Hon Ade Adeogun is a former gubernatorial aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Ondo State. The APC House of Representatives candidate for the Akoko South West/East federal constituency shares some thoughts with LEADERSHIP on sundry national issues. OLAJIDE OMOJOLOMOJU brings the excerpts:
The All Progressives Congress, APC, seems to have found itself in the same precarious situation the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, found itself exactly four years ago and which contributed to its defeat in the 2015 general elections. Don’t you think history is about to repeat itself once again?
The situation of the APC today appears to be similar to the state of the PDP in 2015. Hopefully it would have a less damaging outcome. The leaders of the APC have a few months to address the lingering problems and put everything under control.
I am hopeful that at some point the warring leaders would also put their selfish interests aside to embrace the interest of the greater majority of the people. The APC is bleeding because most of its leaders are yet to come to terms with the true tenets of democracy, which is popular participation.
The Nigerian political class, irrespective of the political parties they belong, must understand that the people are central to the advancement of democracy. Without the people, it would be a different model of governance.
What happens if the warring leaders of the APC refuse to consider the interest of the greater majority?
Then, history would simply repeat itself. The good thing about all of these is that there are antecedents, dangerous precedents for that matter. So, it is my hope and prayer that our leaders are not too blindsided to notice that they are moving towards a cliff.
With all the crises trailing the conduct of the primary election in the APC, what is your view about the performance of the party come 2019?
We cannot deny that the conduct of the primaries in most of the states were perfectly imperfect and left much to be desired. At this junction, it is expected that the national and state leadership of the APC would set necessary machinery in motion to reconcile all aggrieved members, whether their grievances are genuine or not.
I am certain that if the needful is painstakingly done, taking into consideration the diverse interests of all stakeholders, all those who encountered negative outcomes at the primaries can become winners. With a win/win approach to reconciling aggrieved members, all the issues arising from the perfectly imperfect primaries can be laid to rest. Only then can the party really expect to win the next general elections.
The two major candidates for president ahead of the 2019 election are above 70 years of age. How do you view this vis a vis the ‘Not Too Young To Run Bill’?
Age has never been an impediment to political attainment in Nigeria. The impediment has always been the high entry barriers imposed by the custodians of power, such as huge capital outlay and the machinations of political godfathers. Look at the last PDP presidential primaries in Port Harcourt and the resources that were deployed by the leading aspirants. How many young aspiring Nigerian politicians can afford to gamble with such humongous funds?
Look closely at the case of Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, who was so sure that he had the PDP presidential ticket in his inner pocket until the owners of Nigeria Plc came up with their joker and he eventually became a runner up. The fact that young people, who were social media agitators before the passage of the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ law aren’t showing similar commitment to supporting young but not so rich candidates of the lesser known political parties is a story in itself. The ‘Not Too Young To Run’ Act is a good step, but we must reform the electoral system to lower other entry barriers so that the younger Nigerians would no longer be shut out.
Some APC governors are already working against the party ahead of the 2019 elections, what effect do you think this will have on the reelection bid of President Muhammadu Buhari and the chances of the APC in the general election?
I read in the dailies that a number of APC governors are aggrieved because of the manner the primaries were conducted. I don’t think any governor would be so angry as to undermine the re-election of President Buhari. It is only the unwise who cuts his nose to spite his face. So let’s not believe all we read on the pages of newspapers. It is not all the time that you see cloudy skies that it results into rainfall.
And as far as I know, it would be in the interest of the aggrieved governors and party leaders to employ the internal mechanisms for conflict resolutions available in the party than throw away the birth water with the baby.
An aggrieved senatorial aspirant in Ondo State recently addressed the media, threatening to take the National Chairman of the APC to court or defect to another party. How will such threats affect the fortunes of the APC in the general election?
Democracy allows the ventilation of grievances, provided such expression is done within the limits of the law. No one can deny anyone with genuine grievances the right to ventilate same. We should even be glad the aggrieved aspirants are taking democratic options rather than working for the downfall of our democracy.
I believe that most of the aggrieved people are genuine party members and they may reconsider their positions if genuine reconciliation efforts are made by the party leadership.
How the defections would affect fortunes of the party in the coming election is a matter of conjecture. But we all know that N100 would have lesser value if one naira is deducted from it.
Since the struggle for the tickets of the various political parties for various elective offices, there seems to be a lull in herdsmen and farmers’ clashes. Doesn’t this lead credence to claims that politicians are behind the clashes?
Come to think of it, the reduction in herdsmen/farmers’ clashes would appear to be an unnatural coincidence. Perhaps, ‘the boys’ are busy elsewhere, tending to the political herds. On a serious note, anyone with a fair knowledge of herdsmen/farmers conflicts in Nigeria would know that it is seasonal with fewer conflicts during rainy season and more conflicts during the dry season.
What should your constituents be expecting from you should you succeed in the election to represent them in the green chamber?
First our people should expect robust representation. Secondly, they should expect regular and periodic consultations and town halls/stakeholders’ meetings where their views and positions on national issues would be collated.
With my representation, the constituents can be rest assured that their voices would be heard loudly and clearly by the rest of Nigeria and their views/interests would matter when the affairs of the Nigerian state is being discussed.
Also, the people of Akoko South East/West should expect an economic renaissance, because we will strive to attract government and private sector interventions that would reposition the constituency into an active economic centre where our people would become job creators and wealth generators. I can assure you that our representation will be a win-win situation for our people, as they will be the better for it.
Do you think the PDP has any chance of reclaiming power in 2019, based on the present situation on ground?
You guys in the press are under the erroneous impression that the PDP is on the ascendancy, far from it. The PDP is more fragile than the APC, but its leaders have managed to use paper walls to cover the cracks. How long it would last? I don’t know. That not withstanding, the chances of the PDP reclaiming power in 2019 depends on how the APC is able to manage its internal dynamics and resolve all the crises trailing the primary election across the country. If the local leaders of the APC across the states fail to rein in their egos and personal and selfish interest, they would be handing over to the PDP the elections on a platter of gold.
It is in the interest of the people of my state that the APC retains power at the centre so that we can join other stakeholders to ensure that 2019 becomes too soon for the PDP to reclaim power.
How would you assess the performance of the APC based on its three-prong promise on security, economy and corruption?
The APC-led government has done well in all three fronts, the insurgency in the Northeast is under control, the herdsmen conflicts is under control, restoration of road and rail infrastructure is being diligently pursued, the economy is looking up after recovering from a global economic meltdown and corruption is no longer a fashionable vice like it was four years ago.