- Says ruling party will do the ‘needful’ on Tambuwal
By Samuel Ogundipe
Peoples Democratic Party National Secretary, Professor Wale Oladipo, has said notwithstanding the advice to the All Progressives Congress that they should shun a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket, former President OlusegunObasanjo would work for the Yoruba to be in mainstream politics in the country.
Oladipo spoke in an exclusive interview with WESTERN POST in office in Abuja. Though Obasanjo has been lukewarm towards the PDP and had said last year when he stepped down as Chairman Board of Trustees that he was now going to devote his time to his international engagements, Oladipo said the ruling party would not lose President Obasanjo
He said: “No, we can’t lose President Obasanjo for three good reasons. First, because I, Professor Wale Oladipo, I have a personal son-to-father relationship with Baba Obasanjo, he’s a wonderful man, very blunt, straight forward, courageous and principled. Two, he had been president of this country for eight years on the platform of the PDP. Three, Obasanjo is one man who believes, strongly, in the unity of this country–the indivisibility of this country. He knows that the group that God is using to hold this country together is the PDP. The PDP is the only party that has no ethnic or religious coloration. We don’t belong to any ethnic group. Therefore, the philosophy of the PDP tallies with that of Baba Obasanjo”.
Obasanjo and President Jonathan, whom he helped into office, have since become estranged. But the PDP secretary said there was no way the former president could afford to become antagonistic to the electoral fortunes of PDP.
“I can assure you of that. If he’s giving advice to the APC, he’s doing it because he’s the father of the nation, he’s a father to all of us, irrespective of our political leanings. He’s giving that advice free of charge, knowing full well that we need a robust opposition for democracy to survive in our country. We should not drift towards a one-party system.
“They went to him. He didn’t go to them. You know Baba Obasanjo is someone who will speak his mind, he foresaw a danger: If the opposition party collapses, the tendencies for either a dictatorship or a one-party system will be imminent. To stabilise the nation, we need a vibrant, vociferous and often cantankerous opposition. In most cases, they criticise just for the sake of criticism. They cry wolf where there’s none. When they win an election, INEC is God-sent. When they lose an election INEC is devilish. Nigerians have come to understand that the nuisance value of the opposition is also useful, politically speaking, in a democracy.
“Baba Obasanjo gave APC a free advice the same way he’ll give to any other person. We have no fear of loosing Baba Obasanjo to anybody, he’s our own father. Also, as a Yoruba man, Baba Obasanjo was responsible for bringing the Yoruba back to the mainstream of the Nigerian politics and I am sure that he will want us to continue to build on our successes, which is why we’re not afraid of loosing him”.
Oladipo, a nuclear scientist, spoke on a number of other issues, which included the recent defection House of Representatives Speaker AminuWaziriTambuwal from PDP to APC, his relationship with leader of PDP in South-west, BurujiKashamu and the 2015 election.
Obasanjo Will Work for Yoruba to be in Mainstream Politics
- We’ll do the needful on Tambuwal
The National Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Professor AdewaleOladipo, rarely grants press interviews. He is a man with a big heart. Oladipo emerged PDP National Secretary after a Federal High Court initially nullified the election of former Osun State governor, Prince OlagunsoyeOyinlola, as the party’s scribe. The Court of Appeal has since ordered Oyinlola’s reinstatement. Oladipo, who is also from Osun State like Oyinlola, is a nuclear scientist whose foray into politics has been hugely successful. He was busy coordinating the collection and submission of nomination forms by gubernatorial aspirants of the party across the country last week but he created time for an exclusive interview with WESTERN POST’s SAMUEL OGUNDIPE in his office in Abuja. He speaks about PDP’s adoption of President Goodluck Jonathan as the party’s sole presidential candidate, former President Obasanjo’s non-challant attitude to PDP, recent defection of House of Representatives Speaker AminuWaziriTambuwal from PDP to opposition All Progressives Congress and other national issues…
Your party used to get commendation from Nigerians for conducting primaries to pick its candidates, which they believe nurtures real internal democracy, but your recent decision to make President Jonathan your sole presidential candidate is a clear deviation from that long-held principle. How do you react?
The adoption of President Jonathan as our consensus presidential candidate is just a way of aligning ourselves with the best practices in other democratic climes. You will recall that the Nigerian presidential system is fashioned after the American presidential system. And in a presidential system, a sitting president has what you call a Right of First Refusal. You will recall also that two years ago, President Obama contested for a second term and nobody stood against him at the Democratic Party Convention. Prior to his own, George W. Bush contested for a second term in office and won. Nobody stood against him during the Republican National Convention. So, in a presidential system, a sitting president has a Right of First Refusal, that is exactly what we’re doing. The fact that we’ve not been doing things properly before, due to lack of discipline, doesn’t mean we should continue along that line. The present National Working Committee, headed by Dr. (Adamu) Mu’Azu, is determined to do things right, that’s why we’re doing this.
