Senator Smart Adeyemi, in this interview with Shola Oyeyipo, spoke about the prospects of this Saturday’s presidential election and other issues of national importance. Excerpts:
Is it correct that the PDP is afraid of this general election?
I think that cannot be true for a government that is in power to be afraid of elections. But I think the opponent must have something to say in order to get the attention of the electorate. Be that as it may, those are part of the propaganda and blackmail of the aggrieved former members of the PDP who constitute themselves into a political party now called the APC.
On the other hand, the PDP is forging ahead more than ever before. Nigerians are starting to appreciate all the achievements recorded so far, the transformation agenda of this administration which cuts across virtually all the sectors and I hold the view that come the 28th of March, the PDP is going to win not just the presidential election but we are going to have majority members of the National Assembly.
Perhaps they are already warming up for the victory dance.
Well, in a competitive election like this, you campaign to the last hour allowed by the law. But what I’m saying in essence is that they have nothing to say any longer. The propaganda, the blackmail, the deceit has been exhausted and they have nothing to say. There are just two basic issues at stake which the opposition seems to have been using to blackmail this government. They talked about corruption; they talked about insecurity.
The issue of insecurity, that the federal government is not able to secure lives and properties is no longer an issue today. In months back, it was an issue. Today, we can see a brand new Nigeria Army. Not that the personnel are different; it’s because they are now well equipped and now they are winning the war.
The other issue they talked about apart from insecurity is corruption. They will tell you this is the worst government; everybody in the PDP is corrupt. I know that corruption, like insecurity is a global problem. Every nation of the world is fighting corruption. There is no nation where people are extremely transparent to the point that you don’t talk about corruption.
Corruption is a global problem, just as insecurity is a global problem. But every responsible government tries to fight its way against all these twin interwoven global problems. Again, I will tell you that I do not think the PDP is a corrupt government as we have been made to believe. I do not believe that every one of us in the PDP or in government is corrupt.
General Buhari claims to have a history of fighting corruption.
Having a history of fighting corruption does not translate that Buhari is a saint. Buhari is not a saint. Go and check his antecedents in the PTF – all the people that surrounded Buhari, all his aides, where did they come from? They didn’t come from Ibadan. They are all from his village, his own community and his family members. Somebody was asking me why I was supporting Goodluck; that Goodluck is not a Northerner and I am a Northerner. I quickly answered him that Buhari is not a candidate for the Northern region.
Buhari can never be a candidate for the Northern region in the first place. The North cannot afford to have Buhari as its candidate in the first place because Buhari lacks all the qualities of Sardauna. In fact, Buhari stands in opposite direction to all that Sardauna stood for in every sense of leadership. Buhari is not a leader that personifies Sardauna. To call him a Northern candidate is an insult to the North. The fact that you emerged through the military might doesn’t translate you as a leader.
The only time you can tell me you are a leader is when you are democratically elected in a free and fair election. Buhari has never been elected in a free and fair election before. So, Buhari cannot claim to be a leader for the Northern region and he can never be one because of his antecedents. Leadership evolves through a democratic system. The fact that you are opportune to hijack power through military coup does not translate you to be a leader. In fact, people like Buhari owe the Nigerian people apologies for the atrocities they committed.
Don’t you think with Buhari’s popularity in the North and Tinubu’s leadership in the South-west, coupled with their media power, the APC stands a good chance?
Winning election translates media propaganda. In fact, the media doesn’t really win you an election. Social media will not win elections. What makes people to win elections is the record of achievements. Today, more than ever before, Nigerians have come to realise that this administration, more than any administration in the history of Nigeria has performed excellently well under Goodluck Jonathan. Yes, we had the unfortunate problem of insurgency and insecurity. The insecurity that engulfed Nigeria was one that we never knew about before. Insurgency was strange to the Nigerian army.
There is a difference between the Army and insurgents. A soldier and a suicide bomber are in two different worlds. One is trained to win the war; the other one is prepared to die ab initio. A soldier is not trained to die. A soldier is trained to win the war and for a soldier to win the war, you need to equip the soldier. A suicide bomber has signed ab initio to go and die. He is looking at it based on the misconception they have planted in him. He believes he is going to heaven and he is going to be given virgins.
Now, these are two different things. For me, winning elections is all about achievements of the administration and you look at the socio-economic implications that will emerge after that victory. To have Goodluck Jonathan back to office is to ensure that peace and stability of Nigeria on one hand and forging ahead with the transformation agenda of this administration.
One of the campaign issues your party has raised in the South-west is the National conference report. Do you think this will fly?
