‘Nigerians, Not South West, Will Decide Outcome Of Presidential Election’
Chief Tunde Temionu is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He speaks on the chances of President Goodluck Jonathan and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari in the presidential election, and the two leading governorship contenders in Lagos State, APC’s candidate, Akinwunmi Ambode and Jimi Agbaje of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
What are the chances of the two major governorship candidates in the April 11 governorship elections in Lagos State?
THE difference is clear. Agbaje wants to upgrade his CV, and Ambode wants to continue with his selfless service. Let’s look at the scenario from a short philosophical expression: We take Lagosians for a unit-employer of public servants. It advertises a vacancy for the post of a governor to take over and continue with the good works of the incumbent, whose tenure lapses in May 2015.
Among the conditions for eligibility are: age, qualification, past years of experience in public service. So, if a person whose CV falls below the requirements of these standards applies inadvertently for the job, his application will be thrown into the trash can. And that is what Lagosians are anxious to do by ballot come March 28, 2015, because they did not advertise the post of an apprentice governor.
He who refuses to obey cannot command. It seems that he (Agbaje) does not align himself with the adage that: To do great things is difficult, but to command great things is more difficult. A man who pays respect to the great paves the way for his own greatness.
Records have shown that all the past and present democratically elected Lagos State governors have solid political roots. This man, Agbaje, is known for jumping from one political party to another in search of the party’s gubernatorial ticket. This behaviour makes people see him as lacking a steady political root and ideology. These values are some of the attributes that a governor-to-be in Lagos State must possess.
Obviously, these prerequisites make a wide difference between Ambode and Agbaje in the forthcoming Lagos gubernatorial race. Ambode has practically gone through the system. People see him as a new breed of finance manager and public administrator.
As a Chartered Accountant, he started his learning process in the public service from Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA). Thereafter, he served as treasurer in virtually all the 20 local governments of the state, before he moved to the State Ministry of Finance. He eventually became the Permanent Secretary of that ministry.
He rose to the position of the Accountant General of the state; at a time when the state was undergoing financial victimisation by the PDP-controlled Federal Government. Despite the challenges, he successfully piloted the financial vessel of the state through that period. And that was one of the greatest challenges in his 27 years of meritorious civil service, and professional career. All of these good antecedents make him a better choice for the people. Lagos earnestly needs him.
Which of the presidential candidates do you think has the highest chances of success in the forthcoming election?
Obviously, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
What are your reasons in view of the fact that in the Nigerian democratic setting, the sitting government is the alpha and omega?
You have said it all. “The Nigerian democratic setting”! Under civilised political leaderships, sitting governments are not the alpha and omega. In such civilized countries, political leaders see democracy as the cardinal element of governance. Therefore, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary execute their respective functions in accordance with the principles of democracy to enhance good governance in an enabling political environment. In the interest of their nations, it also becomes the moral responsibility of the entire citizenry to follow suit.
Certainly, democracy is about the people, not about an individual or any organisation. Notwithstanding this, without selective intention, true democracy at times must naturally step on some toes during its functions. All of these are some of the things that make a difference between the Jonathan of the PDP and the Buhari of the APC.
But some people are saying that he killed democracy when he overthrew a democratically installed government in 1983. What do you have to say about that?
That’s what I refer to as being misconstrued. Buhari did not kill democracy. Rather, he rescued democracy. The military, under his leadership, came in when democracy was in distress as a result of bad governance. It was during a situation similar to what we are facing now.
They (Buhari’s team) came in at a time when corruption, nepotism, indiscipline and various anti-democratic related practices were at a very high level of impunity. Unfortunately, his military successors did not allow him to complete the job. Rather, they even injected more incendiary social ills into the polity than Buhari’s civilian predecessor.
But despite Buhari’s short stay in government at that trying period, he etched his name on the stone of leadership discipline. Many Nigerians realised this fact after he left office as Military Head of State. And that’s what the Jonathan leadership lacks.
What have you to say about the adoption of President Jonathan by the leadership of the Pan-Yoruba Political Cultural Organisation, Afenifere, on the ground that he (Jonathan) organized a confab seen as successful but recommendations yet to be implemented?
