My problem with Jonathan, PDP, by Bisi Akande

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By Gbenga Olarinoye
A former Osun State governor and Interim National Chairman of the newly registered All Progressive Congress,APC, Chief Bisi Akande, was quoted as describing President Goodluck Jonathan, last weekend, as a ‘Kindergarten Leader’, sparking angry reaction from the Presidency. Below is the full interview of Akande who spoke in his ancestral home, Ila-Orangun, Osun State.

How true is the statement credited to you that your party,APC, is not interested in the 2015 polls?

I would rather say that I was misquoted. We are a major party in 2013 and you think such party would not be keen about 2015? We are very much keen about 2015. The only thing I said was that our pre-occupation as an interim leadership of All Progressive Congress (APC) was to mobilize and register members and to conduct congress and convention to establish a good structure endurable for the new party. And that the priority was the Anambra election and possibly the Delta Central senatorial election which would come up anytime from now. That was what I said, but to have said that we are not concerned about 2015, it was a misunderstanding. I did
not say that.

You were quoted as saying President Jonathan can join APC if he likes. Does that turn him to a progressive and do you admire his leadership qualities?
I know the biggest problem of PDP today is Jonathan. When the question was put to me as to whether our doors are open to PDP members that may be defecting, particularly to Jonathan if he gets tired of the crisis in the PDP, that does not mean that we admire Jonathan. We have many reasons not to admire Jonathan I had two meetings with him in 2011, I also had a long telephone conversation with him, I did not find 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 have a thinking leadership in Jonathan. I wrote him twice on the state of the nation, he never had the courtesy of acknowledging any of the letters, and I discussed serious issues there and how we can move Nigeria forward. That shows it is with   levity that   Jonathan is taking national issues. He is not concerned about the society but for the second or third election as president of Nigeria and he reduces Nigerian government to Kindergarten governance. In other words, he is a Kindergarten Leader. 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 (Jonathan) was disgraced.

Chief Bisi Akande

When Dimeji Bankole didn’t want to support his candidate for the speaker of the House of the Representatives, he set the EFCC after him. See the crisis in the Rivers State House of Assembly, now he sends EFCC after everybody behaving like Kindergarten Leader. We want a good leader now in our country, not somebody 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 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 and we believe that, no matter how reactionary you are in PDP, if you come to APC, by the time you see us demonstrating discipline, efficiency, you will be ashamed to stay behind;
if you can’t be first class, you will be a second class politician. What progressive means is thinking less about yourself as a leader and thinking more about the generality of the people, not thinking of allocation of money for Lagos- Ibadan Expressway and doing nothing but talking on radio or television that you have done a lot of work. If  Jonathan is progressive, before flagging-off Lagos -Ibadan Expressway, the contractor  and machinery would have been in place.

Go to the expressway now, you won’t see anything happening there. Maybe, next year, he would come out and tell us why it was not possible to do the road again. That is reactionary leadership. We want progressive leaders like Governors Fashola, Oshiomole, Aregbesola, Fayemi. Go and see changes.

What is your reaction to the  accusation leveled by the  PDP that APC is manned by expired leadership?

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I think Tom Ikimi 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 ten years ago. I am happy today I am being celebrated by the good people of Osun 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, business, not for the way they are doing.

Hon. Olayemi Olabanji (formerly of the House of Representatives) spoke in Kwara State at a forum that APC is a party of government- in- waiting. How do you react?

It is not Olabanji alone that has that mindset. If you see the way APC was welcomed after registration, you’ll 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 ideologies. 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 with constituents like Fulani, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Ijaw, Ibibio,and several other groups?   Are you saying Nigerian is going to implode ? If it is yes; then I would be able to answer your question.

As it is, General Muhammadu Buhari appears bent on the APC presidential ticket. What is the party doing about possible counter reaction?

Buhari was the head of a military junta that sent many politicians including me to prison, but Buhari, as a politician, demonstrated to the whole country he wanted to deviate from the military way to democratic way of doing things; so, we have been working with him, discussing with him. In the military, they don’t deviate, now they have been deviating with Buhari. He himself said that he was ready to contest in primary with members of APC and, if he is defeated, he is going to support the winner. I think he said something like that and, in the military, you don’t need to be defeated, you arrest those who want to contest with you and you kill them. So, the environment
of politics or democracy is waiting to change Buhari to democrat.

What is your reaction to the clamour for generational change in leadership as people like Sen. David Mark, Jonah Jang, Murtala Nyako still hold sway as political leaders?

Don’t let us make a mistake, those who you mentioned were invariably leaders under the military
and there is room for them to be leaders all over again in democracy. It is a pity today that Nigeria refuses to move forward in the  hands of reactionary leadership generally. Our constitution is
therefore to consider that once you serve as governor for two terms, no way for you again. So, if it is implemented, and we don’t replicate the person like ex-President Obasanjo for third term election, by the time we begin to have less and less people of that tendency, subsistence system would become more reasonable. And if you remember, when we assumed office, the only place where we had is
Lagos and, if you look at the subsistence system in Lagos and compare it with the subsistence of the Obasanjo system, you will be able to say the different is that subsistence of progress was that of Lagos State ACN government, subsistence of retrogression was that of PDP government. So, if
our constitution is properly adhered to, I think subsistence would not be a problem for Nigeria.
But the tendency to want to circumvent the constitution is what is leading us to what you describe now as recycling of leadership and that was what people called expired leadership.

Why have education and provision of infrasructures which are catalysts for development been our bane in Nigeria?

That is what corruption has done to   us as a people. We have schools today without education, successive governments are building schools, but inside these schools, no education is given to students. So, education is being relegated to the background. People are going to school and coming out without being educated. The corrupt leadership could have been taken through technology if electricity   is working but   corruption would not let Nigeria have good electricity but this can be decentralized like they did to telecommunication if they can do it. PDP has no courage, it is only progressive party that can do it, many of them are there to share our money; the only thing that can help us is   decentralization and privatisation.

