A former presidential candidate and national Chairman, National Action Council (NAC), Dr Olapade Agoro, has expressed desire to see the emergence of a president of Igbo extraction in his lifetime, but noted that the Biafran war could be a drawback to the zone’s aspiration to lead the country.
Citing an example of East Germany, he pointed out that going into war and coming out a loser, does not bode well for any section in any country as such section would have a huge price to pay for its belligerence.
Agoro also commented on the proposal by the National Assembly to prune down the number of political parties in the country from 91 to five, blaming the non-functionality of most of the nation’s political parties on the political class. He equally spoke on other national issues.
The National Assembly is considering pruning the number of political parties in the country down to five from 91. What is your view on this?
I don’t believe in keeping a decaying leg under the trousers. There is no point covering up what is bad. Those in the National Assembly are the same set of people who made it difficult for other political parties to thrive. I see no reason the political parties should not been pruned down because they are the ones responsible for the non-functioning state of these parties. When you make corruption the bedrock of our political system; you made the system that of moneybags, it is only those who can afford it and only those who can join them that will be allowed to excel politically. So, I see no reason the parties they have frustrated should not be pruned down. How do you explain a situation where out of the total of 91 political parties, only two parties are getting all the votes while about other 69 political parties scored less than a million votes in an election? Do you know how much APC and PDP spent for the election? This explains my point as to how the political class frustrated the same set of parties they are planning to prune down.
In view of this, what option is left for Nigerians who have good intentions to govern the country, but who lack the financial resources to compete with these moneybags?
I will like everybody in elective positions to search their conscience. Are they true servants of the people? The only way out is to reform the system and give room to independent candidates. We can adopt zero-based political system. You go there championing the cause you believe in, using your own name. Look at the President of the United States of America now, Donald Trump. He sold his ideas as an independent candidate to Americans about three times without any political party. Finally, now he got the ticket because the people believed in him.
…But he contested the election that brought him into power on the platform of a political party?
We can say that he was bought by that political party. Donald Trump does not believe in a monetized political system. He campaigned as an independent candidate three times before he was bought over the fourth time because the party realised that it didn’t have any solid candidate at the time. So, the party bought him over, and Trump won. In Nigeria, our system is founded on corruption. It started in 1999 when politicians believed that Nigerians are purchasable commodities.
There is a debate over which zone should produce the next president of this country. What is your take on this?
As far as I am concerned, there is no need for zoning. When you subscribe to zoning you will be denying capable hands of the opportunity to perform. Look at what is happening now. Bola Ahmed Tinubu became a political guru that produced the current president of Federal Republic of Nigeria. Buhari lacked the financial wherewithal to stand a chance in the Nigerian political system and he did not believe in the corrupt political system of Nigeria. That was why he failed repeatedly in his aspiration to govern the country. But Tinubu, who is the master of the game, got him to contest the 2015 election and packaged his mega power political structure to get him to power. Are you saying such a person should be denied the right to contest if he decides to contest? It was Tinubu that gave us the system we are having now and he packaged Yemi Osinbajo to hold fort for him, in anticipation that 2019 would be his time. Unfortunately, Osinbajo didn’t see himself quitting for his master. Don’t forget that Osinbajo told the whole world that he was no longer contesting the 2019 election and Buhari was meant to replace him with a lady, but suddenly, there was a change of mind and the man who was holding fort for his master decided to try his luck that is the problem we have now.
Advocates of Igbo 2023 presidency base their argument on the need to compensate the Southeast zone, which has been denied the opportunity to rule the country for a long time with the 2023 presidency in the spirit of fairness. Is there any wrong with this consideration?
Let’s be honest with ourselves. The Southeast, like any other zone, has the right to the presidency. The Biafra war has a negative effect on the future prospect of the Igbo in the socio-political system of Nigeria. That the Nigeria is even entertaining the Southeast, they must realise that it is a sense of magnanimity. It took years after the Second World War before the East Germany was absorbed into the German political system. It was when those who had the knowledge of political emancipation thought it was time before the German wall of separation was broken. That was when the Western Germany decided to absorb the Eastern Germany into the country. When you go to war and lose out, it will take years for you to recover. But I will want to see an Igbo president in my lifetime. But then don’t forget that the man who baked the current cake is Bola Tinubu. If you work assiduously for something and lay the foundation it will be very difficult to get kicked out. Buhari had no political foundation, but he was brought in by Tinubu. I believe he must be building his after-office structure now and I think he should factor Tinubu into it because Tinubu deserves it.
There is a proposal in the House of Representatives to disqualify politicians above 70 years of age to seek election as president of Nigeria. How would you react to this?
Those behind such proposal do not know what they are talking about. They are probably people walking on their heads. Age has nothing to do with politics. The President of United States of America is over 70. Donald Trump was over 70 before he became president. And so far so good he is doing his bits. You don’t determine political suitability with age preference. So, those behind such proposal don’t really understand what they are talking about. There are people in the age bracket of 40 who are not in good health. How many people believe that Donald Trump would be this strong? Are you judging Buhari by his age? He was sick naturally; anybody can be sick, and he went for treatment and became well again. I saw him walking briskly the other time. So, let’s forget about age. I will agree with anybody who is 80 and who is able to perform. If he has the brain, let him do it. Politics is a matter of wits and brain; it is not age.
How impressed are you about President Buhari’s second term so far?
I don’t know how you judge somebody who is about to enter 100 meter race and immediately the race commences you start to judge him. He rolled out his programmes just few months ago. Let us see him in his first year; it is too premature to begin to judge him now. I went through the programmes he packaged and he has packaged what I will call a credible team and it will be very wrong if we start to judge him within six months of his administration. It is totally wrong, let’s give him a year to put what he has packaged in place.
But don’t forget that he has already spent his first four-year tenure.
That was not his original first term because he had no structure in the first term. He used a borrowed structure. He has told us now that he is here to perform now. If Nigerians had wanted to judge him with his performance at the first term, then there would have been no reason to give him a second term ticket. We should have said you have had your first term. I want to say that Buhari should be allowed the time to bring out the best from his pocket this time around.