Chief Jackson Lakan-Ojo, the National Coordinator of the Yoruba Youth Alliance (YYA), is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Osun State. He spoke with reporters in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), on the disagreement among top party leaders over the controversial governorship primary in Ondo State and other national issues. Assistant Editor GBADE OGUNWALE was there.
What do you make of the disagreement among the APC leaders and the call for the resignation of the national chairman?
The present brouhaha engulfing the APC is not a good development at this critical time. The national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s advice that the national chairman, Chief Oyegun, should resign should not be over amplified by the media as the call could simply mean a very good correctional advice to the chairman. It is an internal affair of our great party and we can employ internal mechanism to settle the matter. Honestly, no man can build house or join others to build an estate and relax when someone is trying to crack the walls. I want to appeal to our national leadership to wade into the matter and settle it before some members of the APC use it to cause implosion. This should not be a political feud. rather, it should be how to correct the insecurity and revive our nation’s economy. We should not allow the almost buried PDP to make the APC a laughing stock.
What should be the role of the APC in the crisis over budget padding in the National Assembly?
If the national leadership of the APC and Mr. President do not want the world to see them as leading a party that contains a bunch of criminals, the APC should exonerate itself from this and let the law take its course. This matter has now gone beyond the APC. It has gone beyond Nigeria; it is a global matter now. The number four citizen of this country is accused of a financial crime and we want to treat it as a party matter? At the end of the day, honestly, the APC will discredit itself and you know the PDP will use it against them and the world will buy it as cheap as akara. Unnecessary interference in this matter will paint the APC black. The whole world has known that these people padded the budget, but they did it very technically. It is not that they added money. Whatever Mr. President submitted was what he got, but when 10 items are there, seven will be there, but the money for that 10 will be made to be for the seven. So, at the end of the day it is what we called ‘wuruwuru’ to the answer in secondary school. You get the answer right but you don’t get the calculation right. That is exactly what has happened. So to me, this thing is a test for Mr. President and to the APC as a party and if Mr. President fails this test and the APC fails this test, even some of us will not have any alternative than to begin to attack the government and the party. When the PDP lost the trust of Nigerians, it lost the 2015 elections that is it.
Some Nigerians view what is happening in the National Assembly as part of the struggle for 2019. What is your take?
Well, some people may look at it and say 2019 is the cause of all these. But I don’t want to agree with that. This is a positive crisis because any crisis that will bring about transparency to rebuild the battered economy, I think it is very good. In the past, things like this would happen but a leader of the PDP will come out and say it’s a family affair. Now Mr. President will not say let me take sides with anyone because he will support my course in 2019. In a normal clime, somebody like Yakubu Dogara would have thrown in the towel. The country is in recession and the Rep members were on recess for over a month and the major issue during the first legislative day was putting on muffler and singing support for Dogara the Speaker who should have ordinarily resigned and tender an open apology to the country. This is the worst assembly in the history of Nigeria’s democracy. It is over to the EFCC to intervene and this will be a litmus test for the government and the EFCC as the entire world is watching whether they will sweep this under the carpet and also if Jubrin will be witch-hunted for opening the can of worms.
How can the APC put its house in order ahead of 2019?
We are in government now and by 2017, we shall be approaching 2019 gradually and we shall begin to witness series of alignments and re-alignments, cross-carpeting of members from their temporary political parties to where they actually belong. There is no crisis in the APC presently, but I foresee a very serious implosion except things are done well to carry along all the members according to the blocks that formed the party. The PDP may not survive becoming one party again as they are presently rocked with both explosion and implosion. I foresee a break-up that will bring about a new political party but Nigerians will not quickly give it votes. The two factors that can stop the 2019 elections may be lack of funds. If the economy is not salvaged and the nonchalant attitude of INEC is not checked. If I have my way, I would recommend the dissolution of the present INEC board. Coming out of 2019 general elections to declare presidential election inconclusive may lead to a serious crisis. An INEC that could not run a constituency election smoothly should not be seen as a reliable umpire. They are a bunch of failures that should not be trusted.
