Aggrieved members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Lagos State have been enjoined to put behind them the rancour generated by the conduct of the party’s primaries few weeks before the recent local government elections won by the party.
Making the appeal in an interview with ’TUNDE THOMAS, the state’s chairman, of the party, Chief Henry Ajomale, implored members to close ranks and continue to work together as a team.
What’s your reaction to PDP’s threat to challenge APC’s victory in the recent council elections in the state?
I’m not surprised, and neither am I shocked. PDP has always been a bad loser. Why are PDP members surprised that they lost to APC, a party accepted and well loved by Lagosians? Has PDP ever been acceptable to Lagosians? Since 1999, PDP has not won Lagos State. For 17 years, APC has been on top of PDP in Lagos State. So, why are they crying wolf now?
Everybody including PDP members themselves knew that the party had even lost the council polls before it was conducted. PDP was not only scattered, but in tatters, and was completely in disarray before the polls and that was why you see some PDP members saying that they were in alliance with Labour Party, while another faction of the same PDP was saying they were in alliance with Accord Party before the polls. PDP was completely enveloped in confusion before the polls and even up till now. I will not be shocked or surprised if PDP leaders in Lagos State like my good friends, Chief Bode George and Senator Seye Ogunlewe threaten to go to court over APC’s victory; they have to do so in order to be seen as acting like genuine leaders of PDP.
You know if they quietly accept defeat like that, some members of the PDP will start attacking them. They also need to make noise so that their party leaders in Abuja would know that they are working. But the reality and fact on the ground is that PDP is dead in Lagos State.
What is your advice to PDP leaders who are threatening to drag the APC to court over the polls?
Very simple. They are fighting a lost battle. The time has come for Bode George, Ogunlewe and other PDP leaders to accept Bola Ahmed Tinubu as a master strategist, a political colossus that has inflicted several electoral defeats on them.
For 17 years now, Tinubu has continuously floored George, Ogunlewe, Kofo Bucknor-Akerele, Obanikoro and other PDP leaders. Thank God, Obanikoro has seen the light and has come back into Tinubu’s political fold. He was with us before he ran away to Bode George and Ogunlewe’s political camps, but on getting there and realizing that the combination of all of them were not a match for Tinubu, Obanikoro surrendered, and like the biblical prodigal son, we accepted him back when he had realized his political folly.
I’m not a prophet of doom, but I believe that it is time for Bode George and Ogunlewe to join hands with APC to take Lagos State to the next level, to transform Lagos State into Dubai which is APC’s plan and we are almost getting there. At 70 plus, age is no longer on the side of Ogunlewe and George. They should forget the idea of PDP to which they belong taking over Lagos State. Two options available to them are to join APC or quit politics. Both of them are my good friends, and I’m waiting to hand over APC flags to them as new members of our party. They should forget or jettison personal egos, but think of collective interests of Lagos State.
What is the APC doing to address the issue of alleged imposition of candidates especially in Lagos State where it caused crisis in the recent council polls?
It is very sad and unfortunate that this imposition allegation is being made by some elements notably Dr. Muiz Banire to rubbish APC in Lagos State. But sincerely speaking, there is nothing like imposition of candidates in Lagos State.
Thank God our national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has taken time to explain that the imposition allegation was non-existent in APC. It is just a smear campaign to tarnish the party’s image. What we have is consensus option, a situation whereby all aspirants agreed voluntarily to step down for a particular candidate without being forced to do so, and this is applicable to all political parties. Consensus candidacy is part of politics. What is, however, annoying is that those elements accusing the party of imposition of candidates were part and parcel of the party. Not only that they benefitted tremendously from the party with some of them serving as commissioners for 10 — 12 years.
When these people were in the cabinet, especially Banire, who was there for over 10 years, they didn’t accuse the party of imposition. It was only when they were asked to step aside for others to also serve that they are now accusing the party of imposition. It is very unfair. Who knew Banire before? It was Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and APC that made him. APC and Tinubu brought him from obscurity into national prominence. But my appeal to all is that APC in Lagos State has always been one big happy family, and that’s why it has always been very easy for us to subdue the opposition. For these critics, they should give peace a chance, they should not be seen to be biting the hands that fed them.
APC is a party of democrats and the party believes in providing level playing field for all aspirants. No particular candidate is favoured above others, but where delegates from a particular area said they believe in consensus candidacy, we don’t oppose their wish. Any talk about any leader in APC imposing anybody should be regarded as idle talk. For those mentioning Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s name, may God forgive them. They are being unfair to the man. Tinubu is a democrat. He doesn’t believe in imposition, and he has never imposed any candidate on us. To show you how democratic Tinubu is, if we have a meeting and we, his supporters and followers, have a superior argument over his own position, he doesn’t impose his own decision on us. He goes with whatever decision is taken by the majority. Tinubu is not only a democrat, but also a team player. He detests imposition and autocracy.
But some people are accusing APC of being intolerant to criticism, adding that, that was the reason why Dr. Banire has been suspended by APC in Lagos State even though the national body of the party has declared his suspension as illegal, what’s your reaction to that?
Again that’s one of the falsehood being peddled against the party by our opponents. APC is not opposed to criticism, and party members are allowed freedom of expression. Even the Nigerian Constitution guarantees freedom of expression. But in the case of Banire’s suspension, it was his ward members in Mushin that suspended him and they have every right to do that, if there are justifications for them to do so, and they have provided enough justification for doing so.
How can APC National Publicity Secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi, declare Banire’s suspension illegal? Does he have power to do so? No. Before you can become a national officer, you must have a base from where you started, and without having a local base, you can’t become a national officer. Already, our state publicity secretary had already replied Abdullahi, drawing his attention to his wrong interpretation of the APC Constitution as it affects Banire’s suspension. Both Lagos State APC and the ward chapter of APC in Mushin have the right to suspend Banire. Anyway, like I said earlier, nobody in APC is fighting or quarrelling with Banire. Our appeal to him is that he should stop casting aspersion on a system or party that not only produced him, but also made him.
Many Nigerians are saying that with the recent APC’s loss of senatorial bye-election in Osun State to PDP that the party has come to the end of the road, not only in Osun, but the entire South West and the country in general, do you agree?
No. I don’t. APC still remains the party to beat in Nigeria. APC still remains the best option for Nigeria. Forget what happened in Osun State. Nigerians will never vote for PDP again. PDP is responsible for the current socio-economic crisis facing the country. PDP messed up Nigeria, and APC is on a rescue mission. If Nigerians don’t believe in APC, they would not have voted for change in 2015, and if you are talking of APC’s defeat in Osun State senatorial election, what about 100 percent score APC attained in Lagos State Council elections. In politics, you win some, you lose some. But, what makes me happy is that majority of Nigerians are appreciative of the yeoman’s efforts being made by the current APC-led Federal Government to transform the country.