Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
National Chairman of the Action Alliance (AA), Adekunle Rufai Omoaje has stressed the need to embrace rotational system for the Presidential position, saying it will foster the unity of the country. In this interview, he spoke about the leadership tussle within the party, just as he expressed optimism that the party will emerge stronger during his tenure as the national chairman.
How will you describe the process of your emergence as the national chairman of the Action Alliance, considering the past leadership tussle in the party?
I give glory to the Almighty God who made it possible for me to become the national chairman of the Action Alliance. I will describe my emergence as the divine intervention of God. This happened with the help of God and all our leaders in all the 36 states of the federation. All the national delegates to the convention should also be appreciated.
What actually happened was that we held a special national convention in Osogbo, Osun State because some national officers of the party were suspended by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party for anti-party activities and other offences which are already subjects of litigation in court. The development brought about vacancies in the party leadership. The former national chairman of the party, Mr Keneth Odize and former national secretary, Mr James Fanibe were suspended by the party alongside some other national officers of the party.
We don’t really have any crisis in the AA. You will recall that we had a nice outing recently in Imo State during the last gubernatorial election in the state and our candidate, Uche Nwosu nearly won the election. We in the AA believed that we won the election but the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate. The AA together with our candidate went to court because we felt cheated but the former national chairman connived with the former national Legal Adviser of the party and wrote to INEC and the court that they were not interested in the suit. They withdrew from the case without notifying the party and they later supported the PDP candidate. That was why they were suspended from the party. The party set up a disciplinary committee and the committee pronounced them guilty and suspended them.
Even with the above explanation, would you still insist that there is no crisis in the Action Alliance?
I make bold to say that there is no crisis in the Action Alliance. No crisis at all. Every political party has constitution and any member who acts against the party’s constitution would be disciplined in accordance with the party’s constitution. That is the exact thing that happens in our party. However, the national convention later ratified the expulsion of the erring officers of the party. We have no crisis within the party; we only disciplined the erring members.
Should the expelled members decide to join the party again, will you admit them?
There are procedures for them to join the party again if they actually want to join and if they are ready to follow the procedures and processes of their re-admission, we are going to take them back into the fold. Our party is a disciplined party and we respect laid down rules guiding the party.
What is your take on the recent de-registration of some political parties by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)?
The fact remains that if we agree that only INEC can register political parties, we should also agree that INEC has the right to deregister political parties. INEC is constitutionally empowered to deregister political parties, so we cannot query them for doing what they have the right to do. I am in support of the INEC action and I want all parties to learn good lessons from it. In all honesty, some political parties are not worth being called political parties; many of them don’t have secretariats even at the Federal Capital Territory as provided by the guidelines of INEC.
Former National Chairman of your party recently raised the alarm that he was abducted. What did the party do to ensure his release?
The former National Chairman of AA, Keneth Odize was not at any time kidnapped by anybody but he was arrested legally. I wrote a petition to the Nigeria Police, Zone 11 about how my name as the governorship candidate of the AA in Osun State in the last gubernatorial election in the state was substituted with another name. I emerged the party’s candidate at the primary election and my name was forwarded to the national secretariat of the party for submission to INEC by the party only for us to discover that another name was substituted with my name. That development prompted me to petition the Assistant Inspector General of Police, zone 11.
The Police later ordered for the arrest of Odize after he was written thrice to defend the petition because I implicated him in my petition and he asked for warrant of arrest which was shown to him and he was legally arrested. He was not kidnapped.
The governors of the six states of the South West recently launched Operation Amotekun, what is your take on this as a political leader in the country?
Any idea that will lead to security of lives and property of the people is a welcome development. I give kudos to the six governors of the South West for the initiative. I am in support of the new security outfit in the region. I will advise the states to work with the security agencies on this initiative. It will help the nation because all ethnic groups live in the South West and this will help in securing them.
What will you suggest as a solution to the insecurity in the country, especially the North East geo –political zone?
The level of insecurity in the country is worrisome. The last national convention of our party showed to me that Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gun powder. Many delegates could not come while many spent days on the road. However, my suggestion is that the Federal Government should provide job for the teeming youths. Employment is the only solution to the menace of insecurity in Nigeria; unless our youths are gainfully employed, there will be a problem. Year in, year out, our universities and other tertiary institutions turn out graduates with no job. Our government should solve the problem of unemployment for the problem of insecurity to stop.
Elder statesman, Chief Jim Nwobodo recently said that the unity of Nigeria is being threatened. Do you subscribe to his view?
Our leader and elder statesman, Nwobodo was not the only one to have said that; General Theophilus Danjuma and Alhaji Bashir Tofa who contested against chief MKO Abiola had said similar things in the recent time. These prominent Nigerians have nothing to lose considering their age and wealth. They have seen it all but they are after the upcoming generation. I agree with them that the unity of Nigeria is under serious threat with the level of insecurity in the country. Our President should involve the traditional rulers in securing their domains. He should hold special meeting with the traditional rulers for proper security. It is the traditional rulers and their subjects that know their territories and their people well. No security agent can know a community like those who live there.
What is the preparation of the Action Alliance regarding the 2023 general elections and do you believe in zoning of the presidency?
We are preparing for the 2023 general elections and we shall continue to prepare ahead of the polls. I believe in zoning and I will suggest that we rotate the position of the president among the major zones of the country. It will give all zones the sense of belonging. This will make the position go round and no zone will be cheated.
Do you foresee any crisis between the North and the South ahead of the 2023 election if the presidency is not zoned?
I am not a negative thinker, so I believe there will be no crisis in Nigeria. I don’t foresee any problem in Nigeria and I am sure our people are mature politically. So, there will be peace in this nation.
Ondo State will hold its gubernatorial election later this year; will the Action Alliance participate in the polls?
Yes, our party, the Action Alliance will participate. We are already talking with credible people in Ondo State. The AA is not a new party in Ondo State. The party is already a household name because we participated fully in the last election there. We also presented a senatorial candidate who did well in the last senatorial election in the state.
What is your take on the change of power in Imo State?
We in the Action Alliance believed that our candidate, Uche Nwosu won the election in that state and while at the tribunal, we had a very good case, but we were traded with by some national officers of the party who went to withdraw the case later. Our efforts to reinstate the case did not yield any result and that made the party to expel those involved in trading with the party.
What are your plans for the party?
We have started with the online registration of members across the country and this will continue. We will also work on membership drive of the party. We have so many other programmes which will be revealed as time goes on. I have paid a courtesy visit to my governor; the governor of Osun State, Mr Gboyega Oyetola who hosted us to a reception at the Government House. The governor has always been relating well with other political parties without asking for any favour from the parties. He has not requested for the support of my party before but he believes all other political parties have the same certificate like the party in power and that is why he is treating us equally. Governor Oyetola has asked for names of members of opposition political parties to be considered for appointments into boards and parastatals of the state.
What advice do you have for the Federal Government?
I will advise the President to always carry the traditional rulers along in the scheme of things. That is the only way by which he can succeed as the President of this country.