is a staunch politician and Chairman of Action Democratic Party (ADP), one of the five political parties registered recently. In this interview with IHEANACHO NWOSU, the ADP chieftain bared his mind on critical issues plaguing the Nigerian state, the dimension his party is taking, the way forward for Nigeria and other burning national issues.
What is your take on the two leading political parties and the recent Supreme Court judgment on the conflict within the PDP?
Nigeria’s system allows for competition between two political parties. So, we are aware that PDP, APC and other political parties are there and we are also coming on board. As a matter of fact, the decision of the Supreme Court, to us, is a natural decision that you cannot dispute. It is the soul of the arbiter in whatever you are doing. We welcome the decision and we congratulate the Supreme Court and Nigerians. At least, members of the political class have found themselves in a situation where they can engage one another properly unlike before when they had a negative perception. So, to us, it is a welcome development.
From the outset, we came with a solution. We knew that the make-up of other parties was fundamentally faulty. It has opened up a wider opportunity for ADP. People will now see ADP for who they are and those things we are talking about will now come out prominently. People have said that we were just capitalizing on the crisis in the PDP and scavenging. Let PDP and APC remain the way they are. We still believe that discerning Nigerians can see through the fundamental faults we are talking about in these two parties. They are parties that cannot run a responsive government and a government that can stand the test of time. This is why each time you have a government of the PDP or APC, you would find so much restiveness and heating up of the polity. If you look at the things that have happened since the coming of APC, what we have had was a retrogressive movement of the economy. You cannot expect an institution that is expected to produce a government which by its make up, lacks the traits of a responsive, serious, reliable organisation, to produce a government that will be strong and responsive to give Nigerians the kind of progress it requires. So, what I am saying is that the judgement and the government we have today, that is, the APC and PDP, lack what to offer to Nigerians.
The impression one had before now on why the crisis lingered was that some of the key leaders in PDP were discussing with your party. How do you react to this?
They set up a high level committee of their party members and they came to us and we discussed. Even when we were discussing, we knew we were not in any way building our party on the crisis in another party. We told them that we have our philosophy and it is non-negotiable. If they are coming to join, no problem, but you must first register in your ward. If you ask them they will tell you.
Was it not supposed to be an alliance? Was it about joining the party?
No, it wasn’t about alliance. It was the fact that we didn’t like what happened at the Supreme Court. We told them the processes. We believe that every member of the party is important especially when it comes to internal election and who becomes what in the party. So , we never discussed merger. It is a question of if they will accept us. We believe in party supremacy. We believe that the young ones should be empowered.
Even with the judgement of the Supreme Court, people are still trooping into our party. Some PDP members are still talking to us; people who are aware that this is not the end of the crisis for the party.
But has your party changed the tone of discussion?
Well, the discussion now is not about the party but at individual levels. We saw that Nigerians have rejected the party and the APC has given reasons why this group of people should not be allowed to come near power again; even though APC is not the answer. We believe that another change is coming and it would be brought about by the ADP. As you know that APC is not in anyway giving anybody hope that they will be able to survive after 2019, from what we can see. So, the only party to beat is ADP.
So, are you confident that APC can’t win the 2019 general elections?
Yes. There is no way. We had gone through it in this county. Look at what happened to (Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan). I don’t think the president will run for a second term. And if President Buhari is not coming back for second term, then the scenario, as you can see, is not what can be presented to Nigerians. The issue is where do you think the next president will come from? People from the South, particularly those from the South West are saying that they are interested, at least Tinubu has said so. The man on the seat now, there is no way he will not have an ambition although he has not shown it yet that he would like to participate. Looking at politics the way it is, PDP, believe me, is a time bomb. The alternative is ADP.
But if you say the alternative is ADP, people will ask about the strength of the party and we also feel that its backers do not have strong financial muscle.
You can’t say the backers of the party because you don’t know them yet. But as we move closer to the time we are talking about, more people can still come in. Then, you will see the spread you are talking about and offices are springing up all over the place and people are putting up structures. I am not sure of any party that has experienced this kind of rapid growth that we are experiencing.
You started with a mega party but it appears the flame is burning out. What do you have to say about this?
No! What happened was that we were awaiting our certificate which we received three weeks ago. We are establishing our structures all over the place because that is what we need to do after receiving our certificate. We also need to hold conventions and open new offices and that is what we are doing because it is not just about talking. We are establishing structures and the momentum is on.
Your party is one of the newly registered five. Are you saying that the other four are mere platforms and they have nowhere to go?
Not at all. None of them can be compared to ADP in terms of the kind of acceptance we are receiving and the fact that anywhere you go, after the mention of PDP, APC the next in line is ADP. At this stage, even though we are yet to fully establish our structures. We believe that the party that will take Nigeria to the promised land in 2019 is ADP, because everything that you need is there for the status of an opposition party. This government is a failure and everybody knows that. So, the other opposition party has been rejected and tagged corruptible. We are waiting for the list the Federal Government promised to release of those who stole our money. So, you see that the party is full of those who Nigerians should not trust.
