Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, has said that Nigerians still have bad memories of the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) administration, and so would never allow them to come back to power.
In an interview with VINCENT KALU, the deputy director general of All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign in 2015, warned that the ruling party must not underrate former President Obasanjo’s third force or the coalition of political parties that is building up.
Nigeria is on edge, killings, kidnapping and other violent crimes everywhere. How do we come out of these problems?
I’m as worried as you are in terms of killings that have become more of a daily occurrence in the land. Our constitution under section 14, talks of security and welfare being the primary purpose of government. I know government; particularly at the centre is doing its own bit to tackle these incessant killings, whether the bit is good enough is another thing.
Security is everybody’s concern; we should not leave the issue of security to the security agencies alone, it is everybody’s business and that is why that popular advert – ‘if you see something, say something’. We need to assist the security agents whether the police, the DSS or the military, by offering information. Information is power. In fact, that is what citizenship expects.
When we see anything that is awkward, we need to give the right information to the appropriate quarters. We need to beef up the entire security architecture of the country, be it at the level of the police, which is supposed to be the primary security agency particularly in peacetime.
That is one of the reasons why the call for State police has become an issue in the front burner. With State police, you would be able to have more personnel, you would be able to engage in community policing because the personnel involved at the state level, or at the community level, will be in a better position to understand the terrain and will achieve more.
The call for a State police, which is proper in the context of a federation, is welcomed.
We should look at this clamour for federalism. If we restructure the country, then we should be able to manage our security situation much better. I don’t see reason why some people should not be comfortable with restructuring. It is in the over all interest of us at the end of the day. We will free more funds to address our security issue.
What is the point in having 36-state structure with one federal capital territory, and three quarters of the states cannot pay salaries? That is why we must begin to think as to the need for this 36-state structure. I want to align with those who are pushing for six or eight regional structure. We don’t need to abolish those states; they can be developmental centres, just as you have in local governments, where you have local government development centres (LCDA).
Too much money is being spent on bureaucracy, and at the end of the day, the main issue, particularly security becomes a problem. In tandem with federalism, you can then have different levels of policing – community, state, region and the federal. When you have these different levels, the entire country will be better policed. This is what I mean when I talked about re-engineering the security architecture of the country, and this will go a long way in stemming these killings we are talking about.
Don’t you think that these killings and the hardship people are experiencing in the country will affect APC’s chances in 2019?
It’s a possibility, particularly in the areas where these are said to occur more frequently, because many have different reasons to vote a party during election. The problem had been on ground; it is not that APC created it, yes, there could have been some escalation along the line. Part of my opening statement was that the government at the centre is aware and doing its best to contain this thing, and I quickly added, whether that best is good enough for the people is another thing.
The APC is doing its best, and to buttress this, you recall that few days ago, it was reported that President Muhammadu Buhari approved the setting up of a new army battalion in Kaduna; and also another police area command in Zamfara. Two fighter jets were also purchased recently, while still expecting the ones that are coming from the USA; there is already a multinational force that is assisting in the Northeast region.
The APC government is collaborating with other security forces outside the country, particularly the West African sub-region. The government is making efforts, which will gradually yield result.
Naturally, it is proper to expect anxiety from the people when these killings happen. I share my condolences with the people and the affected states.
We need to even know the people perpetrating these things, there is need to apprehend them and give a kind of accelerated trial of these culprits, so as to serve as deterrence to others.
President Buhari has declared to seek re-election, and the PDP is jubilating that it is going to be so easy to defeat the ruling party because the president has not done anything to deserve second term. What is your reaction?
What do you expect them to say in the circumstance? It is the easiest thing for them to say. If the PDP had done well, we would not have displaced them.
PDP was pushed out of the scene for its very bad record, and Nigerians are not stupid, and they still have bad memory, bad dream of PDP administration of this country. They cannot forget so soon as to want to replace this government with PDP government. It can’t happen. It is a pipedream.
Then, how do you market Buhari?
The achievements of this present administration are there for people to see. We came on board with three focal issues – security, economy and corruption fight.
We may not have achieved excellently in all the three, but what is fair is fair.
This government has done so well on the issue of corruption in terms of limiting it. We may not have too many convictions as anticipated by the people. It is not the job of the government to convict, but the court. We have so many of the cases that have been before the courts and we have so many forfeitures that have been made – humungous amount of money in local and foreign currencies; you have so many property within and outside of the country that had been in forfeiture and some making returns, and some taken over completely, and there are so many cases on going in courts.
