Chief Akande speaking…yesterday. Listening are (from left) Deputy National Chairman South, Senator Annie Okonkwo, National Secretary Tijani Tumsa and Masari
The Interim National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Bisi Akande, recently spoke with reporters at his Ila-Orangun, Osun State country home on a range of issues, including the prospects of party in the 2015 general elections and other burning national issues. TUNJI OMOFOYE was here and reports.
YOU were quoted as saying that President Good luck Jonathan could join APC, if he likes. Does that mean he is a progressive and do you admire his leadership qualities?
I know the biggest problem of PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) today is Jonathan. When the question was put to me, whether our doors are open to any ACN, CPC ANPP members, it was true I said our doors are open to PDP.
That may be defecting, particularly to Jonathan, if he gets tired of the crisis in the PDP, and that
does not mean that we admire Jonathan. We have many reasons not to admire Jonathan.
I have had two meetings with him in 2011, as well as long telephone conversations with him. I did not find anything in him to be a serious-minded leader. I can say boldly today that Nigerian’s problem is Jonathan.
It should have been easy for Nigeria if we had right-thinking leadership in Jonathan. I said I had written him twice and he had never had any courtesy of acknowledging anyone and I have
discussed serious business in the two letters on what can move Nigeria forward. That shows me that it is with levity that Jonathan was taking the national issues.
I said he is the problem of this country. He is not concerned about the society, but for the second or third election or to return as the President of Nigeria and he reduces Nigerian government to kindergarten governance. He reduces the totality of this country to kindergarten governance.
If you remember, because Bola Ahmed Tinubu insisted that the ACN would not participate in the government of national unity, he sent the Bureau of Code of Conduct after him until he got disgraced.
When (former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji) Bankole didn’t want to support his nomination, he set the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) after him, even as Speaker.
See the crisis in the Rivers State House of Assembly, now he sent the EFCC after everybody, behaving like a kindergarten.
We want a good leader now in our country, not like Jonathan. I don’t have any reason to admire Jonathan. If he came to APC, we would have been afraid, so that he doesn’t bring crisis to our party.
When you talk about progressive, it is a matter of political environment. There is no way you can be in PDP and be progressive, but there is a lot you can gain if you come to APC and learn to be progressive.
We belief that no matter how reactionary you are in PDP, if you come to APC, by the time you see us demonstrating discipline and efficiency, you will be ashamed to stay behind. If you can’t be first -lass, you will be the second-class politicians.
That is why we believe that no matter what you are now, if you join APC, you leave the circle of the expired leadership and come to the circle of disciplined and efficient leadership.
What progressive means is thinking less about yourself, as a leader, and thinking more about the generality of the people.
We want progressive leaders. That is why we invited people from PDP to come and join APC, because it is a progressive party.
What is your reaction to PDP’s statement that APC is manned by expired leadership?
I think Tom Ikimi has said it all, that PDP has no leadership at all, not to talk of expired leadership.
How do you say that leaders of APC are expired leadership? I left Osun State 10 years ago and I am happy that today, I am being celebrated by the good people of the state. Would you call me an expired leader?
Even today, Jonathan is not being celebrated in Bayelsa State where he comes from. What has he to point to in Nigeria as achievement? I don’t want to react to that kind of question.
We are not for abuse; we are for work and business, not for the way they are doing.
If you see the way APC was welcome after registration, you will be anxious to see election come and you will be convinced that APC is a government of change.
It is in the mind of the people to judge which party is the party of change.
There are fears of possible implosion in APC, with the amalgamation of different political parties with different leanings and ideology. What is the leadership doing to forestall this?
The mere fact that people do come from different political parties doesn’t suggest implosion. What do you say about Nigeria has the Fulani, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Ijaw, Ibibio and several other groups? Are you saying Nigeria is going to implode?
If it is yes, then I would be able to answer your question.
Gen. Muhammadu Buhari appears bent on contesting for the party’s presidential ticket. What is the party doing about possible counter-reaction?
