By Olakunle Olafioye

A chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Jackson Lekan-Ojo, has said that the ruling party would not survive the February national convention just as he tipped the leading opposition party in the country, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,  to benefit immensely from looming crisis staring the APC in the face ahead of it national convention.

The Port Harcourt-based politician believes that the ruling party will be too unattractive for the disgruntled members of the PDP, who according to him, will be compelled to remain in the opposition party.

In this interview, Lekan-Ojo speaks more on other issues of national importance, including his reported endorsement of the Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio as APC best presidential material from the South.

The number of people aspiring to contest the Presidential ticket on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, continues to grow on daily basis. Do you foresee this impacting on the party’s convention billed for February?

To me, I think they are just trying to bring down the party. When you look at what transpired during the PDP congress the whole world was shocked and surprised. Lovers of democracy appreciated the turn of the event at that time because eventually almost all the offices were filled on the basis of consensus. Since that time the party has been healthy. In this case, when you look at APC ahead of 2023 about four to five Yoruba men are trying to contest.  In the South-south, we have about two or three. In the Southeast we are hearing almost five and one governor is coming out from the North-central. At the end of the day all these people are influential in their own ways. Don’t forget that APC is party that stands on four legs, but with just one head. The first leg is CPC; the second leg is ACN, then the new PDP that came out with about four or five governors and then some fraction of APGA. That united force is not yet in APC till tomorrow and the only unifying factor you see in the APC is President Muhammadu Buhari. When that unifying factor will no longer be contesting in 2023, I can tell you today, as a political prophet, that there will be no amount of political evangelism APC will engage in that will stop its fragmentation into four. The party came to be from four different legs; it will head in four different directions after the national convention.

Going by your projection, should we then conclude that the PDP is coming back in 2023?

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Definitely! When the PDP governors left the party and joined the APC then, some of us saw it and that was what led to the downfall of the party in 2015. If PDP can sustain the current momentum it will ultimately turn out to be the gainer. If Tinubu is not given the presidential ticket there is no way anybody can console him to remain in and support the party. So, it will be to the advantage of the PDP. But then, why are we differentiating the PDP from the APC? Both parties are one; it’s only their names that are different. Rotimi Ameachi and Akpabio were both in PDP and where they were governors for seven and half, and eight years respectively, but today we are calling them APC members. There are a lot of them like that. These people that are calling themselves the Hossana of APC today are the ones that destroyed the country when they were in PDP.

PDP is not without its own challenges. The current national executive of the party is burdened with the onerous task of unifying the party following the crises that trailed the congresses of the party and other issues. Do you see the PDP getting it right before next year’s election?

The new PDP chairman, Iyorchia Ayu is a seasoned politician and one thing I want everybody to know is that PDP, right from inception, has developed the mechanism to settle their crises before elections. That is when and why you hear them say “it is a family affair”. Ayu is a nationalist; he is not like one of the old PDP chairmen. I believe he has what it takes to bring the PDP together. Again since they know now that the only destination for the aggrieved members of the party is the APC, which of course, is not a healthy party for now, they will be forced to remain in APC. In Delta State, the Deputy Senate President, most of his men have moved to PDP. In Gombe yesterday, a lawmaker decamped to PDP. Look at Jandor in Lagos-he is a factor in Lagos, he has equally moved to PDP. So these people are gradually moving back to PDP. All of them are strangers in APC, their home is PDP.  After the national convention of APC on 26th of February and before the end of that month you will see mass movement of people back to PDP and that will crumble APC.

Recently, there were reports about the Third Force taking advantage of the crises in both APC and PDP. How does the Third Force come into the equation now?

We saw the Third Force coming out heavily, but then we didn’t know the strategy they are using. What was going to swell the Third Force was the calculation that the disgruntled elements from the PDP and APC will come to the centre to boost the strength of the Third Force. But it appears that the calculation may not work out in the sense that the PDP is doing everything possible not to lose any of its members for now. It will be one sided and without effect if there is no reason for anybody to move from the PDP to the Third Force. The only alternative platform for disgruntled APC members will automatically be PDP. So, PDP may gain more from APC’s crisis.

It was recently reported that you identified Senator Godswill  Akpabio as the best presidential material from the South. What would you say set Akpabio apart from others aspiring to fly APC’s presidential ticket?

Honestly, it was a sad moment in my life when I received that report. Somebody woke me up in the midnight to ask why I said such a thing. Two serving ministers also called me to ask the same question. I told them I didn’t make such pronouncement. One of them even sent me the link to that story and I was shocked to read it. Immediately, I received the report, I called a senior journalist who gave me the contact of the writer of the story. And when I asked him if we had ever met and where I granted the interview he confessed to me that he had never met me and that the story was written and given to him by the Chief Press Secretary to Akpabio. I was yet to recover from the shock when I saw the same story published in another newspaper. I am telling the whole world now that I did not do that. If the entire South can parade an array of presidential materials that can rule the country, how will I rate Akabio as the best presidential material? If you ask me to mention the best 200 presidential materials, Akpabio can never be one of them. Where is Bola Tinubu? Where is Fayemi? Where is Fashola? Where is Ameachi?  The entire South can parade an array of thousand of presidential materials that can rule the world. What has been Akpbio’s achievement in the Niger Delta Ministry? Yes, nobody can deny the fact that he did well when he was the governor of Akwa Ibom State, but that was when he rode on the back of the PDP. Immediately he came to APC his popularity was depleted. What has he done in the Niger Delta Ministry? Millions of people are being owed while so many contractors have died of hypertension because they were not paid. So, how do you think any right thinking person will rate Akpabio as the best presidential material? If I did that it means I insulted a lot of persons like Umahi, Orji Uzor Kalu, Rochas Okorocha, Pius Anyim, who are from the South. How can I rate Akpabio above all these people? Akpabio should not use my name to boast his presidential ambition. I am still consulting because I going to take them to court.