Former Minister of Works, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe has said that former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu will emerge the president of Nigeria in 2023. In this interview, he said having paid his dues in politics, Tinubu whom he described as a very smart politician is well positioned to lead the country.
What is your take on the recent crises in the APC which eventually led to the dissolution of the National Working Committee headed by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole?
Honestly, it is the best thing that ever happened to the APC as a political party. This sort of turbulence started during the 2019 general elections to the extent that APC lost about five states. The same thing happened in Bayelsa State. So, it was clear that members of the NWC were not up to the task at all to manage the party and the leaders needed to reposition the party. There was no other way than to dissolve them and put better and appropriate people there. That is what they are doing now. They do not have time; they have to do it fast and get ready for 2023 if they hope to defeat the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). APC could have lost so many states if they did not dissolve the NWC. It was court case that made us lose Zamfara, Rivers State and Bayelsa. If they continue with those court cases, they would even win elections and they will give it to the opposition. So, to prevent that, the leaders had to take that action dispassionately. You could see the level of biases in that NWC. There was too much infighting within them.
But the impression was that former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu was behind Oshiomhole’s actions as national chairman of APC because of his 2023 presidential ambition. Is it not true?
It is not true. He was trying to streamline things. People who say that do not know him. He does not support that kind of injustice. He would never support what is unjust. He behaves properly and he would get to wherever he is going. There was no reason for Oshiomhole to be doing what he was doing to the extent that members of the NWC were going to court among themselves. The internal struggle was too much for any political party to allow it to remain like that as if nothing was happening. It was better they dissolved them and bring people who would be more reasonable.
What would be your reaction to the conspiracy theory that part of why they removed Oshiomhole was to whittle down Tinubu’s influence in the party?
Bola Tinubu would always survive. He is an extremely clever politician. We do not have too many of them in Nigeria. He does not need Oshiomhole to win any election he wants to contest. He does not need that kind of behavior for him to win election. He would not even encourage it. He is an extremely fair minded person. He would be fair to everybody and he would get his way through.
Are you saying that Tinubu has a bright chance to pick the APC presidential ticket in 2023 and go on to win the election?
Tinubu has a lot of chance. He indeed has super chance to make it in 2023. Everybody would be surprised how it would happen. You know the politics of Nigeria is give and take. People want somebody they can trust to be there. If you are there, are you going to be fair to all? If you are there, are you going to gain our own share of the national cake? I am sure he would concede to whoever deserves something. He knows what everybody deserves. Give that one to him. He is not a greedy person. He would share with everybody and still survive.
Some say that what played out recently was masterminded by power brokers in the North; the idea is to weaken the APC and allow the PDP which may likely field a Northerner to win the 2023 presidential election. Do you agree?
My dear, any political party that would lose Kano and Lagos State, can never win election in Nigeria. This is because, take it or leave it, Tinubu would have 4million votes in Lagos State alone. So, how do you cope with that? We are already planning it. So, it is not magic. The North would be satisfied with what he is going to give them. It must be a person of their choice. That is the attitude of the North. The problem would be there if it is not a person of their choice and you do not dictate to them. Once you share and they are comfortable with you, they would follow you.
But how do you reconcile your position with the insistence by many prominent Northerners that power should still remain in the North in 2023?
My dear, are you not reading the handwriting on the wall? The AKK pipeline and the power generation facilities that would be installed in Ajaokuta, Abuja, Kaduna and Kano, do you know the mileage that project would give President Buhari in the North? The project has been on for 30 years. He is the one that is constructing everything now. Before he did the groundbreaking, all the pipes have been imported. So, it is a question of in another two years, all the pipes would be there; all the power stations would be there and the factories will spring up in each of these locations. So, the issue of power would not be there again. The issue of unemployment would not be there again. They would be begging him to continue because that plan alone is a masterstroke. You know Buhari; once he fixes his mind on something, he would achieve that thing. He started early because he has three years to go for that project. If he can finish that project, forget all other things.
What strategies do you think Asiwaju should best adopt to realise his presidential dream in 2023?
Tinubu is going to flow with them. Don’t make them fearful; don’t make statements that would make them afraid. Do not be too clever. Listen to them. Do not choose what you are going to give them. Let them tell you what they want in the government and you give them their rights. Their only fear would be maybe you would not give them this and that. You have to be flexible and do not make statements that would annoy them.
Recently, elder statesman and Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo advised Tinubu to leave the APC following the dissolution of the NWC which many thought was targeted at him. How do you view that advice?
Is the man a member of the APC? What is his business in that kind of thing? How can he leave the APC? Leave the APC and go to where?
Possibly retire from politics
How can Tinubu retire from politics? You do not retire from politics until you die. Who doesn’t like power, wealth and opportunities? So, they cannot retire.
Politically, the South West is not as united as it used to be; it is obvious that many power brokers in the zone are not on the same page with Tinubu at the moment? Don’t you think it would affect his chances?
What you are seeing is external. Internally, they know how to sort themselves out. What we hear outside is different from what is actually happening. They are from the same stock. Don’t believe that they are quarreling and fighting. How can they? Fight over what? When the chips are down, they would coalesce and work together. Don’t mind whatever you are reading in the newspapers. They are as united as ever.
What do you think are the problems that can stop Tinubu’s ambition in 2023?
I am not God; let him try and work towards it and pray. Everybody would pray for him because he has paid his dues and he is qualified to be president. You are a journalist, all these things I am saying about our electoral system, don’t you believe me? There is deliberate injustice. That is why they retained that Electoral act like that. Do you think they are fools? And they are not signing it for four terms? In Nigeria, if something is happening, it is for a purpose.
So, what message do you have for the North in view of the position of some of their prominent leaders that a Northerner should still succeed Buhari in 2023?
The North is lucky to have Buhari as their president now. Buhari does not have an ambition of acquiring wealth. People surrounding him can be misbehaving but not him; he does not want to build a University in his name. He does not want to buy a house in London. What is there for him is to make a mark for the North. Believe it or not, the AKK project alone would be there for the North to be grateful to him forever. Can you imagine pipelines running like that to Kano with power generating facilities in the four locations! They would not need power from Egbin again. They would not need the national transmission again. They would have direct access to their own power and they can develop on their own. They would have factories. Who can do that for them? And Buhari would achieve it. I can assure you that once that one is achieved, forget it, the North would worship him forever.
Your party is likely to lose Edo in the coming election; how do you feel?
How is it possible my dear? You are saying that because you have never participated in any election before. You only vote and go. The truth is that the Electoral act is so defective that it is winner takes all and then you go to the tribunal. So, what is going to happen? You know the result already.
Are you saying that the incumbency factor would not work in favour of Obaseki?
My dear, the incumbent on that day would not be able to go out. I am telling you how to use power. This one is not PDP people. We told them but they would not listen. You think power is table tennis.
So, you are sure of Edo; is that what you are saying?
Are you not living in this country? Nigerian elections are defective. The electoral process is defective because you do not even know the people that are voting. Let everybody first of all have a national identity, so that we know who is voting. But in this instance, one person could have 10 voter cards and he would use them. Is that an election? Every part of the world, your national ID card is your identity. Once you have that, we know who is the voter. But in the present case, somebody can vote 20 times because he has no identity. Then collation by hand is a mental problem and you can miss the figures and it would be announced. So, what are you talking about?