The Peoples Democratic Party is confident of taking over power from the ruling All Progressives Congress come 2019; spokesman of the party, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, has said. In this interview with DURO ADESEKO in Abuja, Adeyeye averred that the APC had so far failed to execute the three cardinal promises it made to the electorate before being elected. He also spoke on “internal struggle for power in the APC”, restructuring agitations, and the persistent Boko Haram insurgency. Excerpts:
The APC seems to be buying into the call for restructuring, based on what is coming out from the public hearings organised by the committee the party set up recently to look into it. What is the position of your party?
What the APC is doing is purely delay tactics. They know the whole country is yearning for it and they wanted to swim against the tide. It is a tide and they realise they are swimming against the tide. That is why they have to resort to delay tactics. But Nigerians are no fools. Nigerians are wiser than they think we are. The idea of saying you are going round the country over an issue that has already been settled is preposterous. It is just a way of delaying things. They don’t believe in what they preach. They don’t believe in restructuring. They don’t want it at all. But whether they like it or not, there will be restructuring. The reason they don’t want it is because their masters, who are running the country, don’t want it. They are well off in the lopsided nature of running the country. But the truth is that nobody is benefitting from the way the country is being run today. We are all losing. We are asking for restructuring that will allow different sections of the country to develop at their own pace and be independent of the centre. That is the only way this country can develop. We saw what happened during the first Republic. People like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Ahmadu Bello did not have any magic wand. They did well because of the kind of constitution and the environment in which they functioned. Each region depended on its own resources to develop. That made them to engage in healthy competition to perform well. It also made them to be very creative. When you harness resources with your energy, you will not mismanage it. We need a system that will allow people to rely on their own resources. If we restructure, and people rely on resources emanating from their areas, you will see real development. I am for devolution of power in which the power at the centre can be reduced. There should be more responsibilities and powers for the states.
Should the country revert to the regions or embark on creation of more states?
Creation of more states is not the answer. What we need is to give more powers to the regions. Why for example should all the states in the country operate the same system? Why should they pay the same salary to workers? It is clear that they don’t have the same income. In the United States for instance, they pay different salaries to workers. The tenure of the governor could be four years in one state, whereas it could be two years in another state. Salaries attached to positions in the US vary from state to state. The constitutions in different states are never the same. They differ in so many areas. So, each area should determine how it wants to run its affairs. That is what our forefathers had in mind when they drafted our constitution during the First Republic. There was a constitution for the Federal Government, a constitution for the East and the North. It made it relatively easy to govern their different regions. Some states cannot function well. If states cannot survive, they can merge. The present system is saying that whether you work or not, whether you are lazy or not, you must exist.
There are so many examples. We have seen the case of a governor accused of corruption and his 48 houses returned to him because he is in APC. For now, Nigerians may not know many things because they are covering everything. We shall all realise later that this government is one of the most corrupt the country has ever produced.
The story in town is that your party, the PDP, ruined the economy for 16 years, which the present administration is trying to put right; and that the PDP leaders are very corrupt. What do you say to that?
Those saying that are not putting into account the recent history of the country. The PDP took over from the military. More than $2 million was recovered from the late General Sani Abacha alone. How much has so far been recovered from PDP leaders? The truth is that PDP came to power in 1999 from the military with determination to perform. All the institutions fighting corruption today were the creation of the PDP. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission were the creation of the PDP. That shows a founder’s mental shift from the past. It shows the determination to fight corruption and face it headlong. We are yet to see this government doing anything to improve on what they met on ground to fight corruption. What have they done to improve on the legal framework? They have not established any other institution or even attempted to strengthen the institutions. As a matter of fact, they are turning the institutions into lawless institutions and when you become lawless, you cannot fight corruption. What the APC is doing is to downgrade the institutions by doing things against the Constitution of the country. History will show that the effort of the PDP to fight corruption is better than that of the APC. What APC is saying is that the environment created to fight corruption by the PDP is very ideal.
On the human angle, majority of those who are leaders of APC were in PDP. Many of them ran with their loot to the APC because they fear they will be persecuted by the APC government. The APC has reduced the war against corruption to war against the opposition. The war is targeted at the opposition. Today, if you are accused of corruption and you vote with your leg for the APC, your sins are forgiven. There are so many examples. We have seen the case of a governor accused of corruption and his 48 houses returned to him because he is in APC. For now, Nigerians may not know many things because they are covering everything. We shall all realise later that this government is one of the most corrupt the country has ever produced. You say you are cutting grass with more than N200 million?
According to the Chairman of the APC, PDP is a party coming out of intensive care. That means people should not take the party seriously. What is your take on this?
Thank God, PDP is coming out of intensive care. We are now in the general ward. The operation has been successful. By the grace of God, we are now being discharged and asked to go home and live a normal life. But in the case of the APC, it is like somebody with terminal disease and he didn’t know. Cancer has ravaged all parts of his body and he didn’t know. Which one is worse? One has survived and he is going home and the other is on his way to the hospital and, unfortunately, he may not be able to come out. Because of his carelessness, he did not know his fate. Which one will anybody prefer to be his lot?
But the point he was making is that a man coming out of intensive care will need time to recuperate…
But I am asking, whose case is worse? By the grace of God, by the time we hold our convention in December, we will be ready to go. Most unfortunately, who are we going to contest with? Are we going to contest against somebody in a state of coma?
