…says Muslim-Muslim ticket good for APC to win the election
•Lawmakers in the ruling party will not allow Buhari’s impeachment
By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
Hon. John Chike Okafor represents Mbano/Ihette Uboma/Obowo Federal Constituency of Imo State in the House of Representatives.
A member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, speaks to Saturday Vanguard on Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s prospects of winning 2023 presidential election amongst other concerns.
The minority caucus in the senate recently staged a walkout from the plenary over the security situation in the country and they gave eight weeks ultimatum to the President to address the security situation or face impeachment.
In quick succession, the opposition caucus joined in the threat. So many funds had been approved by the National Assembly for fight against security but does it reflect what is on the ground?
Everybody is concerned and bothered about the spate of insecurity in the country and we are no longer talking about back in the years when it was only consistent with the Niger Delta. I think we have gone past that stage now to say that no part of this country is safe; from the northeast to the northwest to the north central to southwest to south-south and southeast, it is as if Nigeria has been engulfed. Nobody is safe and nowhere is safe.
But this is not time for us to play politics with it because look at the attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train, nobody was sure who the bandits were going to meet in that train. It could have been anybody. So, I said that to say that insecurity and banditry, insecurity generally doesn’t know political party, doesn’t know any religion, doesn’t know whether you are Igbo, Yoruba, doesn’t know any tribe, anybody and everybody can be engulfed as a matter of fact. We are concerned. We are all bothered.
We should look beyond partisanship. We also should look beyond the government because it wasn’t any better in the previous PDP led administration. What I mean by that is that I believe that the government is worried. I believe the government is not overwhelmed. I believe that the government is making very honest and sincere efforts to arrest the situation.
The minority caucus in the House said at the expiration of the weeks ultimatum, they will begin the impeachment process. If that happens, what will be the reaction you who are in the majority?
We will not join forces with them. We will not support them. We have the numbers. You know what they say, “the minority will have its say but the majority will always have its way”. At the end of the day, it will come down to numbers. We, the APC members of the House are convinced that the government is honest and sincere about the decision or the output to keep Nigeria safe and make life better for us.
You secured the ticket of your party to return to the House a few weeks back and you will be running on the platform of the APC and you are from the southeast. The APC is not a very popular party in the southeast. What are your chances in the forth coming election? On the national scale, your party the APC seven years ago promised so much but are judged to have delivered so little, what will you be telling Nigerians in 2023.
On the popularity of the APC in the southeast where I come from, I will tell you that the APC was a no-no party in 2015 when I ran and I won. APC was barely a year old having been formed in 2014. The legacy parties of ANPP, APGA faction of Rochas Okorocha, the CPC and then the ACN in the southwest, all came together and formed APC.
So, the first election APC ever stood in this country was the election in 2015 and I got on the ballot in 2015 and I was voted for. That is to tell you that in the part of the country where I come from, they don’t really look at party. They look at individuals.
That is the truth but of course, the party is a vehicle because our brand of democracy doesn’t give room for independent candidacy or candidature. So, you must have a party platform. Our people are that political savvy that they profile every individual the party notwithstanding, and then they will come in and also vote for individual’s party. For us as a people in the southeast, APC has not done so badly for us. We come from the southeast, five states of Anambra, Enugu, Imo, Abia and Ebonyi. Today in Imo state, the APC government, is doing well. Owerri to Orlu road is completely dualised. Owerri to Okigwe 65% done. Work is still ongoing. Just few days ago, the governor flagged off Owerri to Umuahia.
We’ve never had it this good. It was given to three contractors. So you have from Egbu to Afugo, one contractor; from there to Obowu, one contractor and from there to Umuahia, another contractor. So, that work will be going on simultaneously along that axis and you think that our people are ungrateful? We are not ingrates.
On the national scale, what will you be telling Nigerians?
Nigerians will also be told that some of these things are also global. The impact, some of the things that affected the performance of the government and performance of our economy also has to do with the global economy that was affected also over this period. Yes, we have not delivered on the promises as much we could but was there conscious effort? Were there some deliberate attempts by government to have better results? The answer is yes. But do you have better results? No. Now let us also go back to the previous government or party that ruled, with their recklessness and their confirmed penchant and appetite for stealing, corruption, do you think they will be better than APC? The answer is no. So, put the two parties side by side, APC will still be most preferred by Nigerians than PDP.
So in essence Tinubu will coast home to victory?
Tinubu will be inaugurated the president of this country come May 29th 2023.
Let’s talk on the candidacy of this man. What do you say?
Have you ever heard of this saying that “when preparation meets opportunity, the resultant result is success” He’s worked for it. He is qualified, former senator, two time governor, he set the foundation of the Lagos that you have today. The man is ready and prepared. He is abreast with current realities.
Aren’t you bothered about the backlash trailing the Muslim-Muslim ticket?
Yes, I am bothered about it but if those who are attacking it didn’t think it could give APC the victory, why are they attacking it? Why not just go home and sleep and say APC has driven the vehicle into a ditch, it cannot come out. Let us think about it. Muslim-Muslim ticket, yes, we are from the south, it is not appealing to us but APC is looking at how to win election. So, to me what the party has done is to look at the environment. Tinubu has emerged from the south. Ok, fine, he is from the south but minority religion in the south. I want to look at this critically.
This country is divided along two major religions, Christianity and Islam and this country is divided into north and south, statutorily. And these two religions have their dominance in the two divides so much so that, statistically the whole of the north is about 80% Muslim and less than 20% Christian. Then, ditto for south, over 85% Christians and 15% Muslim. And then it is the turn of the south after eight years of Buhari’s presidency and then it comes to the south and a well grown, matured, exposed, prepared politician showed interest.
Is it all about winning the election or about the unity of the country?
The country is already unified. A lot more things had happened that could have divided us including the civil war before you and I were born. The unity of the country is not negotiable so we are not talking about the unity of the country. That one is a given. This country can never divide. Nothing can disintegrate us and I say that with every audacity.
Nothing can divide this country because we have had a lot more troubles that could have disintegrated this country but we still stood, God has a reason for it. So, the unity of the country was not part of the conversation because it is a given.