By Dapo Akinrefon
ENGINEER Joe Igbokwe is the Lagos State Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview, he expresses optimism that the party’s presidential candidate, Maj-Gen Muhammudu Buhari (rtd), will defeat the incumbent at the polls. He also bares his mind on INEC’s preparation for the general elections among other issues. Excerpts:
What is your assessment of the campaigns so far?
Campaigns have been going on across the country but I regret to say that we are dodging the issues. We are leaving out the burning issues to dwell on personalities and this is where we are not getting it right. Desperation and fear have so gripped the ruling party that they now play dirty. In the Presidential Campaigns, the APC Candidate, General Buhari has been a problem for PDP.
The Buhari of 2003, 2007 and 2011 has turned to a political giant, a volcano, a bulldozer, an avatar, a caterpillar and a massive movement in 2015. A man who contested elections in 2003, 2007 and 2011 is being accused of not having a certificate in 2015 because the man has moved from the back seat to the Driver’s seat. They talk about his certificate, his age, his health, his family, his religion, his wife, his culture etc.
The corrupt and desperate politicians and subsidy scammers are worried to the bones. The fear of Buhari is now the beginning of wisdom. They know that a president Buhari will not accept corruption as a way of life again. They know that he will plug the loop holes in the systems. They know that the people that ruined Nigeria will be brought to book. They are moving their families and wealth abroad because Buhari is coming and he is coming on strong. I fear for those who think it is going to be business as usual.
All things considered, President Jonathan has lost this election the day Buhari was picked as a candidate of APC in Lagos. From all permutations, calculations and analysis the game has been won and lost at the first ballot. I pity anybody who will not be wise enough to know that the market is over. There is finger of God in all this. Did anybody remember that Buhari cried in 2011 for Nigeria?
God saw that genuine tears and decided to pave way for him to help in fixing the land. Buhari’s coming in 2015 is a prayer answered. In Lagos, the campaigns are all about continuity of intelligent leadership, committed leadership and disciplined leadership. In Lagos, it is experience versus inexperience. It is Ambode’s 27 years experience and retired as accountant general in Lagos state versus Jimi Agbaje, a drug seller in a small shop in Apapa. It is capacity versus incapacity. It is capability versus incapability.
What are the issues that will shape the Presidential election and the Governorship election in Lagos?
At the Presidential level we expect that Nigerians will think about the very important issues of national security. Nigerians will ask questions about the Chibok girls and our stolen territories by Boko Haram. Nigerians will ask questions about the power sector and why it has not worked after investing billions of dollars in 16 years. Nigerians will ask questions about the abuse of law enforcement agencies etc. In Lagos, Lagosians will look at the last 16 years of AC, ACN and APC governance. They have seen the transformation from what former President Obasanjo called a slum to a modern and cleanest city in Nigeria.
Lagosians have seen how the lives and property were secured through committed and effective leadership. They have seen their Lagos has been made a world destination in 16 years. They have seen their Lagos competing with great cities of the world.
They have seen their Lagos setting the pace for other states in Nigeria to copy. I can go on and on. The choice is there for Nigerians to make. There is no meeting between light and darkness, between performance and non performance between little-minded elements and great minds.
How can the votes count?
Votes must count if we want to help this country to grow. If you rig a meretricious mediocrity into an exalted of the President or Governor, the people will suffer for four or eight years. This is the reason why our democratic institutions must help the system to work. When these kinds of people are elected to positions they do not merit, they convert the huge offices to become family assets. The Police, Army, Navy, Airforce SSS or DSS, Civil Defence, NYSC, Customs, etc must allow our democracy to work. They must make our votes to count this time around.
Why are people not collecting their voter’s cards?
Some people are not collecting the PVCs because INEC did not get it right from the onset. You can’t plant cassava and hope to harvest yam. Whatever you sow, you will reap.
I have been told that the only way a small army can defeat a huge army is probably because the small army had a better training, well equipped, well organized and possibly led by a gallant general. If INEC had been better organized and prepared like we have seen in other climes like India, collecting PVCs would not have been an issue. People and institutions fail because they fail to plan.