Power Game SERIES
By FEMI EZEKIEL
Chief Femi Alafe-Aluko was a governorship aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Osun State.
Optimistic that the PDP would reclaim its lost mandate in the 2014 Osun state governorship poll, the former Alliance for Democracy (AD) chieftain, who fell out of favour with the party due to what he described as “lack of internal democracy” believes that the
Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has reached its political peak and is downward bound in the relevance scale.
In this interview with Sunday Sun, he predicates his submissions on the defeat of both the party’s gubernatorial candidates in Kogi and Ondo states respectively, despite the huge financial resources committed to the elections.
Assessment of Nigerian politics vis-à-vis political parties
First of all, I think we should give glory to God because we have 13 years of uninterrupted democracy. Although I will call it more or less civilian regime, it is improving and we will eventually get there. The last two elections that were held in Edo and Ondo states respectively have portrayed us as an enlightened electorate. We all know that there is a worldwide depression. If you have been watching the American presidential debates, you will find out, especially the last one on foreign policies, that the economy played a dominant role during the debate.
The problem with Nigeria is not economic. It is not that we are not making money but I believe, that the oil revenue is not properly managed. Nigeria was in the same economic situation with Asian tigers in the early 60s, and now countries like Singapore, Malaysia and others have moved ahead. India and Pakistan are now nuclear power countries. The per capita income of Singapore is one of the highest in the world. We used to be the giant of Africa and can only be a giant by economic and military might. But nonetheless, the future is still bright; there is still light at the end of the tunnel.
I think the current government is doing everything humanly possible to ensure that the welfare of the people is taken care of.
How PDP-led government can lead the country out of the woods
I believe Mr President is going to help this country. Although most people may not agree with the composition of his cabinet but I know him as a listening president and he will make the right corrections. But in some instances, we have round pegs in square holes and some square pegs in round holes. There have been speculations here and there that he was going to shuffle the cabinet and I am sure whenever he does it, he will do the right thing.
Advice to the masses
My advice to the masses is that they should cooperate with the current government because Nigeria is an indivisible entity. We should not base our politics on ethnic or religious colouration. We should choose leaders who can deliver, who have the interest of the country at heart.
We want leaders who are not just interested in politics for their pockets but just like the late American President, John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country”. These are the set of leaders that we want; not ‘chop-and chop’ leader. Like I said earlier, that we would eventually get there and politics is coming to play not based on party platform but on personal/individual performance and ability.
In the last two elections, Adams Oshiomhole won in Edo state not because of the party platform on which he contested. It was the same in Ondo state. So, the people have come to realise that they need leaders who can deliver. What are your antecedents? It should not be because you have an octopus as party or because you have someone as god- father, but who are you? Can you perform? Yes, it’s going towards that which I believe it is a good step in the right direction. We are more enlightened and everybody is shining his or her eyes. So, 2014 and 2015 is going to be interesting but anybody clamouring for Nigeria’s break-up is only hallucinating.
How to resolve economic and political threats across the country
I think Boko Haram is number one socio-economic problem, with a bit of political undertone. But I am sure Mr President will succeed, if the UK government could rout IRA. This country belongs to all of us and problems can be solved through dialogue, not by bombing or killing. How many do you want to kill? How do you fight someone who wants to commit suicide, somebody who wants to die? But I believe they have sponsors. So, the option of dialogue is the best.
The fate of PDP in Southwest in 2015 due to intra-party crisis
I am an unrepentant believer that PDP will reclaim the mandate that was given to it in 2003. There’s a saying in Yoruba land that you only appreciate a good husband after you have tried two marriages. They have experienced ACN-led and PDP-led governments and I am fortunate to have been a member of both parties. I have contested for the governorship seat of Osun state on both platforms and I can conveniently talk about both parties.
The elections in Ondo state have shown that ACN has got to its peak. After 2007 general elections, PDP was locked in the bottom and after that, they won a House of Representatives election in Oyo state. Even when ACN is in government, the PDP also won a House of Representatives seat in the 2011 by-election. In Ondo state as well, despite all the financial resources, all the propaganda and everything, they could only get the third position.
So, there is hope. We will reclaim our mandate and I am very optimistic about that. Although, there is still much to be done including the way we choose our party’s candidates, but I am sure our current national executive is working hard to instil discipline in the party and I think we can go to the general elections as an indivisible party. If with all the factions, PDP could come second in the recent Ondo state gubernatorial election, imagine if the party were united, they would have given Mimiko a run for his money. We all know what the problem is, and I am sure our elders are doing so much to rectify it.
Probe of former governor Olagunloye Oyinlola by ACN-led government in Osun state
Well, I am not saying anybody is above the law but if you are calling for a probe, make it transparent; let it be a probe that people will see as just, transparent and fair to all parties involved. It shouldn’t be a political probe. What the people are more interested in is what you can do. If you are there now, tell us what you can do. You don’t just delve into the past.
A lot of resources are going into this probe, resources that could be used to develop the state. Let us move forward, not by probing people but by providing good roads, regular electricity. That doesn’t mean I support corruption but don’t make it vindictive. That is what I support. I cannot make further comment until I see the report of the probe.
How to tackle corruption
It has eaten deep in the heart of our society. I read an article about two days ago on the Harliburton probe, the one involving $180 million in which Nigeria was indicted.
Yes, we have all the institutions including the EFCC and ICPC but I always ask, how many people have been successfully prosecuted?
We saw recently in America where high profile names were put in jail just for being accused persons. It is not when you jail someone who stole N1 million or N2 million and you give a national award to someone who stole N20 billion. No! We should fight it headlong and it should start from the top.
I believe Mr President is so determined to fight this corruption. May be those who surround him will allow him to fight the vice but I know that he is fighting the war against corruption. Everybody knows the problem with Nigeria and everybody can write a few things about the problems with Nigeria. Anybody can write a white paper on the problems with Nigeria. That has always been our problem. Like I always say, we shall get there. The whole world is now a global village and people have been caught at the Airport, taking dollars out of the country. It is not about prosecuting the person that is taking out the money. Go after those who sent him because it is not easy to have seven million dollars. It’s not small money. Who are the people behind it? These are the people they should go after. The mere fact that the guy was caught and it was reported in the newspapers and people are aware of it, is kudos to the media because they would have killed the story.
My ambition ahead of Osun state governorship election in 2014
Well, 2014 is around the corner but I think it’s too early to talk about the elections. Nonetheless, I don’t want to be a professional gubernatorial aspirant. I had tried it twice, one in 2003 on AD platform and another in 2010/2011 on PDP platform. But I will plead with our elders that we need someone that can win elections; someone the electorate would have confidence in; someone who people believe because perception is a great ingredient in politics.
I am not saying finance is not important, but we want someone who can win election and deliver. It should not be because you are in ACN or PDP, but who you are and your antecedents. We have many qualified people in PDP who can deliver the dividends of democracy but I have no doubt that come 2014 elections, PDP will reclaim Osun state.