All Progressives Congress(APC), has been advised to forget the idea of returning to power in 2019.
Giving the advice in an interview with TUNDE THOMAS, former Minister for Works, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe described the last two years of APC’s administration as a nightmare for Nigerians.
The former minister also spoke on other national issues including the recent national convention of his party(PDP). What is your reaction to the emergence of Prince Uche Secondus as the new PDP National Chairman in view of the fact that the expectation in some quarters was that the South West geo-political zone was expected to produce a candidate for the post? The election has been won and lost and Prince Uche Secondus has emerged the new party chairman. It is a welcome development. In any election, a winner and loser must emerge.
The most important thing is that we politicians must imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship. We should not see or view elections as a do-or-die affair.
Secondus has emerged the winner, my appeal is that everybody should rally round him in the interest of the party, PDP. People should stop crying over spilt milk – let’s forget about the acrimony during the build-up to the election. Now that Secondus has won, we should forget the past and be forward looking. We should all cooperate with Secondus and other members of the new PDP national exco.
There were some PDP members especially from the South West geo-political zone who were and are still insisting that Secondus election or emergence as the new PDP national chairman is an act of betrayal, that South West PDP had been betrayed – their argument was that the party had earlier zoned the national chairmanship position to the Southwest; what’s your take on this?
Nobody should shed tears for Southwest. PDP Southwest PDP leaders deserved what they got. They were the architects of their own downfall.
What do you expect from a divided house? The Yoruba are too arrogant. We are too full of ourselves. We don’t have respect for leaders. Everybody believes that he is a leader in his own little corner, and it is this arrogance and attitude that cost the Yoruba the PDP national chairmanship position.
They should stop blaming Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike or PDP state governors for scheming the Yoruba out of the PDP national chairmanship race. It is Yorubas that schemed themselves out. Wike should not bother to offer apology to anybody.
In politics, you talk about interests. Politics is a serious business. It is not a tea party. Why should Southwest PDP leaders be blaming Wike or any other person for the fate that befell the Yoruba?
The Yoruba themselves should be blamed. Imagine the Yoruba bringing up seven aspirants for the post of national chairman, while the other geo-political zone had two. Some of us made several appeals that Southwest aspirants were too many, and that we should hold a meeting to pick a consensus candidate, but nobody listened to us. In fact, one of the aspirants, Chief Olabode George called for a meeting of the PDP aspirants from the Southwest on several occasions, but he was snubbed. Other aspirants snubbed him. They didn’t honour his invitations.
All the aspirants believed and were insisting that each of them was qualified to lead the party and that they don’t buy the idea of consensus. What a sheer arrogance. Some of these aspirants know very well that they were going nowhere. They were just boasting and making noise. Empty barrels.
But I strongly believe that some of these PDP national chairmanship aspirants from the Southwest were sponsored by some elements to jeopardize and work against the emergence of a Yoruba man as PDP national chairman. So, they were just there making noise, boasting and gallivanting all over the place when they actually knew that they were being used as spoilers.
We should stop blaming others for Southwest woes, rather we should blame ourselves. Simply put, we didn’t put our house in order before the Abuja Convention.
Aspirants from the South West for the post of national chairman were too many, and nobody was ready to step down for another. We were not disciplined at all. Why would or why should Uche Secondus not emerge as the new PDP national chairman? His zone, the South-south zone was more disciplined and organized than the Southwest.
Wike and Secondus should not beg anybody in the South West – they owed nobody any apology. We were the cause of our own downfall at the convention.
Secondus and Wike can make appeals and embark on reconciliation tours which should not be only limited to a particular geo-political zone, but they should visit all parts of the country especially in states where PDP is having one crisis or the other.
While we were touring different parts of the country when I was on the team that campaigned for Bode George to emerge as the new national chairman of PDP, what they were telling us everywhere we visited all over the country that Yoruba aspirants were too many, and that we should go and put our house in order, and this was one of the reasons Bode George called several meetings but which were boycotted by the other aspirants.
Rather than asking Wike to apologise to us in the Southwest over certain remarks credited to him, it is we in the Southwest that we should cover our faces in shame. Too much education is affecting us. We were not ready to listen to words and advice of elders, and we are now paying a price for it. What happened to the Southwest geo-political zone at that convention was a self-inflicted defeat.