To a large extent, the APC has done well in the area of curbing corruption. Early this month, we’re told about N200 million monthly that government has been able to curb in terms of ghost workers. They were human beings collecting the money. I don’t want to be unduly superfluous in giving credit to this administration. Everything shouldn’t be reduced to politicking and saying things that have no bearing to realities; these were the things that were happening under the previous administration that this government has come to do something to benefit the people.
Look at the TSA, people complained about it so much, but look at the money that has been saved through it. Let’s give credit to whom is due and not reduce everything to politics and politicking.
Secondly, in the economy, we are beginning to focus attention in productive sector – agriculture, mining, and industry. We are not yet there, but we have reduced our food imports significantly, especially, rice. We are now exporting cassava and other things.
The government has made some impacts in the area of economy and deserves more than a pass mark.
In the area of security, I tried to address it before. Whether we like it or not, Boko Haram, even though it is still attacking soft targets here and there, but some measure has been achieved in terms of tackling the menace of the sect.
Is APC not afraid of the third force, which former President Olusegun Obasanjo is anchoring to remove your party from power in 2019?
We are not afraid, but we are taking note. When you have election ahead, you don’t underrate your opponent. I will just see this coalition if it comes to fruition (because they are still coming together), as an opponent, and my attitude is that you don’t underrate.
If you underrate your opponent you may do so at your own peril. It is still shadowing, but when it finally shows its face, then we know how to attack.
I will just say, it is noted. When APC was building up, PDP was disparaging, they were complacent, and they believed that nothing would happen having boasted that they were going to rule for over 60 years.
They were all over the places bragging that they would rule for 60 years, without paying attention to what APC was doing.
It’s not like that and shouldn’t be like that. I’m not one who would dismiss this third force or coalition. I won’t dismiss them, I will note them, and of course we put our house in order, so that we don’t fall into the same pit that PDP fell into, because PDP underrated APC in its build up then.
You talked about putting your house in order, I know that APC is bedeviled by crises in many states, prompting the setting up of peace and reconciliation committee headed by Asiwaju Tinubu, but we are not seeing much progress in this regard?
I will not say that APC has crises all over the place, what we had penultimate Saturday through out the country was ward congress. To the best of my knowledge, if we have issues in some wards, definitely it is not up to 50 percent. It is not majority of the wards. You are talking of over 8,000 wards.
It is not unexpected that we will have issues in a very vibrant political party like APC; we are bound to have disagreements here and there but not in majority of these wards throughout the country, and not in majority of the states.
That is why we have internal party mechanism to resolve these issues, you have Appeal Committee set up in the states to look at the issues, and resolve them amicably. That is in the process. This is the first ward congress we would be having since the present administration came on board. The issues, where they arise in various wards would be resolved amicably, and the party will get stronger.
In 2015, towards the build up to Buhari’s election, you were everywhere trying to deliver the president, but this time around, you are no more visible, what is the reason for this ‘lukewarm’ attitude now?
I don’t know where the lukewarm you are talking about is coming from. I was somewhere then because I had a position, because I was the deputy director general of the APC presidential campaign.
Naturally, you would expect to see me all over the place. In tandem with all my political engagements in the past, for me I always go with the biblical injunction, ‘whatever your hand finds to do, do it well’.
To the glory of God, all periods in my political engagements – I was speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, and I can raise my head anywhere that my performance in office as speaker, speaks for me till today.
In the same manner, when I was elected into the Senate in 2003, for eight years, my records of performance speak for me. When I was appointed, the deputy director general of the campaign organization, my performance also speaks for me, so, if you don’t see me as you used to, maybe there is no appointment for me that will put me out there in the limelight in terms of performance. I thank God, and I hold my peace.
Towards the build up to the 2015 presidential election, in the media circle, you were the person Buhari wanted to choose as running mate, at what point did you lose that?
That question isn’t for me. If that is what you heard in the media or what came to your knowledge, I think that question had better be answered by Buhari.
It’s not for me to answer.
Will you still be available in 2019, if it is offered because anything can change in politics?
All my political career so far, God has directed my affairs and, I have been able to discharge my duties to the admiration of friends, well wishers and even my political constituency. If and when such an offer comes, it will be considered.
You have seen it all – Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Senator for eight years, now we are not seeing you close to the power base of Lagos politics, Asiwaju Tinubu, have you shifted your loyalty to Ogun State?
I have not shifted my political loyalty to Ogun State in anywhere. I still remain who I am; I still operate from Lagos, and I’m still loyal to the political leadership in Lagos, and I’m still loyal to my party.