Will APC implode when Buhari quits in 2023?
Omole, APC UK Leader speaks
Says zoning is the right thing to do
By Omeiza Ajayi
Prince Ade Omole is the leader of the All Progressives Congress APC in the United Kingdom as well as the leader of the Nigerian Community in the UK. In this interview, Omole who chairs the Nigerian Diaspora Voting Council differs with those who believe that the APC would implode by 2023 following the exit of President Muhammadu Buhari from the scene. He also speaks on zoning and other issues of national interest.
Some analysts believe that APC would end the day President Buhari quits power. Do you share in that assertion?
We consider that as fake news. I think the APC is growing which is also quite evident from the calibre of people that are actually joining the party at this present time. Aside from the people that are actually joining, not just here in Nigeria but also in the diaspora, we got more members joining the APC and because of the achievements to date, I know we have challenges, but we have actually left where we were before 2015. Even though we are not where we should be yet but I think we have done marvelously well and we will continue to do that. So, when I hear people talk about APC going into extinction in 2023, I just laugh at it and I think probably they don’t understand the dynamics of politics in the country. We believe that by 2023 this party will be stronger and we will still be in existence and we will still be the governing party come 2023. It is actually the party to beat. The President has done marvelously well despite the challenges we have with security, the challenges that have been brought upon us by COVID-19 but I think having said all that, we still have a bright chance.
Nigeria is a very great country and even the people here. Nigerians all over the world are actually good people. I believe we have the capacity, I believe we have the tenacity to actually overcome all these challenges and be the greater country that we are today. So, for people saying APC will go into extinction, I think it is fake news and we will shock them again in 2023.
Ahead of the 2023 Presidential election, what is your position on zoning?
We all know that zoning is not part of the constitution of the party but it is an arrangement that was put in place for fairness. As for me, zoning has been in our political environment for a very long time and I believe it should continue as long as the party actually agrees with it.
So, at the end of the day, it is the party that will actually decide what zone the presidency or whatever office goes to. We also believe in the position of the party and we will keep doing that. There are few divergent views regarding zoning but personally, I believe it is the right thing to do. It is a step in the right direction and it just gives everybody a chance to actually have a shot at the presidency or any other office in the country.
Would you say the recent massacre of scores of rice farmers in Zabamari, Borno State is an indication that President Buhari has failed? Would you also recommend state policing?
I don’t believe the President has failed. Like I said earlier, we are not where we should be but we left where we were pre-2015. If you remember bombs were going off in Abuja; the Nyanya motor park and close to about 20 local governments were under the control of the terrorist at that time. Yes, we actually got the setback like every other country that has been terrorised by ISWAP or whatever name they actually give themselves but I think it is a setback that we will definitely recover from. It(killing of rice farmers) is not the defeat of the Army, yes it happened, it is quite unfortunate and may the souls of the departed rest in peace. Having said that, I still believe and we still believe in the capacity, strength and unity of this country and we believe that the Nigerian Army is actually capable and up to the task of defeating the terrorists and we will defeat the terrorists. We will win this battle and the war.
State policing is actually happening at this present time and what do I mean by that? You have the Amotekun in the South-West, you have another group in the North and I understand there is another group been put together in the South-East and even the South-South. I also know that a few States actually passed laws supporting those groups to function. So, in a way we are moving gradually to State policing because the talk has always been to have people from your state policing the State. But having said that, the Police at this present time can still be empowered to actually do more.
What is your rating of President Buhari’s handling of the recent #EndSARS protests?
Most of the news we heard about the human rights abuses were actually fake news. I know that because we have an internet team in the UK that actually fact-checked most of these stories. You heard of people being shot at Lekki, we heard the live presentation by Major General Taiwo that no one was killed at Lekki and those pictures that were been bandied about, being shared on social media were pictures from Nollywood, some were not even in Nigeria. So for me and my team we will commend the President for accepting the demands of the #EndSARS and he told the security forces to allow them until the hoodlums took over and started burning and looting and also killing which is again quite unfortunate. I think the Police should be commended, the Army should be commended and also the President should be commended for the way he actually handled that protest.
