Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) spokesman, Joe Igbokwe, is always at his best element when defending actions affecting his party.
In this interview with Sunday Sun, he said that the insecurity in the land is being sponsored just as he countered the comments by ACF chieftain, Mohammed Abdulrahman, on how the president will emerge in 2023, advising that his views should not be dignified.
He looked at what is wrong with Igbo politics and what needs to be done, among other national issues. Excerpt:
How would you react to the statement credited to Alhaji Mohammed Abdulrahman in his recent interview with Sunday Sun that it would be impossible for any Southern Christian to be president of the country?
Was Olusegun Obasanjo not president? Was Goodluck Jonathan not president? So, why can’t others emerge? If somebody sits in one corner of Nigeria and just be making noise and you people (media) will just be taking him seriously… Both Obasanjo and Jonathan have been Christian presidents, so what makes him think that no other Christian can emerge? Is he God? We have had Christians that have been presidents….Was Gowon not a Christian Head of State? So, what makes him think he knows the mind of God? What is the meaning of that? He probably does not understand the dynamics of Nigeria. He is just saying his own thing, he is just saying his opinion, it cannot be substantiated, he has not facts. It is the votes that will count, he that is talking has only one vote, I am sure he doesn’t understand what is at play. It is serious politics and if you have a shallow mind you will not understand what is going to play out. So, it’s big politics, not somebody just in one corner of a place and just wants to be in the news. When you get to the football pitch you see thousands of spectators, but only 22 players are in the field doing the job, others will be clapping, shouting, doing all kinds of things, but real actions are in the field of play with the 22 players. So, whatever you call his name he may just be one of the spectators in Nigeria’s politics, the real actors are doing their permutations and calculations and when we get to the bridge we will cross it. You know talk is very cheap, you can say whatever you want to say, but the real action is out there and big players know what is involved. He is at liberty to say what he is saying. Everybody is at liberty in a democracy to say whatever, anything the person likes. When the chips are down then we talk about the realities on the ground. It will begin to manifest itself, left and right, front and back, up and down. It is then you know those that are men. It’s not everybody that talks that should be given attention because some want to attract cheap popularity.
He even indicted the national leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu that he should bury his presidential ambition in 2023 as he is not a true Muslim and two-faced, meaning he cannot be trusted?
After President Buhari in 2023, power must come to the South, I don’t know where it is going to go to, but this is what I know, okay? The real politics is being played in the field, spectators can be doing their own, and when the time comes we will see it. Tinubu is a man of great philanthropy, he has touched lives, he has given his service and is still doing it, he is a great political player too…so, let’s not preempt 2023 now until we get to the bridge. It is not every view that must be taken seriously. Some views need to be ignored rather than dignified.
When you look at what is happening in Nigeria today can you say you are satisfied with our situation?
I am satisfied because. Number one, we still have democracy. If you go to Chapter 7 of my book “Heroes of Democracy,” I said it is not over until it is over. You see, I didn’t know that after the struggle we will have a party like the PDP in power that almost rendered useless what we struggled for. But no matter the way you look at it…democracy is better than any military regime, no matter how good you think that regime is anywhere in the world. So, we are getting better, of course, there will be challenges, but you know it’s not a one-dash race, it’s work in progress and with time you overcome. We are getting better if you look round, but we are not where we are supposed to be because power fell into the wrong hands in 1999, they retarded our progress, but all those things they destroyed is what the APC is repairing now.
Most Nigerians are worried about the delay of the ministerial list given the consequence it will have on the nation?
No, why, how, for how many months? Was it not just the other day, just recently that he took the oath of office? Let me tell you why it’s being delayed. Before you bring those names it must go through security checks by the DSS, I am sure you know that? They will have to do a thorough investigation about the person, that is the work of the DSS, before you send the list to the National Assembly (Senate) otherwise you will bring it and they will just rubbish it, you go back, so you have to be very sure of the names you are sending, their credibility and all that. But meanwhile the system is going on, the permanent secretaries are there, everybody is there so work is going on nothing is being retarded or neglected, but we should make haste to make the ministers come on board and I am sure they are sensitive about it.
Are you really worried about the security challenges that we are facing today in the country?