We should actually give credits to President Jonathan for his courage to convene the National Conference. I know that he didn’t set up the conference for the fun of it. It was well thought out and I am proud of the recommendations. Who does not know that we need restructuring in this country? Who does not know that we need a structure that will ensure better accommodation among the ethnic sub-nationalities; that we need to give identity to our people to address the rising societal tension? I am in support of creation of states. Who does not know that the Igbos deserve another state? That the Ijebu deserve a state or the Southern Kaduna, the Oke-Ogun, Southern Borno or that we need to solve some of the contradictions that stall development in Kogi and that most of the states created were not democratically created.
We should allow the states to evolve in line with realities around them. There is no doubt that Nigeria is due for restructuring and the report of National conference which will be implemented by Jonathan will guarantee that. The Yoruba have been at the forefront of restructuring all along. There is no doubt they want the report implemented by Jonathan.
At the Chatham House, Buhari said he was a reformed person and a democrat. Do you believe him?
You know that during elections, people can say anything. In fact, some people can even change their names. I will not be surprised if Buhari says he is now Peter or Okechukwu. But we know Buhari very well that he is not going to change. A Leopard cannot change its spots. Buhari by orientation and by education is a dictator. Okay, tell Buhari to apologise to Nigerians for all the atrocities he committed. I saw him on television saying that those who are still against him for what he did when he was military Head of State have a choice not to vote for him.
What an arrogant statement from a politician. Buhari cannot change. And let me equally tell you that Buhari is not really prepared for leadership. This is a man who does not even know the name of his running mate. This is a man who cannot even tell us the full meaning of INEC or the name of his party. Now what is the problem with that kind of a person? It’s either that he has some discomfort within him. It could be his state of health; it could be his state of mental reasoning. Age is not on his side. I am convinced that the man is too old to lead Nigeria. He can’t be less than 77, contrary to what we are being told.
How would you rate President Jonathan?
I stand here and I stand to be quoted that I do not know of any civilian administration that you can compare to this achievements in the area of infrastructural facilities, in the area of social amenities, in the area of expanding and galvanizing socio-economic activities than Goodluck Jonathan. Yes, I agree with you equally that there has not been any President that had the misfortune of fighting the worst war any administration will fight.
Goodluck Jonathan fought the worst war. In fact, Goodluck Jonathan should be crowned as a Field Marshall of Nigeria. If there is any Field Marshall that should be appreciated in Nigeria, it’s Goodluck Jonathan because he fought the worst war – that is fighting insurgency and suicide bombers. No President ever had this misfortune. That seems to becloud the sense of reasoning of the opposition of the tremendous achievements recorded elsewhere. Is it in the area of sports that we have not excelled? Is it in the area of education? Our foreign direct investment as at last month is over $20 billion. There is no President that has succeeded in improving the foreign exchange earnings from non-oil sector than Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
Let me say it loud and clear that a Buhari administration is for you to go back to the trenches and many journalists will be killed under Buhari because the military did it and Buhari is still a product of that institution. He has not repented from the atrocities committed in time past. This is just to call my colleagues in the media not to sleep with their two eyes open. Let it be told that the problem of insurgency should not becloud the achievements recorded. We cannot pretend that this administration has not done excellently well. In every facet of life, this government has done excellently well and it makes sense to allow Goodluck Jonathan to complete his cause.
Recently, a foreign online post said Buhari would win the election by 60 percent on March 28. Is the PDP not worried by such projection?
Most of these foreign assessments, sponsored publications on the net, you know today, there is a lot of publications on the internet that are not based on facts – a lot of sponsored reports to ridicule people and tarnish people’s integrity. Let me tell you that the Nigerian people will not vote Buhari and I can let you know that based on our own findings, the shocking news will be the result of the election.
Is the PDP afraid of Card Readers?
The card reader will work against the APC than the PDP. The card reader will be an advantage to the PDP because the PDP has not been involved in the manipulation of card readers. The PDP is not cloning PVCs; PDP has not been involved in the purchase of cards. PDP has not been involved in asking a particular tribe not to be given cards in some states. It’s the APC that is doing that and they will be shocked that they will not be able to use those cards.
It’s the APC that is acquiring cards through backdoors believing that they will use them. So, if the card reader will be used for the reason that Jega has told us, it is welcomed. The card reader will reveal a lot of fraudulent acts of the opposition. The PDP has not really bothered about doing anything under the table to win the election because there is just no reason for it. It’s the opposition – those who are desperate in APC.