From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
National Chairman, Africa Democratic Congress (ADC), Chief Ralph Okey Nwosu has paid his dues in Nigeria’s politics, having been in the vanguard of political party administration for many years now.
Speaking to Sunday Sun in Abuja, Nwosu expressed fears on the possibility of actualising Igbo presidency in 2023, warning that over reliance on the two major political parties -All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – may be counterproductive to Igbo presidential aspiration.
He also passed a vote of no confidence in the APC-led government, pointing at what he termed collapsed infrastructure, failed state and disturbing escalating insecurity in the country as evidences of Nigeria’s failure under the ruling APC.
How will you describe the 2020 Nigeria political year?
Seeing the atmosphere, you can easily hazard where we are. Only in the month of December, the incident of the abduction of the over 500 students of Kankara in Katsina by bandits or Boko Haram, was a confirmation that our security challenge has taken a new dimension. The future of Nigeria is bleak; the poverty index is going down deeper and deeper. There is just no hope. I travelled to the village and saw people looking more miserable. Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic did not help matters in the 2020 political year, but the political leadership did not do much either. They have done greater destruction to the system. The year is nothing to write home about and the atmosphere is very horrible. It is like there is no leadership in place and everything was on a free fall. There is nobody in government planning to give any form of help. The situation is probably the worst experience I have seen in my many years in politics. Knowing that the leadership of APC will continue for at least another one year, scares many Nigerians, investors, the elite, businessmen, farmers and just everybody. It has reflected on the panic in the North. Most of the governors are closing the schools. So, the mood of the country is scary for everybody.
What are those things you are supposed to do this year that you could not and those things you did with satisfaction?
Unfortunately for me, I was lockdown in Europe for six months. The pandemic was a very big challenge to me. All the same, we have been able to activate the biggest Diaspora network to efficiently engage the challenges in the Nigerian politics. By 2021, when the efforts will begin to manifest, the possibility of easing out the APC and PDP government will start to emerge. We have sensitised many Nigerians in diaspora, some of the little things we have been able to do locally, talking about perseverance, enough is enough programme, in one way or the other, may have also inspired some youths to know that with God all things are possible. Despite the difficulties we are experiencing under the APC government and the type of legislators and governors we have, people of like minds like me have come together to commence some sensitisation strategy. We are thinking about this country deeply because missionaries in politics like me will insist that all our efforts will not go in vain. Many people like me would have fled this country, but we still believe in the strength of our diversity and the pathfinder position of Nigeria for the greatness of Africa. We believe in this country irrespective of all the challenges, and that is why you see me running a small party like the ADC and making all the sacrifices that can change Nigeria.
Where is the confidence coming from when you say that you have started the process of phasing out the APC and PDP?
Who would have ever imagined that people would come out to say enough of APC and PDP? The structure that these two parties put on ground can no longer sustain this country any more. It is becoming very apparent that if we continue with the culture of where we have businessmen in offices, businessmen in the National Assembly, as governors without patriotism in them, culture of corruption, then the country is gone. Nigerians have seen this and are crying over it. The system is crumbling. They have tried to weaponise corruption by using poverty and corruption to make people eager for little to survive. Many of our strategies will play out by 2021, but for the first time, Nigerians will own their country. We have built a good force of people that still believe in Nigeria.
What are the forces and the push behind the progress of the ADC?
The party, within the last 14 years, has a DNA, typical of ADC, for every member. The DNA is discipline and responsible membership and these reflect in over 80 per cent of the members. It took us time to build a new culture and set of values that people can buy in. The second force behind the ADC is radical transparency. It is opposite of what is happening in the country where lots of things are done under cover. We have our audited statement of account and we are going to publish a quarterly audited statement of the party. It is a challenge especially where corruption is part of the larger ecosystem. We are already pulling those with the characteristic of ADC. Endurance is also part of ADC’s DNA. We may have done some few things, encounter difficulties, but we have learnt from them, got bolder and moved on. The last thing that is inherent in any ADC member is leveraging on the power of all. Just imagine when we put 200 million Nigerians to work in a committed manner. Nigeria will become one of the first 20 countries in the world within two years regardless of whatever they are producing. And if we do that for 20 years, we are going to make Nigeria a superpower.
Do you think Southeast presidency will be a possibility in 2023?