When the reality of their arrogance dawned on these aspirants, they now started withdrawing from the election on the day the poll was scheduled to take place, but then the damage had already been done.
Look at the case of one of the PDP national chairmanship aspirants who hailed from Ekiti State – the post of PDP national treasurer had already been zoned to Ekiti State, and the state governor was backing that candidate. With this development, should anybody from Ekiti State have come out again as national chairmanship aspirant when it is not only Ekiti State that is there to be allocated all the positions?
I’m talking of Professor Tunde Adeniran. He should have withdrawn from the race before the day of the convention having known that his state governor, Ayodele Fayose who also happen to be the chairman of PDP State Governors Forum was supporting and backing a particular candidate from Ekiti State for the post of PDP National Treasurer.
Why did Gbenga Daniel, Rasheed Ladoja, Taoheed Adedoja and others step down on the day of the convention when all along they had stubbornly refused to listen to advice. It was only when they realized that failure was staring them in the face and knocking at their doorsteps that they beat a retreat. But it was already too late – their arrogance had already hurt Southwest political interests.
But like I said earlier, the election had been won and lost. Prince Uche Secondus is now our new national chairman, we must all be ready to cooperate and work with him.
Some people have expressed concern that with the way things played out at the convention, that the Southwest had been marginalised, and that this may affect the fortunes of PDP in the geo-political zone in 2019 or even in states where gubernatorial elections are coming up next year, what’s your take on this?
No. I don’t think so. Southwest has not been marginalised at all. Southwest is responsible for its own failure at the convention. It is sheer arrogance and selfishness that cost us the post of PDP national chairman. We should not blame anybody for our own failure.
The outcome of PDP convention and emergence of Secondus as the new national chairman is welcome, and I don’t think ordinary PDP members in the Southwest have any grouse against him or any other member of the new exco. They all emerged through an election.
Then contrary to what some people think or believe, four factors determine who wins an election, and these are popularity of candidates, the political party that present the candidate, the candidates/party’s manifesto and money.
Do you say money?
Yes. Without money you can’t win any election in this country. Money is the key to everything. You may have the best of ideas, and very good manifesto, but without money you can’t get anywhere. Just forget it. Politics and money can’t be divorced especially in Nigeria.
PDP governors are being accused of trying to hijack the party; some PDP members have even accused them of manipulating series of events that eventually culminated in the emergence of Prince Uche Secondus as the new national chairman of PDP, what do you have to say to that?
I wouldn’t know whether that assertion is correct or not, but what I will like to say is that politics is about interests.
Politics is all about how to protect your vested interests. That was why I said earlier that politics is not a tea affair. It is a serious business, and 24 hours of the day you are thinking about how to protect your vested interests.
So if the governors are doing what some people are accusing them of doing, they are only protecting their interests, and in politics, there is nothing wrong with that. It is acceptable in politics. It is the norm.
When you are protecting your interests, you have to look for somebody or some groups to do that on your behalf and that’s what the governors are doing probably.
For the South West, all hope is not yet lost. The zone has not lost out entirely in the whole political calculations. Positions that are still yet to be shared and zoned by the party include that of the Vice-President, Senate President, Secretary to the Government (SSG) and Speaker, House of Representatives.
The Southwest PDP must have learnt its lessons now. We must now learn how to put our house in order.
In Yorubaland, everybody is a boss. We are too arrogant. But I believe that all those elements that caused us this palaver would have come back to their senses.
Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose has been criticised for reportedly openly saying at the convention that all elderly and old Yoruba leaders in PDP especially Southwest should go and rest, and give way to younger elements to play leading role in the party affairs, what is your reaction to that?
I don’t want to join issues with anybody. But my question is this, should all elders go and die or should they kill all elders or drive them out of politics because of old age? I say a big No.
What we shouldn’t forget is that there is a role for everybody in the society. Can wisdom of elders be bought? It is not possible.
This is Africa, and in Africa, we reverence our elders. In Africa, we respect age. Even when you are young and very rich, when you see elders, you must prostrate and give them their due respect.
There is nothing you can compare with age and wisdom. As the saying goes, words of elders are words of wisdom – You neglect or shun elders to your own peril.
