Senator Gbenga Obadara is a former member of the National Assembly, who represented Ogun Central Senatorial District in the red chamber. In this interview, he blamed the crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on the intrigues of some power brokers who are calling the shots. He, however, dismissed the doom prediction of an imminent implosion in the party, insisting that APC would win the coming Edo and Ondo states governorship elections.
Looking at the crisis in Edo and Ondo State chapters of your party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), it appears that the prediction earlier made by some people that there would be an implosion in the party is coming to pass. What’s your take?
No, not at all! This is what we call politics; everybody is looking for space. At the end of the day, everybody will sit down and it will be resolved. There is no party in the world that has no hiccups.
But this is coming at a time when you have two crucial elections in Edo and Ondo states. And, of course, you can see the calibre of defection in the two states. Does that not call for concern?
In an election like this, you will always see people defecting. Like you said, it calls for concern. But by the time we come together to harmonize, everything will settle. It’s just like that for now. Believe me, Edo and Ondo will remain APC states by God’s grace.
With the way things are going at the national level, do you also see Comrade Adam Oshiomhole coming back to his position as the National Chairman?
In the first instance, he was suspended by his ward. And membership of any party starts from the ward. But already, the party leadership in his ward has lifted the suspension. And that was the decision of 17 people out of 27 members of the state Exco of the ward. If that has happened and they have written the national secretariat, what else are we talking about? In a short while, everything will be settled. The court injunction will be vacated since he has been restored by to his ward.
Between the last general elections and now, five states have eluded the APC under the watch of Oshiomhole. Is this really a good testimony of his administrative competence?
This is democracy. If people say he has to go, he has to go in a democratic way, not through frivolous court judgment. There is a democratic procedure enshrined in the constitution of our party through which a national chairman can be removed. So, you cannot just sit in one shop and say he has to go. It won’t work like that.
Ordinarily, one would have expected president to intervene in some of the crises and nip them in the bud. But he didn’t. Isn’t it, therefore, plausible to link all these crises to the seeming complacence of President Muhammadu Buhari as the leader of the party?
There is one thing about life. The way you will do your thing is different from the way I will do my own things. Everybody has his own style of doing things. As I did say earlier, everybody is fighting for space. The fulcrum of all these things is 2023. And it’s is unfortunately that people are playing God. Who knows who will wake up tomorrow morning? But people are just fighting for space unnecessarily. Mind you, there is nothing bad about ambition, but that must be done with decorum.
It’s like the APC is toeing the path of PDP which had a similar experience when it was in power. As a matter of fact, the struggle for power was one of the greatest undoing of the party. Don’t you see the APC going the same way, bearing in mind the opinion of some political pundits that the party cannot survive beyond 2023?
I absolutely believe that that prediction has already failed. Mark my words, by the time we finish first quarter of next year, all these issues will be resolved and we will go frontally as one united family to face the next election.
Even with this agitation for power rotation?
When it gets to that time, all these will be resolved.
How do you see to the suit filed by the Southern leaders against President Muhammadu Buhari for the perceived marginalization of the South?
That again is the beauty of democracy. If anybody is aggrieved, that is one way it can be redressed. The Southern leaders are aggrieved and they have right to seek redress. It is for the law court to look at it holistically and give a good judgment. That is a good development, believe me. Our constitution has to be tested. It is when it is well tested that you can have something to rely on.
Is that another way to achieve restructuring?
If you ask 20 people what they mean by restructuring, we are going to get 10 different meanings. One thing is sure; by the time the constitution is tested and we can resolve to do certain thing is a certain way and agreed to by the National Assembly, things will get better. If necessary, we can do a referendum, but that can only be done by the National Assembly. Until the constitution is reviewed, nothing can happen. A change of the constitution has to start with the National Assembly.
What has happened to the report by the el-Rufai-led committee set up by the APC to look at issues of agitation about restructuring?
Part of what APC is doing is to take a holistic look at our federalism. And for federalism to really take its roots there must be inputs of the National Assembly. Already, this is being carried out by the National Assembly. With the good relationship between the National Assembly and the executive, I think we are expecting something good to come out of the review of the constitution.
Nigeria has just marked 21 years of uninterrupted democracy. How has Nigerians fared in the last 21 years of democracy?
Let me quickly say this to you, the worst of democratic rule is better than the best military rule. That we have passed through 21 years and we are still waxing stronger is enough achievement. For you to enjoy the freedom you are enjoying today is itself a success. But we can only improve. Where we make mistake, we improve on it and move on.
What is freedom in the face of hunger, deprivation, poverty, insecurity and joblessness?
The world economy has crashed everywhere. What has hunger got to do with freedom? Pray that you will not be arrested and slammed with detention for years. You are a journalist, you know what I mean. We can only pray to God for improvement to go on and on.
Would you say Nigerians are better now than the way APC met them with its change mantra in 2015?
It is very unfortunate that the economy is nose-diving all over the world. As for insecurity, I can say to you that it is not well handled. That is why the president said to the Service Chiefs that their best is not good enough for the nation and he has given them the last instruction. It is now for them to act or get out. I also heard the Senate President say the same thing. On the issue of corruption, it may not be 100 per cent, but the war is being fought. Those are the three agenda with which the APC won the election. And I believe things will improve in the next three years.
Rail and road infrastructure embarked upon by this government through loan facilities is comparatively quite massive. But the time is of essence. Unfortunately, another recession is looming and the projects are not in any way near completion. What will be the fate of the nation in terms of loan repayment, if the government fails to complete them in the next three years?
In the first instance, before this government embarked on infrastructure development round the country massively, they had a target for borrowing the money and that money is being ploughed back into infrastructure. There are terms and conditions for borrowing this money. And there is no country that is immune from what is happening all over the world. Nobody envisaged this COVID-19 pandemic. But the kind of loan facility taken is not for two or three years. Some are 30, 40 years. Having said that, as economy is crashing all over the world, things will be improving. There was a time in this COVID-19 when the price of oil went as low as 10, 11 dollars. Now, it is going back to 30, 40 dollars. As these resources are coming, all the infrastructural development will be completed. While doing that, whatever we own our creditor nations you can be sure it will be renegotiated because we have shown good commitment by making sure those infrastrucure are in place for development.
In the recent meeting of Africa-China, the Chinese government gave an indication of debt cancellation to some countries. Do you foresee Nigeria benefitting from the gesture?
There is nothing stopping us from benefitting from the gesture. Everybody knows that the money that is supposed to be used for project is being used to fight COVID-19. So, nothing stops them from forgiving us our debt. We are qualified.