Doyin Okupe has advised and cautioned Nigerians to put away tribal or religious sentiments in choosing the country’s next president.
As the race to 2019 general elections gathers more impetus, the former Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Doyin Okupe, has advised and cautioned Nigerians to put away tribal or religious sentiments in choosing the country’s next president.
He urged Nigerians to vote for a competent presidential candidate who will revamp Nigeria’s economy. He also speaks on corruption, issues surrounding Accord Party and others.
What is your take on President Buhari’s Executive Order 6?
Democracy is not something that is predicated on the benevolence of anybody. Man, everywhere tries to be overbearing and overpowering in order to dominate his environment. That is why we have laws, check and balance. So, the executive is free to propose whatever it wishes. The legislature is there to do the appropriate thing. The people that the law is meant for also have the right to say yes to it or to reject it. The final hope is the court. I believe this is a test of our democracy. America didn’t get to where it is now by aligning with everything the executive or legislature does. Personally, l am not worried about the order. The democracy is raw anywhere. It is the continuous application of the legal and constitutional frameworks that brightens it up. We will continue to work on this until we get there. The point is that we as a people must agree to be governed according to the rule of law irrespective of the position we are holding. The fundamental pillar of growth and all forms developments of any society is the rule of law. Without the right application and strict adherence to the rule of law, we are living in a jungle.
Do you agree with those who believe that the presidential election will be won by either APC or PDP?
The APC is the incumbent and many things are in its favour. This is what the PDP realised and came out of their shell to acknowledge that it cannot do it alone. They saw the need to solicit support from everybody in the country. That is why they opened their gate and we witnessed the over 40 parties coming in. All shapes of opinions poured in to form a grand alliance. That is the way anybody can defeat an incumbent. In any case, this is what was done before to defeat the Jonathan’s incumbency. So, it is just history repeating itself. And l believe that with this coalition, the APC could be dealt with by the grace of God and the mandate of the people.
What is your advice to the electorate in choosing the next president?
In the past, we have chosen our leaders purely on ethnicity and religion, which is unfortunate. As long as we restrict ourselves to those two pillars, we are not getting anywhere. Nigeria is in a precarious situation. Nobody should become the president by merely hailing from a particular geographical location. Everybody in the country will suffer the consequences of bad governance when the wrong choice is made. We must ensure we allow only the very best among us to pilot the affairs of this nation blessed with abundant resources.
We need a team of those with political and economic experience to occupy the offices of the president and vice president. The team of Saraki/Moghalu or Dankwambo/ Moghalu will be fantastic. These are intellectual people with vast experiences. The era has passed when Nigerians said it didn’t matter who became the president. Now they know that it matters a lot. I am begging Nigerians to vote for the very best. Nobody will have a company as big as Nigeria with over N500 billion capital and then use somebody who has never run a five million naira business to head it. That will be garbage in garbage out. Some of the best people in the world are Nigerians so why should we be having leadership problem.
It is because we as the electorate have been making the wrong choice. People talk about corruption but everybody in Nigeria is more or less corrupt. We must come together and say that corruption is endemic and resolve to stop it now but we are going to get our leaders from Nigeria not Ghana. We include in our constitution things that will not allow our leaders to be corrupt or to encourage it. Once we put that in place and have a very vibrant legislature to do the check and balance, we are on our way up.
How do you assess the relationship between the Senate president and the APC?
You cannot be a lead singer and raise a chorus when nobody is ready to dance to it. Everything that APC has done since he became president of the Senate is to harass him, try to jail him, to sideline him and destroy his political career and family name. When the party began to make institutions of government disobey he National Assembly because of one man, it is obvious that the APC has in every way shown that it does not want Bukola Saraki in the party. For the fact that he has survived this long is a great statement for his tenacity, courage and strength of character.
Saraki being a gentleman that he is has not in any way abandoned his duties. He continued to do his job despite the frustrations, attacks and persecution. He continued to contribute his quota to solving national problems. Saraki is one of the few politicians that are trained and tested. If Nigeria were a country where leadership is as a result of flow of hierarchy, Saraki is one of the people that we should be looking at to venture into the race for the presidency in 2019.
Why is your party, Accord Party, not part of the new alliance with other parties?
Accord Party is a wonderful party that was well-positioned to be the real top force in the country but unfortunately it is headed by the National Chairman, Alhaji Mohammed Nalado who is almost a 100 per cent All Progressives Congress (APC) member. This is unfortunate. He has been the chairman for almost ten years but nobody has contested even councillorship position in his state under the party. These kinds of people just use the party to enrich themselves. When the former President Olusegun Obasanjo coalition came, they approached us and wanted to come out under the party but they were not sure if the national chairman could be trusted and Obasanjo called me to tell me the same thing. He has even endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari and assured him that members of Accord Party would work for his re-election bid, which many members don’t subscribe to. The chairman is an absolute political disaster. His roles in the last few years have been inimical to growth and wellbeing of the party and that is why we are not represented at any level.
Since he is from Daura in Katsina State, l advised him to resign honourably and then focus on campaigning for Buhari. It is in his best interest to resign so that he will not be disgraced. I have advised him that his kinsman man (Buhari) cannot be contesting an election while he is in charge of a party that is opposed to the president. You cannot betray the party members to please the president. The chairman is acting with impunity as if he is the owner of the party which is constitutionally wrong. We stakeholders of the party in the South-West, South-South, South-East, North-East and North- West are totally against the chair- man’s actions. Nalado’s term expired since 2014. We didn’t want to go to court in order not to embarrass the party. It is a young party and we want to develop it without engaging in rancour.