Cash scarcity has nothing to do with an individual’s ambition, says Olopoeyan
Alhaji Bisi Olopoeyan, is the Southwest leader of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP). In this interview with SEYE OLUMIDE, he said there was nothing wrong for him as a Yoruba man to support the presidential candidate of his party, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso.
Do you nurse any fear concerning the general elections, considering the lingering money crisis and fuel shortage?
I won’t say there is no, or there is cause for concern regarding the coming general elections, but recent protests across the country against the policy are indications that something unusual is ahead if the government is not careful. If the situation persists till February 25, Nigeria may be forced to shift the elections else there will be a crisis.
For instance the way in which some of the protesters were destroying public properties and banks is a serious cause for concern. People are already angry and if the situation persists without the government looking for a solution, especially to money and fuel scarcity, there is going to be trouble. The issue of cash scarcity has nothing to do with the ambition of any individual; it is something that affects everybody.
Whether election or not, Nigerians are seriously angry. What the hell are we talking about that a government is taking us for a ride, imagine people have money in the banks but they couldn’t collect it. We are now using money to buy money instead of goods and services? I have never seen this kind of thing before. This is not politics at all, it is about Nigeria and if Mr. President is not careful he will set this nation on fire. Let’s wait and see how hungry and angry people will troop out to go and vote? It can affect the election if the government fails to find a drastic solution on time.
What do you feel, for the first time in the history of this nation we have scarcity of money and fuel and even electricity at the same time?
APC is in a better position to answer that question but I am suspecting there is something fishing within the ruling party, which has nothing to do with other political parties. This money and fuel crises are indications that a dangerous politics is playing out within APC but they are extending implications to Nigerians; that is what baffles me. I’m suspecting that some stakeholders in the ruling party are trying to use the development to fight one another. For instance, the presidential candidate of APC, Bola Tinubu, recently alleged that the new naira design and fuel scarcity are being used by some cabal in the government as weapons to truncate his chances of winning the presidential poll; the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El Rufai, who is also a strong stakeholder in APC made similar allusion but the government denied. The fact that the government responded showed there is serious internal issue within APC and that’s the reason Nigerians need to vote wisely if this election holds. A house divided against itself cannot stand.
APC gladiators understand what they are doing because fuel scarcity alone is enough to disrupt elections not to talk of cash scarcity. After all, INEC will use vehicles to convey election materials from one point to the other and the umpire will need to pay the drivers to buy fuel.
What’s your opinion about the insinuation that some elements from the north are not willing to concede power to the South after Buhari’s eight years in office?
APC members can think that way but that has nothing to do with other political parties. That problem is peculiar to the ruling party, I don’t think the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is thinking like that, after all, the problem in the PDP is about the call on the national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, who is a northerner to step down for a Southerner to create balance. We do not have such problem in NNPP. All political parties have their presidential candidates. For instance, our presidential candidate in NNPP is from the north, Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso. Any good candidate can win. I do not agree that the north does not want power to shift to South. If this were one party system then we can say the north does not want power to shift but there are many contestants. For instance, Kola Abiola, presidential candidate of the People’s Redemption Party (PRP) is a Yoruba man from Ogun State, the national chairman of the party is from the north. A Yoruba man is the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), there are northerners in the party. Peter Obi is an Ibo man from the South, his running mate is a northerner, so why are we now personalising the crisis to Tinubu, as if he is the only presidential candidate from the South? I don’t believe in that sentiment. Allow Nigerians to go out and vote for whomever they prefer. I am from the South but I am supporting Kwankwaso, an Hausa-Fulani man and so also Atiku Abubakar, a northerner has support across the country. As long as it is election there should be no sentiment at all. Allow everybody to go to the poll. A Yoruba man, Olusegun Obasanjo was president for eight years, former President Goodluck Jonathan, spent six years so what’s the big deal? We all want the best for Nigeria. In 2015, the Southwest supported Buhari against Jonathan whereas the same Southwest in 2011 stood behind Jonathan, when the issue of minority opportunity arose.
But some people could see you as a traitor; that as a Yoruba man, you are supporting another northerner to succeed President Buhari after eight years?
All these insinuations are not part of politics. I have my party, NNPP and a northerner is our presidential candidate. APC has its presidential candidate and likewise Labour Party and PDP. I don’t belong to APC, so you cannot expect me to vote for the party I don’t belong or call me a traitor because I am supporting our candidate. If I am a member of APC then you can say whatever you like but even at that, nothing in law or morality says I cannot support whomever I believe has the capacity and competence to turn Nigeria around. You don’t expect me to go and work for either Tinubu or Obi because they are from the South since I don’t belong to their party. Kwankwaso is the person I am close to and I also trust his capacity.
Do you see Kwankwaso stepping down for either Atiku or Tinubu…
The man has said it openly that he is not stepping down for anybody. And why should he even step down? NNPP has its structure across the country and we are fielding candidates for every elective position. There is nothing like that.
What gives you the confidence in Kwankwaso’s capacity to transform Nigeria?
Kwankwaso will perform better than President Buhari if elected. The first thing is that as a former Minister of Defence, he cannot be so insensitive to the issue of security like we have had in near eight years under APC. What Kwankwaso has done in the past, President Buhari has never done it and also none of the other contestants has done it.
The major problem with Nigeria is the problem of security and Kwankwaso, having served as a former Minister of Defence, if giving the chance to rule will know how to fix the insecurity of this nation. He will give what is due to the various security agencies to enable them function optimally.
When he was governor of Kano State, everybody knows that Kwankwaso did marvelously well in the education sector. If he is elected, Nigerians can be rest assured that NNPP’s administration, under Kwankwaso will fix these two major aspects, education and security.
When Kwankwaso was governor of Kano State, he didn’t borrow money to run the state talk less of leaving the state in debts. He can fix the country and he is never known for nepotism nor he is an ethnic bigot. He can never rule like President Buhari, under whose leadership Nigeria is undergoing a lot of security stress. For former President Olusegun Obasanjo to have appointed Kwankwaso as Minister of Defence, you should understand that the person is trustworthy. You know that Obasanjo is a former military general whereas Kwankwaso is a civilian, that is to tell you that the former governor of Kano is man of honour.
What’s your advise to those protesting against the cashless policy and fuel shortage across the country?
My first warning is that the protesters should stop vandalising public properties because that won’t solve the problem. We all know that the situation we are is unnecessary and what the incumbent government is doing to us is condemnable. But our reaction should not be destruction of public or private properties. I support the protests as long as it is peaceful because it is unimaginable that Nigerians cannot get cash, no fuel and even electricity supply is epileptic. It is making living very difficult for the masses. I am ready to join the protests as long as it is peaceful.
I don’t know what President Buhari wanted to achieve from the naira redesign and why he is doing it now that election is around the corner? In 1984 he did the same and Nigerians went through a lot of stress; why is he doing it again now? Buhari simply applied military mentality with this new currency redesign. That’s the way I see it. He thinks he is a military leader democracy is a different ball game.
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