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Friday, 17 October 2014

"Why Buhari should rule Nigeria - Igbokwe

It pays Nigeria to be ruled by Buhari before he dies —Joe Igbokwe 18.Oct.2014 DISQUS_COMMENTS Rate this item1 2 3 4 5 (0 votes) Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State, Chief Joe Igbokwe, tells KATE ANI the reason 2015 is a make-or-break year for Nigerians, especially in their choice of the president. He also speaks on other contemporary issues. Excerpts: How would you rate your party’s chances in the 2015 presidential election? Our chances are bright. From state to the federal level, no one but God can stop APC from winning, and God is on our side. The opposition party has destroyed Nigeria. It is our time to fix it. General Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar have declared their interest to run for president. What do you think are the chances of each candidate to clinch your party’s ticket? Both of them are powerful and intelligent leaders. They are eminently qualified to occupy the office. They both have the capacity to take Nigeria to the next level, but only one person will emerge as the standard-bearer and I want you to leave that to the party to give Nigerians a candidate in the fullness of time. Some Nigerians see General Buhari as being too old to face the demand of the office of the president, given contemporary challenges in the country. Don’t you think this notion will affect your party’s chances of producing the next president if he wins the ticket? Age has got nothing to do with it. We need somebody to restore sanity in Nigeria. Buhari has been a very consistent person. He is arguably the most disciplined past head of state. If there is anybody that can fight corruption in this country, it is Buhari. The man has been consistent, disciplined, firm and incorruptible. So, if Nigerians want to wipe away corruption, Buhari is the man. If truly Nigerians want to fight corruption, between Atiku and Buhari, I would pick Buhari. He has been very consistent. In 2003, he amassed almost 12 million votes. In 2007, he scored more than 13 million votes and so did he score massive votes in 2011. Buhari will be given a chance to rule this country and nothing is going to stop it. Isn’t that up to Nigerians to decide? Yes, it is, but I wrote a letter recently to Nigerians telling them that if they wanted corruption to be eradicated or reduced to the minimum in this country, they should choose Buhari before he dies, so that nobody will say that he was the best president Nigeria never had. And I repeat, right here, now: Nigerians! If you want someone to address corruption efficiently, Buhari is the man. Have him before he dies. As a Nigerian, how well do you think the Federal Government has done in tackling the myriads of problems facing the country, especially security? They have failed in every aspect of our national life. No energy. In 1999, we were under 4,000 megawatts. In 15 years, we are still under 4,000 megawatts. You can see the poverty in the land. The presidency said it had reduced poverty to 50 per cent, which is a lie from the pit of hell. There is massive unemployment in the land. And how do we know this? The recent recruitment conducted by the Nigeria Immigration Service wherein almost six million people applied for 3000 jobs. To make matters worse, nearly 30 people died in the stampedes. Corruption is eating deep everywhere. The other day, they exported $9.3 million to South Africa. There is insecurity in the land. The president cannot secure Nigeria. They have lost control of the armed forces. The armed forces are even too weak to fight. The Nigerian armed forces that were rated high during the 60s, 70s and 80s are now running away from rats like Boko Haram insurgents that have no training. What can you make of that? If the president cannot guarantee security, as the commander-in-chief of the Nigerian armed forces, then there is no reason for such government to exist. The president is not in control because they are looting everywhere. Our hospitals are ruined while they travel abroad for treatment. Can we compare any of our universities to anyone in the world? We cannot. So, we have failed in all facets of our national life. We need change. Compare Lagos, where APC has been in the saddle to the Federal Government. While the Federal Government has been going down, Lagos State has been going up. Investors have been coming in. We have cleaned and developed Lagos. We have connected Lagos to the international community and the state is now a choice destination. We have ensured independent power supply to critical areas in Lagos. What have they done? Looting in Abuja. These characters need to be swept away so that Nigeria can move forward. Didn’t you hear (US) Senator John McCain when he described Nigeria as having a non-existent government? Now, where are the missing Chibok girls? They can’t secure their release. They were saying that APC was the political wing of Boko Haram. Now that they have pointed out those who are responsible for all these things, has the Federal Government arrested them? They have not. They have lost focus and therefore, they must go. The fact is that (President Goodluck) Jonathan is not qualified to run again. Olusegun Obasanjo, from the South-West, ruled for eight years. Jonathan, by next year, will be six years. If you add six and eight, it means the South has ruled Nigeria for 14 years. Power must go back to the North if we are still one political entity. If Jonathan gets another four years, it means that they have ruled Nigeria for 18 years. That is unacceptable. That is not what we struggled for. We struggled for power to move between North and South. Jonathan wants to destabilise that equilibrium but it will not work. It is a threat to national unity. It is a threat to our corporate existence. So, he is unqualified. Your party’s national leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, is believed to own ‘almost all of Lagos State.’ How would you react to this? It is a lie. They are envious of the man. How can one man own Lagos? What does he have? You are listening to people who don’t do anything but gossip. You know, if a man is ahead of you, the only way to bring him to your level is to begin to level allegations against him. The man is a leader. He has trained a lot of people, including me. It is just like a football pitch where there are only 22 players while thousands of spectators clap, some gossip and others do other things. But the real action is being performed by the 22 players and perhaps the referee and linesmen (assistant referees). You got it? So, let them gossip and talk when action is going on. Asiwaju is one of the best leaders we have in this country because you can only know a man by the calibre of people that surround him. Senator Tinubu was recently said to have been secretly flown abroad to address some health challenges? What is the state of his health now? He only went away to rest for three weeks. When the media speculated that he was ill, he came back looking robust, fit and more energetic than ever, just to prove them wrong. After the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) issued a statement that Asiwaju should tell the world about the state of his health, the man returned and they kept quiet. The PDP in Lagos State has