Adebayo: We have weathered the storm
Otunba Niyi Adebayo is former governor of Ekiti State. As one of the key figures that spear-headed the merger talks that produced the All Progressives Congress (APC) he explained to KAMAL TAYO OROPO how the party came into being and how it has been able to weather the storm.
At inception, the alliance that formed the All Progressives Congress (APC) looked impossible, but it happened anyway. Can you describe the intrigues, fears and anxieties that were at play back then?
As you have rightly pointed out, at inception the formation of the APC seemed like an impossible task. As you are aware, the party was formed by a merger of parties that included the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) and factions of All Progressives grand Alliance (APGA) and Democratic Peoples Party (DPP). Later on we were joined by a breakaway faction of the Peoples Democratic Peoples (PDP), called the New PDP. At the time we seemed like strange bedfellows. However, we all had one objective, which was to save Nigeria from the misrule and corruption of the government in power at the time. Our determination was enough to help us overcome our differences despite all the predictions by out opponents that we would not be able to see the merger through.
The party went on to do another impossibility by unseating the incumbent. Was it as easy as it eventually appeared? How was the feat achieved?
Indeed, to God be the glory. In the history of Nigeria , unseating an incumbent had never been recorded, this is why you know that with God, all things are possible. The eyes of the majority of Nigerians had opened. People were tired of being ruled by corrupt people and opted to vote into office a President who is known to be an upright leader who has professed his love for this country and the people.
It was certainly not an easy task. It took a lot of work and strategising. We traversed every nook and cranny of the country getting our message across. All this, against serious opposition and sometimes insecurity in some regions.
At a point, were some of you doubtful of the political voyage; and wereas there thoughts of backing out?
There were definitely some people who felt it was an exercise in futility. Such people left us and went to the PDP. But those of us who stayed did so out of conviction. We believed in what we were doing.
Without a doubt, the then ruling party did everything to thwart our efforts, but it was all in vain.
What was the most critical point in the life of the alliance?
There were a few critical points in the life of the alliance, but like a I said we were able to overcome them. At the beginning people said we would break up over the name of the party, we overcame that. Then they said we would not agree on a logo. We did. Then they said we would break up over the choice of the party chairmanship.
Their predictions did not come to pass. There were so many instances when the prophets of doom failed in their prophesies. We overcame all obstacles.
After the victory, the party was immediately plunged into the politics of who gets what, when and how. One year on, has the party managed the intra-party politics adequately and satisfactorily?
Politics, they say is the art of the possible. As politicians we cannot all see eye to eye on every issue. The important thing is to be able to sit together to discuss amongst ourselves and resolve the issues. We will continue to have differences but the most important thing is that we will always find a way to resolve our differences in the best interest of the party and the country.
You’re one of those believed not to have sufficiently benefited from distribution of political largesse. Do you think there are other critical stakeholders whose grievances are capable of causing damage within the party?
Many of us, are not in politics just because we are looking for political appointments. I personally, am in politics to serve and contribute to making our country achieve its potential of being a great country, which will provide a good life for all its people.
This I have been doing even whilst in the opposition party many years before now, and will continue to contribute my quota in whatever capacity I am in.
I do not believe there are dissatisfied party members who have grievances that can cause implosion within the party. Appointments will be made in due course when irregularities in the various parastatals have been addressed. The government has a duty to the people of this country to clean up the mess they have inherited. With the recent appointments to the parastatals under the Ministry of Information, you can see this is well on the way.
On governance, the APC-led government has made a couple of false starts, prompting feelings that the party did not do its ‘home work’ adequately enough. What unexpected challenges is the administration/party facing?
Despite the fact that we all knew that there was a high level of mismanagement of the country by the Jonathan administration; no one could have known the extent of the mismanagement. The Buhari administration on assumption of office had unearthed many cases of corrupt activities that if not properly addressed could plunge the country into bankruptcy and it is this I believe Mr. President is spending his time addressing.
Also, there are couple of reversals, the fuel price and increase in electricity tarrif/irregular supply. What could have necessitated those reversals?
I believe the government had addressed the issue of fuel price increase adequately. On the issue of power supply, we are all witnesses to the sabotage that is being done by Niger Delta militants to the gas pipelines. This has created the situation in which we find ourselves.
A couple of senior party members have also criticised openly a number of the government’s actions. Is this development healthy?
Senior party members who criticize government policies are only exercising their democratic rights. That is the beauty of democracy. But for myself, my style is different. Being a senior party member, I would rather engage our people in government privately to get my views across. But in democratic settings people have different styles.
The party seems to be losing momentum; some supporters are becoming less enthusiastic and some grumbling aloud. What’s the correct understanding of the situation?
I disagree that the party is losing momentum. People have to understand that our party has come into office at a very difficult time in the life of this country. It has not been easy for this government, considering the level of rot that was met the system and I have no doubt that all the discontent that people are expressing now will soon be a thing of the past.
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