BY DAYO JOHNSON, Akure
Barely two weeks to the presidential election in the country, the Ondo State coordinator of Jonathan/Sambo Campaign Organisation, Rt. Hon. Taofik Abdussalam, in this interview, speaks on the chances of the president in the south-west and the north-west regions. The coordinator’s who is a former speaker of Ondo House of Assembly, also disagrees that the 12 year-rule of the PDP in the country is a collossal waste.
The south-west and the northwest regions have the largest number of voters in the country and they are being controlled by the opposition. How does the president scale this hurdle?
If we want to do the analysis of what is happening as far as south-west is concerned, the six states in the region will give more than the required number of votes needed to win the presidency. If we go to Ekiti State, we know that the state has been created for about 15 years now and this man said the state deserves a federal university and he has given it to them. He said he will fix Ero Dam, Egbe dam and he has started working on that. So the people of Ekiti know what is happening and they are very enlightened, people like Afe Babalola and others know what this man can do and what he has already done for them. The issue of opposition party in that state is not something that we are bothered about because we know the president will win Ekiti, Lagos, Ondo and Osun States that are presently being controlled by an opposition party.
Also, we should not lose sight of the fact that Buhari, Ribadu and Shekarau are all from the north and CPC is not even in control of any of the states there. It is the PDP that controls most of the states in the northwest. If you are saying Buhari is pulling crowd, it is bound to happen. People pull crowd during campaign as people mobilize from all over a state to campaign at any particular point in time.
When it comes to rally or campaigns, political parties have a way of doing it. You can’t say CPC is controlling the northwest or anywhere in the country. It is not a matter of a party controlling some sections of the country and this will not allow our president to win. The opposition will be surprised that come April 9, the people of Nigeria will vote for Jonathan not because he is from the south-south but because Jonathan is a Nigerian, which he has been telling people that they should vote for a Nigerian not because I am a Christian or because I am a Yoruba man or otherwise.
The opposition party has described the 12-year rule of the PDP as a collossal waste.
Nigeria is a very unique place when it comes to people complaining about government. It is bound to happen. When a government is in place, people outside it will criticize it no matter how good the government is. So, we are not bothered about the opposition saying that we have not performed. If we conduct a state-by-state analysis, we will discover that most of the states being governed by the PDP are doing better than most of these opposition parties.
Go to Borno State or even Ekiti that is new, people of the state are already complaining. It is easier to criticize when you are outside, people are bound to talk and say that PDP is not performing just to sell their product, but we are telling them that we are trying our best as far as Nigeria is concerned. There have been a lot of innovations and development in the last 12 years but people will still complain, so we take that as a challenge to do more.
The presidential election will be held after the National Assembly elections. How sure are you that candidate of the PDP will win the seats so that it will not have bandwagon effect when it comes to the presidential poll?
With the belief of the people of Ondo State in one man, one vote, PDP will win all the seats in the state in the National Assembly and the state House of Assembly because we are so enlightened in this state that nobody can deceive us.
The people of the state now know the difference between the real and genuine politicians and those who are deceiving them. For instance, the issue of Alpha 3D factory in Ikare-Akoko which was started by the late Chief Adebayo Adefarati and completed by the Olusegun Agagu administration but the present government claimed to have spent another over N1 billion on something that has been completed before commissioning it.
There are a lot of projects like that. But our fear now is that what we are witnessing may not allow us to have free and fair election. An event happened in Isikan, Akure where PDP members were having their rally and some people in Labour Party uniform came and started destroying their properties, but with all this PDP will still carry the day in the state. We just have to appeal to the party involved in violence that this state belongs to all of us.
What are the chances of Jonathan in the Ondo State as the election is barely two weeks away from now?
Jonathan/Sambo ticket has no opposition in Ondo State, the people of the state are ready to give the ticket 100 per cent of their votes. We have about 1.6 million registered voters in the state and, plus or minus, we should be able to give our president close to the total number because the state is PDP, the fact that we lost to judicial abracadabra notwithstanding.
But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is in the opposition in Ondo State. How do you wriggle out?
The Nigerian politics is very dynamic and anything can happen. PDP is the party to beat in Ondo State and the fact that the ruling party in the state has no presidential candidate is an advantage coupled with the fact that everybody wants to be a good boy at the federal capital is also there. So, the people in government in the state have no choice than to play ball and people should not be surprised that a lots of moves are being made by the government to ensure that it is loyal to the president and there are moves here and there to align with one party or the other.
But the commissioner for information in the state just said that the government has not adopted any presidential candidate. How do we reconcile this with your claim?
When you say commissioner for information, he is not the one dealing with the president. We expect the governor to say that, once the governor says that then it can be taken to be the official stand of the state government on the issue but I am quite sure that the governor will never say that.
As the state coordinator of the Jonathan/Sambo campaign, what are the specific things done by Jonathan that can give him an edge over other candidates.
One thing I notice about this man is his humble background and he is somebody that has rekindle our hope in Nigeria that wherever you area and whoever you are, you can be anything in the country.
What are the campaign issues for the president in Ondo State? What has he done to deserve the votes of the people of the state?
There are many projects initiated by the Federal Government which he has ensured that they are on track. We have the Omotosho power plant which has been completed up to 300 megawatts capacity. He has started working on the phase two of the project that will bring the total capacity of the plant to 600 megawatts.
He has promised to ensure that the Benin-Ore-Sagamu Road is reconstructed to stop the carnage and the unnecessary waste of time on the highway due to its poor state, apart from these, the president has also given a total attention to the Olokola OK=LNG projects that will bring investments worth billions of dollars to the state.
There has been the calculation that there might be a run-off after the first ballot in the presidential election. Do you foresee this and how is the campaign organization tackling this?
I don’t foresee such a thing. President Goodluck Jonathan is going to win in the first ballot. He will win straight on. All the noise about run-off election is just and only in the imagination of the opposition but they will be shocked when the results of the first ballot are announced as the president will have the constitutional requirement needed to be sworn in as the next president of Nigeria.
If the Labour Party in Ondo State eventually supports the president and he wins, who will take the glory, the PDP or the LP?
The first election will show the party that controls the state. The LP that said they want to support the president know what they are doing because whether we like it or not, they have a plan and their plan is to align with the ruling party in the country immediately after the election.
That is why they said they are not going with the ACN because they know the ACN is one-man show; so they want to be in the mainstream. If we are now saying who takes the glory, it is the PDP because PDP is the only party in this state that is doing door-to-door campaign.