Angered by the speed at which Nigeria economy and political system is crumply in sham, the Lagos state chairman of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Chief Tunde Daramola, has described the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari of All Progressives Congress, APC, as inept, incapable and rudderless.
Daramola in this interview with Nwafor Sunday harped on the need to vote in ADC aspirants in the forthcoming elections even as he equally listed the dangers accruable if Nigerians should vote APC again.
You are a trained pharmacist; can you tell us your foray into politics?
I am a pharmacist and management consultant; I worked at Abort Laboratories, a multinational pharmaceutical and baby multi product international company based in the United States (US). I joined the company as a Product Manager in 1981 and rose to the level of Marketing Director in 1988. I started my own pharmaceutical company.
I’m not a good businessman so I couldn’t really make much out of the practice. In 1984 I was appointed a Board Director of the Lagos State Development and Building and Development Commission (LSDBC).
It was there that I had a close contact with late Engineer Funso Williams, who I had earlier met at the New Jersey Institute Polytechnic, while he was also in the U.S. By this time he was nursing the ambition to run for the governorship of Lagos State, he must have discovered something in me because he embraced me and I started working with him.
That was how I found myself doing politics. I consider myself an accidental politician. My late father loathed politics and he would not have encouraged me if he were alive.
I started politics at a top level, if you are going around with a governorship aspirant it becomes easy for you to become a known personality. I was rightly advised to start attending Ward, Local Government and state meetings with him.
I was part of his Network Alliance (NA), where I was the Secretary. I was there during the Alliance for Democracy (AD) primary between Bola Tinubu and Funso Williams, where we were robbed of the governorship ticket.
Because the arrangement we had with Tinubu after the primary was not honoured, we felt that we cannot realise the governorship ambition if we remained in the AD. In 2001 we joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to pursue that ambition.
In 2003, we got the ticket of the PDP, in fact, it was Network Alliance that brought life into PDP in Lagos state. We lost the 2003 election because of the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who was in cohort with Tinubu. If you remember, there was a result on the internet which was suddenly changed.
In 2004 when the PDP was making appointments, somehow, Funso Williams was short-changed and the ministerial appointment was given to Senator Seye Ogunlewe, who at that time was benefiting from a senatorial ticket promised to Funso Williams by Afenifere to pacify him for the primary of 1998.
Funso didn’t want to go to the Senate so he gave the ticket to Ogunlewe. But somehow we heard that Ogunlewe, who is not an engineer had been nominated Minister for Works. The people behind it had lied to President Olusegun Obasanjo that Funso doesn’t want to leave Lagos. Of course he believes that you have to be on ground, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t want to be minister.
In 2003 I left for America because I didn’t want to work with certain elements in the party that short-changed Funso. It was when I was there in 2005 that I was invited to come and contest for the state secretary of the PDP and I won, I was secretary of the PDP in Lagos till 2008.
In 2006, while we were on the political rallies of the local governments we witnessed the sad assassination of Funso Williams prior to the 2007 elections.
In 2014, some of us felt there were injustices in the PDP and there was need for political correctness. In spite of all our appeals for reasoning, the administration of the day felt they can continue without anybody stopping them.
That was when the new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) emerged. We later decided to go to the All Progressives Congress (APC), there was an agreement for the nPDP to form an alliance with the APC. Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) were signed, but the long and short of it was that none of the agreement was honoured.
For instance, some leading lights of the nPDP, were nominated for ministerial slot and perhaps lots of the agreements were not kept. As a matter of fact democracy was jettisoned. It was a coven style approach to issues, you are in the cult and you must listen to the cult leader.
It was a deliberate design to ensure that we were never empowered. Remember the Senate President and the speaker of the House of Representatives had to bend backwards to swallow their vomit by going back to the old PDP that they left to be able to secure their positions.
However, those that thought they could run the APC like a cult and wanted to dictate everything ended up in the tiger’s belly. The seed of discord was sown when it was discovered that there was a secret agreement between Buhari and Tinubu, thus for Buhari to be president and Tinubu vice president.
It was President Obasanjo at his behest that finally nailed the coffin that there is no way there would be a Muslim / Muslim ticket because Nigeria is a sensitive country. They ended up pacifying Tinubu by asking him to nominate the vice president. That was what brought about the nomination of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
You have traversed several political parties from AD to PDP to All Progressives Congress and now the African Democratic Congress (ADC). Why the erratic movement?
To be forthright and honest, there is no ideological based political party in Nigeria. What political parties are after is power grabbing. Their ideology is simple, we want to win the centre and control the people and the wealth of the nation. Of course, this is turning wisdom upside down, because it should be to control the wealth for the benefit of the people but unfortunately, it is the other way round, ceasing the people and the wealth is all that has been happening politically in this fourth republic.
