By Lawrence Enyoghasu
Fouad Oki is an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain in Lagos State. He is a former vice-chairman of the APC in Lagos and has been director-general of all the campaign organisations that produced the governors in Lagos State since 1999. In this interview, the political leader, who was a member of the National Liberation Council of Nigeria, regretted the injustice and abuse of the rule of law within the APC, noting that the crisis might cause the APC to implode before 2023.
He also spoke on the activities of members of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), the group that spearheaded the fight for the activation of June 12 1993 presidential election results. In his words, what members of the group are saying about the June 12 incident is not close to the full details of the event. He also spoke on the presumed presidential aspirations of former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, agitation for Yoruba Nation and other issues.
Why all these crises in the APC?
I think what has got us to where we are is the lack of our internal democratic process. It is inefficient. We have not fully subscribed to the tenets of democracy. We do not seem to respect the rule of law, which is bringing self-inflicted problems on the party. We have not fully exercised the doctrine of internal democracy. Unfortunately, we fail to realise why we are seeking power. We are yet to come to a grasp of what is expected of a democratic organization such as ours. We have been on this since May 2018 when the last congresses were held and the shenanigans that occurred in Lagos State, which forced us to go to court. I think the party would have learned from the Lagos, Zamfara, and Bayelsa states where we lost governors’ seats. I think it should have been some lessons for us but it seems we have not learned anything and that is what is still playing out till today in the congresses: There is nowhere in the world that the wish of the minority will supersede the majority wish and that is what you see all over the place. A lot of us do not want a situation that there would be chaos and carrying of arms. We are doing everything to avoid such a situation. A lot of people don’t know the depth of the problem in Lagos State. What we saw in Kwara and other states will be child’s play if you allow Lagos to burn. We have done all that is desirable and we may need to show the world that our “mumu don do”
Are you talking about a particular person?
Let us leave personalities and talk about the system. People who want to bring Lagos to its knees know themselves but either they like it or not, we would take their knee jack from the jugular of Lagos.
Are you planning to leave APC?
We are not leaving APC. The APC democrats are not going anywhere. We built the party together. We are not going anywhere. Do you know what? If they push us to what happened in 2018, we would take some steps, we will take them to court. The court is there. If they think the court will dismiss us, let them do. They have not shown a good face. For instance, the appeal committee that was posted to Lagos is insisting that we must go to Ogba, and if we do not come that we would not have the opportunity to be heard. We said that we would send them our position. They are just hastening the process for us to seek our rights where it is appropriate because I have not seen it anywhere it is done where the people won’t have a say in a party. They want to have an Osun problem in Lagos when you are insisting that we should come to the factional secretariat. I told them to go ahead, they would be losing the opportunity to hear us. It means again that they are exhibiting a predetermined judgment. It does not bother us, it just shows the kind of people we are in the party with – people who are rigid in their thinking, people who have a predetermined mindset, not wanting to understand that they are dealing with real-time human situations. We are not bothered.
Won’t this affect the 2023 election?
I am amazed when people leave the present and start thinking about the future. Why do you continue to jettison the present and looking at the future? If the party refuses to deal with the present situation dispassionately, truthfully, then there may not be that tomorrow they seek. In any case, I am not a soothsayer but I can tell you very clearly, the party may go through an implosion. So, all the window dressing, which the CEC is trying to do, will come to fall. The truth of the matter is the party will implode with the way they are going about it.
Is Buhari doing enough?
What do you expect Buhari to do? Nothing. Yes, he is the arrowhead and flag bearer. We elected him to run the government. Why bring him into the matter? Some people have been appointed to clear the Augean stable started by the mismanagement of Adams Oshiomole. If they can’t do it, let them leave the stage for those who can do it. Part of the problem of the committee is, not wanting to shake the table. They want some people to feel they own the party, they want some people to feel they can show disdain and flagrant violation to extant rules. Do you know what the court dislikes? A situation where you rape and violate your own rules. The problem is, the party through the instrumentality of its operation in the past Congress has clearly shown that it has no regard for its own rules. If not, how would you go through congress in a location where there is no membership registration available to conduct congress? It is a design, in my opinion, to fail because you can have an election without having the number. What we have in Lagos was an exhibition on how not to do things. There was no congress conducted. It is clear in the electoral act of 2010 what is expected of a political party in its own internal process and exercise. The question is, do we believe in the rule of law? Are we a serious people? Why are we flouting our own law? We have found ourselves where we have abandoned the rule of law.
What is your opinion of the agitation for a Yoruba Nation?
I don’t believe in it. During the days of the struggle by our fathers on the status of Lagos, they stood by what they believe. I am from a colony of Lagos and I am a federalist. If there are issues, let us look at them. Yes, things are not working. There are insecurity issues, inflation and others. This is a country that the poor man will continue to be poor. Let me remind you, there is a part of Lagos that was agitating for the creation of Lagoon State. Once they grant Yoruba Nation, then the agitation for the Lagoon State would come up. People have forgotten the Kiriji war that took a long time to settle. The Ijebu people wanted Ijebu State. There would also be a return of all these agitations. The solution is addressing these entire problems. The same thing goes to the South-East agitation. Whoever has seen war would not pray for it again. Part of the problem we have today is their refusal of not teaching our children history. In America, they taught their children about the dark days to let them understand what the people before them sacrificed to make their nation great. Those clamouring for secession were not born before the civil war. Or people who didn’t get the opportunity to read the history of Nigeria because they were not taught. I don’t blame them; they are reacting based on their knowledge of the country.
Do you think the president should be zoned to the South in 2023?
I don’t believe in handouts. I want a president who understands the nuisances of governance. The person must be a true Nigerian. The person must know that what we need is unity, fair play, justice, equity, and empathy for the most vulnerable ones among us.
Do you see all those qualities in the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Tinubu?
If he declares interest, it depends on others that have declared their interests and their capacities. Those are the things that would determine who I would support. I don’t lick asses. I stand up to anybody. Even if he were the only one contesting, I would still rate him with my standard, if only he is a true Nigerian. I am not just going to support anybody except for the sake of having the ability to ensure justice, equity, fair play, and empathy. I am not even considering him until they start to throw their hats into the ring.
What is the real problem with the country?
It is about people pretending to have Nigeria at heart. A lot of people you celebrate today, I pray by next year you don’t stone them. This is because we are going to expose so much. You will know that the person you are looking at as the messiah has always been part of our problem and would be part of our problem. We will deeply interrogate people’s credentials – people whose ways and deeds caused the current decay in the judicial system. They would be exposed in 2022 when party primaries would take place. A few of those you think would contest for election would disappear.
What is your opinion on Ibrahim Babangida’s June 12 revelation?
Let me tell you something about June 11. I am neither a pro-NADECO nor a NADECO activist. Pro-NADECO were just armchair critics living in Nigeria, while NADECO was the lily-livered group who ran away to seek asylum. The NALICON were those who were in the kitchen and on the field. Those talking these days are the NADECO. They are yet to give us the full account of money raised, where, by whom, and the beneficiary. A few of the pro-NADECO benefited while the NALICON did not. People have asked if I should write an account of what happened but I have refused because I would take the secret to the great beyond. There is much to be said because we were heroes. Nobody would say it.