Former Deputy-Governor of Lagos State, Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele has declared that President Muhammadu Buhari’s name can’t work any magic for APC in 2019.
Making the declaration in an interview with TUNDE THOMAS, Bucknor-Akerele,a leading chieftain of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and executive member, Nigerian Elders Forum said PDP will defeat APC in 2019 notwithstanding the candidature of President Buhari. She also said Nigeria maybe no more before the election comes if the spate of killings by herdsmen continue in parts of the country.
As an executive member of the newly formed Nigerian Elders Forum, how do you and other elders in the organization feel about the continued killings in the country especially the recent ones in Adamawa and Plateau states where over 100 people were killed by suspected herdsmen?
We, as elders are sad. As leaders, we are not happy that these killings by the herdsmen have not only continued, but have reached an alarming proportion. We are all worried. We are worried that these killings have turned Nigeria into another Somalia of Africa where human lives are not only endangered but have become very cheap.
Nigerian elders are seriously concerned, and our concern is that if these killings continue unchecked that it may just be a matter of time before Nigeria is plunged into another civil war. Today, the situation in Nigeria is like sitting on a keg of gunpowder which can explode anytime, and sadly, the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has not been able to stop these killings by the herdsmen. Imagine over a 100 lives murdered in cold blood within two days, what kind of country are we living in. It is sad that Fulani herdsmen have turned Nigeria into a jungle; through their atrocious activities they have turned Nigeria into a killing field, and yet those who are supposed to check them or bring the situation under control are fiddling. Our leaders, Buhari and his party APC are busy politicking and seems only to be concerned about 2019 rather than taking steps to protect Nigerians who are being murdered in cold blood everyday by the herdsmen.
What kind of justification can anybody have for killing human beings because they stole their cows? I was reading in the dailies where these herdsmen’ leaders are trying to justify the killings of innocent Nigerians. Are these people God-fearing at all? How can you value lives of cows more than that of human beings? This is very strange.
Again, it is sad that rather than bringing the herdsmen to book for their crimes, our leaders are always defending them, providing useless and senseless justifications for the killings by the herdsmen.
Whether Buhari wants to accept it or not, today he is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and it is his duty to protect all Nigerians; he should not be seen to protect one ethnic group at the expense of others.
Looking at the killings by the herdsmen all over the country, especially in the North since January this year, it is alarming and frightening. It is sad and unacceptable that Buhari as the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces has not been able to do anything about it.
It has now become a tradition and practice by the Federal Government that anytime the herdsmen strike and kill innocent Nigerians, instead of taking concrete action, the Federal Government will only offer condolences to the families of those who lost their dear ones, and also again attempt to justify the killings by the herdsmen. To me this is an insult to Nigerians and also to the memory of those killed by the herdsmen in their prime.
The situation has never been so bad like what we are witnessing under Buhari. The President should rise above ethnic affiliation, and should rather act like a statesman by regarding all Nigerians as his children who he must protect at all times. When Nigerians were voting for Buhari, they didn’t vote for him as Fulani or herdsmen President, they voted for him as President of Nigeria.
Nigerian elders from all over the country met recently in Abuja where at the end of our meeting, we prevailed on President Buhari to stop these killings by the herdsmen. We expressed our worries to him that Nigeria is gradually descending into a state of anarchy. But with the recent outrageous killings in Adamawa and Plateau States, we are going to meet again, and it is likely we may send a delegation to President Buhari to express our worries, feelings and sadness about these killings.
What do you think is the way out or solution to these killings?
It is very simple. The first solution is for Buhari to sack the service chiefs. Look at the way these killings have continued unabated; what it shows clearly is that service chiefs, both Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, the Director-General of DSS, the Police boss have all failed – they should be given the boot.
