•I don’t know why opposition is so anxious
OTUNBA Gani Adams is the National Coordinator of the Odua People’s Congress, OPC. In this interview, Adams explains why leaders of South West zone are divided over the choice of presidential candidates to support in the forthcoming elections.
He also bares his mind on the postponement of the general elections among other issues. Excerpts:
How will you react to the INEC’s shift of the elections dates by six weeks?
Well, the shift in dates is as a result of necessities for cogent reasons such as the issues of security and adequate logistics for the exercise. Let me explain these by reminding you of the fact that the shared Permanent Voters’ Card (PVCs) was just 66 per cent while the remaining 34 per cent were still to be given out and that is about 24 million eligible Nigerians. I was so sad with the way the opposition handled the development. I just can’t imagine how comfortable they are that about 24 million Nigerians were to be disenfranchised; as a matter of fact, I won’t even be comfortable with 10,000 Nigerians not to talk of 24 million.
Secondly, the security chiefs declared they couldn’t guarantee security of INEC’s ad-hoc staff. How then will any sane person push for the exercise without the support of security chiefs? For these two cogent reasons, I don’t see us going for free, fair and credible elections. We still have more than three months for the handover of government; there is no need for them to be too anxious more than the umpire.
Moreover, we have 27 political parties and 17 of them have declared that the election should be postponed and eight insisted that it be held, in as much as 17 has indicated interest in the shifting, it simply means majority of Nigerians have spoken.
The opposition has always been hiding behind security issue to condemn Jonathan, now the president wanted to tackle security challenges before the election, the opposition is again shouting foul. What they are criticizing Jonathan for is what the gentleman wanted to face in six weeks. Come to think of it, with or without the necessary amend, he has insisted on May 29 as handover date.
But some people alleged that President Jonathan is working towards interim government, what is your view of this?
Jonathan cannot propose an interim government and at the end of the day be the head of such arrangement, such move won’t be in the interest of Jonathan.
But most Yoruba are not supporting Jonathan’s re-election bid, how do you see this development?
Jonathan or Buhari who will you pick ?
We don’t need to deceive ourselves. The main group in Yorubaland, Afenifere has spoken; Afenifere the political arrowhead of Yoruba people has declared support for Jonathan. Even Dr. Frederick Fasehun, the owner of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) has endorsed Jonathan, even before Afenifere. I don’t have problem with Buhari, but I have serious problem with the people that surround him. So in conclusion, 85 per cent of Lagosians want Jonathan.
What is your assessment of the campaign?
They should stop blackmailing or discrediting each other. They should come out with facts to convince people, stop calling people who have sacrificed for the nation different names. In my own opinion there is no difference between the two major political parties, the APC and the PDP.
They are calling for personality change but they are not calling for institutional change. When you said the present structure should not change and you are saying the president should change. If you say Buhari should be the president what of the institutions that have not changed. We went to the national conference to restructure Nigeria, to change the institutions. And the institutions are always more powerful than any individual.
I am not saying Jonathan is a saint because if those people around him are corrupt and he cannot deal with them, then it means he also has some skeletons in his cupboard. But Jonathan is quite different from the caliber of people we have in APC. You know what is happening in Ogun State when somebody was building bridges where there is no water. When you are having a billion naira bridges and there is no free education. People of Oyo State are crying because the government of the state shut its door against the masses.
But despite Afenifere’s endorsement of Jonathan, prominent Yoruba leaders are supporting Buhari. What do you have to say to this?
I think you are having the mindset that some Yoruba leaders are supporting Jonathan. How many of them were in the struggle except for General Alani Akinrinade and Hon. Wale Oshun? Oshun is very close to APC. And there is no way you can separate Akinrinade and Tinubu. Yes they are always together. Akinrinade may not be partisan but you can separate him from Tinubu, they have close relationship.
I got to know that when we were in the national conference. When you are however talking about the core people who always fight for the course of the Yoruba and those whose voice you hear about regionalism and introduction of parliamentary system, you talk of myself as the leader of the Oodua People’s Congress, OPC leader at the conference and the Afeniferes who believe that no matter the situation, the course of Yoruba must be championed at the conference.
In Yorubaland I remember when I became leader of OPC, people say I did not have enough education to be a leader. Therefore, I went to school, I trained myself and I went to school. I went to even write WAEC, I went to write NECO, I wrote WAEC again. I went to Ghana to get a diploma, I got a diploma in Lagos State University onward to receiving a degree, but now Buhari is being alleged of not having a School Certificate.
The opposition said the election was postponed because Jonathan was afraid to lose the election.
That is propaganda, many things you hear from them, about 50 per cent of them is propaganda. Sultan of Sokoto said he has not got his PVC, I just got my PVC on Friday and in my house almost all the 35 people that registered, it is only me and two others that got theirs, 32 other are yet to receive theirs, and you now say the election should hold, and you are blaming Jonathan.
If there is crisis after the election, they will now say Jonathan has caused crisis. The Service Chiefs said they were not ready for the election.