Hon. Samson Osagie is the former Minority whip of the House of Representatives and currently the Executive Director, Marketing, and Business Development NigComSat. In this interview with Vanguard, the Edo State born chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) reviewed the prevailing attacks by Fulani herdsmen across the nation, former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s letter to President Muhammadu Buhari and the chances of his party the APC ahead the 2019 general elections. Excerpts:
Simon Ebegbulem, Benin City
Sir, how would you review the recent letter from former President Obasanjo to President Muhammadu Buhari, due you think it was in good faith?
One gratifying aspect of that letter is that it praised the current President in two major areas, security and fighting corruption. I believe that you cannot write off this administration totally as having failed, even though the challenges before this country are quite enormous.
It is only natural for people to cry out when they have the kind of challenges that we are having. The decision to run or not to run is that of the President because it is also his fundamental right to ask for a second term. Ultimately the decision on who becomes the next President is left to the Nigerian people. I just believe that Obasanjo was exercising his right to advise the President on what he feels going forward for the country should be. I don’t think it is in bad faith; he just spoke his mind as a stakeholder and as someone with his wealth of experience in governance, I believe he was only trying to help the presidency.
But as leader of the APC are you worried that the issue of herdsmen killing can cost your party victory in 2019?
Not just herdsmen, there are other issues just that the killings associated with herdsmen is biting so hard on the psyche of every Nigerian and I think the government must ensure that we reverse the kind of killings that Nigerians have witnessed. It is a possibility that if not well handled can cause electoral misfortune. And I think the handlers of this administration and of course the administrators of our party are quite conversant with this and I expect and hope that things are being done to correct those impressions. It is a very sad situation for our people.
Your party APC promised Nigerians change and prosperity, but there is hunger everywhere are you not disappointed?
Of course, you have also heard that even the government said that the enormity of the problem on ground was underestimated and so that necessarily will affect the fulfillment of all the promises made. And of course, you should know that it is not also possible to fulfill all the promises in the two and half years that this administration has spent. So I believe that with these cries all over the place, it will embolden the government to fulfill more of those promises before the termination of its tenure. And possibly to be able to drive the process of fulfilling these promises if he had an eight-year tenure. I agree that those promises must have been made, but it is not also possible to fulfill those promises in one term. Nigerians are also right to complain about the promises that are not being fulfilled, and that is because their expectations are high, so they want miracles to happen within a short-term but you know governance, it is not by miracle.
How do you think the performance of the APC at the Federal level will affect the party in Edo State and the South-South in 2019?
I am just one voter in the South every area has its peculiarity. And of course you know Edo is the only APC state in the South-South and by implication, it is not a foothold of the APC. But the APC had more chances in 2015 because of the many defections of the top political leaders and many defections of members of the National Assembly to APC. It fared better at the end of the day. But I just pray that these herdsmen and farmers clashes that are leading to several deaths is an issue that government must deal decisively with before 2019.
Your use of consensus to produce candidates for the March 3 council election did not produce the kind of tension that used to attend similar processes. What happened?
Our party constitution allows for consensus to be reached with respect to nomination of candidates and I think that is the method that was adopted in Edo State ahead of the Local Government election. There may be some hitches here and there; there is no process that is perfect. But what I can see is that the entire process has been widely accepted, and that is evidence that the party is strong enough to handle internal issues and it is good for the party.