APC should do more to win 2023 general elections, says Ogunlewe
Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, member of Lagos State All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Minister of Works, in this interview with OBIRE ONAKEMU, spoke on what the party must do to win the 2023 presidential election.
What would you say about APC and 2023 general elections?
WELL, it depends on them; most of the aspirants, who are coming up late may not have a chance. And as you know, becoming a presidential candidate is not a one-night affair. It’s something you must have worked on for about 10 or at least five years. So, APC must be very careful in their search for a presidential candidate. They need to look for someone, who has paid his dues and has invested in the structure of the party throughout the federation, so as to make it easy for them to win. They cannot just pick a new person and win the election. It is going to be very difficult.
Some say your party has lost the support of the people due to poor performance and cannot win 2023?
No, it depends on the candidate picked by the party. If they pick a very good candidate, they don’t have any problem at all. The candidate must be strong and any weak candidate will lead the party to total failure. In Nigeria, the performance of the government has little to do with elections. It is the candidate that will bring up that political party which is why APC must be very careful in the choice of candidate for the presidential election.
And the only person who can stand up to this crisis is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who has prepared very well. He has the structure and he has people to do the work for him. But if you pick a totally new person, it will be difficult for APC to win this election. And they have to work extra hard if they don’t pick Tinubu to win that election.
I’m saying he is well prepared; he has the capacity, he is not somebody that you pick up overnight. However strong you are, you will be defeated because you don’t have the structure and Tinubu has the structure all over and he has a big chance of winning.
Lagos is the home base of Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu and people use Lagos to assess the performance of the party. Do you think that APC is doing well in Lagos?
LAGOS State is a work in progress. There are many projects that are ongoing that require attention and the governor is up to the task and is doing his best to make sure that all those big projects are completed. He also wants the fourth mainland bridge to commence.
At the national level, they are equally trying their best, but there is no fund to complete most of these projects and as you know, they have to go and borrow. But the more you borrow for these projects, the more the cost of materials is increasing and you have to pay more.
So, there are impediments affecting the government’s ability to perform well. There are so many projects that are ongoing and the prices are skyrocketing. So, it becomes very difficult.
Do you think the governor deserves another four years?
Definitely, he has so much to do that we should allow him to just continue for another four years. He has been doing well. We have confidence in him, and I think he will make it by the Grace of God.
He has a lot to do, a lot of projects that are ongoing, that we think should be completed. It’s not a personal issue; governance is a continuum. If you break it, another person will come and start all over and it’s going to affect Lagos State very badly. He has many things that he is doing now. Why can’t he finish them? Let him finish them. Then, another person will now come in another four years. That is my view!
Can you mention some tangible achievements of SanwoOlu?
They are too many; he is doing two railways at the same time– blue line and the red line. In my own community, he is doing so many roads. He has plans to start the fourth mainland bridge and those are the things that will attract people to vote for him. He is equally doing well in Lagos – Badagry Road. Actually, he is doing his best. He has no problem winning the election in Lagos.
How will you rate revenue collection under this governor compared to his predecessor Ambode?
Governors are not the ones involved in generating income. They have institutions and officials who are involved. But when the economy is down, the capacity of people to pay taxes will be reduced. We can now see the downturn in the economy. And these days, when we don’t have light; we don’t have water; we can’t sleep well. Then, who is going to pay tax? You have to take care of the people before they can pay.
And just imagine now, some banks close at 2.00 p.m. instead of 4.00 p.m. because of diesel. So, how much tax will they pay? When they have lost two hours of revenue generation? The more you transact business with banks, the more tax they will pay. So, it is not going to be easy in a depressed economy to maximise your revenue. No, it’s very difficult because people are really suffering.
Is that why some still remember Ambode with nostalgia?
You can’t stop government and government is not one person. It’s a continuum. Once you finish your own and another person will continue. The fourth Mainland Bridge that he is starting now, he will not be able to complete in four years’ time. And anybody coming will take over from him.
That’s the way to govern. It is only in Nigeria that you measure government with performance. No, it is accumulation. Somebody will lay the foundation; you will put the block; somebody will build the superstructure; somebody will do the coverage and that is the way to build a house.
However, I’m appealing to the government that people are suffering. And the government is not communicating with them about their suffering. Nobody is talking to them. Everybody seems to have lost hope in governance in this country. It is extremely bad; when you don’t have petrol and diesel is N700.00 per litre. You don’t have water, you don’t have food; people can’t feed easily. Unless somebody is deceiving somebody somewhere to pretend that everything is okay. It’s not. If we can be complaining in Lagos like this, what about people living in rural areas. It is pathetic. Somebody should brace up and address the nation and apologise to them.
Look at the killings, between 25 and 30 people are killed almost on a daily basis. You kill people like a ram on a daily basis. And nobody is talking; nobody is engaging the people. Now, how many people were kidnapped in the Abuja – Kaduna train incident? We don’t know their whereabouts! Nobody is talking about it.
Honestly, the government needs to do more than what they are doing now. Anybody can win elections in 2023 because people will not come out and vote. It is clear!
Many people complain that their votes do not count during elections in Lagos, that the best candidates don’t win?
It is apathy on the part of the people. As you know, governance is about people and you need to do a number of projects that will attract citizens. If you don’t do so and you are doing big capital projects without touching the livelihood of citizens, they will not come out to vote. If their children don’t have schools to go to, or they don’t have good roads; they don’t have food on their table; they don’t have hospitals and all the basic requirements for them to live are not just there. Then, how do you expect the people to come out and vote for you on the day of election. They will not come out. You have to take proper care of the people to have their confidence to come out and vote for you.
Election is not only won by the number of projects that you have done but what you have put into the purse of the people throughout the four years will determine whether you can win. If you don’t take care of them, they will not come and vote for you. Taking care of party members is very good but if you neglect them, your vote will be very scanty.
Do you agree with the call for a total overhaul of the present structure of governance in Nigeria?
Definitely, it is too expensive! Just as they did in Ghana and now, Ghana has scaled down about 40 per cent of their expenditure on governance. We can’t continue like this. Government is becoming too big and expensive to run. You will see the National Assembly creating universities; creating colleges of education; creating new Law Schools that will require funding where would the funds come from? They don’t understand that the more you create institutions, the more the costs of governance and it’s a real problem for Nigeria.