The national chairman of the South-West Agenda for Asiwaju 2023 (SWAGA), a group rooting for Bola Ahmed Tinubu , the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Dayo Adeyeye, in this interview with ‘YOMI AYELESO, says that the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar will lose the next year’s election especially in the North due to the agitations for power shift to the South, among other sundry issues
In the last few weeks, major presidential candidates, including your principal, Senator Bola Tinubu, have been dissipating energy on what some Nigerians consider as relatively infinitesimal matters instead of devoting critical time to national issues and proffering solutions to the challenges. Are you not worried?
Yes, you cannot avoid the kind of brickbats you saw few weeks ago in the run-up to the election next year. But on our part, we will continue to focus on the issues because our manifesto is loaded; the plans of our principal for this country is great and we have a lot of issues we want to engage Nigerians with. The issues will come up, it is going to be issue-based and once this emotive issue of religion and the rest is over-flogged, the most substantive issues of laying what the candidates have in stock for the people and I believe that is where the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will collapse because the opposition party has nothing to offer Nigerians.
Following the reactions generated by the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the APC, Ekiti State governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi suggested that the presidential candidate and other leaders of the party should quickly engage the Christian faithful on the reasons for the choice of Senator Kashim Shettima. What is your take?
The consultation and the talk are going on already, I can assure you of that. There is a lot of engagements going on with the Christian leaders and we don’t have to make noise about it.
Don’t you think that Nigerians will revolt against your party and its candidate during next year’s election, in view of the growing challenges across the country, especially in the security, education and the economic sectors?
Yes, these issues will have effect on the election but the good thing is that people are looking for something to give them hope and Tinubu offers a great hope for the nation, by the reason of the fact that most Nigerians knows he has tremendous capacity to organise people to achieve good results. So, despite the challenges, the people have the hope that the man who can solve most of the problems is coming in, and that Tinubu is that man for this moment. Looking at his records vis-à-vis his major opponents, he towers above them all. He managed the Lagos State economy successfully that it was rated fifth in the entire Africa. He was able to solve the problems of security in Lagos, which was endemic as of the time. Don’t forget that during his tenure, the major federal allocation to the state was withheld for years and yet Lagos was managing its resources well, with no complaint of lack of payment of workers. I want you to understand that people have hope that Tinubu will be able to bring solutions to these problems. Perhaps, Lagos State University is the only public university in the country that doesn’t go on strike because he was able to lay a solid foundation in the institution such that demands of both students and staff are met regularly without hitches. If we can replicate that in Nigeria, that will be great. So, in the area of education, he has much to offer, even in the economy, security and in terms of fighting corruption.
But as a concerned Nigerian and prominent member of the ruling APC, what do you think can be done in the interim to address the disturbing trend of insecurity across the country, which many have said is a threat to the 2023 elections?
The issue of insecurity is of great concern and I believe the federal government is doing everything to address the situation but I want to urge the president and his security team to do more in giving confidence to the citizens, to assure Nigerians that their lives and property are safe because that is the primary responsibility of government. The main reason why government exists is to ensure protection of lives and property and I believe no responsible government will be found wanting in that critical area. I am urging the government to double its efforts. I know they are doing their best but we need more. It appears the problem is bigger than it was expected.
There is a buzz in the country, especially among the youths towards the candidature of a former Anambra State governor, Mr Peter Obi in the Labour Party. Is your principal not disturbed by this growing trend and Obi’s apparent popularity especially on social media?
You have mentioned that he is popular among a particular section of the society. But, I don’t agree that it is with all the youths. It is just with few, who are active on social media and that does not mean the silent majority, who are in social media, are with him. Let me tell you that social media can be a major misrepresentation of popularity because when you ask people to express opinion on social media, some of them have between three and seven different accounts. One person can give opinion which will be like 50 persons. There is no way to verify that. So, anybody relying on popularity on social media is making a big mistake. Let me tell you frankly that we are not bothered about the so-called Obi movement. I believe with time, it will fizzle out. Even if it doesn’t fizzle away in the social media, it is not a threat in anyway.
Do you think Kashim Shettima will be able to muster the needed votes from the North for the APC, considering the experience and influence of the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who is from the zone?
I think Atiku will lose precisely in the North because the issue that will determine the 2023 general election will be zoning, not even the religious cards they are playing up now. Most Nigerians are talking about the rotation of power between the North and South. Let me tell you that the issue is more important to the northerners than the southerners because everybody realises that given our diversity, we can’t retain power in a particular region, as if that area should enjoy monopoly of power. A lot of northerners want power to shift to the South so that it can rotate back to them at the appropriate time. So, that is the issue which will determine the election and don’t forget that MKO Abiola was from the South and he won most of the states in the North in 1993. He won because the sense of justice of an average northerner is that with the presidency of Alhaji Shehu Shagari and the military, power should return to South. People want the unity and progress of this nation and that is why a lot of Nigerians were not happy when the PDP allowed a person from the North emerge as their presidential candidate. Don’t forget that PDP put it in its constitution that power should rotate between the North and South and as of the time they were having the convention for party positions, the post of national chairman was zone to the North in anticipation for the fact that the presidential candidate will come from the South. That was the belief and no southerner contested against Iyorchia Ayu for the chairmanship because they assumed that the presidential slot was coming to the South. That is what will affect Atiku in this coming election because Nigerians will only support a party that kept its promises. You have a party that reneged on its promise such that we now have a situation where the chairman and presidential candidate are from the North, so what sense of belonging do you want southerners to have in that party? And do you think the average southerner is happy with that kind of situation? That is the issue that will be the albatross of the presidential candidate of the PDP and the party itself. That is why Tinubu and the APC will win massively in the entire states of the northern geopolitical zone.
One of the presidential aspirants and former minister of Transportation, Honourable Rotimi Amaechi recently said that the party’s presidential convention was marred with financial inducement and that delegates are regretting their decision. What is your reaction?
I am surprised by the statement, if it is correct. I want to believe he was misquoted or the statement was attributed to him wrongly because to me, that will be terribly irresponsible, considering his position in the society, being a former governor and former minister. We all know bribing delegates is illegal and not to be encouraged and why would he be saying that; who and who were bribed? He should provide the evidence and who are those he said were regretting?
In Ekiti, there was report that you had withdrawn the suit you filled at the Federal High Court against the nomination of the governor-elect, Biodun Oyebanji. What is the reason behind this decision and your advice for Oyebanji as he prepares to assume the office of the governor in October?
It is absolutely correct that I have withdrawn the suit at the court against Biodun Oyebanji. It is in the interest of peace and unity of the party because I am looking at a situation where all of us in the Ekiti APC combine together to work for massive victory of our presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the state. Moreover, I think we should let bygone be bygone and subsequently, I instructed my lawyers to file motion for the discontinuance of the case. I will advise him (Oyebanji) to ensure that the people of the state are brought together for a common purpose of developing the state. No government can do it alone; you need to bring people together, irrespective of their political affiliations. Let him bring about unity among the people of Ekiti, and let him focus on development of the state because Ekiti is the poorest in the South-West. All the indices are against us in Ekiti and the challenges are enormous. This is not time for flamboyance or flying private jets around the country; that should be a thing of the past from any Ekiti governor. He should be humble and focused for the task ahead. The state needs a helmsman, whose hands are permanently on deck, working day and night for the good of the people and most importantly, soliciting support from everywhere he could get it in advancing the economic development of the state. Don’t forget that the poverty level of the state is extremely high; people need to be given hope and courage. If he is focused and dedicated, a lot of people will be ready to help him.