But the blame for the service chiefs failure should not go to those officers alone, Buhari also has a share of the blame, as he actually laid the foundation for the failure of these service chiefs. Why do I blame Buhari? It is very simple. How can Buhari appoint all his service chiefs from one section of the country, the North? When he made those appointments, many Nigerians cried out against the lopsidedness and glaring bias in those appointments, but Buhari refused to change his stand, and today Buhari through his action has created serious problem. Appointment of security and service chiefs should have reflected federal character and merit, but Buhari jettisoned the principle of the federal character by picking all the service chiefs from the North, and today Nigeria is paying the price for that.
Apart from sacking the service chiefs, Buhari should now take concrete action to stop the killings, otherwise what General Yakubu Danjuma suggested would now become the natural answer to stop the killings. Danjuma had suggested self-defence as the panacea to the killings if the Federal Government fails in its statutory duty to protect Nigerians. Self-defence may become the solution because nobody wants to die like fowls or chicken. Nobody would be willing to allow members of his family to be murdered in cold blood without offering resistance or defending them. Then you can imagine the situation when Nigerians now start defending themselves against herdsmen and where Nigerians now resort to self-defence, then anarchy gradually looms; and that will be followed by total breakdown of law and order, and before you know it, the nation will be engulfed in another war.
Buhari should rise to the occasion now before it is too late; he should not be seen to be condoning the havoc being wreaked on innocent Nigerians by these herdsmen.
Some Nigerians have expressed concern over the continued killings …
It is very dangerous that the killings should continue. For how long do you think that Nigerians will fold their arms while herdsmen continued with their killings, and the Federal Government that is supposed to checkmate them continue to offer condolences to the families of the deceased, and also rub salt upon their wounds by offering unacceptable excuses for the heinous crime these herdsmen are committing?
There is a limit to human endurance; this is what Buhari as the president should know; by the time people start fighting back, by then he would realise that this issue may set Nigeria on fire, and he would have himself to blame. He would have himself to blame for failing to do the needful because the buck stops at his table.
Some Nigerians have criticised President Buhari, and his party, APC, that from their action and utterances, it seemed they are more bothered and concerned about retaining power in 2019 than finding solution to the killings by the herdsmen, what’s your take on that?
Those saying that to me have their point. They are saying what is obvious. It seems that what matters most to APC and Buhari now is nothing but 2019.
But are these people God? Who knows what will happen tomorrow. It is sad that Buhari and APC are obsessed with political power when lives of Nigerians are at stake. What kind of politics is that? Do they think election is more important than the lives of Nigerians being murdered in cold blood by the herdsmen? What I will like to tell Buhari is that lives of millions of Nigerians that is being endangered by Fulani herdsmen is more important than 2019 that he and his party, APC are desperate about. These senseless killings by the herdsmen are not acceptable to Nigerians, he should stop the killings now.
How will you react to claims by some Nigerians that APC-led Federal Government is persecuting those perceived as being critical of the government, and members of the opposition?
Recent happenings, and some events that happened in the past lend credence to that claim.
APC is increasingly becoming intolerant of opposing views. But what APC leaders don’t realise is that vibrant opposition is part of what makes democracy to thrive.
Look at the list of those being arrested and put on trial, they are mostly PDP members. But is Buhari and APC telling us that APC is a party of saints? But what I want APC leaders to realise is that no matter the level of persecution they inflict on PDP, PDP can’t be silenced. PDP will continue to wax stronger.
APC has now become desperate because APC leaders have realised that their time is up. They’ve realised that Nigerians have now realised that they were deceived by APC in 2015.
In 2015, APC promised change, and Nigerians were hoodwinked into voting for them. But now that Nigerians now have the benefit of comparing APC and PDP, Nigerians have realised that APC has short-changed them, and now Nigerians want to return PDP to power, a party that makes life easier and comfortable for them.
Under APC leadership since 2015, hunger, poverty, rising unemployment and hardship have become the lot of millions of Nigerians. APC’s change mantra has been nothing but deceit. APC has been a failure, and PDP is coming back in 2019. Look at all the by-elections that have been conducted in different parts of the country. PDP has been defeating APC, and that is a sign of bigger defeat APC will suffer in 2019. APC is already in disarray – the party is in a state of perpetual crises. It is one week, one trouble for APC.
