By Lawrence Enyoghasu
Member of Lagos State House of Assembly Jude Idimogu has kicked against using the secret ballot system to determine winners in elections in Nigeria. In this interview, he spoke on various issues.
Do you think this government is interested in creating wealth with the level of borrowing it is embarking on including from the pension funds among other accounts of individuals?
Even if they borrow, are they putting it in their pocket? It will still be in the bank. They will only warehouse it to a particular account they can have control over. But note, what I saw that they are trying to do is that the accounts that are dormant or the ones that have a deceased beneficiary and was disclosed to the next of kin of the dead person. There are a lot of monies like that. I learnt that they are also talking about unclaimed dividends. It is either the person is dead or have wrong address and such monies are around in the bank. Also, some of these dormant accounts are stolen wealth that their owners are afraid to claim. It was part of the reasons the Federal Government decided to borrow the money instead of borrowing from foreign government. The Federal Government is not claiming the money for themselves but to properly manage it. And if the owners need the money, he could apply and have his money; they are also giving you back with interest.
How do you expect Nigeria to trust a government that has not earned such trust?
Time value of money has changed. If these monies are not used, they will lose value. Government has goofed before. But we can only give them a second chance. Let me ask you, all the promises you have made to your wife, have you fulfilled it. It is a stage and a growing process; if they don’t complete what they promised, another government should come in and continue from there. I am happy that this administration continued all the projects the former government left behind because the money that is tied down there belongs to all of us. It is task payers’ money. But some other persons will get there and start another project, giving rooms for more corruption and stealing, more expenditure and cost, but he does not want to waste it knowing that it is the people’s money. For me, he is the best president. Government is not one person. I believe it is doing my part and you are doing your part and if you see me doing wrong, criticise me constructively. But when you keep quiet and work with them, then posterity will judge all of us. When Goodluck Jonathan was in power, people lamented. Now Buhari, they are screaming. I hope that whoever takes over from Buhari would do better. Like I said, it is a growing process. We talk and not practise. The bane of Nigeria today is corruption. Even me, I am somehow indicted. The thing is you can’t eradicate corruption, you can only manage it. There is corruption everywhere including developed countries. The difference is that those people put their country first but here in Nigeria, it is our pocket first.
You said something about continuity, does APC have succession for Buhari?
I might feel it is too early to start the permutation for 2023 but it is politics. There are some people who have started showing interest. One of them is Bola Tinubu. He is the only person that I know is worth handling the mantle of the country. He is experienced and a reputable accountant. He worked in reputable organizations. He has gone through the length to make things work for all. He was the one behind Buhari before he got the position in 2015. Buhari won after Tinubu rallied for him. He has the resources to be a president. Resources are key because one without resources will be pushed around. Above all, he has the interest of Nigerians at heart. If we are being fair, who can stand Tinubu in politics? He is prepared. If you tell Tinubu that he is president today, he will produce his cabinet tomorrow, that is how prepared he is. The best example of his leadership skills is Lagos State. If you remember, there was a time the Federal Government seized their allocation, he called his cabinet together and found a way to keep the state afloat. The prayer is that God should give us a leader who will be a Nigerian and not a sectional leader. I see Tinubu as that kind of person. We need someone who can think out of the box. If Tinubu is there, you will see him blocking most leakages in the government. He wants to give back to Nigeria. He is willing to give back to Nigeria. He has tuned Lagos to a working state. Do you know that if the Federal Government completely hands off in Lagos, the state would have gone far than this?
But as an Igbo man, won’t you support an Igbo to succeed Buhari?
I am an Igbo man, but we are faced with reality. The Igbo are agitating for the same position but the truth is simple, power is not given ala carte, nobody will dash it to you. They need to struggle for it. They also need to know how to collaborate with the Yoruba, South-South and North. What stops them from meeting with Tinubu and negotiate with him and other Yoruba leaders. They need to take a step. They also need to consider the party they are in; most of them are in PDP knowing well that the party is dead. The power belongs to APC as at today, they have the control. If they say let us go through election, how many delegates do you think the South East can produce. The South West reaches out more than the South East. They need to re-strategize and have a stronger voice before they can be considered. The West have been working tooth and nail for this since. I will be happy if the Igbo can have it but the problem is are we prepared. We need to start now by winning the South west.
What is your opinion on the last Ohanaeze election?
Some people think the Option A4 was barbaric but it is not. It has helped to cut electoral malpractice. The most important thing is that they have had a free and fair election. It showed true fans and supporters. If you are sure of the person you want to vote for, you should not be ashamed to queue behind the person. It was also Option A4 that produced Abiola as the president-elect in 1993 and it was clear. Secret balloting has spoilt democracy. It has given room to corruption where thugs hijack electoral boxes and vote secretly. If the politicians don’t take election as a do or die, Option A4 is best.