How can anybody ask elders to stay away or step aside from politics? It is not possible. Did late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, late Mallam Aminu Kano and late Chief Obafemi Awolowo not play politics till old age when they died, and look at the good names and legacy that these people left behind. You don’t toy or joke with elders. Elders have their own roles to play in the society just like the youths have theirs also. Both the youth and elders complement one another.
Some PDP members have expressed fears and concern that aggrieved people who might not be happy with the outcome of the recent party’s convention may cause problem or not be willing to work for the party’s interests, what’s your position on that?
My take is that anybody that is not ready to work with Prince Uche Secondus as our new national chairman should depart PDP. They should leave the party or take a walk from PDP. There can’t be two captains in a ship. Secondus is the new national chairman of PDP and that has become a reality and for those who don’t want to accept the reality, instead of creating problems for us, they should rather leave PDP.
It is lazy politicians that always complain. If you are a good politician, if you lose any election, you go back to the drawing board, to restrategise and plan on how to win the next election. People should stop complaining for serious elements in PDP, this is not time for any complain. We don’t need, and we don’t want any distraction. Our focus should be on 2019, our focus should be on how to defeat APC and get power back in 2019. I only have a piece of advise for Secondus. He should not allow himself to be distracted by anybody or group.
However he should run an open door policy. He should be conciliatory and magnanimous to all. He should immediately embark on state tours, especially to those PDP states that are embroiled in crisis. Some of these states include Ogun, Taraba, Osun, Oyo and a host of others. He should try to ensure that crises rocking the party in those states are resolved as quickly as possible.
Some people especially PDP leaders and elders in the Southwest believe and are still insisting that Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike should apologise to the Yoruba over some alleged disparaging remarks the governor made about Southwest contributions to the fortunes or otherwise of PDP, what’s your own position on that?
They should leave Wike alone. I have not seen Wike committing any offence. PDP leaders in the Southwest should also do some soul searching.
What has been the position of PDP in the Southwest? How many states is PDP controlling in the Southwest? PDP leaders in the Southwest should try and deliver their own geo-political zone to PDP first. If PDP has a strong foothold in the Southwest, nobody no matter how highly placed can talk to Southwest leaders of the party anyhow. If you don’t deliver your area to the party, then some people can talk, and if they talk they have justification for doing so. I’m not saying that Wike should insult or have a right to insult the Yoruba, no I’m not saying that. What Wike is saying to the best of my knowledge have to do with politics and the need for Southwest PDP leaders to also win their zone for PDP. If everybody fails to deliver their zone to the party, then the party will die. There will be no PDP anymore.
Wike has been delivering in his zone, and that is a fact. This is what we in the Southwest should also strive to do.
Where do you see PDP in the next two years, especially in 2019?
I see PDP back in power. APC has no change against PDP in 2019. Forget all these hype about Buhari. Nigerians’ eyes have become open, and Buhari is no longer invincible. Buhari was invincible in the period leading to 2015, and also in 2015 and that was why he won the election. Don’t also forget that in 2015, zone and religion played a part in the election and these two factors helped Buhari to win. Being a northerner, and also a Muslim, these helped Buhari in 2015. But the situation in the country today is different. Barely two years after APC took over power, Nigerians are tired already. Hunger and poverty have become companions of millions of Nigerians.
PDP this time around has also decided to field a northerner and a Muslim as its presidential candidate, so you can say that Buhari’s days in office are numbered. APC has been a monumental failure. Buhari’s name can’t work any magic in 2019. APC has come to the end of the road.
APC has failed Nigerians. Things are getting tough and rough daily for Nigerians and that’s why you see young men and women running away from Nigeria to Libya, and also taking the risk of crossing the Mediterranean Ocean, all because APC has failed Nigerians.
We’ve never had it so bad. Evil is now on the increase. Kidnappers and ritualists have taken over all over the country, and Nigeria is gradually being turned into Hobesian state under Buhari’s watch. We cannot continue like this and that’s why, come 2019, it is bye-bye to APC. Nigerians are eager and ready to vote out APC, and when APC is voted out, there will be no sympathy for the party and its leaders by Nigerians. It will be good riddance to bad rubbish.