Does that not also put the ADP at a very precarious position if you say PDP members are known to be corrupt, then APC members are failures. But members of these two parties are discussing with you and you said that the door is open for anybody who wants to come in. Won’t their image rub on your party?
No. It’s not everybody that is bad, including those in APC and PDP. There are good people there and the point I am making is that some of them are talking to us and they are going to come.
Are there certain people that you won’t accept if they come to your party?
Definitely. But there are some that will not even come because by the time they see what we are doing, they will not find it comfortable. Even if they come, we will also not reject them because the constitution will not allow us to do so. They can come but they will have a limit they can operate. The corruptible can not be the face of ADP at all.
Your party had just zoned key political offices but people are surprised that it did not organize a convention? Why the hurry?
We’re not in a hurry. We know that we are going to win. Let me tell you the makeup of our party. We are taking into cognizance the sentiment in the country, requirements, the tradition of these political offices and we feel that it is politically correct for us to come and tell Nigerians that this is where we are going to take you to. As far as the president, senate president are concerned, we have zoned that to the North. And for the speaker and vice president, we have zoned that to the South for obvious reasons. So, there is no reason why we must hide those things.
At least, when you are coming to join us, you would know that you are coming into a party which from day one has plans as to how they want to run government. We are prepared. We have plans. So, there are no surprises. There is no surprise but action. If it comes to government, we don’t have time to waste because we have already told you. It is not a situation that when we come to power, we’ll spend months waiting to appoint ministers.
If you’re prepared, why don’t you hold convention so that Nigerians will know that your party is ready?
Convention is an internal arrangement. Already, we have our political offices distributed. We felt that Nigerians shouldn’t be kept in the dark; let them know that we are ready.
Beyond 2019, will the party print it in its constitution the rotation of these offices, especially that of the president, between North and South or among the six geo-political zones? What are your plans?
We want to allow the dynamics of politics to take care of that. Today, we are looking at just the South. We feel that given the track record, we are going to arrange it this way. Let the South sit down among themselves and organize themselves among the three zones. But we have identified the fact that south needs to be given that role for obvious reasons so that there will be no doubt as to where we are going. So, we don’t want to micro manage the whole thing.
Just recently, the Abdulsalami Abubakar-led peace committee said the current call for restructuring and other agitations in the country are a fallout of bad leadership. Do you agree with that? And if you do, when did it start?
I agree with the former Head of State to a very large extent because it is not only bad leadership but bad losers. The only reason you hear of restructuring of the country is because some people have lost out in the power equation. At the time the PDP was in disarray, they thought that they have no hope, they felt that the only way is to go back to the drawing board and start afresh so as to take the vantage position.
What I believe is that restructuring is the outcome of bad governance of the APC. The APC is an absentee government.
How can you have a government where a cabinet minister will come out and disagree on what the president said, that it was the personal opinion of the president? Where does the personal opinion of the president start and end? If it’s not a bad government, how can a king condone such a thing? I didn’t hear that a query was issued or the person was sacked. Again, a government that cannot manage the affairs of the country that all the tiers of the government are at each other’s throat, it is a bad government. The independence of the three tiers of government does not mean chaos. What we are seeing in this government is that nobody knows who is in charge. That is why we are having people disbelieving the system. If there is any opinion or anything that you want to do that is agreed upon you take it to the national assembly. Make a bill and follow the process. If we have had a serious government in place these things wouldn’t happen.
Democracy is working in the most difficult places in the world, so why can’t it work in Nigeria? The call for restructuring is the effect of bad governance. People haven’t lost faith in Nigeria but in the government in power.
Recently, the acting president pleaded with Nigerians to give the government a few months and the country would rebound. Do you feel that so far the body language of the government guarantees such promise? Do you also feel that this crop of national assembly members who have been having issues with the presidency, are actually doing their job?
What led to this is because you have a very weak institution that is charged with the responsibility of running the government. You can’t talk about democracy without the rule of law. The political party in power is more or less inactive, that is why we’re having these discordant tunes. Unfortunately, the only thing they sold to Nigerians, which was the image of President Buhari, is no longer there too. So, what we have is a vacuum which nature abhors. Osinbajo said we should give the government few months and we have given them more than enough months, yet nothing is done. What we see is a disorganized and indiscipline government and the man will fly to London and come back and tell us stories. How can the ministry of justice sack an agency without following due process and we have lawyers there. So, even if you give this government 18 years, it will do nothing because you have to have the arms of government working before you can deliver anything.
It is like it is the national assembly that is running the government while the executive is just there running helter-skelter. It shouldn’t be so. We need to have sanity. Nigerians know that the APC or PDP is not the solution. We gave PDP 16 years, they didn’t do anything but to steal. We have given this government enough time, yet, nothing.