vowed to wrest power from the APC. How seriously is your party taking this challenge? There is no challenge. We do not have a competitor; PDP does not exist in Lagos State. They don’t have the structure to even dream of winning Lagos. Even money cannot get them Lagos. They should be spending money and pushing billions into Lagos, but Lagosians will only collect their money and vote for APC. Lagosians are too sophisticated to be deceived. You cannot buy Lagosians because they are wise, educated and appreciative of good things. We have opened up Lagos. We have raised the bar in Lagos and touched lives in Lagos. The world respects Nigeria today because of Lagos. You cannot remove a winning team. If a team wins the World Cup, would you want to disband the team? No, you wouldn’t. I can tell you that the Yoruba do not want PDP anywhere on their soil. But Lagos State is not inhibited by only the Yoruba? Insofar as it is in the South West, it is a Yoruba state. They can’t afford to leave it to any other party. PDP had been a disaster in the South-West, an unmitigated disaster. I think that is the appropriate term. They want to make desolate, all the achievements we have recorded in Lagos, which is unacceptable. It was a shock to many, especially those from the eastern part of the country, when you, an Igbo man, supported Governor Babatunde Fashola’s deportation of some Igbo to Anambra State. What made you turn your back on your own people? What do they call deportation? So, you have allowed them to deceive you by calling that deportation? Let me explain to you what deportation means: if, one morning, the Lagos State government comes and takes me and my family, puts us in a truck and takes us to the east, that is deportation. These are people that are not complete. They had no homes and letters were written to their various state governors. You see, people play politics with everything. In Lagos, the Igbo are many and have made a lot of money. They own properties and nobody has deported any of them. It was a situation that was blown out of proportion. People were calling it deportation just to ridicule the APC government in Lagos. Most Igbo came to Lagos with nothing but they have made money and excelled. After the development, their elected leaders came to the government house, asking questions and he explained to them. The governor showed them evidences of the letters he wrote to the governors of Anambra, Akwa Ibom and other states to come and claim these homeless people on the streets of Lagos. It is done all over the world. Even in Abuja, they did it. Which one is right: to pack them and dump them inside the bush or to take them to their home state where their relations will find and pick them up? You see, they wanted to play politics and they got away with it. But the truth of the matter is that Governor Fashola has done very well. What is your take on the contention between the Lagos State government and the presidency over the success recorded in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease? You see, these people in PDP know nothing. They want to take undue credit. Governor Fashola and Governor Rotimi Amaechi (of Rivers State) handled the Ebola cases with intelligence. We expected the PDP to acknowledge them, but instead, they wanted to take all the credit, saying that the Federal Government was the one that dealt with Ebola. They didn’t mention the brave governors who ran 440 and tackled the situation. But shouldn’t the Federal Government be given credit as well for releasing the fund used in fighting the disease? If you want to go to the moon now and they give you all the money in the world, you cannot go to the moon. Money cannot solve a problem that needs common sense and intelligence. We did not say that the Federal Government didn’t make an input, but they failed to recognise the fact that Governor Fashola handled this case in a very intelligent manner. That was our problem with them. The president didn’t mention Governor Fashola’s name in his speech; he was saying it as if it was the Federal Government alone that solved the problem, which was why the Lagos State government reacted. Give credit to whom credit is due; don’t take credit for something that you did not do; that is a fraud. Instead of them to thank him for containing the spread of the disease to other states, he just said it was done by the ‘opposition,’ in a scornful way. That shows that they have no respect for common sense, integrity and honesty. What is your take on the crisis rocking Ekiti State? Do you know how that problem started? The moment PDP gave Ayo Fayose its flag, 11 professionals from Ekiti State went to court to seek interpretation of the fact that this man has two murder cases in court, was still under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as the commission said he had a case to answer and that he was impeached and that by the time he was given the flag, that impeachment had not been reversed. That was why those people went to court. And fortunately for Fayose, he was elected - but we believe that the election was stolen. And that case was still in court when he was elected. Has your party anointed any candidate that will take over from Governor Fashola in the next governorship election? No, we are still searching. Lagos has a way of doing things. The moment a governor is sworn in, we commence looking for another person to succeed him and we have started a long time ago and we are still waiting. When we get to the bridge, we will cross it. But Lagos can never put a mediocre in the saddle. Lagos is too important to be left in the hands of mediocres. Do you think Lagos people will be up for deployment of soldiers in the state during the 2015 elections like the cases of Ekiti and Osun states? It is undemocratic. During the Ekiti election, our leaders were going to that state and they stopped them in Akure (Ondo State). They went to Ekiti and stole that mandate and gave it to this man called Fayose. When Osun State election came, we went there, they couldn’t steal it. Even with all their security, they couldn’t steal it. In Lagos, come 2015, we are waiting for them. I pity anyone that would try what they did in Ekiti and Osun in Lagos State. But don’t you think the presence of soldiers is desirable during elections to forestall violence, ballot box snatching and other forms of malpractice? If they had come to do their work, there would be no problem, but you saw the hooded security men in Osun State. What did they go there to do? Do you know what they went there to do? If they put security in place to safeguard the people, then, no problem, but if it is to help you win election, then you will be fought to a standstill. Elections must be won and lost in Lagos with fairness. No amount of intimidation will stop Lagosians from doing what they want to do. If it forms the government at the centre, what will the APC do to stop Boko Haram insurgents? If we are elected, in six months, you will see a change that has never been witnessed before in this country. We have many ideas. APC is a party that preaches change. It is a party of ideas, which believes in serious development and progress. In APC, we don’t make statements just for the sake of it; we make statements because we have something to back them up. When the time comes, Nigerians will know what we have for them.