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Is APC contesting the Anambra governorship poll?

We are doing what we can in Anambra State. In two weeks time, we will start registration of members and conduct congress from ward to local government and to the state level and
quicklyconduct a primary to produce our governorship candidate. Election is not new to us in Anambra State. I know if the election was transparent four years ago, we would have won, but because we belong to a country where the leadership of the security like the Inspector -General thought that he was the President and not independent Inspector- General of Police and we think that from what INEC has just done ,coming out boldly to register APC in spite of all the pressure and obstacle put before it by the presidency, may be the INEC   would be bold this time and more courageous to give us transparent election.

And if they do, election is not strange to us in Anambra State, we will win any day, anytime. Even when we were in ACN, we won and we will continue to win. We only need to ensure that the election is transparent and   we are going to create what we call watchdog forum-People who will make sure that our votes count.

Are the  factors that constituted impediment for the progressive coming together in Nigeria no more there, judging by past efforts and the registration of APC?

The impediment before the progressive or the opposition to collaborate in the past has 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. And impediment of government in power was making sure that coming together was impossible. 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 and that is why
we have APC as a reality today. In Anambra, Ekiti and Osun in 2014, and in the presidential election in 2015, I am predicting we would have successful outings and make life bearable for the people. Come 2015, APC is coming to take over the government at the Villa and we will achieve this through democratic means.

On the Lagos and Anambra controversy on deportation of Igbo.

This is what I can call quality of mischief. If you remember
in 2009 shortly before the election in Anambra State, the same Governor Peter Obi was displaying the pictures of Awolowo, raising up the hand of Dr Chris Ngige or something like that, just to call our member a candidate or a member of  a-Yoruba party and it was dramatized the same way  he is dramatizing this Lagos- Anambra face -off. If you read Lai Mohammed, he reminded us that Obi started it in Anambra in 2011 by throwing out people from Ebonyi. What he is accusing Lagos of doing to Anambra today is not strange. Even in   America, it happens from state to state- where you exchange destitute. Fashola has done the right thing by writing to Obi that
there are some destitute here in Lagos. He asked Lagos to bring them to Onitsha bridge for some people who will take them but nobody was there to take them home. So, what did you expect Fashola
to do? They are just making a mole out of a mountain.

What is APC leadership thinking about bringing Kwara and Kogi on board?

On   Kwara and Kogi,I don’t think PDP currently have stake on it any more. Since the beginning of APC, things have changed. If you go to Kwara North,judging by the 2011 election, they were largely CPC while Kwara South was essentially ACN   and Kwara Central either ACN, CPC, or PDP and, at the end of the day, it happened that PDP won many of these wards which would soon be coming to APC. I know many of them have been worried since Jonathan started sending  the EFCC after Bukola Saraki because Jonathan style is that if you are not in speaking terms with him, like Obasano before him, he would start sending the  EFCC after you. Like Bukola Saraki, the signal has already gone through the generality of Kwara State that APC is their final hope. But in Kogi,  we were rigged out in the last general elections. By the grace of God, we are going to win both states.

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What is your take on the current crisis in Rivers State?
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. Rotimi Amaechi is in PDP and he was thinking that the relationship between the state and the Federal Government should be according to the constitution. The situation is that the Federal Government would just dip its hand into the state money and spend it. And mind you, Amaechi was leading governors to go to court to checkmate the Federal Government.

Bisi Akande and Goodluck Jonathan

The issue is very simple as the constitution is very clear since there is a sharing formula, take your money and spend it the way you want, 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  Governors’ Forum Chairman.

That is the only offence and because of that they sent the police and EFCC to intimidate the governor and five members of the  House of Assembly in Rivers state want to impeach 27 other members, and we were here in this country during the Governors’ Forum election when Amaechi won 19 governors’ votes against 16 for Jonah Jang and PDP embraced the 16 votes as the  winner. PDP is a party of riggers. This is the reason we are are running from them and, before 2015 election, PDP would show itself more, but Nigerians will not tolerate such nonsense   from them.

How do you react to the insinuation that Sen.Bukola Saraki and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola are
coming to join APC?

I have not talked   politics with Bukola Saraki before, but if he and his people come to APC,
we are going to embrace them. I don’t know maybe if Oyinlola would come to APC. Olagunsoye
Oyinlola was my very good boy when we were in Alliance for Democracy {AD} before he joined the
PDP. He was in AD, his parents were in the defunct Action Group {AG} and the Unity Party of Nigeria {UPN}. He   has seen good things before he deliberately went to join bad people which is PDP. I whispered to   him here in one of my meetings, ‘what are you doing in the midst
of bad people?   Don’t you see how uncomfortable you are now? You better come back’. Maybe he’s yielding to my advice and if he comes back today, he is welcomed.

What is the position of APC on Local Government autonomy?

ANS: I won’t tell you the position of APC because APC is not a party to the controversy and the matter has not been discussed at any of its meeting, but I will tell you my own mind about it.

There is no federalism in the whole world where you have more than two tiers of government- it has never happened. The moment you have more than two tiers of   government, you are no more practising federalism, you are practising unitary government. We want to practise federalism in
Nigeria and we want to practise it according to the rule of the game. Once you enforce unitary, there won’t be federalism again and if you have federal and local governments, you are going to have almost about 800 states and that was madness.

It is only federal government at the centre and the state at the federating unit, but because there is no sufficient political education to say no, when we were in government, the local government areas formed themselves into what I used to call “ALGON” and the office was created in the Vice President’s office- administering local government from the Presidency and we went to court.

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