Ade Adeogun, a former governorship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State, speaks with OLAJIDE OMOJOLOMOJU, on what President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term bid portends for the nation just as he also scores the APC on its performances so far
President Muhammadu Buhari has finally made known his intention to contest for a second term. What implication do you think this would have on the polity?
It is President Buhari’s constitutional right to seek a second term and nobody can deny him that right. In a way, his declaration offers some measure of political balancing to the North/South divide in Nigeria, as it concerns the rotation of the office of President.
With him seeking re-election, the North is having a shot at a second term, meaning that the presidency would naturally revert to the South and possibly the South East in 2023. It would also allow his party to focus on seeking ways of getting him re-elected, rather than worrying about possible internal crisis that could emanate from any hard fought presidential primaries.
The downside is that he has activated election mode, meaning that the focus of government would now shift from service delivery to electioneering.
What would have been the implication of tenure elongation of the All Progressives Congress, APC, executives on the party before and after 2019 had President Buhari not opposed it?
It could have undermined the cohesion of the party. It could have led to avoidable crisis. My understanding is that the one-year extension of tenure was nurtured by the leadership of APC, as an interim measure to reduce internal acrimony within the party, in an election year. Notwithstanding the good intentions of the advocates of elongation, it was at variance with the APC constitution. Mind you, the plan to extend the tenure of offices of existing ward, local government, state and national executives of the APC was already being challenged in court by aggrieved party members before President Buhari’s intervention. The fact is no one can predict the outcome of such litigations and the distractions they could cause.
What is your assessment of the APC government in the fulfilment of its core promises of fighting corruption, security and the economy?
In the area of fighting corruption, the APC government has, through the implementation of certain measures, ring fenced public funds, such that access to the treasury is more difficult. In that area, Buhari has done well. However, I am not in any way saying that corruption has ended. Definitely not. The fact is that nobody can end corruption in Nigeria, because most Nigerians are not averse to corruption. What they frown at is the ‘colonization’ of the commonwealth by a few. So battling corruption is no mean feat in a country where the citizens clamour for democratisation of corruption rather than its elimination. Relative to the situation of things when the APC took over government, it has performed fairly well in tackling insecurity in the North East and the Niger Delta. Sadly, the menace of armed herdsmen hasn’t received similar level of success.
What about the economy?
On the economy, the APC government has steadied the economy after initial hiccups and opened up opportunities in the non-oil sector. The government has also done relatively well in the area of investments in infrastructure and it is reflected in the growth of the power grid from 3000 megawatts to 7000 megawatts, and the progress recorded in trunk A roads reconstruction and in rail transportation. I believe that hard lessons were learnt from the economic meltdown of 2016 and the managers of the economy have shown better capability to manage the economy within the last 16 months.
There has been clamour for giving the younger generation a chance in the governance of the nation. Do you think the youths are ready for such responsibilities?
Clamour by whom for whom? How do you explain a situation in which a group with over 70 per cent of the voting population is pleading with the people who constitute less than 10 per cent of the voting population for access to power? Who has the most influence on the outcome of elections? I think our youths are like a dog tied to a stake with ropes made with plantain fibre, who assumed that it is held down by a chain. Like the dog, the youths will not know that the harness holding them back from political leadership is weak until they test its elasticity.
We should not be asking if the youths are ready for leadership, given that the older people in whom governance have been entrusted have not excelled in the handling of governance. So in a situation in which the majority of our leaders have shown nothing but mediocrity, we have no reason to question the competence of the youths? The only reason people ask if the youths are ready is because they have not taken what is within their reach. When Nigerian youths wake up from their self-imposed slumber, they will galvanize their voting strength to elect leaders that speak their own language. Those with power will never voluntarily cede power to the youths or any other group for that matter. Those who seek power must take it. Even the Holy Bible said that ‘the Kingdom of God suffers violence, and the violent takes it by force.’
You are in the race to represent Akoko South East/South West at the National Assembly. What are your plans for the constituency if elected?
Akoko land, of which Akoko South West and Akoko South East constituency is part of, is one of the least developed sub-nationalities in Nigeria. It is one of the few places that have suffered persistent economic and infrastructure neglect.
All federal roads in the area including the trunk A South West-Okene-Lokoja-Abuja roads are in states of disrepair. Each budget year comes and goes without any significant Federal Government investment in Akokoland. It often appears as if Akokoland does not get any share of the federal commonwealth. Akoko is about the only district in the South West that does not have a single private enterprise that could employ up to fifty people. It is obvious that Akokoland is poor. Our people are ravaged by poverty. Our youths are perpetually angry from the frustration of facing a bleak future. So if elected, my first responsibility will be to give Akoko people a voice and work in synergy with other people in government to ensure that Akoko people begin to get a feel of the government.
Secondly, we will use the visibility offered by the National Assembly to attract investments into the economy of Akokoland through the promotion of small businesses in the areas of agriculture, entertainment, tourism and innovation. My goal is to seek avenues of attracting capital to support businesses in the constituency, such that the area would become a cluster of businesses and centre of innovation. We will provide leadership for our people and get the youths to learn from the economy of Aba and begin to turn their skills into avenues to grow wealth
There has been so much angst in the land over the emoluments of the National Assembly members. What are your thoughts?
I remember that not too long ago, there was a proposal to make the job of legislators a part time one. The idea was to reduce the cost of governance in Nigeria, reduce the desperation for political offices and ensure that only people with legitimate and sustainable means of livelihood seek election into the National Assembly.
I think at some point we need to revisit this idea. In a country where the minimum wage is N18,000 monthly, I don’t see why a ‘servant’ should earn on a monthly basis the lifetime wage of most of the people he offered to serve. If, as Senator Shehu Sani said, the emoluments are meant to fund projects in the constituencies, Nigerians must seek avenues to ensure that funds so disbursed are used for the purpose for which they were disbursed rather than as personal pocket money of the recipient. In any case, that our legislators collect money on behalf of the constituents and unjustly convert such to personal use is a measure of their greed.
What are your thoughts on the emergence of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) as a Third Force?
Is the SDP the Third Force? So what is the place of Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM)? If at this stage, we don’t know which is the Third Force, then your guess is as good as mine. Mind you, where did the members of the SDP and the CNM, or even Olisa Agbakoba’s National Intervention Movement, NIM, come from? Were they not the same people that were in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) APC, Alliance for Democracy (AD) etc? What is the difference between a ‘Danfo’ and a ‘Kombi’ bus? What is the difference between ‘Keke NAPEP’ and ‘Keke Marwa’?
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