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Politics of Sunday, 26 September 2021


APC, PDP will crumble before 2023 – APC stalwart

File photo to illustrate the story File photo to illustrate the story

A stalwart of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and security expert, Jackson-Lekan Ojo has said that the ruling party does not deserve to win a councilorship seat in the country in subsequent elections following the party’s abysmal performance, pointing out that the party has lost its confrontational forces that gave it the edge to win in 2015 and 2019.

The Port Harcourt-based politician said that the emergence of the new Third Force is an indication of imminent implosions in the ruling party as he identified the growing list of disgruntled members of the ruling party as the brain behind the new group.

In this interview, the popular security expert also spoke on the ongoing military operations against bandits wreaking havoc in the North and other issues of national significance.

How would you assess the current military onslaught against bandits in the northern part of the country?

What is going on in Zamfara and Sokoto, I will say the military is trying, but then we have to be realistic. In spite of the military operations against bandits, we are still recording abductions and killings. They are killing soldiers, kidnapping the people and are still demanding ransom. Before the military went into this operation against the bandits, they had to shut down the communication system around that axis, but the bandits are still communicating, using drone and other gadgets. That is to say that our military is not capable of confronting these people because I never heard that when the Americans were fighting Osama Bin Ladin that the telecommunication system of the area where they got him was shut down. That’s apart. I will believe we are making progress if the soldiers are able to get these bandits without suffering casualty as we hear currently. Just yesterday there was a case of abduction of students. If we are doing this and schools are still shut down, then what progress are we talking about? To me, there is no serious achievements that can make us joyous and joyful yet.

What better approach would you suggest the military should explore since you seem not to be comfortable with the approach being used now?

Honestly, it would have been better if we had been able to nip the problem in the bud. When the numbers of those who were engaged in this criminality were still infinitesimal, they would have finished them at that time and cause them serious reputational damage. But we have allowed their reputation to be built in the sense that a lot of jobless individuals around that axis are already seeing their recruitment into banditry as way of making  money and living big. That is why the number of those going into banditry is swelling.  However, it is not too late now.  I think the concentration of the military, the para-military  should go to those area now. As the military are fighting them in the states, let there be robust intelligence gathering in the adjoining states so that those that escaped can be easily apprehended somewhere. For a very long time we have empowered them so much by way of paying heavy ransom. Paying heavy ransom as we have been doing amount to financing their activities. But now if you are fighting and killing them; let’s say you killed 20 and 50 escaped, you have not really done anything well because those that escaped will still go ahead to recruit more people. So, the adjoining states of Kebbi, Katsina, Niger, Kogi, Kwara should be properly policed so that if some of them escape with bullet wounds, the security operatives around those areas could get them apprehended. That is when we will know that we are really fighting a battle. Efforts should not be spared to know their sources of funding, how they get food, water, medical equipment, their arms and ammunition.  We need to guard and block those sources. This can only be discovered through serious intelligence gathering.

As the nation inches closer to 2023, the People’s Democratic Party, which is the major opposition to the ruling APC is battling a serious challenge which is believed to be capable of weakening its ability to provide virile opposition to the ruling APC. What do you make of this?

APC is not growing stronger either. There are lot of hurdles the APC needs to cross before the ruling party can call it Uhuru. There are lots of implosions gathering within the rank and file of APC. The ward congresses caused a lot of problems in Rivers, Delta, Edo, Osun and Kwara. The local government congresses caused a lot of brouhaha within the party. The state congress will be much louder and I want to tell you that the national congress of the party will be the final straw. A lot of them are in courts in their hundreds and the party has said that those that take the party to court will be dealt with, which means they will be expelled at the most. Where do you think those to be expelled would go? Those people you see in courts are not the real aggrieved members; they are their agents. They have their sponsors who are the moneybags that are financing them in the court. By the time you expel those people and the aims and objectives of their financiers and principals cannot be met, at the end of the day all these people will move to the Third Force. If you would recall, it was the PDP, ANPP, CPC  and CAN that metamorphosed as the Third Force to form APC and wrestled power from the PDP, just because they had a lot of disgruntled elements in PDP. This is what will happen to the APC. A lot of disgruntled elements will leave the APC and will team up with the Third Force. What APC is enjoying now is the peace of the graveyard; it is temporary. Between now and December, Nigerians will be shocked what will happen to APC and PDP.

