…Says resolution of PDP crisis good for Nigeria
…Unity of Nigeria not under threat
…It’s time for S’East to produce Nigeria’s President
Chief Charles Udo Udeogaranya, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress , APC, and a former chairman, Lagos League of Political Parties in this encounter speaks on a range of national political issues and disagrees with the belief in some quarters that the resolution of PDP crisis by the Supreme Court will affect the performance of APC in the 2019 general elections.
He also disagrees with restructuring, saying the unity of Nigeria is not under threat because Nigeria never had genuine unity among the component sections of the country.
He posits the time for Igbo to produce the President is now as that would douse tension and agitations for Biafra republic.
Excerpts of the encounter:
By Chioma Gabriel, Editor Special Features
Many Nigerians are of the view that the resolution of the PDP crisis in favour of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi has put your party on its toes. How do you think the development will affect the fortunes of your party ahead of the 2019 general election?
I have always been a firm believer in a genuine democracy and you cannot have a genuine democracy without a vibrant opposition. I belong to the new generation of democrats who do not see opposition as enemies but rather as collaborators in the pursuit of good governance and delivering common good to the people.
As they say “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. Therefore, the quality of opposition determines the quality of your democracy, because it is the opposition that will help keep the ruling party’s attention fixed on delivering the dividends of democracy to the people. So, the resolution of the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) crisis by the Supreme court in favour of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee is a welcome development for Nigerians; it is a confirmation that our Apex court is up to task in delivering sound judgements on political matters.
For my party, the APC, the resolution of the crisis will give us the necessary drive to do more and give the best of governance to Nigerians. And with that, our chances of winning the 2019 general elections become even brighter.
How would you react to speculations in some quarters that some APC members who were originally in the PDP are already nursing the intention of going back to PDP after the resolution of the crisis?
Our country’s constitution allows freedom of association and so, every Nigerian is at will to associate with any political party of his/her choice. However, I wonder why someone in a ruling party should be nursing the intention of crossing over to the opposition party.
But don’t you think that losing your members to the PDP might spell doom for your party in future elections taking into cognizance the fact that your party recently lost the Osun West senatorial by-election to the opposition party?
The victory recorded by the PDP in the Osun West Senatorial by-election was as a result of a sympathy vote trend. The unfortunate and sudden demise of Late Adeleke who was the senator representing the Osun West senatorial zone made the electorate in that zone feel his younger brother should serve out his late brother’s tenure. They gave him a sympathy vote. The victory was not as a result of people crossing over to PDP.
What is your take on the Executive-Legislature face-off, which has been portraying your party as one in opposition with itself?
It is normal in a democracy. If you are following events in the U.S. Senate and Congress, it is almost a frequent occurrence and it is good because a legislative house that doesn’t query the executive’s moves is considered a dead house or a rubber stamp house. Remember there is this thing called separation of powers between the executive, legislature and judiciary. So, as expected, members of these arms of government sometimes will have issues that they may not entirely agree on. More so, you need to note that the lawmakers are not entirely members of one party and in this context, the APC. In fact, the leadership comes from across parties.
So, my party is not in opposition with itself; rather, vibrant governance in a democracy is at play and Nigerians should congratulate us. I am happy that the Presidency has resolved to take the matter to the court for one final resolution.
The agitation for the restructuring of the nation has resulted in the re-alignment of political forces along ethnic/regional lines. With the unity of the country obviously under threat, what immediate steps do you think should be taken to bring the situation under control & re-focus the country?
The unity of Nigeria is not under threat because we never had genuine unity among the component sections of the country; and that is why we have not crystallised a common nationality for all Nigerians. Nigeria to many is a place to take their share instead of a place to give their proceeds.
I have listened to various arguments for restructuring and my word to the agitators is this; the problem with Nigeria is not the system, it has to do with the operators of the system. Some are saying we should go back to the parliamentary system, but they simply forget that we have practised it before and it failed.
Some say it is the military that suits us; but they seem to forget that we have had several of them and it wasn’t as welcome as it should be. Some are saying we should go back to regionalism, but we were in regions before and that also failed. So, the problem with Nigeria has nothing to do with restructuring the country but more to do with constitutional amendments.
The restructuring agitation arises from the economic downturn the nation is going through as a result of the slump in crude oil prices. There is hunger in the land and there is anger and blame trade.
The realignment of political forces along ethnic/regional lines in pursuit of economic progress is therefore a welcome development that will make Nigerians find strength in unity of purpose. If we can have that going on across the nation, then achieving national unity becomes easier as people would have seen through that process that there are strength and other good things in our diversity if we work together for common good.
The South-East is known not to be receptive of the APC and this is being waxed by the secessionist agitation in the zone. What are the chances of your party in the forthcoming Anambra State governorship election?
It is unfortunate that south easterners have reservations about the APC. I can only hope that they see reasons and allow good reasoning to prevail by giving APC a chance. As it stands today, it is only the APC that can give Ndigbo the Presidency in 2019 as the main opposition party has ceded that position to the North.
APC as a party is aware that Ndigbo has not tested the Presidency in the 30 years of our democracy and 50 years since their return from Biafra. That Ndigbo must truly be reconciled into the Nigerian political space for justice and equity to reign is incontestable. So, I plead with my people to give APC a chance and also remember as Bob Marley sang in one of his songs, “Your best friend could be your worst enemy and your worst enemy, your best friend”. So, even if my people refuse to listen to this plea, I still have confidence that APC will nominate me as their presidential flag bearer in the 2019 presidential election as a bold step in healing the breaches of the past.
What is your message to Nigerians at this stage of your campaign to lead the country to come 2019?
My message is simple. The nation seems to be clamouring for a young president. If you seek the opinion of majority of Nigerians, President Muhamadu Buhari has given his best, but Nigerians are clamouring for more. President Buhari had said he would have wished the presidency came to him when he was younger than he is now.
In other words, the President underscores the need for youthfulness at the presidential level in delivering the kind of quality leadership that Nigerians are yearning for. This is my personal interpretation and I am not trying to impose it on him. But my import from it is that a young Nigerian should take over the leadership of the country.
I am 46 and this is the peak of all ages to offer the best of leadership in this generation. I have outlined eight new industrial cities that will diversify our economy and make crude oil a thing of the past.
I am prepared to serve and create a better Nigeria for all Nigerians and ensure that Nigeria is on the path of sustainable development, which entails diversification of our economy, economic success impact on citizens, re-orientation of our citizenry, food security, enthronement of meritocracy, entrepreneurship education and youth empowerment.
Do you believe the Igbo will succeed this time around ?
The time for the Igbo to be president of Nigeria is now because it would douse the tension in the South East and calm all agitations for Biafra.
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