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Only electronic transmission of results can threaten APC’s victory in 2023 – Ogunlewe

Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) wants Nigeria to drop her current model of presidential system of government, and recommended a mixture of presidential and parliamentary system. Ogunlewe, a former minister of works, berated the Federal Government on the issue of open grazing that he said ought to be handled by the states. He spoke on several issues affecting the country in an interview with OLADIPUPO AWOJOBI. Excerpts…

Some people are saying that Nigeria does not have much to celebrate after 61 years of independence, what is your own opinion sir?

Of course, we do. We thank God for what He has been able to do for us so far, so we should just thank Him.

But many Nigerians are saying that we have not arrived in the areas of economy, security etc after 61 years of independence

Our main problem is the kind of political structure we are running, it’s going to run our country down and destroy us. The way we run our presidential system is not the best at all, it’s going to ruin our economy, and ruin our country. We have to change it. We can run a presidential system that is mixed with parliamentary as they do in Ghana so that it would be cheaper for us to run. The cost of running the country is more than our income. We have to sit down and rejig our political structure. It is not good for us at all.

But, Constitutional Conference in 2014, but the report was not implemented by the APC Government and they have not organised another one

It’s for us to sit down and address it. We are being destroyed on a daily basis. Look at the level of our indebtedness now, it’s so high and it’s because of our constitution; over-dependence on the central government. This is ruining our country and affecting our growth. We must restructure and devolve power to the states and have a very lean Federal Government. Let the state take more responsibilities and develop, which is the way to go. But now that everybody wants to go to the central and steal money, how can we survive like that? The money that is at the central is so huge and attractive for the people to come and steal. They want to be at the top and at the central so that they can do away with our money. It is encouraging corruption, the system we are running is encouraging too much money at the centre.

But talking about restructuring, some state governors have taken a bold step by saying they will collect their Value Added Tax (VAT) and they have since banned open grazing in their states.However, it’s like the Federal Government is not supporting this

That is what we are saying, the Federal Government should not see itself as being superior to the states. Open grazing is not conducive. How does the rearing of animals concern the Federal Government. They should not be concerned about open grazing. What is their problem with that. They are just over-heating the polity. They are talking about something that doesn’t concern them. What is their business with people breeding chickens or animals. They are just fighting a war that doesn’t concern them at all. That is the mentality of those who drafted the constitution. The Federal Government feels so big and they look down on everybody and determine what everybody must do, but it would never work.

Who do we blame for all these problems?

It is the military, the military prepared the constitution and over-centralised all the powers.

But the civilians have been there since 1999

Yes, initially we didn’t see the problem, it kept increasing on a daily basis, but we are going to sit down very soon to address all these issues. Nobody contemplated what is going on now. There are killings everywhere, kidnapping is now a business everywhere, what can we do and there is no provision for state police. If we have state police, you will be able to control whatever goes on in your community. The police will be able to know what is going on in their community. But in a situation, where somebody from Yobe State is the DPO in Ajegunle or Ikorodu or Epe, he doesn’t know the language, he doesn’t know the people, he doesn’t know the culture, how does he know what to do, how can he be effective security wise? The problem is that the people that benefit from the overbearing influence of the Federal Government would not like it to happen, but it is going through a revolution now such that everybody would sit down and say “this nonsense must stop.”

Sir, when the APC Government was campaigning, they promised to eliminate insecurity and fight corruption, how would you asses the government of President Muhammadu Buhari on these area?

All those manifestoes were written by the progressives, who joined the APC looking for power. They joined with the conservatives, who don’t think the way the progressives think. All the things they write there were progressive ideas, they have nothing to do with a conservative. It is just waste of time, a conservative does not understand all these things you are saying. So, don’t blame Buhari for whatever is happening in the manifestoes, he didn’t draft it. Whatever they wrote there belong to them and he didn’t claim that he understood it. Where you put restructuring and others, all these have no place in the heart of a conservative.

The South South Governors have said that the next president must come from the region in 2023 and the Northerners are saying ‘no,’ how so we reconcile this?

We have gone past that, presidency is coming to the South in 2023, they cannot sustain it. Are you saying that if the entire South is against the North, the North would survive? They would not dare it, all those people that are talking, they are talking by the side. The real people in the North know that power is coming to the South in 2023. They can never confront the South and win, how can they win?

Somebody like you are rooting for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to be the next president of Nigeria, but he has been away in the United Kingdom for over three months now, do you think he has the health to do this?

Let the doctors talk to us, when he comes back. They would look at him and give their assessment. What we are saying is that if it is zoned to the South West, our captain, our leader should have the first choice. If they zone it to the South East, let somebody come out from the region and say he is interested so that the South can have three or four aspirants that would compete. But if they zone it to the South West, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu automatically will be the candidate.

You are saying ‘automatically,’ does it mean there would be no primaries? Primaries with who in the South West?

If it is zoned to the South and somebody comes out from the East, and he is a very reasonable person, we would sit down and work it out. They would discuss it because the way the South Easterners are going, if we are not careful it may lead to a lot of problems for this country. We have to bring them on board and let us discuss the matter if they zone it to the South.

Talking about the economy, people are blaming the APC-led government with the level of inflation, exchange rates and high cost of living, what do you see to this sir as they feel disappointed with your party?

Elections in Nigeria are not won on the pages of newspapers, WhatsApp, Instagram or Twitter. So all these things you are talking about are not relevant. We have 100 million poor people in Nigeria. They are not concerned with economic policies, all they need is money. It is the person who has money that win elections.

But is it supposed to be like that?

There are so many countries in the world that are not practising democracy at all and they are more prosperous than us. But our democracy has increased our poverty, we are doomed as a nation. The more money you have, the more likely you win an election. Election is not won by popularity in Nigeria because all that the poor man wants is money.

May be that was why people said we should go for electronic voting and transmission of results?

If that is done it’s going to be a watershed in the history of Nigeria. Anybody who believes in Nigeria and wants prosperity for the country must embrace electronic voting. I have said it several times that any election that is conducted by human beings and the addition would be done by a Nigerian, forget about the results, they would manipulate it. Where the judge can give judgement based on money collected, you are now talking about somebody that would announce election result, won’t he collect money. But the people don’t want to listen, they would be blowing grammar, we are practitioners. To us, we have participated before, if you have never contested election in your life, then you can talk like that. We have gone through the rigour of being a candidate in an election in this country. Professor Wole Soyinka or Professor Pat Utomi said “it is a doomsday,” it is doomed. It is totally doomed, the only way out is electronic voting and electronic transmission of results. Anybody who believes in Nigeria as a nation would never go against these unless you want the country to be destroyed. I have never seen one Nigerian who can be so honest and declare a true result. It has never happened in the history of Nigeria and it will never happen.

What is your take on the members of the National Assembly?

I was at the National Assembly before, they have to survive. All these things you are saying and abusing them, how can they survive or win elections if they don’t listen to Mr. President or their Governors? Their tenure is four years, at the end of the four years they would come back and beg. They are not in control of themselves after four years, they cannot repeat their candidacy of the party if they don’t beg the Governor or Mr. President. We must pity them, if by any means they are at loggerheads with their governors or Mr. President they are gone. Look at the 8th National Assembly, most of them did not come back. If it is human beings that would calculate the results for the election, APC will win in 2023. There is nothing to contest with them.

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