Former Minister for Works, and top chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe has said that President Muhammadu Buhari cannot do any magic to win next year’s general election.
In this interview with TUNDE THOMAS, the former Minister spoke on various issues.
How would you assess the level of PDP’s preparations for 2019 general elections in view of claims by some people that it will be difficult for it to defeat President Muhammadu Buhari and APC because Nigerians still believe in them?
Talking about getting ready for 2019, PDP is battle ready. We are prepared to take on APC, and not only that, PDP is now poised to rescue Nigeria from three years of bad leadership by President Buhari and APC. Things have never been this bad for this country. The last three years of APC, and Buhari’s leadership has been a nightmare.
Forget all those propaganda by APC and the party’s apologists, the reality in the country today is that Buhari, and APC have become a big burden on Nigerians. Nigerians have had enough of Buhari and APC, and come 2019 Buhari and APC would be shown the way out. Nigerians are hungry and angry. They are waiting to use their votes to punish Buhari and APC in 2019.
But some Nigerians and APC supporters are saying that Buhari, and APC have turned Nigeria’s fortunes around with the war against corruption, recovery of looted funds and so on.
Which achievements are they talking about? To be frank and candid, Buhari and APC have done nothing to lift up Nigeria, rather what we have now under Buhari ‘s watch and APC is Nigeria now being labeled the number one poverty capital of the world. Not only that, Nigeria now also has been ranked as the third country in the world after Iraq and Afghanistan where terrorism has become a major problem and cause for concern.
So what is there to celebrate about Buhari and APC? Is it not a shame that Nigeria is now ranked third on Global Terrorism index? This is a shame, and it shows that insecurity has become a major problem that APC is incapable of tackling. Look at how Boko Haram insurgents are attacking Nigerian Military bases and killing our soldiers in the North East.
Nigerians are now yearning for a real change. Now that they’ve had the opportunity to compare PDP and APC, and also having discovered that APC is a failure, Nigerians are ready to throw away APC’s yoke; they are poised to return PDP back to power.
To prove that Nigerians are now with us, look at the mammoth crowd that has been turning up at the on-going zonal rallies across the country by PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Nigerians are yearning for genuine change. They are tired of APC deceit.
In 2019, Nigerians will reject hardship, and APC epitomizes that hardship. APC is not a party to be taken serious. It is a party that can’t resolve its own internal wrangling. A party where the entire members of the state House of Assembly defected to another party like it happened in Ogun, and Imo states should not be taken serious. A party where governors elected on the party’s platform are waging open wars against the party should not be taken serious.
But the APC leadership has told those defectors that the party is not bothered by their action and that if one member leaves the party that another 400 new members will join the party.
Is that how a serious party should respond? What APC leaders don’t know is that one single individual may have more electoral value than 400 members who have no value. APC has never been a political party but just a gathering of strange bedfellows. I would not have even bothered about whatever is happening in the party but one has to speak out because the incompetence of some APC leaders is affecting the country in some ways. It is sad and very unfortunate that APC is not managing its affairs very well.
Some Nigerians are saying that the battle for 2019 is really between two major political gladiators: President Muhammadu Buhari and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar but added that Buhari may have an edge over Atiku because of his name, and because of his achievements; do you agree?
I agree that Buhari and Atiku are really the main gladiators but I don’t agree that Buhari has an edge over Atiku because of his name and achievements. Which or what name? People should stop living in the past. What people should realize is that Buhari of 2015 is different from Buhari of 2019.
If Buhari’s name worked for him in 2015, the same name will become a burden for him in 2019.
Why do I say this? In 2015, some Nigerians saw Buhari as a kind of a messiah, they put so much trust in him but since 2015 and now when he assumed office, Buhari, and APC have become a big flop. Now, Nigerians are wiser.
What are Buhari’s achievements? Insecurity, hunger and poverty, unrelenting Boko Haram attacks, Nigeria now labeled as the number one poverty capital of the world, and also that Nigeria has now been ranked third on Global Terrorism index. These are Buhari, and APC achievements. We should say the truth when occasion demands if truly Buhari and APC have failed Nigerians.
Atiku has a good chance to defeat Buhari. Luckily, both of them are from the North, and they are also both Muslims.
However I will like Atiku to explain more to Nigerians about his programmes. He should talk about his stand on Restructuring in clearer terms. He must speak out on his plans for youths, unemployment, power, the health sector, and host of others.
There have been raging controversies on the issue of open debate for presidential candidates as APC has declared that it is not compulsory for President Buhari to take part and that he can be represented by the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; would you subscribe to that?
That’s not acceptable. The debate is for presidential candidates and not for any other proxy. Such debates are done all over the world and the debate helps to nurture and sustain democracy. It should not look as if Buhari seems to be running away from the debate. Nigeria wants to hear from Buhari and Atiku’s mouth their plans for them.
Again, the danger of having Osinbajo standing in for Buhari is that at the debate, Osinbajo can make some commitments which Buhari may later disown claiming that he didn’t ask Osinbajo to make such commitments. The debate is Buhari’s show and not that of Osinbajo. Buhari should stop speaking through his aides and Ministers. Nigerians want to hear him. Keeping silent all the time is not good for him. There are even times when silence is not golden. It is even not in his own interest to continue keeping to himself all the time or most of the time.
In Lagos State, APC has been boasting that as usual, PDP will be defeated again by APC in 2019, what is your reaction to that?
I’m a practical politician. What APC is saying may not be far from the truth. In PDP in Lagos State, we are short of committed and genuine politicians. The ones we have are very few. We mostly have political merchants and mercenaries. These people call themselves PDP members but they work for APC. They are saboteurs, and this is why PDP has been losing Lagos State.
But the belief of many people is that it is the Tinubu factor that is making PDP lose, that he is such a political strategist and colossus that he has become almost politically invincible to PDP in Lagos State; what is your reaction to that?
Forget Tinubu. Which political invincibility? We are our own enemies within PDP. It is saboteurs within PDP that are working with APC that are destroying PDP. People should forget Tinubu; it is saboteurs within PDP that are destroying the party. I’m even presently writing a book on that. Fifth-columnists are plenty within PDP in Lagos State. If PDP is serious and there is unity within our rank, what can Tinubu or APC do? People should stop overrating Tinubu. There is nothing invincible about him. For this coming election in 2019, APC may be shocked by PDP in Lagos State. Ambode’s factor may affect APC.
What do you mean by Ambode’s factor?
If Governor Ambode has not been denied the chance of running for a second term by APC, it would be very difficult for PDP, and its candidate to have it easy but since Ambode is now out of the picture, it is going to be a level playing ground between Sanwo-Olu of APC and Jimi Agbaje of PDP.