Many Nigerians say there is no ideological difference between PDP and APC. Is this true?
Well, we have ideology of unity, equality, justice for all and progress of Nigeria. If PDP is already there with its ideology, what did they come out with later? You can accuse APC of having no ideology and not the PDP.PDP has been there since 1999 and you that are new should have come out to say that is the PDP ideology and this is our own ideology. They only told us they have a manifesto anchored on three major platforms. They said fight against corruption, security, and the economy. And in all the three scores, they have failed woefully.
Are you saying that the APC has done nothing good for the past two years?
Please, point out to me one area in which this government has performed. They said they had three things on their agenda – corruption, security and the economy, and on these three, tell me, as a journalist, in what area they have performed.
They said the government curtailed Boko Haram.
It is a lie. Only two days ago, one of the chieftains of the APC said Boko Haram was occupying seven local government areas in his state and the man is from that state. The Nigerian army contradicted him but who am I going to believe? I believe the man on ground suffering the brunt. The man is APC and not PDP. I also read yesterday that Boko Haram took over the street of Damaturu and they were dancing around in town. How can they claim to have tamed Boko Haram? It is more of propaganda and not the reality on the ground. They won the war on pages of newspapers while Boko Haram is actually on ground.
The truth of the matter is that the PDP government would have won this war completely if we had remained in power and I say this with all sense of responsibility. Nigerians should recollect, the then National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki asked for the postponement of six weeks window to finish up Boko Haram so that election could take place in the North-East states of Borno and Adamawa and he was granted. He succeeded in such a way that election took place in all the states of the North East and the governors and House of Assembly were elected and that was a time Boko Haram would have struck because it provided a perfect soft spot when the military and security agents would have been dispersed for election. Why are Nigerians not pointing that out?
There was a time when Nigerian soldiers said they could not fight Boko Haram with their bare hands during Jonathan’s administration…
Thank you. I am now telling you that even if soldiers said that before, by the time he left government, he had already won the war. I still say that election took place in all nooks and crannies of the North-East without incidence. I had occasions to say this last year when I went to represent (former) President Jonathan at the Vanguard Awards and Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State said Boko Haram had taken over in Nigeria at a time, and I told the audience that in 2015, this was not the situation? I remember some people rushed to me that it was true. The APC came to power without any plan and they could not appoint ministers for six months. Boko Haram used the time to regroup and when they started fighting Boko Haram, they said yes, we have defeated Boko Haram. The truth is, PDP defeated Boko Haram before leaving office and they regrouped when APC that has no plan came to power.
But security is not limited to Boko Haram alone. The herdsmen attack was not known to Nigerians before now. Why is it that it became rampant after 2015?
According to some people, the herdsmen saw the body language of the new government and developed muscles. It is debatable if herdsmen have killed more people than Boko Haram in this country. Boko Haram is confined to the North-East, but the herdsman attack is nationwide. I don’t know of any state that is completely immune from herdsman attack in this country. Thousands of people were killed in different villages. Is that a good achievement? Did such a thing happen when PDP was in charge? There is growing incidence of armed robbery and kidnapping because of the poor economy. Life is hard for ordinary Nigerians. Did PDP ruin the economy when they made it Number One in Africa? We overtook South Africa. The only project President Buhari commissioned since he came into power was the rail line and I am happy he said it was almost completed before he came to power. It was 99.9 per cent completed and that was the only thing he has commissioned so far. They borrow and borrow money and no government has borrowed money like this government. Where is the money going to? They make noise for nothing. Don’t forget that PDP government wiped off all the debt of Nigeria and since then, we were careful of borrowing up to the time Jonathan left in 2015.
How prepared is the party for 2019 elections?
By the grace of God, the party will do well in all the elections in 2019. Let them continue with propaganda, but Nigerians will show the APC at all the polling stations in Nigeria.
What do you think of those already declaring support for Buhari for second term?
There is freedom of expression, but we shall see in 2019. What has he done to warrant second term? Even as we speak, the party issued a statement against a special adviser in government and he too unleashed vitriolic against the party. No harmony between the Department of State Services and EFCC; among the Attorney General, National Assembly and the executive arm. Is there anybody in charge in this Buhari government? This government is in disarray. Any discerning observer will see that. Is APC a party? When last did they hold their NEC meeting? Have they constituted their Board of Trustees? Who is the chairman of their BoT? The day they hold a convention, it will be good bye to the party. The centre cannot hold for the APC. PDP has held three conventions in one year. They are scared of holding meetings, not to talk of holding a convention. We hear from experts that the entire body of APC is ravaged by cancer. We know what we are saying. President Buhari may find out that there is no APC on whose platform he can contest in 2019. He may revert to his former party, the CPC and Bola Tinubu may go back to ACN. A whole minister of government can come out openly that she will not support the President? It is a vote of no confidence in the APC government. She held her ground and refused to retract the statement. Atiku (Abubakar) also came out and spoke against the government.
Is it true that those who left the party are making moves to return?
Eager is the right word. It is very true. We have established channels for that.
Are you giving them conditions to come back?
No. PDP is a family. It is a big umbrella, big enough for everybody to come along. We want everybody to come in because even if you are bad, you can change your ways. We are not hypocrites.