…On APC crisis: I read about 170 grievances
…Speaks on his problem with restructuring
…‘Zoning will continue to compound Nigeria’s problems’
…Explains why Yoruba better tolerate Igbo, northerners
By Dapo Akinrefon, Deputy Politics Editor & Shina Abubakar
FORMER Interim National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Bisi Akande, has been absent from the political scene for quite some time but explains that “for reasons of old age at 82, I am not as ambulant as before in political activities.”
In this interview, the former governor of Osun State bares his mind on the crisis rocking APC and how he was able to manage the affairs of the party during his tenure, the agitation for power shift in 2023 and other sundry issues.
You have been absent from the political scene for a while now. What is responsible for this?
My spirit remains strong for the welfare of the Nigerian people, if that is what you mean by ‘political scene’ but, for reasons of old age at 82, I am not as ambulant as before in political activities. And, for now, for reasons of coronavirus pandemics, old men like me are advised to stay safe at home.
Are you not worried about the state of Nigeria?
The state of Nigeria has become worrisome since democracy had been truncated by the military in 1966 and had continued to be made worse complicated for the 29 years of military rule thereafter such that those who were old enough to understand, experience and appreciate democratic governance had been almost totally decimated.
Those who now dominate politics since return of democracy in 1999 were too young to know beyond military ways of operations in government. It is like asking a trained tailor who never handled a mechanic spanner to come and reposition a long disused damaged car. The condition of the car would forever continue to be worrisome.
How do you react to those who have expressed disappointment at President Buhari’s handling of the country’s affairs…?
Those who are expressing disappointment at Buhari’s way of handling the country’s affairs are led by his vocal political opponents who are using mere political propaganda to indoctrinate the society against Buhari’s government.
Most of them were members of the PDP who had earlier been in power for 16 years when there was plenty of oil money to put things right but who had no clue. They are merely playing on the society’s fading memory to make themselves look as better alternatives.
Are you also not worried about the crisis rocking the APC?
APC is a human organization like any other human arrangements among which disagreements are normal phenomenon. As the Chairman of the party’s national reconciliation committee, I have read about one 170 memorandums of grievances from members across the country and discovered that all points of complaints are normal happenings among competitors within political parties’ structures in all democracies all over the world.
Were it not for the impediments of COVID-19 pandemics, the committee would, by now, have resolved most of the problems. The crisis in the APC is being magnified and exaggerated by the opposition media merely to confuse the Nigerian society.
You were able to manage the affairs of the APC as interim National Chairman successfully. What was your secret?
I had no magic. I am as ordinary as any other member of APC. I merely had an opportunity to lead in the moulding of the young newly merged political parties into a virile structure that would be strong enough to dislodge the PDP that then formed an octopus government on Nigeria. And I managed the wisdoms of my colleagues in the interim national executive committee just to do that.
Your predecessors, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and Adams Oshiomhole, were unceremoniously kicked out of office. What do you make of that?
Honestly, both Oyegun and Oshiomhole are giants in the administration of our party. They have served their times in the affairs of APC in their own respective fashions in a way that moved the party to progress. History will honour each of them in the fullness of time.
Why is the APC against restructuring which is in its manifesto?
Until when what is now being termed ‘restructuring’ is aggregatively defined by Nigeria, it will remain a mere political slogan. APC did not write restructuring in its manifesto. APC was talking about ‘devolution of power’ and its government has been trying just to do that. For example, Buhari’s government approved that 10, 000 policemen be recruited and spread equally from among the indigenes of each local government to be trained and retained in their native places for the purpose of community policing. For reasons of the worrisome situation into which the military’s long intervention in power had put Nigeria, the police are not yet able to implement Buhari’s government order. That will show you that power devolution too has to be gradually managed if it would not lead Nigeria into chaos and collapse. It is beyond any political party to handle. It is for the concerted resolution of the people of Nigeria.
But do you support restructuring?
Yes. I do not only support ‘restructuring’ but I also wrote a book on it some 20 years ago. I support restructuring as defined and published in the ‘Yoruba Agenda’. It would be unrealistic of me, however, to think that my idea should not reconciled with others before implementation because the way ‘restructuring’ is defined by A may not be the same as B – i.e. the way it is defined in Ekiti may not be the same as in Egun; and, the way of the Igbo may not be the same as Kanuri. Therefore, it is a matter for the whole Nigeria to resolve and not for only a particular political party.
There are calls for zoning of the presidency to the South. Do you support this agitation?
Only meritocracy can make any society great. Zoning, federal character and all such jargons will continue to compound Nigeria’s problems. APC has no zoning in its constitution. I want the best, highly well informed and well meaning person to lead me under any setting. I was lucky to have learnt under Obafemi Awolowo and Bola Ige. They both easily tolerated debates and would never go ahead until all arguments are exhausted. My experience with uninformed leader was devastating. All debates lead to quarrels and all opposing opinions are misconstrued for disloyalty and resulted in enmity.
Under uninformed leaders, democracy metamorphoses into dictatorship and public oppression. We debated a lot and all the time in the APC Interim National Executive Committee of which I was the national chairman. All of us remain best of friends within our party today. Honestly, I don’t support zoning.
Why is the South-West not united?
The southwest people are all Yoruba. They speak the same language within a similar culture. It is the best united community in Nigeria today. That is why they better tolerate peoples from the East and the North in their midst. That is why they better tolerate all kinds of religions within each of their families. That is why they are most peaceful and progressive.
They enjoy debates among themselves. And debates can be full of arguments and sometimes acrimonies. The uninformed would take such attitude among the Yoruba as ‘Disunity’. I think the southwest is presently very, very united. And I am very happy about that.