• Something must be wrong with ex-president
• Coalition making nonsense of democracy
• Urges INEC to de-register coalition parties
One-time Presidential aspirant and Chairman of the National Action Council (NAC), Dr Olapade Agoro, has given hard knocks to political parties in the country who are in the habit of fussing together in order to dislodge the government in power. He argued that political parties should be formed based on ideological lines, making him to call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to de-register parties that formed coalitions.
Agoro noted that for former President Olusegun Obasanjo to have supported President Muhammadu Buhari against former President Goodluck Jonathan to now turn back to fight Buhari means that something is wrong with the former leader. In this interview with Sunday Sun, Dr Agoro spoke about his party, NAC, and their preparedness to support the youth if they come forward to contest elections.
Political parties in the country are going into alliance to be able to mount formidable force against the ruling party. Why is it so difficult to wrest power from the ruling party in Nigeria without going into alliance or merger?
It is becoming quite embarrassing for Nigeria. We are 66 on INEC register, yet we are clamouring that we want to sponsor another person. I believe strongly that political parties should be formed based on ideology. If a political party is formed without solid ideological foundation then the party becomes one of those “come and chop” parties. And then when you are in one party, but for nothing you move to another party in another year, that makes you a rolling stone that gathers no moss. That simply means that the person is just moving about in order to benefit from the system without having anything to offer. So, the issue of parties saying they want to gang up against another party, I don’t believe in it. In 2003, when I was nobody in the political system, when I was relatively unknown, I came next to Obasanjo. Soon I became well known in the country. I believe that a political party should be based on ideology. No two political parties can share the same ideology. What is the ideology of PDP? People don’t know. What is the ideology of APC? People don’t know. What we see is people moving in droves from PDP to APC and after some years they move to another party. Look at what Obasanjo is doing now he packaged together the Coalition of Nigeria Movement, CNM, because he has nothing to offer again. Then while will he say he has the key to determine the next president of Nigeria. With his CNM, he went to liaise with Olu Falae, I can’t see the meeting point between Obansanjo and Olu Falae. They contested against each other before Obasanjo became the president. But it didn’t work and he went to ADC. What is the ideology of Obasanjo CNM? What is the ideology of ADC? That is to tell you that in Nigeria, we are yet to practice the true culture of democratic values. So, political parties should be founded on ideologies. In NAC, our ideology is righteousness in governance, we are preaching righteousness. They are saying they want to team up to oust Buhari. Why should you team up to oust Buhari? They should go individually and fight Buhari if you really worth your name.
Does that mean your party is not considering aligning with any other political party?
I got a call few minutes ago from people moving from APC to NAC in Akwa Ibom and they were asking me if we are ready to merge with another party, but I told them to shut up and go back to their APC because NAC is not ready to merge with any political party. Anybody can come to join NAC, but NAC will not merge with any other political party, we are ready to fight the battle alone.
Considering the fact that the majority of the parties we have are going into alliances with others, is that not an indication that the nation’s political landscape will be better off with two viable political parties as against the current multi-party system?
The political parties themselves are already telling the entire world that they are not worth their salt with the alliance talks going on. We can see clearly that a lot of these people went to register parties instead of teaming up with the existing political parties. And good enough, INEC is not giving anybody any dime. These parties that are clamouring to team up, I will say INEC should de-register them. They have already indicated that they are not ready. ADC is a party, it is Obasanjo that went to meet ADC. But where you have 10 parties teaming up to fight one party, that is making nonsense of democracy. If I do not win now, I will go back to the drawing board and start all over again. Parties should not be formed with the intention of winning an election immediately. No time in history did anybody think that a black man would emerge as the President of the United States; it took so much time before it happened. That is what I believe political parties should be.
ACN had to go into merger to form APC before PDP could be dislodged after ruling for 16 years. As it is now in Nigeria, do you see any political party dislodging APC without going into alliance or merger?
