By Chukwudi Nweje
Segun Olusola is the National vice chairman, South-West of the United Progressives Party (UPP). In this interview, he speaks about the party’s readiness to take over Anambra State and other issues of national intrest.
The United Progressives Party (UPP) held its national convention in Awka, Anambra State on June 29, 2017. What really transpired?
The convention was successful and I can tell you that UPP is the party to beat in future elections beginning with that of Anambra State, coming up on November 18, 2017. UPP is the most credible party in Nigeria today that is rancour free, without the possibility of factionalisation in the foreseeable future.
The party will allow all the aspirants for the Anambra election free and fair contest during the primaries and whoever emerges will fly the party’s flag. The aspirants have also pledged to support whoever eventually emerges. So we are confident of victory.
What do you intend to achieve with this South -West stakeholders meeting?
This is an interactive stakeholders meeting that comprises the chairmen in all the South- West states, including the zonal excos. The meeting is basically to streamline things and strategise towards the 2019 general elections.
What are the core objectives of the party?
UPP believes in genuine change, self determination, true federalism, devolution of powers, resource control, citizens’ rights and empowering youths and women among other things.
What do you think of the state of affairs in the country today?
Truth is that the nation is in a dilemma both socially and economically. The party in power canvassed for votes on promise of true federalism, but they have jettisoned that article of faith and foisted the worst form of nepotism on Nigerians.
What is your assessment of the last local government election in Lagos State?
The election was impressive; it is okay except for some shortcomings here and there. For instance, the turnout of voters was very low; it was like the voters were skeptical. There was also the fact that the ruling party in the state swept the polls. Although we did not win any seat, we are hopeful that in subsequent elections the UPP will show impressive outing.
The National Assembly voted for financial autonomy for local governments during the constitution amendment debate. What do you make of it?
Ideally, it is supposed to be so. If you look at the way the state government treats the local governments, it is not encouraging at all. What I mean by that is that when the allocations come, instead of the state government to disburse the funds to the local governments, they use them for other purposes, leaving the local governments with barely enough funds to prosecute projects. So I am really in support of financial autonomy for local governments.
For the financial autonomy to be law, two-thirds of the states have to also support it. Do you see this happening?
The truth is that the states Houses of Assembly know what the state governments are doing, so I believe the states lawmakers will also support financial autonomy for the local governments.
President Muhammadu Buhari has been away since May. Do you think his absence has negatively impacted on governance?
President Buhari travelled on medical grounds but he has a capable hand in the person of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who is the acting president, and he is running things. So the way I look at it is that President Buhari’s absence has not had much negative impact on governance.
Do you think a medical panel to determine whether the President is incapacitated or not, is needed at this point?
What the constitution says is when the president is absent for more than three months, that is 90 days and it is not yet 90 days. So let us wait and see.