You seem to exude so much confidence that the Third Force which is less than a week old is capable of wresting power from the APC which has been in power since 2015. What gives you this conviction?

What is APC? APC is a conglomerate that has no internal coercion, it has no internal agreement. Today, you can easily identify those who are in CPC, you can identify those who are ACN, those in ANPP and APGA. We can recognise them because they are still sticking with their former parties. There is nothing that unites them together. Let me tell you boldly, it was not the APC that won the last election, the last election was won by President Muhammadu Buhari’s popularity and such a character is not coming up because you can’t see such a character in APC today for 2023 election when President Buhari who is their rallying point will not be contesting. We know him very well, Mr. President is not somebody that will engage in ‘do or die’ election, which he did not do during his own elections. He knows that he is now going home to rest. There is no unifying factor in APC any longer. There is no united APC that has the forces of confrontation to withstand any external force coming in 2023. A lot of people you see in APC now are just eavesdroppers who are there to gather intelligence that will be used to damage the party in future; APC is no longer a strong party. But when you see the composition of the people in the Third Force that is coming up now, that will give you a glimpse of how serious the Third Force is. Somebody like Pat Utomi has sound relationship with some APC stalwarts, Prof Adeniran has good relationship with topnotch party members in both APC and PDP. These are the forerunners for some powerful forces within the PDP and APC. They are not coming from nowhere; they are coming from somewhere. They have been journeying with serious political stalwarts in APC and PDP over the years and they are representing the interests of these people. They have been sent to go ahead and set the place for them after which they will come onboard. They are the forerunners of some political bigwigs that I will not like to mention now. To me as a security expert and politician, I have seen the hands of so many people from the APC and PDP in this Third Force. If Nigerians want to exit this quagmire they must not take APC and PDP seriously. 

You have identified lack of internal and genuine cohesion and strength as the major threat to the ruling APC. How does the Third Force intend to get this cohesion and power when it is equally likely going to be a conglomerate of another set of disgruntled politicians that still maintain affinity with their original political parties?

The genuine power of any political party in Nigeria is money. That is why the idea of Not-Too-Young-To-Rule cannot work in this country. We have millions of youths who are capable of contesting and ruling this country, but do they have the money an ordinary member of House of Representatives has now, no! The political power we are talking about in Nigeria now is nothing else but money. By the time these political bigwigs arrive now and start funding the Third Force, people will queue behind them. Our politicians are already using poverty as a tool of getting the people to queue behind them. Currently, there is no political party with known ideology. But if the Third Force comes up with an ideology it will not take Nigeria a week before they start having soft spot for it.

Before now you were known as a passionate APC chieftain, but that seems to have changed now. Why the sudden change?

I am still an APC stalwart, but I remain in APC because there is no alternative yet. My sympathy for APC will never becloud my sense of reasoning. APC is not the best party in Nigeria today because it is not really doing what the people expect. When the demonic PDP was in power, Naira was 180 to a dollar, but today it is 580 to a dollar. We flew in aeroplane for N17, 000, but today, it’s N90, 000. Schoolchildren are leaving school for security and economic reasons. If Nigerians are sane people, APC does not deserve to win a councilorship seat in the country again except the party can change for better before next year. So, I am still in APC, but I think I should be waiting. People are looking at the Third Force, whether they can come up as a better platform to improve this nation. But if not, people like us can withdraw from politics and take our families out of this country. If things improve we will return. It has gotten to that stage. I will be ashamed to come out now and claim that APC is trying. Corruption is more endemic now than it was under PDP.