Don’t you think some individuals within your party will find a way through this decision and decide to replicate it at the local level? Do you believe you will still have the moral standing, at the national level, to stop such at the local level?
You see, that’s the power of communication. At the national level, all these political gladiators are members of the Board of Trustees of our party. Most of them are part of the national caucus and, of course, part of the National Executive Committee. When we were taking this decision, we discussed- you know in PDP we always have very robust discussions because PDP is not a one-man party like the APC-. We had this debate and, as I have told you, we did it just to emulate what happens in other climes: a sitting president should not be disgraced. He should not be disrespected. A sitting president is the symbol of his political party. The Right of First Refusal applies only to a president, it doesn’t apply to any other person. All organs of the party are aware of this because my office promptly issued a circular to all our state chapters. There’s discipline in this party. This is a disciplined party. No other organ other than the BoT and NEC has a right to do such and everyone is complying with this instruction. So there’s no negative fallout from this.
Your party has been making overtures to former President Obasanjo to return, which included a recent visit by Senate President David Mark and Chairman AdamuMua’zu to Obasanjo’s Abeokuta Hilltop residence. Is your party afraid of loosing the former president? How relevant is he in your party today? Does he still command the same political weight as he once did?
No, we can’t lose President Obasanjo for three good reasons. First, because I, Professor Wale Oladipo, I have a personal son-to-father relationship with Baba Obasanjo, he’s a wonderful man, very blunt, straight forward, courageous and principled. Two, he had been president of this country for eight years on the platform of the PDP. Three, Obasanjo is one man who believes, strongly, in the unity of this country–the indivisibility of this country. He knows that the group that God is using to hold this country together is the PDP. The PDP is the only party that has no ethnic or religious coloration. We don’t belong to any ethnic group. Therefore, the philosophy of the PDP tallies with that of Baba Obasanjo. There’s no way Baba Obasanjo is going to become antagonistic to the electoral fortunes of the PDP, I can assure you of that. If he’s giving advice to the APC, he’s doing it because he’s the father of the nation, he’s a father to all of us, irrespective of our political leanings. He’s giving that advice free of charge, knowing full well that we need a robust opposition for democracy to survive in our country. We should not drift towards a one-party system. They went to him. He didn’t go to them. You know Baba Obasanjo is someone who will speak his mind, he foresaw a danger: If the opposition party collapses, the tendencies for either a dictatorship or a one-party system will be imminent. To stabilise the nation, we need a vibrant, vociferous and often cantankerous opposition. In most cases, they criticise just for the sake of criticism. They cry wolf where there’s none. When they win an election, INEC is God-sent. When they lose an election INEC is devilish. Nigerians have come to understand that the nuisance value of the opposition is also useful, politically speaking, in a democracy. Baba Obasanjo gave APC a free advice the same way he’ll give to any other person. We have no fear of loosing Baba Obasanjo to anybody, he’s our own father. Also, as a Yoruba man, Baba Obasanjo was responsible for bringing the Yoruba back to the mainstream of the Nigerian politics and I am sure that he will want us to continue to build on our successes, which is why we’re not afraid of loosing him.
So, you believe the former president is indispensable to your party?
I believe it was a former French leader, Charles de Gaulle, who said the graveyards are full of indispensable men. Nobody is indispensable in this world. Only God, with His grace, is indispensable. Is he useful to the PDP? Yes. Is he useful to Nigeria? Yes. Is he useful to us as Yoruba? Yes. Do we value him? Yes. Do we respect him? Yes. Do we want to continue to have a cordial relationship with our Baba? The answer is yes. But nobody is indispensable.
What do you make of the exchanges flying in both directions between your party and the opposition APC especially on who sponsors the violent Boko Haram sect? And would you consider holding a summit between your party and the opposition to send a message to the undiscerning that politics is not necessarily war?
Luckily, the Independent National Electoral Commission regularly organises foras where all political parties come together so as not to overheat the polity; the organisation is doing a good job in that regard. And it doesn’t come as a surprise given the caliber of the person who’s piloting the affairs of INEC, Professor AttahiruJega, whose educational background, parentage and academic certifications are well known. The same cannot be said of some people whose backgrounds are very hazy, at best. We don’t know their real name, their real parents and most often they claim to have attended the University of Chicago, even though the institution regularly refutes their claim. So, when such people talk, I often elect not to reply to them. If a man can stand up to say that Yoruba Obas (kings) are useless, it goes a long way to show you the type of parentage such a man has. So, I won’t reply to such people, they can say anything. Yet, everybody knows who promotes terrorism in this country. When President Jonathan said he wanted to grant amnesty to Boko Haram, they said “No, he shouldn’t.” When he said he wanted to dialogue with them they said “No.” When he said he wanted troops surge to counter the insurgents they said “No.” So, by their seeds you shall know them. The PDP is ruling Nigeria, that’s why peace and stability in this country are of utmost importance to us. It is only those who are struggling to rule Nigeria through the back door that promote violence, not we.
