A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Lanre Rasak has expressed doubts over the preparedness of the Southeast and former PDP Deputy National Chairman, Chief Olabode George to clinch the 2023 presidency. According to the notable politician, the South should however takeover from President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023 and he believes former Lagos governor, Bola Tinubu is the right person. He spoke with LAWRENCE ENYOGHASU.
You were silent when Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was allegedly having issues in the presidency. Why?
Osinbajo’s problem with Buhari is mere speculation. I didn’t believe it. I know too well that Buhari is a man of God and that Osinbajo is an important part and parcel of the party. He is a very loyal and committed Vice President, all that is being said are mere political talk for those who don’t know politics, those who do not have much to do but want relevance. Osinbajo has not formally complained to anybody and I have not seen evidence that he is being troubled. Buhari knows he has an effective Vice President. He has been supportive of the president and has done all that is required to build a government and take it to the next level. The imagination of humans is wide, so many might imagine anything but I don’t have concrete evidence that there is a problem. I didn’t comment on the matter because none of them said anything and there is no concrete evidence before me.
So you think Osinbajo could be picked as Buhari’s successor?
I heard Pastor Tunde Bakare telling Buhari to pick his successor, that method is not political. In our setup as a party, it is not the responsibility of Buhari to pick a successor, it is the responsibility of the party members, at the appropriate time, to choose who they believe should be Buhari’s successor and serve as the president of this country. And if you ask me who should be that person, I would consider Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to be eminently qualified. He is supposed to be the next president of this country because he is more than qualified to run the office of the president to a sense for reasonable peace, result-yielding and satisfying the need of Nigeria and Nigerians, that is my position. And we have told the president and I know that Buhari would not get himself into picking a successor. He is a father figure today and every member of the party is looking up to him. Moreover, he has said that he belongs to everybody and belongs to no one. We all have respect for him and we all know that he would not get involved with such individual selection.
Did you say it as APC member or someone from Southwest?
I am saying it as an APC chieftain that the president should not follow Bakare. The advice is not a good one because the president belongs to everybody interested in the office of the president. He should remain neutral and a father figure to all of them and he should remain the leader of the party and government we have today.
Do you think Tinubu can challenge the military kingmakers?
It is not like the military owns Nigeria, they ran the country while they were in uniforms for several years and we all know the result. The thing on the lips of everybody is that the military is not cut out for a democratic setting. Goodluck Jonathan ruled the country so they can’t be the only ones who call the shot. It is wrong to think that it is only former military personnel that is competent and qualified to rule the country. Every Nigerian that has the quality, the leadership capacity to run the nation, transforming it, laying a foundation, to project the future and maximize the resources of the human capital of Nigerians should be the president. Tinubu had run Lagos State and laid a foundation for his successors; they are as successful as he was. I would say that Nigerians need to persuade and encourage Tinubu to accept to run as a president of this country and transform the country into an enviable position as a good nation from the Third World.
Can the same be said of Bode George?
Bode George is a human being. But when it comes to politics, he can’t deliver. He could not deliver his ward in Eko, why bring him up? They are on different standards. They are two parallel lines that can’t meet. Bringing him up is trivializing Nigerian issue, don’t mock the post of the president of this country, he would do better if he picks a councillorship ticket in Lagos than to run for the presidency. By any standard, Bode George is not part of the South considered for the post. He could not maintain and run a political party in Lagos State since he became the leader of PDP in the state. For 20 years, PDP could not make an impact in Lagos State.
So, do you agree with the North holding on to power till 2027?
Everything is about balance, it is about our constitution, there are zoning and federal character commission, equality of opportunity for every Nigerian. If they have done eight years in the north, power should shift down to the south. And by the time the power is coming to the South you know, it is the Southwest that would have it. Unfortunately, I have not seen the Southeast positioning themselves in any political party that can win any election. They are in the PDP and they are part of those who ruined the country, the PDP people! What is important in an election is the vote, what is the percentage of the vote you can generate in the East that will make a reasonable sound politician and political party take such decision. The Igbo are handicapped by the party they are in. The East belongs to PDP; if PDP wants to contest in the next election, will they field a politician from the Southeast? Then don’t expect APC to field a candidate from that zone.
There are reports that APC is reaching its end and that there is a new party coming up, is it true?
Those are possibilities but not true. Buhari will not end his tenure and destroy the party that gave him the ticket. He is not that kind of person and don’t think of him that way. He would like the party to continue so that his legacies can continue. He would want Nigeria to be a united nation. He wants Nigeria to continue and grow stronger both in the economy and politics. People thinking in such manner are bad, indulging in a bad thought. After Buhari, APC will be stronger because we still have our senators and representatives, those people would stand and make sure that the peace and growth continue in this country. APC will continue.
What many people in the party are clamouring for is restructuring and the party is not indulging them, why do you think they should stay in a party that does not believe in their goals?
Do you know what it takes to organize a political party? It is not a child’s play. It takes very serious people with like minds coming together to form good governance. It has never happened in the past that mergers that won the election would break in a short period. None of them will want to wish it away. Nobody that is a committed and patriotic person that must have put in much effort to build APC would suddenly want to destroy it, those who attempted to destroy it paid for it. Restructuring is not a party issue, it is a Nigerian issue. We have been working and discussing seriously on it.
We are celebrating 50 years post-civil war, do you think we have peace yet?
Those who knew war don’t want it. In war, you run away abandoning the people you have laboured to raise and the properties you have suffered to acquire. Don’t discuss the war. He who knows war will never want to hear you talk about it. It is a crime against this nation for anybody to talk about war. We need unity and peace in this country and not war. There is room for improvement but we have done a lot for each other. We have eaten at the same table and married each other which shows that we have done exceptionally well.