If you cast your mind back to Afenifere before the tail end of Chief Bola Ige’s lifetime, you will realize that it is not a rumour to say that Afenifere has become factionalized. It is also a statement of fact to say that the ideologies of the existing factions are completely different from the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo-led Afenifere! The highly principled leader (Awo), who resigned as the Vice Chairman of the Federal Executive Council, who also on principle refused to serve on the Chief Rotimi Williams-led Constituent Assembly, would have taken a critical look at the likely outcome of the recently constituted Confab before participating in it. In a similar manner, because we have seen various unutilized confabs, the Chief Awolowo that we know would not have fallen victim to using a project the fate of which has not been determined as a yardstick for adopting a presidential candidate. In this regard, adopting a candidate is subjective, not on behalf of the Yoruba race.
In addition, if the National Assembly must debate the document before it becomes legally tendered, the APC must be in the vanguard of the decision. Suffice it to say that with the handiwork of corruption in this country today, no individual or organisation gives support to a candidate or a political party without a special interest. The claim of clever politicians to have the interest of a particular race as a yardstick for struggling has become an out-dated tactic. Nepotism, greed and corruption have opened the eyes of all races in this country to the glaring fact that the elite are fighting for their personal interests, and not as they claim, for the people! The Yoruba race knows who is doing what Chief Awolowo was capable of doing for the race. They know their leader.
Are you also apprehensive, like many other Nigerians, that whichever way the result of the election goes, there is likely to be an outbreak of violence?
Every nation that jettisons the principles of democracy and the rule of law, and pivots its leadership functions on impunity, rigging of elections and absolutism is prone to post-election violence. So, the only way to avert or tackle post-election violence is to keep to the rules of the game so as not to trigger violence. So, violence without a genuine reason fizzles out in no time.
Do you see the contest between Jonathan and Buhari as a fight between the North and the South-South of this country?
Far from it. It is the usual struggle for power among political parties. This time, the struggle is between the two major political parties, the APC and the PDP. The fact of the matter is that the elite and the grassroots in all the geo-political zones of this country who wish her well are tired of a government that could neither guaranty the security of its citizens nor effectively protect the territorial integrity of the nation. Hence they want to effect change on the platform of the APC.
Religion seems to be playing a serious role in Nigerian politics now. What are the implications of this dangerous development?
The development is unwarranted. From all indications, the APC symbolises peace and national unity. And that will be clearer to all if it takes over power at the centre in May 2015. But unfortunately, as the party is trying to combat ethnic politics, religious politics is creeping into the system. That is not the best for us. A radical approach will be needed to arrest it before it harms our hard-to-achieve peaceful coexistence.
It appears the South West is going to decide the outcome of this election. What are your thoughts?
Nigerians are going to decide the election, not the South West.
There is the fear that the North is simply desperate for power and now finds an ally in the South West, like the late Gen Sani Abacha used Gen. Oladipo Diya and later dumped him. Do you see Buhari doing the same to the Yoruba if he eventually gets hold of power?
Which zone is not interested in power? The APC is sponsoring Buhari, and not the North or the South West. The party is accepted in all the remotest parts of this country because of its ideology, more so that the entire membership of APC in this country and in the Diaspora is made up of neutral stakeholders.
The APC is neither an ethnic nor a religious party. So, what special ownership are you crediting to the South West? The Diya and Abacha drama was characterised by ego and paranoia in the military. Buhari is coming to serve strictly on the platform of democracy. He can do neither more nor less than the provisions of democracy.
What are your thoughts on the call for an interim government and postponement of elections?
It is only coup plotters who can call for an interim government. The postponement of elections is a coup against democracy and the will of the people. Both thoughts and acts are tantamount to callously and shamelessly plunging this country into darkness again.
What have you to say about the sincerity of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)?
I have mixed feelings! The permanent voters card (PVC) arrangements are excellent on paper. But the shady outcome, and Captain Sagri Koli’s revelation after the text running (without the card reader) of the PVC in the Ekiti State governorship election, and the manner of the PVC distribution thereafter, all undermined the sincerity of INEC. Therefore, INEC must prove itself right.