Senator Babafemi Ojudu is a leader of All Progressives Congress, APC. Confronted with questions bordering on national issues and coming elections in Ekiti and Osun states, in his Abuja residence, last week, the seasoned journalist opened up on how the Jonathan-led PDP government plans to make 2015 a do-or -die affair. Excerpts:
Obasanjoâ€™s letter: the issues, the denials and the realities
Obasanjo is the cause of the problems we face now because he sowed wind and when you sow wind, you reap whirlwind. But it is also not right that his pointing out the problems bedeviling the country is wrong. I think what the President was supposed to do was not really a reply but a response onthose issues raised. He ought to have summoned his aides, take a critical look at the issues raised with the intent to make amends here and there and convince Nigerians that, â€œOkay, I have seen the letter.
Issues of fundamental threats to our continuous practice of democracy have been raised. People that are working with me and I are working on it. We are attending to the issues so that we can save our democracy and our nation from collapsing.â€
That should have been a better way to attend to those issues.
In the President Goodluck Jonathanâ€™s reply to Obasanjoâ€™s letter, it was denials and counter-accusations galore. The bomb explosions in Rivers State where Governor Amaechi is rumoured to be one of those listed for assassination are referred to in the letter. Look at the impunity that is going on in the state. What is your reaction to the fact that the realities of the letter, denied or not, are now coming to bear? What does this portend?
This portends dangers for the country and our democracy. It is very scary that those things are happening and those managing our affairs are not seeing them as problems.
Whoever is authorising the Commissioner of Police, Mbu, to do all those things he is doing should realize that the man is not even serving his interest. Mbu will become history in no long time. It is the people who have been given the responsibility to serve this country that will be blamed. I think, at the level of government, at the level of the executive, the legislature, we need to come together and put a stop to this.
At the Senate, before we closed for Christmas, security chiefs were invited and they briefed us on the progress they were making on security. But that obviously is not enough. We need to get the executive to come to the fact that something better needs to be done. We are becoming another Iraq and Afghanistan. You know, today it is bomb blast, tomorrow, it is people are killed in Maiduguri, bomb factory is discovered in Yobe. It is not good for our democracy particularly when those things are happening as we move close to another general elections.
If these happen during elections, how do we manage to get out of them? How do we campaign? How do people seeking elective offices move around to let the people know that, â€œThis is what I have for you and this is why I think I am different from the other person.â€ This is the challenge and the earlier we get up to work with a view to stopping it very soon the better for us. Let us put a stop to the madness that is going on everywhere in the country. If we donâ€™t do so, we are in for a long night .
With your party, the APC, now moving towards achieving the majority status at the National Assembly, what do we expect come 2015?
You have seen what the party have tried to do . We have done what everyone thought was impossible, that is bringing the opposition parties together to form one formidable opposition party to rescue this country. Why are we doing so?
The PDP and itâ€™s motley crowd has been in power since 1999 and they have not been able to make a change. Rather than find solution to the problems on ground, they are creating more problems for the nation.
Therefore, our leaders thought it fit to bring all the progressives together; even some conservatives to come and join hands together and form a big party. We have drawn up a manifesto that will guide us out of the quagmire we have found ourselves. Nigerians have also seen what the governments of the South-west in the last three years have done in Lagos, Ekiti, Osun, Oyo and Ogun.
The people have seen what has been put on ground within the little resources available. They have seen the possibilities that, with dedicated and focused leadership, a lot is possible even when you are resource challenged.
So, it is with that same confidence that we are saying, â€œLook, let us serve our people. Let us make lives easier for them. Let us provide for their needs and letâ€™s cater for them. Letâ€™s not act as rulers out to loot but let us be leaders who will make life better for the majorityâ€. We are saying let us conduct free and fair elections and peacefully too.
If our party is elected at the federal level, we are saying ours will be a purposeful, responsible and responsive government to ensure quality and affordable education for Nigerians of school ages; provide good and affordable healthcare service delivery, ensure security and change Nigeria for better so that people who want to do business with us can come here and put things on the ground.
