BY DAPO AKINREFON

…Says proposed alliance with CPC ’ll work
ALHAJI Lai Mohammed is National Publicity Secretary of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. In this interview, he says that the plan by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to take over the South West from the ACN is impossible.

He, however, expresses optimism that the proposed alliance between his party and the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, will work out despite general pessimism.  He also commented on several other national issues including the need to have a Sovereign National Conference which he equates with the annual general meeting of a company. Excerpts:

WHAT is your view on the proposal for a Sovereign NationalConference?
The opposition is basically coming from elected members of the National Assembly and key office holders in different governments. Their belief is that a national conference will mean a replacement of their relevance in government. But that is not correct.

The truth of the matter is that even in a company, there are regular meetings; and there are two types of meetings you have in a company: you have the board of directors and you also have the management meeting. But once in a year you have what you call an annual general meeting, it is at the annual general meeting that every shareholder in the company is given a score card of how the company has performed and given opportunity to air his views on where the company has erred and chart generally a new path for the company.

What we have today in Nigeria is like what we have in a company structure because you have the executive arm of government, you have legislative and you also have the judiciary. All these three have various functions: one makes the law; one interprets the law, while one executes the law. For those members of the National Assembly who are saying that the call for a national conference is an anomaly, I think they have got it completely wrong.

Alhaji Lai Mohamed

What we are saying is that things are not working and anybody that says a national conference is not what we need, I think that fellow is very unpatriotic. We have problems in the north; we have problems in the south and in the Niger Delta, let us sit down and ask ourselves what we are not doing right. That is why we are asking for a national conference.

How do you react to criticisms of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that ACN’s plans for regional integration are not feasible?

Contrary to what they are saying, it even helps development in states that are supposed to be weak. I am always amazed at the lack of depth of the PDP thinking machinery, if they have one at all. Today, there is an informal regional cooperation and what we are trying to do is to formalize it and improve on it.

PDP officials are saying that the party would reclaim the Southwest in 2015?
I think their leaders are just trying to be relevant. The Southwest is completely out of bounds for them (PDP). There is no amount of manipulation or grandstanding that will sway the people and allow the PDP to come back in the south west.

Response to issues
I keep telling the PDP that they should be more concerned about states they are controlling because those states will fall to the ACN. They will try but they will not succeed. We are not perfect, but we will respond to issues as they come, we are also proactive.

Your party is trying to form an alliance with the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). How optimistic is it that this alliance will work this time around considering what happened during the 2011 general elections?

The fact that the alliance did not work in 2007 and 2011, does not mean that it will not work this time around. It means that we have learnt why it did not work. Can you now fault us for trying to make it work this time around? What is going to happen is not going to be an alliance with the CPC and the ACN alone.

There is going to be an alliance between CPC, ANPP, aggrieved members of the PDP and other political parties including the ACN. Everybody is dissatisfied with the present government, what is going to happen is that we will build Noah’s ark and within the next three years, that ark would have been completed.

Will the alliance be based on a new political platform?
I will not preempt it. The parties will sit down and adopt a name, either an existing one, an old or new one. That is one of things that will be discussed by the various parties.

In Ondo State, mixed reactions have greeted the selection of Mr Rotimi Akeredolu as the flagbearer of the ACN. What is your take on this?

There is no where in the world that you are going to have a candidate that will be generally accepted by all the aspirants. What we want to do is fence mending and confidence building. Like I tell people, three months is a long time in politics and a lot could happen. Already I know we are talking to all the aspirants.

What are the chances of your candidate emerging victorious at the end of the day in Ondo state?
It is about the desire of the people to move to a platform, which has demonstrated capacity for development and capacity for progress. You see, the candidate is just a symbol and I want to assure that we will, God will, win the governorship election in Ondo come 2012.

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