Buhari was the head of military junta that sent many politicians, including me, to prison, but Buhari, as a politician, has demonstrated to the whole country that he wanted to deviate from the military way to democratic way of doing things.
We have been working and discussing with him. In the military, they don’t deviate, now they have been deviating with Buhari.
He himself said he was ready to contest in the primary election with members of APC and if he is defeated, he is going to support the winner.
So, the environment of politics or democracy is waiting to change Buhari to a democrat.
I won’t talk about Buhari and the presidency, because I don’t know Buhari’s ambition and I don’t know APC’s intention, because we have not got there. Once we get there, we are going to do what should be done to pick a president.
But I am going to talk about the person of Buhari.
Is APC contesting the November 16 Anambra State governorship election?
We are doing what we can. Of course, in Anambra State, in a fortnight, we will start registration of members and hold congress from the ward to the state levels and quickly produce or conduct a primary to produce our governorship candidate.
Election is not new to us in Anambra State. I know if the election were transparent four years ago, we would have won.
We think that from what INEC (the Independent National Electoral Commission) has just done by coming out boldly to register APC, in spite of all the pressures and obstacles put before it by the Presidency, maybe it would be bold this time and more courageous to give us transparent elections.
And if they do, we would win in Anambra State any day, anytime. Even when we are in ACN, we won and we will continue to win. Today that we are in APC, we have no fear at all; we only need to ensure that the election is transparent, and we are going to create a watchdog forum of people who will make sure that our votes count.
Are those factors that constitute impediment for the progressive coming together in Nigeria no more there, judging by past efforts and the registration of APC?
Impediments before the progressive or the opposition to collaborate in the past have been totally removed.
The major impediment in the past was lack of trust among the leadership or let me say this lack of trust was brought about by lack of political education that has been overcome now. The impediment of government in power made sure that coming together was impossible.
It is a mischief on the part of the federal government to use its access of public funds to destabilise us or inject fake leadership in our midst, which we have now overcome.
The lack of confidence is already in the past. The matter of political education is already in the past and the conflict of trust or the lack of trust among leadership is already overcome.
In Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states, next year and in the presidential election in 2015, I am predicting that we would have successful outings and make life bearable to the people.
Come 2015, APC is going to take over the government at the Villa and we will achieve this through democratic means.
What is your reaction to the resuscitation of the defunct UPN by Dr. Fredrick Fasheun and his recent romance with Major Hamza al-Mustapha?
Frederick Fasheun has always being my friend, but I have not seen him in person for about five years.
I read about him in the newspapers, but I don’t think UPN can become a political party without the Act of Parliament, because UPN was abolished or proscribed by a military decree, which is a law, and it requires an Act of Parliament to unban it.
So, Fasheun is a leader of an illegal party called UPN. If he does illegal things or he makes an illegal statement, what do you want me to do?
What is your take on the crisis in Rivers State?
I don’t see it as a crisis. When I started this interview, I said the problem of this country is Jonathan.
Governor Rotimi Amaechi is in PDP and he was thinking that the relationship between the state and federal governments should be according to the constitution.
The situation is that the federal government would just deep hand into the states’ money and spend it in its own usual way. And mind you, Amaechi was leading the governors to go to court to checkmate the federal government in spending states money.
The issue is very simple, as the constitution is very clear, since there is sharing formula, that the federal government can take its money and spend it the way it wants, but let the state take its own and spend it for the people of the state.
Because of that, Jonathan doesn’t want Amaechi to remain the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF). That is the only offence and because of that, they sent the Police and EFCC to intimidate the governor.
It was to your own clear eyes that five members of state House of Assembly wanted to impeach the Speaker, who has the backing of 27 other members.
We all know what happened during the NGF election, when Amaechi won 19 governors’ vote against 16 of Jonah Jang and PDP embraced the 16 votes as winner.
So, what I can say now is that PDP is a party of riggers. This is the reason why we are running from them and before the 2015 elections, PDP would show its self more, but Nigerians will not tolerate such nonsense from them.