I left the APC for the ADC because I discovered that the ADC has a philosophy to embrace youths and women and you do not require a godfather for you to be all you can be. It emboldens participatory democracy; it gives freedom for you to choose your leaders. In ADC they have given us the freedom to elect our structures.
Our National Executive Committee (NEC) has decided that anybody under 40 years male or female will pay half the price of Expression of Interest form and Nomination fee. We thought that the President Jonathan administration had no direction but this one is rudderless. You know when a ship has no rudder, it will just be floating. This is the worst administration in the history of this country.
You were a member of the APC Council on the election of President Buhari in 2015. What did you see in him then that made you work for his election?
You know we always want to think that the new one will be better than the previous one. He had a short reign the first time he was head of State when he was removed. Apparently those that removed him saw more than we the public.
It is now obvious that he is a religious fanatic, a bigot and a nepotistic leader. Somebody who is a patron of the herdsmen. He condemned the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and called them terrorists. How many people did they kill? You said they crossed the red line, but now you need their votes, you are no longer talking about red line. Since the republic of Nigeria, apart from the time of the civil war, the death we suffered has not been as much as what we suffer now from these herdsmen under this administration.
Recently a group came up to buy the APC expression of interest and nomination form for President Buhari. Now the Electoral Act says that no individual or group can contribute more than N1million to the campaign of any politician. What is your take on that?
It is fraud, who is Buhari fooling? If his son had an accident with his power bike that cost millions and spent well over N200 million in hospitals, his nephew is said to be the youngest billionaire in Nigeria? So who is contributing money, who is fooling who? All the people in the villa are his kinsmen. Nigerians should not fall for this scam again that Buhari is not corrupt. They say show me your friends and I will tell you who you are. We are no longer fools, Nigerians should wake up and that is why ADC says ‘Arise Let Us Shine Together.’
It is about four months to the election and ADC is yet to hold its convention to elect a presidential candidate?
I am a NEC member and I will tell you that ADC will have a convention in Osogbo on September 15, but I cannot say whether the presidential candidate will emerge there because there are usually other conventions to be done for the presidential primary.
But this convention wants to adopt a newly rebranded ADC along with the reconstituted executive and constitution along with the new logo.
The ADC is part of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) promoted by the PDP. You are both contenders in the same fight of taking over the country. What exactly do you hope to achieve from the coalition?
It is good when you acknowledge your mistakes. I’m sure former President Jonathan today is wiser than the Jonathan of 2014. If Jonathan had respected the agreement to return power to the north, I’m sure he would have been a different Jonathan today.
The PDP has been bruised and they are undergoing their healing process. CUPP is to prevent the destruction of Nigeria. This administration is advocating cattle colonies. That is another scam to enslave us to the herdsmen because the moment you give them cattle colony they will install their chiefs there and before you say jack, they will start fighting over the land.
What is government’s business in cattle business? Didn’t our forefathers raise cattle, goats and chicken? Is cattle now petroleum that the federal government has to take over its distribution? It is a private business. There is a hidden agenda in cattle colony.
What exactly does the ADC stand for and what are your goals?
The ADC wants to provide a viable platform as alternative to this vicious and vindictive administration. I said vindictive because a presidential aspirant wanted to make use of a public square and they denied him. It is vindictive because they do not allow any challenge.
There is no body challenging the president. If the APC is democratic, why are there no oppositions within the party? Are they saying that everybody in their party accepts the kind of system they are running?
During Obasanjo’s second term there were aspirants and challengers. I left the PDP but it is a much more democratic party than the APC. Nigerians should rise up because we cannot mortgage the future of our children and those unborn. Every Nigerian youth should be able to aspire to be president of this country.
There is a slogan in the American military ‘Be all You Can’. Does that apply in Nigeria? There is an opportunity for everyone to be all he can in the ADC because there is no godfatherism in the party.
What is the vacuum you see in the APC administration and how do you intend to fill it?
Politics in Nigeria needs enhancement. People should not see politics as dirty, but as survival because it bothers on public life. The roads are worse, the problem with Nigeria is infrastructure, our lives can be better. Even in the scriptures when God created the world, He first created light and every other thing followed. If we have stable power supply everybody will not have to work for the government.
You can do tailoring or other things if there is power. If you are sleeping and have your fan on don’t you know it will blow away mosquitoes and prevent sickness? Do you know what that would do for your pocket? Energy has dropped from over 5,000 megawatts to about 3,000 megawatts. The vacuum is that this administration has not provided the enabling environment. They are incapable, inept and rudderless.