I am chairman of a political party, but I found out that my brothers, sisters and critical stakeholders in the Southeast have gone to lobby PDP and APC without bothering to come to the ADC, even when my party is number three critical party in Nigeria. The strategy to make Southeast presidency a possibility is already fundamentally wrong. I strongly believe that Southeast should be given a chance, but we seem not to have realised that strategy is everything in politics. We are facing an unfortunate situation because when some people have become governors, former legislators, ministers, they feel that they are political leaders already. It is unfortunate that some people have arrogated to themselves the status of leaders even when they cannot envision the future or build an organisation. How can anybody who cannot build an organisation build a party? It must be like an ecosystem. I was among those that built APGA and made sure it became a strong political party in Anambra State. But APGA is no longer a regional force. As far as Igbo presidency is concerned, strategy is very critical. Issue of politics is not about emotions, but strategy. However, the mistakes the Igbo leaders are making can be corrected. The Igbo must come from position of strength. I am in charge of ADC today, yet they are taking Ghana-must-go bags to other parties. They are sweet-talking and emotion-talking those other two parties to negotiate power shift. APGA would have been a sure platform, but they have handled the party the way we did not intend by localising and reducing it to a provincial party. APGA has no national clout any longer. If the party did not utilise its regional strength how can it be used at national level to actualise the Igbo presidency dream? All we need is courtesy, respect and approval from our party’s NWC. Since equity is our values, we should consider the fact that North has produced, Southwest had wonderful tenure in the presidency and so if Southeast is serious, third force remains a viable option for the zone. Think of the possibility of all the governors joining the third force today, it will certainly give them bargaining power. The Igbo are undermining their area of strength. It is an aberration to force a landlord to surrender the master bedroom.
How has IPAC faired under you as the interim president?
INEC is not a member of IPAC to recognise a faction of council. As an election umpire, the Commission has responsibility of managing elections that political parties participate in the contest. Recognising which faction of IPAC as more authentic is not part of INEC’s responsibilities. The commission is poke-nosing in IPAC’s affairs when it is failing in their own job. So, if INEC wants to connive and form political party, it is their cup of tea. It is an aberration for an election-management body to be funding some political parties. The implication is that the elections conducted by INEC will continue to have issues. INEC should focus on the election and allow IPAC be. We have 41 political parties recognised by law. INEC went to court opposing other political parties which they wrongly deregistered. The court has warned INEC to be careful. The Commission is disobeying the order of the land. If all of us join INEC to disobey the order of the land, won’t we have anarchy? INEC is promoting anarchy. How can INEC recognise a faction of only nine political parties against 30 other political parties? We don’t want to play their games any longer; we want to play our own games. We have already visited and inaugurated state management committees. We have, so far, inaugurated over eight state management committees. Political parties should not become slave to INEC. The Commission should leave IPAC and face their job. INEC lacks the power to deregister any political party. There are over 1000 registered political parties in the USA and no one has ever attempted to deregister them because of the system they have. The INEC IPAC is being used to cause mischief in the country. The only thing that can regulate the formation of more political parties is good governance. Once, we put good governance structure in place, the so-called endorsement parties will fizzle out.
What does restructuring mean to you?
Restructuring is very critical for a country like Nigeria. It is wrong to allow this humongous structure to carry such a load, keeping all the money and power. It is incontrovertible that restructuring will help Nigeria become a better country. Nigeria is too big not to be restructured.
Why didn’t ADC consider merging with APC or PDP during the 2019 general elections?
We can consider accepting some good people from the PDP and the APC. Our policy is looking at using the good work we do in Nigeria to propel Africa to greatness. ADC is a philosophical party and cannot be submerge into any political party. Africa is a country in dire need of leadership. And Nigeria will bring Africa renaissance to life. We can never consider any merger with any of those political parties. You asked me if we have the financial muscle to continue running the party. Some youths came up with EndSARS recently, they were able to muscle the country to standstill before government applied brute force on them. Where did they get the money? We have over orchestrated this money thing that we forgot that Nigerians have conscience again. We are building a movement that if God helps us and the ruling parties did not scatter this country in the next two years for not putting things on ground, you will see what will happen in 2023. Nigerians are wiser and have been sensitized.
Will it be right to say that you have passed a vote of no confidence in the APC-led government?
Any right-thinking person knows that the APC-led government deserves a resounding vote of no confidence. The statistics then showed promising economic indicators when they started but today, Nigeria is now the poverty capital in the world, insecurity is engulfing all parts of the country, including the recent abduction of the Kankara boys. With the level of prevailing insecurity it is difficult to say that we have a country. Infrastructure is becoming issues of serious concern to every Nigerian. The roads are death-traps, the hospitals are now mortuaries. We don’t just have a government.