A former minister of works and a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Adeseye Ogunlewe, has given his opinion on the tussle for the leadership of the 9th National Assembly.
Adeseye who is also a former lawmaker said during a recent television programme that it is unfair for the South West to occupy the position of the vice president and still hope to produce the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
On the endorsement of Ahmed Lawan for Senate President by the leaders of the APC, Adeseye said it is the responsibility of the candidate to lobby other senators and not for the party to impose anyone.
Will the dynamics in the All Progressives Congress (APC) about who will become the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives be different from what we saw in 2015?
The APC are too enthusiastic to prove to the world that they are doing it right but in mind, they should have done it better by making it an in-house issue instead of making it public. They are addressing a press conference and addressing the Senators by telling them what to, I do not think it is proper. What they should have done is to address the issue through their caucuses. The president, vice president, the national chairman and the leadership of the party should have met with the caucuses and negotiate on the issue instead of imposing their will on the National Assembly.
When you were a lawmaker, how was such leadership tussles settled?
If you manage it well from the beginning by canvassing and allowing them to lobby and campaign, maybe things would have been different. They should not say that it must be Ahmed Lawan. Lawan is a gentle man who is very passionate about lawmaking but he has to canvass for support and not depend on the endorsement of his party.
Is it then wrong for the party to have endorsed him?
It is the process that I am against. It should have been managed better by allowing him to talk to his colleagues for acceptability. It is when he is able to get the acceptance of his colleagues that he can then come to the party and tell them that he has been accepted by his colleagues. But to tell the world that it must be Lawan or nobody is not appropriate.
When you were in government during the tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Senate had so many presidents. We saw what happened with Evans Enwerem and Chuba Okadigbo and how this sort of leadership tussle can get out of hand. Do you think there will be a repeat of what happened in 2015?
I don’t think it will be as bad as that because Lawan will be acceptable to all the political parties since he is experienced and is an appropriate person for that position but he himself should canvass to be Senate President.
People like Senator Ali Ndume and Senator-elect, Orji Kalu are aggrieved. Do you not think this would be a hindrance? And do you not think that your party, the PDP, will use this tussle to get an in-road?
Lawan is a complete gentleman and he is acceptable to us this time around. He is a complete gentleman who is detribalised. What he should do is to speak with the aggrieved Senators for support. He should go and lobby his colleagues; it is not the party that would accept him.
Do you think that it will also be tough for the APC to get the speakership?
Definitely, they will find it tough because they assume that Nigeria is not divided into six zones. The vice president is from the South West. He resides in Lagos and voted in Lagos. The person they are proposing for Speaker is also from Lagos State. We have six geo-political zones, if you give the Speaker position to the South West, what will other zones get?
We understand that the wife of the APC national leader, Senator Remi Tinubu is contesting for the position of the deputy senate president….
It depends on her, she can lobby for it.
Can Femi Gbajabiamila lobby for Speaker and we still have Remi Tinubu lobbying for Deputy Senate President?
There is nothing impossible, but you should lobby your colleagues for it. It boils down to how you play the game. Don’t assume that because your party has endorsed you, then you will get it on a platter, no. You have to plead with your colleagues to support you.
At the colloquium to mark his birthday recently, Tinubu warned the Federal Government not to increase Value Added Tax (VAT). He said if the government reduces the purchasing power of the people, the economy can slow down. He rather advised that the tax net should be widened. But the vice president instead blamed your party for the state of the economy. Do you agree?
For the past four years the APC has been singing the same song without giving an alternative. Nigeria didn’t vote for the past government; they voted for APC, so they should tell Nigerians what they want to do. That blame game has expired.
Do you see an exciting ‘Next Level’ according to this government?
They should match their promises with the critical issues plaguing the country. They should start with the rising unemployment and illiteracy. What has happened to the companies and factories that we used to have? What has become of them? What is the government doing about it? The entire Ikeja was an investment estate, where have the companies all gone to?
If the APC said that your party destroyed the economy, with what the APC has done in four years and what they said they would do in another four years, do you see us getting back on track?
It is up to them. We have over 10 million children out of school, our infant mortality is the highest in the world, and there is no food. As long as things do not change, there won’t be any progress.