-Allah leaders should not bite more than they can chew. Enough is enough. These people are becoming irritants, and I believe they are deliberately provoking Nigerians but they should be warned to stop taking actions that can tear Nigeria apart. Some of their utterances even border on treasonable felony. They should stop it or be ready to face the consequences of being tried for treasonable felony.
Concerned Nigerians and other stakeholders have been expressing fears over the lingering crisis between Edo state governor Mr. Godwin Obaseki, and the APC national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole warning of unpalatable consequences, how can the feud be resolved?
What is happening in Edo state is not only unfortunate but also worrisome. It is more worrisome considering the fact that the two gladiators not only belong to the same political party, but they were also close political associates before the crisis broke out. Something urgent has to be done to resolve the crisis otherwise the crisis in Edo state portends grave danger for our democracy. It may even truncate the nation’s democracy, although we don’t pray for that to happen. It is a crisis that must be quickly resolved now otherwise it may affect the party’s fortunes in the governorship elections coming up later in the year, and it will be very bad if the crisis costs APC Edo state. Crises, and political disputes are part of politics but when such occurs they must be quickly addressed to prevent it from festering. Thank God APC has put the machinery in place to resolve it. The crisis is one of the other several ones that Chief Bisi Akande reconciliation committee will resolve.
Some APC members have expressed doubts about the committee’s success, do you harbor such reservations?
I have absolute trust in Chief Bisi Akande’s committee. As an individual, Baba Akande is an experienced politician who is used to settling political crises. I pray that God will give him the wisdom to settle these crises in APC, some of which are very intricate. It is not going to be easy but if anybody is going to solve the problem, I think it is Baba Akande that can do it. I pray he doesn’t fail in order to protect this party, and save it from disintegration, otherwise serious calamity is looming for the party. I see danger ahead for APC If Baba Akande’s committee fails. APC members must allow the committee to work. It is unfortunate that APC has been the architect of its own misfortunes. We must think of how to save APC, and this is why all aggrieved members must jettison personal interests, otherwise danger looms ahead for APC.
What’ your reaction to the recent declaration by the former deputy national chairman of PDP, Chief Olabode George that he would not only defeat Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu but also use the presidential election to retire him from politics if the presidency is zoned to the South-West in 2023?
Bode George is a joker. But this is a joke taken too far. George is a day dreamer. This is a man that can’t even win his ward. Since 1999, APC has been defeating George in his ward, and in Lagos state. This is a man that can’t boast of 10 votes even in his own ward, and this is why I’m saying that George is dreaming but this is a bad dream. There is no basis for comparison between him, and Tinubu. Anyday, anytime Tinubu is Bode Gorge’s political master, and politically George has been bowing for him in Lagos state. George should first go and win in his ward or polling booth before talking about Tinubu. Tinubu will not only swallow, and neutralize Bode George if he enters the 2023 race against him, but that will mark the end of George’s political career. Is it not foolishness for somebody that can’t win his ward to be talking of defeating Tinubu in the South-West, and Nigeria? Bode George is just joking. He is either hallucinating or having a bad dream. He is not going anywhere. If George has not been able to win in one local government in Lagos state, how can he now talk of caging Tinubu in the South-West? At anytime Tinubu will always defeat Bode George. He has no follower outside his office in Ikoyi, and these followers are members of his Staff. Rather than thinking of 2023 ,I believe George should be writing a book about his colossal failure as a politician in Lagos state. At least that would make an interesting read for students of History, and Political Science. My humble advice to him is that he should not embark on another political misadventure in 2023.