Well, for me, I am seeing the security challenge as fake, it’s just the fallout of the 2019 election, people want to sabotage the system, it’s not real. The losers of the election are bent on bringing the government down, it’s not natural, and the security trend you are seeing is man-made. You know we have been on this thing for too long, I am a writer and we look at things deeply, it’s the fallout of the 2019 election. Those who lost in the election have sworn that there will be instability in this country. They are the people sponsoring them, but they will be defeated, mark my word they will be defeated in the fullest of time. It’s being sponsored, but we will bring the war to their doorstep and they will be defeated, the way we defeated them in 2015 and 2019, we will defeat them again. This government will defeat insecurity, we will defeat Boko Haram, we will defeat the insurgency, yes, life and darkness have no meeting point. We will defeat them because they are agents of destruction, they can never get anywhere.
Do you think Nigerians will get things better now from the 9th Assembly as the preferred candidates of the party emerged in leadership positions?
Of course, didn’t you see the struggle? Didn’t you see the campaign? You know we missed it in 2015 and Saraki and co thoroughly messed us up. They made mincemeat of the government in place, abused the president, abused the courts and abused due process. Now, you can see the work we put in place to get him out of that place, we didn’t only get him out of that place we made him to lose Kwara State, the state they, the Saraki dynasty, have pocketed for over 40 years now. The dynasty has been crushed, this is a big game. We now have the leadership of the National Assembly that will cooperate with Mr President, taking decisions with frightening speed because the National Assembly leadership will cooperate with Mr President. That in itself is a humongous achievement.
You think that won’t amount to a rubber stamp Assembly?
No, no, no, not a rubber stamp, you saw what these people (PDP) did to us, they were fighting the budget, in whose interest were they working? They were not working for the nation; they were working for their pocket. They padded the budget, now it’s not going to happen again. We now have a National Assembly that will pass the budget as and when due, after the due process they will pass it because they are in a hurry to get things done. Saraki and co delayed governance, punished Nigerians, mismanaged our money, it’s not going to happen again.
Some critics say that leadership in Nigeria has become essentially transactional…?
(Cuts in) No not under Buhari, we have implicit and total confidence in this president. You know leadership comes from the top; initiatives must come from the leader, that’s the man we are looking at…, if you steal money he will catch you the way he is catching them now and then. Can’t you see how much that was recovered from former President Jonathan’s wife on Monday? He is dealing with corrupt people.
But some are of the view that the anti-corruption war is lopsided and used against the opposition as a witch-hunt and not those in the APC?
But you know that there are also those in the APC that are in the EFCC net? Go and do your investigation well and you will find out. Many of them that are in the APC are in court so that you are in the party does not stop anybody from prosecuting you if you are found to be corrupt. The anti-corruption battle is not one-sided as some people claim.
People of the Southeast are clamouring for 2023 president of Igbo extraction. How feasible is it?
Well, it is the right of any section of this country to aspire to produce the president in the land, but where are your plans? We asked them (Igbo) to come into APC in 2015 they refused they went to PDP, we asked them again in 2019 they refused, I can’t say much. But I can only say that the Igbo are due to produce the president of Nigeria for the sake of national unity. Even though politics is a game of number, yes I know, but I am in the APC and I have millions of people in APC and I think if Nigerians want peace, if Nigerians are looking for peace, if Nigerians consider the fact that since 1970 this vibrant section of people have not produced the president of Nigeria, they are not strangers in this country, even though we have not played our politics right. We have not positioned ourselves. Assuming that we had 30, 35 or 40 per cent of the vote in the five states for the APC, it would have been easy for us. Are you going to be president with the vote of other people? But if you are looking for national unity it’s something that is imperative, it’s something we need to do for the sake of national unity. A people sit down and know what they want politically and then strategize rightly towards achieving that purpose. Is the Southeast playing the right politics that will get them what they want? We probably need to think about that.
But Obasanjo became the president and the Southwest did not support him…?
(Cuts in) Do you know why he became the president? There couldn’t have been anybody that will be president in 1999 except the Southwest because their son won an election. Yes, Abiola won and that was a big stake they had in their hand that was why the president was ceded to them. You remember it was Olu Falae and Obasanjo. It was zoned to them because Abiola finished the battle. Abiola won the election fair and square. We (Southeast) have not won an election or have they? So, what are you going to bring to the table? South-south can make a claim that you are eating their oil, that we are using their oil to develop Nigeria and, therefore, they must be president. What are you bringing to the table? The only thing we are bringing to the table is because of national unity, that Igbo should produce the president. We need to reassess our strategy and play real politics rather than what we are doing now.