What is your take on the issue of alleged marginalization within APC by the nPDP members?
Well I’m not a member of APC, they should sort out whatever internal wrangling they have among themselves.
But I can only advise nPDP members to come back home. You know these people were former members of PDP that defected to APC, but now they have had the opportunity of comparing both PDP and APC, and having realised that they are being oppressed in APC, my advice to them is return to PDP. PDP is waiting for them to welcome them back into the party’s fold.
As the saying goes, there is no place like home; nPDP members are strangers in APC, they should come back to PDP so that we can join hands together to vote out APC; the party has not only been a big disappointment but also a failure.
How prepared is PDP for the coming gubernatorial elections in Ekiti State next month and Osun State later?
PDP will beat APC hands down in the two states. PDP is already in control in Ekiti State, and Ekiti State people are impressed with what PDP government has done for them so the election in Ekiti State will be won by PDP. My only fear is about the election being free and fair. But let me use this opportunity to advise INEC, the police and the Federal Government not to make any attempt to tamper with the wish of the electorate. There should be no rigging as any attempt to rig will backfire. I advise all stakeholders to play roles expected of them, and respect the wish of Ekiti people.
In Osun State, the outgoing government has failed the people, and Osun State people are already waiting for the election to vote out APC.
How do you see the recent visit of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to Afenifere leaders, and Chief Olabode George, people perceived to be his political opponents?
The visit by Obasanjo is a welcome development. The visit will foster unity among the Yoruba. Who would have believed that Obasanjo would ever be in the midst of Afenifere leaders or pay visit to Chief Bode George? But that was in the past, we thank God that the visits took place. The visit will promote harmony among Yoruba.
Obasanjo is a Yoruba leader, and he has visited fellow Yoruba leaders, so what’s strange or wrong in that? To me, Obasanjo’s visit will strengthen bond of unity among the Yoruba.
Some people are insinuating that former President Olusegun Obasanjo was forced to visit Afenifere leaders because of his face-off with President Buhari
I’m not bothered about what anybody is thinking or insinuating. My own joy about the visit of Obasanjo to Afenifere leaders is that the visit has been long overdue, and now that Obasanjo has finally made the visit, it should be a thing of joy to Yoruba people that our leaders are coming together, that our leaders are now getting more united.
Fears are being expressed about the 2019 general election …
Fear about what? Fears over what? There is no cause for anxiety and fear as long as the elections are free and fair.
INEC, the Federal Government and other stakeholders who have one role or the other to play in the election should discharge their duty without fear or favour. As long as the elections are free and fair, there is nothing to fear about.
In 2015 when PDP-led Federal Government under the former President Goodluck Jonathan lost the election, the party not only accepted defeat, but former President Goodluck Jonathan was the first person to congratulate President Buhari who was his opponent during the elections then. So, if APC loses the elections in a free and fair contest, why should the party not be ready to quit as PDP quit in 2015?
Politics should not be a do-or-die affair. Victory and defeat are part of politics.
How would you assess the chances of APC in 2019?
APC can’t win the 2019 election. Nigerians are already tired of APC. Three years of APC in power have been like 30 years of political bondage. APC has been a big let-down. There is no way the party can win the elections.
But some Nigerians are saying that with President Muhammadu Buhari as the party’s candidate, and also with the name Buhari …
APC should forget it. Buhari’s name can’t work any magic for APC in 2019. It will amount to nothing but illusion if Buhari or APC think Buhari’s name will work magic for the party. The situation in Nigeria today is different from that of 2015 when Buhari was voted into office.
Nigerians now know the truth about Buhari and APC, and it is the general belief of millions of Nigerians that Buhari and APC can’t take Nigeria to the promised land. PDP will retire Buhari from politics in 2019.