By the time the nation goes to poll next February, your party would’ve been in power for 16 years. Although statistics show that the economy has witnessed significant growth since your party first came to power, but these rosy figures about the economy have not resulted in a good standard of living for most Nigerians. If, by providence, your party is giving another four years it’s asking for now, how does it plan to extricate Nigeria from the list of the poorest nations on earth?
Thank you very much. One, I am proud to say, as you’ve clearly mentioned it that under the leadership of the PDP, the economy of the country had improved significantly, we’re now the largest economy in Africa and, I think, 26 worldwide. We’ve never attained such position before. This is due to consistency in economic policy. PDP is the only party that has a clear economic policy. Our economic policy is clear and consistent; it is a market-driven economy. In any market-driven economy, the economy will naturally boom because of the nature of man. Everyone wants to naturally realise his or her economic potential. When you work in your own company, you work day and night. That is the essence of a market-driven economy, which is the ethos everywhere. The flip side of it is that, if you’re not careful, you will leave some behind, the poor. The strength of any government, any individual, is the ability to cater for the weakest sector of the society. That is why the first thing we did was to secure the economy, to liberalise the economy. In the banking sector, we have achieved that completely; Nigerian banks now rate amongst the best in the world. We have also completely liberalised the telecommunication sector. The air transportation has also witnessed positive transformation. These are the advantages of liberalising an economy. And, of course, you generate wealth. When you generate wealth, it is usually those who are daring; the well educated, well connected that will draw the first benefits out of it. But, what do you do to take care of the poor? That is why you have all the programs that Dr.Goodluck Jonathan is putting in place. Also the reason we have SURE-P. The liberalisation is yet to be completed, but we’ll continue along this path until every sector of our economy is fully liberalised. Liberalisation of the economy can also be witnessed in the education sector where private universities are outperforming even the federal government-owned universities. As a professor, I know the quality of education that is available to students of private universities in Nigeria can be juxtaposed with what is obtainable anywhere in the world. The next task ahead of us is to move the nation away from agro-based economy to a truly industrialised nation, which would provide enough blue-collar jobs for those at the bottom of the economic ladder. That is why the transformation agenda must continue next year.
You played a very crucial role in bringing back some aggrieved members of the PDP. How did you manage to pacify the warring factions and bring back those who had left the party, especially in Ogun-State where former Governor’Gbenga Daniel and Prince BurujiKashamu are now political friends?
The glory goes, first and foremost, to God Almighty. Secondly, it goes to our president who is a very humble human being. He is the first P.hD holder to hold this exalted office in this country. Yet, academic rascality is not in his head. Academic arrogance is not in his head. He comes down to everyone’s level. We really thank him for what we’ve been able to achieve in the South-west. He reached out to our people on one-on-one basis. He is a man you can trust. If Dr. Jonathan tells you he’ll do something, you can be rest assured he’ll do it for you. Our people trust him, including those in the opposition. That is why the political gladiators in the South-west found it easy to come to us. Also, we have a national chairman that we call a game changer. He is a thoroughbred politician, very humble too. He’d been reaching out to all the leaders of the Yoruba communities and we’re now reaping the results. Lastly, some of them have experienced being in PDP and being outside of PDP and they’ve realised that the PDP, as compared to the party of those charlatans masquerading as progressives, is the only truly democratic party where you can realise your full potentials, like myself who hailed from a very humble background and who rose to this position.
Have you any words on House of Representatives Speaker AminuWaziriTambuwal’s defection from PDP to APC?
AminuTambuwal, yes I heard he had decamped to the APC, I wish him the best. He had stopped attending our programmes for a long time. In any case, I personally, as a Yoruba man, felt slighted by his emergence as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Our party believes in zoning. That position was zoned to the South-west and the fact that he took the position away shows his disloyalty from the beginning. So his cross carpeting is good riddance to bad rubbish. Since he’s now a member of the APC, which is a minority party, I am counting on him to have enough decency to vacate that position without any further delay. If he fails to do that, then we’ll do the needful. Since he’d gone to his home, where his heart had always been, the APC, then he should not only vacate the seat as the Speaker, he should also resign his position as a member of the House because the people of Tambuwal in Sokoto State voted for the PDP.