You will have to wait and see. People often make the mistake of thinking that there are only two political parties in the US. No, there are many. What we are saying is that we should share the same ideology before you can come together. Let people who believe in my party’s righteousness come and meet me then we can promote one party. But that a party cannot dislodge a ruling party without going into alliance, you need to wait and see. I do not believe that we must gang up against one individual to win an election. That is the major problem confronting the APC now. APC is a conglomeration of about four or five political parties and they came together to dislodge PDP, but now they are falling apart because they can never hold together. What you have in APC today is not the APC that won the election. The party is fragmented in all the states. How can five different parties under the headship of five chairmen come together and gang up? That is the problem APC is facing now. Buhari had his party then CPC and it won in one state or so. Tinubu had his own party doing well in the South-west, if Tinubu had been promoting his own party by now he would have reached almost half of the country. But because he wanted power at all costs, so he went to merge with other political parties. Look at Rochas Okorocha, he joined APC having won his election on the platform of another party, APGA. He should have resigned before crossing. That is very wrong. One would have thought he should have remained in APGA, promoting the ideals of the party. Or he should have resigned from APGA and re-contested under a new platform. A lot of those in APC are PDP members. They felt they should use the ideologies of other political formations to form APC, it is cheating on the system. INEC should look into that. Parties can merge, but when the merger was done by dismantling the structure of another party; that is wrong. INEC should have stopped the formation of APC. People stole the property of other political formations to form APC that is why the centre cannot hold.
What do you make of the face-off between Obasanjo and Buhari considering the fact that Obasanjo supported the president against Jonathan to win the 2015 election?
I believe strongly that Obasanjo is wrong. He should have given himself the necessary rest. What else does Obasanjo want having served as a military Head of State and returning to serve two-term as a democratically elected president? He supported Jonathan and fell out with him. He supported Buhari against Jonathan and two years after they fell apart, there must be something really wrong with Obasanjo. He should just be concerned with how he is going to spend the rest of his life in peace. Look at the insult he is now receiving over the issue of power contract. He actually imported the equipment and they were left at Apapa Port without clearing them. Are the equipment still in good state? A lot of them would have been stolen. Obansanjo promised us 7,000 megawatts, but because the equipment were not installed that could not be achieved. The noise they are making is political. They should stop playing politics with our people. Obasanjo imported the equipment, but nobody installed them.
There has been this advocacy for the youth to take over the centre stage, and call for older politicians like you to step aside. How do you see this call?
Well, it is a good idea, but it is not workable. Let the youth come forward and show us what they can offer. Should I go into their fathers’ house to bring them out when the youths are as bad as their elders? This is an opportunity for the youths to make inroads, but rather than come out they are supporting one party against the other. NAC has room for them, but I am not going to go and beg them to come. If any of them come to me and say ‘Baba’ I need your ticket, I will give him.
Are you saying you are ready to submit your political aspiration to the youth?
Look, if I see somebody that is dynamic, let me see a youth that is capable and willing; it is not all about money. But the problem is this: are they ready? Are they not just like their forefathers? The youth should come out and fight for their right. Who will yield power to them without fighting for it? Has it ever happened in any part of the world? They should fight for it, nobody will yield power to them without them fighting for it. I will support any youth that is ready, willing and capable. Brilliant heads and stable minds are what I know as youth not just any body.
The killings allegedly by herdsmen in Nigeria still continue unabated. What suggestions do you have for the government on how this can be stopped?
Somebody somewhere is fooling somebody somewhere. Those parading themselves as herdsmen are actually Boko Haram members. Have you ever seen a herdsman carry AK 47? What we should ask Buhari is to tell us how these people get their AK 47. I have seen those paraded in the media, but Buhari has not spoken up till today, the security team is yet to make concrete statement on how these people get their sophisticated weapons. He knew that Boko Haram has means to weapons and the more you dislodge them from one part of the country, the more they move to other parts of the country and mingle with herdsmen. I don’t know herdsmen carrying AK 47.
If you look at the manner those operating in Benue operate you will know that is the way Boko Haram operates in Borno State and other parts of the North. Have you ever heard that a country in the world gives billion of euro to terrorists in exchange for some women who have been married out to terrorists? Some of them are back to their Boko Haram husbands because they have children for them. You gave the terrorists money to empower them. The more the military is winning the way against insurgency the more the government is empowering the terrorists through the ransom paid to them to release hostages in their captivity. So, this issue of reclassifying downward moving Boko Haram terrorists as herdsmen is just one of the most senseless ideas.