The general belief now is that the APC government can’t deliver, considering the state of the economy. What is your view?
Nigerians are complaining bitterly about the present economic downturn that has gradually brought us down the bottom of the ladder. Since I became an adult, I have not witnessed a sad economic situation like we have at present. Companies are closing down, goods in supermarkets are getting expired because of lack of patronage and begging is being done openly not only in the streets. Petty thieves stealing pot of hot soup are rampant in the neighborhood. Honestly, things are terrible presently and if the situation continues, we are gradually inviting high level of both petty and high profile criminality. The solution is not the issue of APC as the ruling party. If Mr. President wants to listen to the voice of wisdom, he should sack some of his key ministers who are presently not performing and clueless in their various ministries. We are tired of clueless ministers, we are tired of decorative ministers. They have been tested and they have failed woefully. Mr. President had good intentions nominating them and Senate also did well by giving them clearance but enough of this experiment. All inclusive government is needed now as Nigeria can parade an array of best economic experts of global repute. Mr. President should look beyond the party. His efforts should focus on fighting corruption and let us rebuild the economy that was trickily and cunningly handed over by the past profligate and kleptomaniac regime of the PDP. The issue on ground as regards the economy is just like a situation where public water reservoir is perforated and leaking profusely and a leader comes around to stop the leakages to enable the public enjoy the water. The reservoir must be locked during the rehabilitation period. Definitely, the water supply must temporarily cease and if the people can bear the situation, water will flow well for the benefit of all after the repairs. President Buhari is facing these repairs of our massive economic leakages now and we must bear with him for some time as there is light at the end of the tunnel.
What is your assessment of national security at the moment?
National security at the moment is very fragile but it is very simple to bring to normalcy if the political will is there and proper approach is employed. Apart from the notorious Boko Haram that gave birth to Fulani herdsmen, every other security challenge we are facing is regional agitation, appointment lopsidedness or economic downturn. If for example, the federal government can face the Niger-Delta today and begin to solve their problems gradually with all seriousness, the Avengers, MEND and any other militant group in the region will close shops to embrace peace. That will bring about development. The agitation for a Biafra Republic is purely an agitation for recognition. If the federal government can invest in technology in the South-East, in a very short time this country will do better than Japan or China. If you are comfortable in your father’s large compound I doubt if you would want to break up. The other categories of insecurity we are facing now are the rampant kidnapping and robbery which are simply caused by the joblessness and dwindling economy in the land. If Nigeria’s economy bounces back tomorrow, insecurity will become history. As a matter of fact, I have said this several times but if you are not in government in Nigeria, they will never listen to you. I have said it that access routes to this country through the North-East and part of Northwest are porous. As many of our neighbouring countries speak Hausa and Fulani very fluently. They dress exactly like our brothers in these zones, they have the same religious practice like our people and they freely inter-marry. So they gain entry into our territory without any hindrance. Most of them pretend to be coming for trading whereas they have hidden agenda. They must have overpowered our traditional Fulani herdsmen and unlawfully inherited their cows and move around the country to perpetrate all these satanic acts. I believe that our traditional Fulani herdsmen who have for over hundred years been maintaining peaceful coexistence amongst other Nigerians cannot just change their mentality overnight. But we politicise everything all the time in Nigeria. We have not formed the habit of trouble shooting.
The federal government is considering the possibility of selling some of the nation’s assets to caution the effect of the economic recession. What do you make of this?
Aliko Dangote, calling for the sale of federal government assets and swiftly being supported by the embattled Senate President, Bukola Saraki is an ominous sign and signal that some people are already nursing the idea of buying this country for their private economic gains. It is like selling your house to your tenants and turning back to be a tenant even when the property is still viable just because you are temporarily out of physical cash. Nigerians from all walks of life should rise and resist this satanic advice by Dangote, Saraki and their cohorts. Nigerians should join hands with the government and bring positive advice on how to bring out our economy from its ailing condition.