Nigerians are fed up with PDP! You wake up everyday without power to do your daily business or you cannot travel freely and safely; your children cannot get quality school to attend at affordable rate; your hospitals are hospitals only in names; your infrastructures are dilapidated; impunity rules the land and brigandage is the order of the day; why and how then can you say that you want this government back?
At a time you told me that, because you were in the minority, your voice did not count in the National Assembly and so that there was no how your impeachment as a corrective measure against the executive could scale through. With the new development, have you moved from where you were?
We are not there yet. In the Senate, we are still in the minority. Those who want to defect have not defected. We just pray that when they defect, we are going to see a difference and surely we will see a difference. We will be able to make people-centred laws. We will be able to do things more positively in a way that will work for the general good of Nigerians. We will be able to carry out our oversight functions more effectively, and stop the impunity ruling the land. But we are not there yet.
Even at the House of Representatives where many members of PDP have defected, the majority is still not clear.
Let us now come to the APC proper. The PDP is said to be bothered as they have made several comments about who becomes the presidential candidate of the APC. Why do you think they are?
Nobody in our party can stand up today and say he knows who our presidential candidate will be. The PDP knows that if we are able to get our acts together in APC, we can come out with a candidate that Nigerians can trust and invest their hope on. That is why they are concerned.
They have seen that the way we are going, putting our acts together and mobilizing Nigerians towards election for change, that they will be nowhere around power both at the federal and state levels. And they have lost focus which is the reason they make utterances which put them up clearly as people who have lost confidence in themselves.
Does that have a link with the latest claim that your APC is an Islamic party?
Of course, that shows a party that is jittery, frustrated and ready to go for broke. The fact that you could go to the extent of dividing your country along religion lines shows that you have lost it and are prepared to hang to any straw no matter how tenuous. For them to have gone to that extent shows that they have lost their values, they have lost focus and so they want to go for broke.
But that is not going to work. I mean there are so many Christians in our party and there are so many Muslims. And there are those that are not even practising any religion. So, if you talk about Tinubu being a Muslim, his wife is a very committed Christian. If you talk about Fashola being a Muslim, his wife is a Dame of the Catholic Church. Audu Ogbeh, one of the leaders of the party, is a committed Christian. Same goes for several others. So, there are so many Christians in the party and there are so many Muslims as well.
When you sit down to look at it, would it be wrong to say that Nigeria will soon be on fire should the situation continue and PDP continues to fan the ember of religious divisiveness?
For somebody in government to play up religious sentiments, he is trying to set the country on fire. We are aware of their tactics, we are not going to allow that to happen. Nobody can set me against another person because of religion.
So, this dangerous issue that the PDP is introducing into our national politics is not going to help us It is therefore incumbent on those of us who have the duty to stop them to tell the world that this is what they want to achieve. Kaka kâ€™eku ma je sese, a fi sâ€™awa danu, meaning that, â€œRather than allow any other party to win, let us scatter everything so that the country can fail and then break.â€
But we would not allow the country to break. We that have stakes in the country are sure that this country belongs to us, our children and our childrenâ€™s children and so, we are going to make sure that it does not break, at least not on account of religion.
Going by the threat of declaring defected governors positions vacant, what will happen in case the PDP carry out its threat or one is even killed?
There is no other way anyone can declare a governorâ€™s position vacant except through the processes laid out by the Constitution. All that threat is just to scare people from further defection. If you have gotten to the level of being a governor, why will you be scared by such an empty threat?
Now, if any attempt is now made to kill one of them, it is like sowing wind; whoever does that will reap whirlwind. You may know the beginning, the end you cannot predict. You cannot control the outcome. A few days ago, they shot at Senator Abe and the people rose and started blocking the roads and they were already going to cause trouble. Suppose he had been killed, policeman Mbu will not imagine what would be the outcome.
Anybody holding a position should know that he cannot be there for more than eight years. After that, you become an ordinary person and then people will call you to come and account. So, let those who want to kill, maim and cause confusion be aware that, at the end of their tenures, they will have to account for their actions and inactions.