Posted by News Express | 10 January 2020 | 1,383 times
Venerable Funso Awe, an activist cum politician, was the governorship candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP) in Lagos State in the 2019 election. He spoke on expectations in the New Year, the Edo and Ondo governorship elections holding this year, among other issues. Excerpt:
How would you describe the nation’s politics in the out-gone year, 2019?
2019 was not different from what had been predicted by some of us. The elections were decided before the elections proper. A lot of parties had punched a hole in PDP and getting them to pull out. APC was very strong. In four years in power, it decimated the engine e room of PDP by 75 percent and the former ruling party was left with only 25 percent. I was only able to hold on to South East and South South. But, in these regions, they had oppositions too. Nigerians naturally like flowing with the party in power. Since PDP was not in power, the election was already won before the election proper. What happened in tribunals was not surprising. He who pays the piper dictates the tune. So, it was not surprising that APC had its way in tribunals. Look at Kogi election, everyone knows that it was not free and fair. Yet, APC got away with it.
What are your expectations from the Federal Government in 2020?
They have given a budget that is top heavy on borrowing. When you borrow to sustain ostentatious lifestyle, not improving infrastructure, we will suffer it. In 2020, I am not expecting anything different from government. It will be business as usual.
What is your take on the recent attack on the residence of former President Goodluck Jonathan?
I think it is an internal thing relating to the wrangling in his state. People believe he was party to APC’s victory in Bayelsa. That part of the country has always been volatile. Some people who are aggrieved decided to take him on. We thank God that nothing happened to him. Nigerians are sensitive to ethnicity and tribal leanings. If they had got him, there would be accusing fingers, which would have affected the general peace of the nation.
What does the long detention and recent release of Omoyele Sowore and Sambo Dasuki show about respect for human rights and rule of law by President Muhammadu Buhari administration?
For the government to say they not under pressure was a fallacy. When we were to hols our meetings for the release of Sowore, the operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) locked us up. There was pressure which metamorphosed to international pressure. There was pressure from both local and foreign interests. I saw the U.S envoy addressing the issue. A lot of people are still under detention by this regime. The earlier they launder their image, the better. There was no magnanimity on the part of government in the release of Sowore and Dasuki.
Edo and Ondo governorship elections will hold this year. How do you think the two elections would impact on the 2023 elections?
Ondo and Edo have always been pointers to what the next general elections will look like. In the last elections, APC took Edo and Edo and it was a pointer to what happened in 2019 elections. Now, in both states, with the crises in APC in those states, the election will show how the party will manage its internal crises before the general elections in 2023. In Edo, if Oshiomhole uses his clout as the National Chairman to get Pastor Ize Iyamu the ticket of APC at the expense of Obaseki, will the incumbent accept that the way Akinwunmi Ambode did in Lagos and go to sleep? What happened in Lagos will not play out in Edo? In Lagos, the party’s structure is in the hands of one man, but, Obaseki has built a structure. If the ticket does not go to him, he may pick another party’s ticket. Whatever happens in both states will be pointer to what will happen in 2013.
The elections will take place at the tail end of 2020 when the 2023 politics has started. I foresee a situation where Obaseki will not give up easily. APC has set up a peace committee. The committee will succeed if Obaseki is allowed to run for second term. If Obaseki is given the ticket, will Oshiomhole feel that he has lost face? Odigie Oyegun, the former National Chairman, is supporting Obaseki. He still feels that Oshiomhole plotted his removal as National Chairman. So, Edo is a mirror of 2023, especially as the governors know how to support themselves. Oshiomhole is an ex-governor. Will he still muscle enough power to remove Obaseki? Whatever happens, one of them will die politically. It is either Oshiomhole or Obaseki. In Lagos, Ambode did not fight at all, which was wise
Ondo is always a special case. The people of Ondo have always decided their destiny. Performance matters. If you psyche Ondo people, they do not see Rotimi Akeredolu as a performer. Several times, he was outside the state. He does not carry the people along. He almost lost the ticket at the last primary. I foresee a situation where he may lose the party primary. That is why they are dividing the APA at the state level. If he crosses to another party, he will also lose out. Logically and spiritually, Akeredolu will not get a second term. I am not talking about APC because APC may not present him. If he muster support and ran t the Presidency, if he gets support from Presidency and get APC ticket, he may come back. But it will also be a pointer to 2023. Will Buhari be able to decide his successor? Does he have that political maverick to appoint a successor? Or, the power that plays around him, will they also continue? Will the cabal within the Presidency be able to control him?
The case of Ondo is still a case of Tinubu and the cabal in Presidency. The person that lost to Aderedolu is Tinubu’s candidate. In 2020, it will still be a case of Tinubu’s man against Akeredolu and his people. If Akeredolu runs to Presidency and gets the ticket, will they be able to give Tinubu the presidential ticket? If Tinubu’s man loses in Ondo, it means the powers-that-be does not want him in Aso Rock. If this happens, APC will likely split. Tinubu’s camp may join another party and persuade other people to join him.
If Tinubu leaves PDP and he carries along the Wikes, South East, Atiku, Tambuwal, Shekarau, is APC not dead? If South West, Lagos, Osun, Ogun, Ekiti (not minding Fayemi’s presidential ambition), Oyo is already in PDP – if Tinubu teams up with Delta, Imo, Enugu and they are able to mobilise Sokoto and other PDP governors, the present APC is dead. People are really restrategisisng.
Do you think that the nation’s Leftist Movement, which became noticeable during the travails of Omoyele Sowore, would make much impression in the 2023 elections?
The Leftist Movement is not serious. We make too much noise and little action. There is no action plan. We don’t even put our acts together before we launch out. That is what made the Leftists to unsuccessfully come together. That is why the government can pick Sowore. Tomorrow, they will pick another person. The NCP is not putting its house in order. After the elections, everyone went to sleep. In the election period, they will go to the elections battered sand scattered. Among the Leftists, nobody is doing anything now. I don’t see them making much impact in the 2023 elections. The issue of Sowore would have been a uniting factor because we know what the present government is doing wrongly. But, we are not coming together to use this opportunity to make a point. Now, we hold few meetings, after which everyone disappears. (Daily Independent)
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