A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Hon. Segun Olulade, has said that the party needs eight more years to correct the 16 years of maladministration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Olulade, a former lawmaker also assured Nigerians that insecurity and the economic crisis in the country would end in the coming years if Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is elected as the president of the country in 2023. The frontline grassroots mobiliser spoke with OLADIPUPO AWOJOBI. Excerpts…
Some Nigerians are saying that Muslim- Muslim ticket would not augur well for our system and that the Presidential Candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, ought to have chosen a Christian as his vice presidential candidate, what is your view about this?
It is funny the way Nigerians talk about Muslim-Muslim ticket. I want to appeal to the politicians that are trying to divide the country by introducing religion into our politics to be careful. Religion should be seen as a separate entity. For instance, we have a President who is a Muslim and a Vice President, who is a Christian, yet we still have the issue of insecurity and the most affected people are Muslims. We have much insecurity in the North West, North Central and the North East. We should not mix politics with religion. The Nigerian constitution allows the candidate of a party to choose whoever he feels would work with him seamlessly in achieving the projects, polices and manifestos of his party. It is the prerogative of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to choose whoever he considers to have the capacity and competency to deliver on his programmes. That does not mean that others might not be in that category. Even, when you want to buy anything in the market you consider certain things. Asiwaju Tinubu has chosen Kashim Shettima, who he considers suitable based on loyalty, capacity, competency and ability to deliver among other variables. We don’t talk about religion at the executive level. What is important are security, economy, infrastructure and the institutions.
Tinubu is contesting under the APC that came to power in 2015 after campaigning with “Change” mantra and “Next Level” in 2019, yet we still have several challenges in the areas of security, economy and others. How will your party convince Nigerians now that things would change after the APC must have spent eight years in office and we still have these challenges?
I don’t think that while we were coming into office we promised that the challenges we were having from 1960 to 2015 would be solved in eight years. Insecurity did not start with President Muhammadu Buhari, the economic and infrastructural challenges did not start with him. He has been addressing the issue of infrastructure, and some other issues that have positive impacts on our people. We have seen the different methods that have been used to address the issues of security and economy, so Tinubu is coming with more informed methods. He has done it before in Lagos State. When he got to office as Governor, the state was in a mess.
It was not where it is today then, there was serious insecurity in the state then and he started the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF). He came with a lot of innovations that tackled insecurity including Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) and a lot of other institutions. He started the new Lagos because the state was considered to be the dirtiest in the world then.
Those competing with him, what have they done in human and infrastructural capacity development before? Look at the economic turn around in Lagos State, where the state was realising less than N600 million IGR monthly, he raised it to about N14 billion, we had the issue of ghost workers, which was eliminated, he brought in independent power project and created Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) that took government to the grassroots. Today in Lagos State, people feel the impact of the government at the local level. The capacity of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to deliver is not in doubt.
What do you think Tinubu should do within his first year in office?
I know Tinubu very well, he has his programmes, I trust him. He has started what I expected him to do because he has started with committees and he knows the people to put there. He would do the same thing as president. You would see new ministries coming up, when he gets to office. You will see new institutions, and economic prosperity would be unleashed on the people. You will see the programmes that would put food on the table of the people. You will see a situation, where our export would be more than our import.
The PDP did 16 years, APC has done eight years, let Asiwaju Bola Tinubu do eight years for the APC after Buhari’s eight years and let us compare the two. How many of the people that served as governors the same time with Tinubu are still relevant today. That was how they said he would not emerge as the presidential candidate of the APC and he emerged. That tells you that he is a strategic man that knows how to do things. He said he did not get contracts from the government and that he did not get any ministerial appointment in the last eight years, all that he wants is to succeed President Buhari because he has the vision and the programmes.
We all know what happened before the presidential primary of the APC and with what Tinubu said in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, and with some other things that took place in Abuja before the primary it was obvious that some people did not want him. With all these, do you see the leadership of your party and stakeholders supporting Tinubu to be the president in 2023?
We observed that some cabals within and outside the party did not want Tinubu to emerge because they know that the status quo will change. He eventually emerged as the presidential candidate of the party and a lot of things have happened after that. Those that did not support him then are now supporting him today. It’s going to be a new song for the APC before the 2023 General Elections and Tinubu would become the next President of Nigeria.
Your party lost the governorship election in Osun State last month and also there seems to be a movement by the youth that the APC and PDP should give way, while they are campaigning for Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party. The issue of religion is also there as Atiku Abubakar of the PDP has picked a Christian as his running mate as he is a Muslim. Do you still see the APC winning the 2023 presidential election?
I find it funny, when people point to what happened in Osun State as if the state is Nigeria. Osun State people came out to say that they wanted Mr. Ademola Adeleke as their next governor, that is their opinion and they have that right. If they voted for Adeleke and the PDP, the Labour Party had a candidate in the state too, Yusuff Lasun, have they now agreed that the election is now between the APC and the PDP? Talking about Christian and Muslim, it is funny too because Tinubu’s wife, the closest person to him, is a Christian and some of his children are Christians. This is a marriage of over 40 years and he didn’t convert her to be a Muslim.
Religion should not be part of politics. No politician can talk about how pastors and bishops emerge and so religious bodies and leaders must leave politics for politicians, they should not be actively involved in politics. Why would someone go to the pulpit and say this is the person you should vote for? That is not in the bible, I am a Christian too.
The General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor E. A Adeboye, said that he has members of the PDP, APC and those of other political parties in his church and that he would not campaign for anybody because they are all his children. He said you should vote for whoever you want. Talking about the the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, he picked a Christian as running mate as someone he could work with to achieve his ambition and manifestos. Also, Alhaji Rabiu Kwakwanso of the NNPP picked Bishop Isaac Idahosa as his running mate for a purpose.
That you bear a Muslim name does not make you a Muslim, same goes for a Christian. In Christianity for instance, you must give your life to Christ and be born again before you can be called a Christian. So, I laugh at some pastors that talk about certain things that are not part of the church. Christianity is not a religion, it’s a way of life.
What assurances are you giving Nigerians that Tinubu would hit the ground running if he is voted into office as president with his alleged poor state of health, especially with the way he travels abroad for medical treatment?
It’s funny when people talk about Tinubu’s health status because I don’t know anyone that is his personal doctor to the extent of raising such issues. How can you say someone is not fit, when you have not seen his medical records? We have seen people that were not sick but died suddenly. There were footballers that died on the field like the late Sam Okwaraji.
He just slumped and died though he was fit to play a match. You say the man is not fit, yet he is the most travelled presidential candidate in the country today that has been campaigning vigorously. This is a man that will work and hold meetings in his house till 3am and by 8:am he is out again, yet we talk about his health as if we are the medical director of the hospital that he uses. Anybody can fall sick, the last time Tinubu travelled abroad was because of a knee injury and since then he has been moving round, even after the primary elections. He is still working day and night even more than the people that are saying these things.
Tinubu left office as governor in 2007 and he is still the main issue in the nation’s political circle. Tinubu has raised many people across board. He supported the President, he raised the Vice President politically, look at Governors, Commissioners, members of the state and national assemblies and even local government chairmen that he has made. People like us are from his political school and that is why we are where we are today.