The National Chairman, Action Congress of Nigeria, Chief Adebisi Akande, spoke with TUNDE ODESOLA on national issues, his party and the ruling People’s Democratic Party
What’s your position on the state of infrastructure in the country?
My position tallies with the disillusionment of the average Nigerian over the state of infrastructure in the country. You saw the situation at the Police College, Ikeja. How can you get anything good from any policeman or policewoman trained in such a college? The government expends money on it yearly but where does the money go? Look at the situation of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Lagos-Sokoto Road, the country’s rail system, East-West Bypass, Benin-Ore-Sagamu Road and many others. You can’t get to Abuja from anywhere, the roads are bad. Go to the East, the roads are impassable. Erosion has eaten up the East.
Flooding occurred in about 23 states in Nigeria last year, killing people and destroying properties. You can see the proactive step taken by Osun State in checking flooding. In most homes, electricity only comes for few hours in a month. We keep having air disasters.
So, what infrastructure are we talking about? It won’t be out of place to say that Nigeria is a failed state – may be except for a few states not controlled by the typical People’s Democratic Party politicians, because there are a few governors that are not of the Action Congress of Nigeria but they are working in the interest of their people.
Bloodletting and violence by Boko Haram has left the country writhing in the throes of perpetual insecurity. What’s your view on this?
Majority of Nigerians believe that poverty within the country gave rise to Boko Haram while so many people believe it’s due to the jostle for People’s Democratic Party presidential ticket in the countdown to the 2015 general elections. Government may want to negotiate, it may not want to negotiate. Should you want to negotiate, who are you going to negotiate with? If not, why are you not going to negotiate? Government’s primary duty is to ensure peace and tranquility. Unfortunately, it is these key issues of governance that Boko Haram is attacking.
It’s on record that most people have read politics of the PDP into Boko Haram insurgence. The President himself said Boko Haram is everywhere, including his government. The shielding of Boko Haram members by senators and people in power gave credence to the President’s submission. Do not forget that a police commissioner had once deliberately allowed a suspected Boko Haram member run away from police cell. You will remember also that the late National Security Adviser, Gen. Patrick Azazi, had at a public function attributed national insecurity to the politics of the PDP.
If all of these have been the case, it could be submitted that the Boko Haram problem is like a ball in the court of PDP. Should it decide to negotiate, then, the presidency’s interest may be negatively affected. Second term ambition could be the underpinning of Boko Haram. Negotiation may mean shifting ground to accommodate lack of second term for the present occupant of the presidency, but which is most desired by a lot of other interested personalities and groups who may want a continuation of the present corrupt order.
Already, the strategising for the above is already on and some people are already losing out in the power game. The dialogue option may not be workable for obvious reasons. It may be that the presidency may not be in tune with Boko Haram’s sponsors within the fold of the PDP and when a falcon cannot hear the falconer, then anarchy, like we have in Nigeria, is let on the loose. Therefore, the matter of negotiation with Boko Haram will be a matter of expediency as may be dictated by the interest of the President; does he want to hustle for second term and continue to lose more Nigerians to daily killings and bombings or does he want to adhere to the constitution he swore to protect Nigerians? He has a choice to make in all these.
The state of the country has been a source of worry to Nigerians. What do you think?
What exactly should we be talking about in Nigeria that is not known to all and sundry? Is it the corruption, assault on human lives or the ineptitude of the Federal Government to provide basic needs? Is it lack of power or lies by government officials in order to perpetrate themselves in power? Is it the inability to get our priorities right? We seem not to be getting anything right, we keep retrogressing. When other countries are in the moon, we are still dwelling in the caves. A number of good things happened to Nigeria in the past and some other countries came to copy those things. Those countries today have made it good with those things they copied from us. For us, we have lost them all. The values are dead. Calling somebody a thief in the past would evoke the feeling of death for the person but ironically, thieves are leading us today.
The spate of violence in the country has been linked with the 2015 election. Is this the reality?
Many people are linking Boko Harm with the contest for 2015 presidential elections. It may not be out of context to rein in that fact based on the earlier facts supplied. But besides the fact that the present violence is restricted to the northern part of the country, it is expected that there will be adherence to democratic practice as available in a free and fair electoral contest. In 2011, when the rules were adhered to, when the democratic processes were followed to some extent, there was less reportage of violence across the country and the elections were principally declared free and fair by observers. One can only expect that there would be an improvement on the 2011 elections in 2015.
Will your party latch in on the Board of Trustees crisis within PDP?
PDP has never had any serious influence in Nigeria; it has always been forcing itself on Nigerians through electoral rigging and manipulation. PDP has been a house of commotion since 1999. It is only when they have the common interest of cheating Nigerians that they always come together and have a common front. The issue of BoT is not anything serious but a continuation of giving jobs to the boys so as to ensure that the commotion within is reduced. Otherwise, what exactly is the constitutional role of a BoT for a political party? It is supposed to be an advisory body. And if it is merely an advisory body, why would you want to kill yourselves over its chairmanship?
This tells you that there’s more to the PDP BoT than meets the eye. There must be a lot of corruption at the expense of Nigerians. In relation to our party, we have no political capital we have to make out of the PDP BoT crisis because we have a solid and good relationship with the people of Nigeria whom we have always been courting through the enhancement of due democratic processes, good governance and delivery of solid democratic dividends to the people. These are what we inherited from Obafemi Awolowo’s credo, which says “freedom for all, life more abundant.”
A lot of people were surprised that a well-respected monarch in the North could be attacked. What is your take on the attack on the Emir of Kano?
It is very unfortunate. But it tells you how daring the attackers are becoming. The institution of monarchy, especially as it concerns the Emir of Kano, which is one of the leading traditional institutions in Nigeria, is being debased in estimation. Once again, it is a product of the ineptness of the Federal Government to secure lives and property in Nigeria. If the Emir of Kano is violently attacked in such a manner, then who is safe in Nigeria? Yet, all that could be heard from the Federal Government are feeble statements lacking in action. It is a dangerous trend that should be checked from recurring.
How prepared is the ACN for election in Osun and Ekiti State next year?
Like it is well known, performance, delivery of democratic dividends and adherence to the rule of law have always been key issues in ACN-controlled governments. This is our strength and we rely on it so much. As you must have observed, Governor Adams Oshiomhole had a wonderful electoral ride into his second term on the basis of his super performance. I’m sure that not many people are aliens to the ongoing aggressive development efforts in Osun and Ekiti states.
Governors Rauf Aregbesola and Kayode Fayemi are turning their states around for good having inherited a decadent system foisted by the disgraced PDP administrations in the various states. With these sterling performances aimed at making life more comfortable for the people and with many more of such performances to come in another one year or so, definitely we should not have any problem with the people of the two states who are highly politically sophisticated and who appreciate good governance when they see one.
We expect that the Independent National Electoral Commission will provide a level playing ground whereby due process will be adhered to, adequate electoral materials will be provided and made to reach polling booths on time. We also expect that security agencies will be fair and impartial and will reject advances that could taint elections, I assure you the ACN will win at all times if these conditions are provided. The ACN will win not only in Osun and Ekiti but in Nigeria in general.
How do you feel at 74?
There’s nothing spectacular in being 74 without being useful to your people. It is purely the grace of God that has taken me this far. I thank God who has so far given me so much grace and opportunity to come this far.
Culled from Punch.