By BOLUWAJI OBAHOPO, LOKOJA
Dr Williams Akanle aspired to represent Kogi West in the upper chamber of the National Assembly on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) but lost at the party primaries. The former National Director of the Department of State Service, DSS, whose aspiration was the third in a row, says he has, however, not lost hope. In this interview, the Yagba East born politician believes the future is bleak for Kogi West.
The APC primary at Kogi West to elect the senatorial candidate, how did it go?
What happened on October 4 was no primary. I have chosen to keep quiet because I don’t believe in fighting over split milk. What happened in Kabba was a sham.
Any hope for redress?
Our hope lies in God. Let me give you a recent example. In Kogi State, we had an election where the late Prince Abubakar Audu campaigned and went everywhere. He was the perceived winner of that election but for Gov. Yahaya Bello, we all know what he did and what he stood for to be sworn in because he finished second at the primary. If it happens that the perceived winner dies, anything can happen and I’m still very hopeful.
Any hope for reconciliation?
Is it not when they want to see you that they can reconcile with you? Did they even think of me? The major actors have not reached me and I’m not going to beg anybody. But I can categorically say that in Kogi West APC, I’m a voice that must be heard; so if they are still playing god, let them continue. There was a time I met the party National Chairman in Abuja and I told him ‘you people are taking me for granted and you will see’. That statement is loaded.
On the 2019 elections
I have always said I’ll not work against my party. If anything is going to happen, it will happen within the party. What do I mean? My followers whom we have been together over the past 18 months for this exercise have made sacrifices for them now to be in the cold and they know what to do at the appropriate time. They may be waiting for my body language but when it is time for me to indicate to them the direction to go, I’ll certainly do that.
On APC as a national party
I won’t deceive you; my voice has dropped since after the primaries. I really don’t know what would happen. The primaries held by the APC all over the federation were marred by corruption. Some governors whose candidates lost were so bitter that they said they would not work for the party. They said they would also work for their candidates elsewhere, while a minister said he would not work for the party. And people have continued to defect from our party. That is weakening our resolve. Party politics is like a system and when parts are falling off, it can’t function effectively. So if you ask me, there are cracks in the APC.
Those behind my travails
Those behind my travails know themselves. They vowed that I shouldn’t get there. Some went about saying I don’t matter, that I’m not acceptable and not on ground politically. But they can now see that I’m more acceptable than anyone of them. They feared me; else they would have allowed a free and fair primary and let me beat them. By all assessment, I had not less than 80 percent of the votes cast in that election. Were they on the field? Did we see their posters? Did we see their bill boards? Did they go round the 84 wards like I did?
On the winner of the APC primary
Who is the winner? Can he come down from his high horse? Because he had the support of government? Are they campaigning now? Now that elections are close and others are campaigning, where are they? They only went to Kabba few days ago.
On his relationship with Governor Bello
I was on the same page with the governor but maybe he was not on the same page with me. I can say you are my friend, but it is only you who know whether I’m your friend. The only l have not done is that I don’t go to his house every morning or beg him. Some people do that, so if I was not doing that, does that presuppose that I’m not on the same page? All those that have tickets of the APC to contest the 2019 polls in Kogi today, none of them did ten percent of what I did for the party. So, if there is any issue from his side, or from government side, I don’t know. But if they could direct all the appointees and the elected to do everything possible that I do not emerge, then I don’t think we are on the same page. Because if the governor’s appointees, even from my community, could go against me, knowing the implications, then, I think they are on the same page with him and l am not.
On APC winning Kogi West in the 2019 elections
This is a very difficult question. It has been a long running battle among the various dramatis personae. The situation on ground generally in Kogi may have adverse effect even on the presidential election. The only saving grace is that the bulk of the votes are coming from APC strongholds, but how the candidates emerged is creating problems and people are getting disenchanted.
This is not the time for anybody to think that all is well. Everywhere I go, people want to hear the way forward. Then some leaders are pretending that all is well. I know that there is serious problem ahead.
Advice on how APC can win the elections
The party has to do more. They know there will not be primaries, yet they collected our money. I’m not saying they should refund the money. How much is the N7 million compared to several hundreds of millions I’ve spent? They know what to do to win election even if it means going to beg because people are hurt and angry.
I have exhausted all available options to seek redress. The party has its own method of resolving the problem. Immediately after the primaries, they constituted a National Peace Committee and I went there based on the appeal we wrote.
They said Toyin Akanle won the primary for Kogi West, it is on record and on paper but till tomorrow the NWC has not been able to sit down to implement it. Some people unfortunately are playing god. People at the national and at the state levels of the APC are playing god.
It is not going to be about me alone. It is also about the appointees. If all the principal actors, those elected into government from Kogi West can come and insult me with my experience, my age and all that I stand for…even those who never went to school. I thought we respected our teachers in those days because they were learned. I went to school. I worked in an organised system. I retired as National Director of Security. I’ve been part of installing several governors.
I’ve worked with Presidents one on one. It is so easy to turn Kogi West and Kogi State around, but, unfortunately, these people don’t have what it takes and yet they want to be celebrated. I have only one vote but the electorate would decide. Even if I vote for my opponent now, does it make him win? Let them appeal to the electorate, but because they have offended the electorate, they can’t go to them.
It is not over and so I’ve no regret. It takes somebody with character, conviction, after my experience and my background, to come into politics. People would say ‘what are you looking for?’ But the people are there. The people are the one who are suffering. I thank God that as a federal pensioner, I can sit down quietly and live my life; after all I’m not training children in the university anymore. I’ve done well for myself. But what about the people, the electorate, those without a voice? 2019 elections are still weeks away. It is not over until it is over. That is the message I give to any followers.
Look at the two major contenders in APC and PDP, if you ask where the pendulum would swing, everyone knows where it would go. If you like, don’t allow Dino Melaiye to come to Kogi. The people, because of what they have done to me in Kabba, are saying they will wait for February to vent their anger. I have told people several times that I am not leaving APC, not because I’m convinced that APC is the best or not the best but because l have a divine purpose.
If not for God, you must have heard people saying I am being considered as third force where I was not even a member. People went as far as making billboards with my name as their senatorial candidate. I would have gone to those ones. And let me not deceive you, the kind of work we have done, there is no party I would go to today that I would not win, that is if they do not write result because the result of the primary they are brandishing, did we really have up to 1, 500 delegates as of the time they claimed that primary election was held?
What does the future portend for Kogi West?
Very bleak because the two principal actors have been there before and what was the outcome? One was there for eight years, what did he have to show? Some people campaigning for him on social media said he gave cars, what kind of cars? How many people can drive the cars now? If you did empowerment that would enable people acquire skills and can employ others through it, would it not be better than giving cars? You said he gave some rickety ambulances to some clinics? Ambulances that never moved after they were delivered! We know the source of all those things, making it look as if they are spending their own money is deceptive.
Over the years, I cannot count lives I’ve impacted positively. By the virtue of my background, l don’t make noise about it. I’m not like a senator who would paint one classroom and make so much noise about it. My community development efforts have received commendation and yet I don’t make noise about it.