What is the strength of the APC in the UK?
Membership strength in the United Kingdom is in thousands. Why will people be joining a political party, infact you have more Nigerians joining the APC in United Kingdom than even Labour Conservative even if they can’t vote? That means they are quite interested, they like what the party is doing. Even though they are outside the country, they are interested in knowing developments in Nigeria. This is where I will commend, first the President for signing into law the Nigerian Diaspora Commission and I will also want to specially commend Hon. Abike Dabiri, the Chairman of that Commission. She is ensuring that people in the Diaspora are fully engaged, they understand what is going on and she is always out meeting with Nigerians and also showcasing Nigerians who are living abroad and bringing in investment opportunities into the country. The perception which is very wrong that as soon as you leave Nigeria, wash your hands off Nigeria but that is not the way it works. Nigerians living outside the country are committed, patriotic Nigerians.
What is the extent of contributions of Diasporans to Nigeria’s economy and what are your thoughts on diaspora voting?
To answer that question, I have to thank three people, first the President for his commitment that Diaspora Voting becomes a reality in Nigeria. Secondly, I will like to thank the Chairman and CEO of NIDCOM, Hon. Abike Dabri. She has been working 24 hours to ensure that it becomes a reality. The President told her that if the National Assembly passes that law today, he will actually sign it. Now, the third person is Hon. Tolulope Shadipe, she is the sponsor of the Bill at the National Assembly. The Bill has actually passed the first reading.The second reading is going in any moment from now. It should be going in for second reading before the year ends and hopefully we have done the sensitization. Remember that I am also the Chairman of the Nigeria Diaspora Voting Council. We have been working with the National Assembly, NIDCOM and the Presidency. There was a workshop we put together with INEC sometimes in February. So, we have been working hand in gloves with all these agencies including the National Assembly and we have actually gone round sensitizing members of the National Assembly as to the reason why Diasporan voting is very important to this country and also that Nigerians living in the Diaspora are not disenfranchised.
In the last four years, remittances sent to Nigeria have been over the amount from the resource made from our products. That gives you an idea of how important Nigerians in the Diaspora are to this country. In 2016 it was over $25 billion, in 2017 it was over $26 billion, in 2018 it was over $28 billion and now in 2020 it has not been compiled yet but we are looking at over $30 billion. That is a lot of money so we can’t afford to do without Nigerians in the Diaspora, they are quite important to us and we should respect them and also see them as brothers and sisters because they are also Nigerians as well. It is just that they live outside the country. So, we are partners in progress, I see them as partners in progress and we will continue to do that. Also as an example, as party branch in the United Kingdom, myself and my team we were part of the policy making for this APC-led administration. Personally, I have submitted two bundles of policies to the President at the villa and we have done a few programmes with several Ministers. Again we are also working with the youths in the country, working hand in gloves to ensure that we help the governing party and His Excellency the President in actually ensuring that we engaged with the youths and ensure that we listen to them.
Are you comfortable with the activities of the APC Caretaker Committee?
I know that there is a NEC meeting that is scheduled for the 8th of December. First, let me commend the Caretaker Committee for what they have done so far. It is not an easy job. It is the governing party with different interests. So you have this group of men and women trying to put the party together. It is quite an uphill task but today they have shown that they are up to the task. Talking about deregistration and trying to deregister some members, I think that is not possible. That is not the ethos and the ideals behind our constitution. This is a progressive party, it is not about deregistering members. In fact, we should be happy that more members are actually joining the party. I don’t think anyone will try to deregister a member because the more members we have, the more votes you have. Whoever is actually thinking about that is fake news, we should all ignore that because this Caretaker Committee is actually working on unity, bringing members together, getting more members on board and the primary purpose of that Committee, to put together a convention so that we can have elected executives of the party that will take the party to greater heights so that by 2023 we know we are winning the general election again.