Defection of G7 governors is beginning of change in Nigeria –Afolabi
Ayo Afolabi is the Interim Southwest Director of Publicity of All Progressives Congress (APC), and in this interview he spoke on the merger of the seven aggrieved PDP Governors with the APC, its consequences and benefits for Nigerians. He also spoke on other issues. Excerpts:
How do you view the defection of G7 governors from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC)?
I want to use this opportunity to congratulate Nigerians for it. It means that for the first time in the history of Nigeria, we are having a situation where people who reason that Nigeria has to be rescued from the destruction that is represented in the Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP government, have teamed up with a view to taking Nigeria to the promised land. We have a situation that PDP has been in power for over 12 years with nothing to show for it. It is a story that cannot be told. I remember when Olusegun Obasanjo came to power; one of the things he promised was electricity, he promised employment, road construction including public health. But all these things have almost died and have in fact gone for the worse. We virtually have no road again to travel on. We have a situation that for the past four months where all Nigerian universities apart from the private ones have been on indefinite strike, and yet there is no solution. We have a situation where PDP has brought Nigeria to the lowest possible point and all that we have had been spent. The coming together of some of the other parties to unite forces together is a bid to rescue the nation, and it is very welcome development for the G7 Governors to join the APC, so I congratulate all Nigerians for this laudable achievement.
Of what benefit will the defection be to the nation as a whole?
Whether the PDP likes it or not, whether Jonathan is in agreement or not, the people of Nigeria have come to say No to PDP. There will definitely be a change in 2014, God willing. We have a situation here where all governors are reasoning in one direction. If we have the G7 Governors, the 11 ACN governors, will become 18. That means the majority is already in the APC because the PDP will only have 16 governors, APGA one governor and Labour one governor. That is the position of things and that is an indication that Nigerians have become wiser and they will vote for no other party other than the APC come 2014/2015.
The fear of Nigerians was that the Anambra governorship election episode will be a prelude to what will happen in Osun and Ekiti States next year; do you share the view?
The Acting Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, has put it rightly. He said when you have a bucket of water and you decide to pour poison on a section of the water in that same bucket, will it be right to drink any portion of the water? That is what INEC is doing. They came to tell the whole world that the election was compromised and by no less a person other than one of the INEC officials. Till now they have not gotten the guts to disclose the name of this official. We hope they will not sweep it under the carpet. And that is a prelude, a kind of preparation towards 2014 elections, and the challenge for APC is actually to educate, synthesize, organize and to ensure that PDP is not allowed to rig elections in its favour. I can confidently tell you that we can do that on the APC platform and we will ensure that come rain, come shine, we will ensure one man, one vote. In a situation where INEC in Anambra state went and disenfranchised some people will not be tolerated. A situation where INEC officials’ compromise election results in Anambra state will not be tolerated in 2015. It is a prelude, and we are all learning from it. We will prepare for it.
Your party has distanced itself from the proposed national confab, was that right?
We have a situation where the President woke up and set up a constitutional conference advisory committee. It has no legal standing and so it cannot stand the test of legal contest if we have to go to the courts. Let wait and see what that advisory committee will come up with, and it is only then that we will know what direction they are going to. It is only President Jonathan whom I know and have seen that will call a meeting and not have an agenda for that meeting. What he has done with the confab is not to have an agenda; the variable of a national conference; that is not the process to set it up. For years, the South-west in particular have been advocating for it, especially when we have a constitution that was claimed to have started with we the people, when no people other than the few military top shots come together to coin that which is a fraud on the society. We have not had a constitution in which the people have been duly consulted. What will happen is, if he goes ahead and it gets to the National Assembly, the national assembly will ensure that the wrongs are righted. Once that is done, all Nigerians will queue on board. What Jonathan is putting down is not the right thing, and we will ensure that we fight it, and we will ensure that it is hijacked, and we bring out the best.
But your party has been asking Nigerians to disregard it, is that right?
The party is right to say that if there is no legal backing, they will not participate. Two, it is not the political parties that will call a conference, or that will be invited to a conference. A conference is supposed to be put together for the people of Nigeria that is the ethnic nationalities. Every ethnic nationality needs to be represented at a conference. It is only when we have that kind of setting that we can decide on the way forward. When the amalgamation was done in 1914, there were no political parties. It is the ethnic nationalities that signed the treaty with the colonial government. So the ethnic nationalities that will now come together to decide whether they want Nigeria or not. It is not for the parties to handle.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) is still claiming that it will soon reclaim the southwestern part of the country, what is your take on that?
I don’t think that question needs worrying one’s mind or brain over. Here in Osogbo which is a state in the South-west and that is prevalent in all the states in the South-west. Tell me where PDP is? There is no PDP again in the south-west because the people have come to realize that PDP is a party of marauders and scammers. They took over government, and for eight years in the South-west except Lagos, you couldn’t see any landmark. The infrastructure went into decay. Health facilities went far below even serving as consultant clinics. Education was in shambles. Tell me what they didn’t destroy, and upon all, they embezzled the people’s funds which could have been used in developing all these items that I have mentioned. And now that the people have seen the performance of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in Osun state, Kayode Fayeni in Ekiti state, Senator Abiola Ajimobi in Oyo state, Ibikunle Amosun in Ogun state, and Fashola in Lagos state. And even nearby Oshiomole in Edo state, tell me how PDP will be able to contest any election. Whoever is boasting about contesting any election and defeating APC in the South-west is definitely deceiving himself. Maybe, he’s looking for an opportunity to see if there will be any crumbs that will fall to his or her legs from Abuja.