Odunayo Akinrinsola, a governorship aspirant in Ondo State, Nigeria on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC), believes the Peoples Democratic Party will hardly find any space in future elections in the country after a woeful performance in the 2015 general election. He also speaks on the anti-corruption fight of President Muhammadu Buhari and other issues in this interview with EROMOSELE EBHOMELE, our correspondent, and other journalists in Lagos State
Q: It has been 100 days plus that President Muhammadu Buhari got into office and there have been various comments from various quarters. How would you assess the President’s performance so far?
People find it difficult to believe the fact about development. When you are talking about change, it is not a static process but a continuous process. It is a process you hardly see working but when you patiently study it, you realise it is taking a momentary move in a way that it doesn’t stop. In the last 100 days, President Muhammadu Buhari has performed creditably well. The gesture of Buhari alone has made every sector of the country to fall into the norm of that change and you can see things working in a way that you can now say within 100 days, Buhari has done tremendously well. Though, some people are saying he is a slow worker, but the question we should ask ourselves is, despite being slow in working, has he ever worked back? It is good to be slow in walking and working than not to have a destination. So what he has done within a short time is an indication that he knows why he is there and what he is there to do.
Can you be specific sir?
Let us look at our refineries, when last did any of our refineries worked? And that was why fuel importers could hold the whole nation to ransom that some subsidy monies must be paid before they would supply fuel nationwide. You could remember that few months back, we were queuing at the filling stations to get fuel and at that time, we were ready to buy at N200 per litre. But to the surprise of Nigerians, refineries have started working. Even though not in full capacity but they have started working. And where are the importers now? They are begging. To me, Buhari’s 100 days in office have given a signal to all sectors of the economy that the said time has come for the decayed pipes in the economy sectors of this country to be changed. The change is everywhere and even in the power sector; we can feel it. For instance; the generator in my office has not worked in a while. Some times when power is out, before we get to where the generator is to put it on, power is restored. At a point, I had to instruct my staff to always warm it for some minutes.
What is the implication of this?
The rate at which we buy diesel has drastically reduced. When last did something like that happen in the history of Nigeria? With this improvement in the power sector, most of the industries that have left the country will gradually start returning because power is the major determinant of existence of any industry. And when the issue of power is not addressed, no business can thrive or survive.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan was there for years, he tried but he couldn’t address the issue of power. We don’t even have a single minister yet and we are already experiencing change and things are beginning to work. Those who have amassed wealth through corrupt means are begging to return those loots. Look at the assets declaration; look at the Treasury Single Account (TSA). If change has taken place at the federal level and any state refuses to join in that change or go along with that change, such a state will be brushed aside. The TSA has been adopted by Lagos and it will give room for transparency. To me and some other Nigerians, what we are still seeing is just Buhari’s body language, he has not even started yet.
But some Nigerians are complaining that despite all the noise about anti-corruption crusade, nobody is yet to be convicted and they are beginning to wonder if the President is really serious about this fight. What do you say to this?
What any serious government will do immediately after getting into office is to sanitise the system and when you want to sanitise, you don’t start by picking people or arresting people and at the end of the day, it would look as if it is a witch-hunt. You should consider the fact that there will be some people who will willingly want to return the looted money. In fairness if there are people who want to do that; who are ready to admit that what they have done is wrong and they are ready to conform with the order of the day, they will be welcomed. Whether we like it or not, there is still going to be Federal Government financial appraisal and this will determine what belongs to people and what is not theirs. When it gets to this stage, there is going to be an attached penalty and if you are caught by then, you will explain what you have been waiting for. Sooner or later, there will be a penalty attached to corruption, you can quote me. By the time Buhari will move swiftly to tackle those that have embezzled the country’s money, then we will be alive to see what will happen.
There have also been accusations that Buhari has not been consulting with his party, the APC, especially in the area of appointments…
When good things like these are happening in a government, people will tell you a lot of things but they are all propaganda. All you need to do is to understand the kind of man Buhari is; he won the election and became the President under the platform of a party. But there is one thing you cannot change in a principled man and that thing is his perception. Buhari is a complete gentlemen, who has listening ears and I don’t believe he can do that. He won’t take decisions without consulting his party. All these things we are hearing and talking about are coming from those who don’t want this country to move forward. Imagine the PDP saying Buhari has not done anything in his first 100 days and that he has only been gallivanting all over the place. And we all know what his recent travels have done for this country. Buhari will never make any appointment without subjecting it to rigorous discussion among the APC executive and leaders. What is paramount to APC is seeing a Nigeria that will move forward, a Nigeria with a system that is working. For once, we want to have a country with a workable system.
Some Nigerians think appointments made by Buhari so far seem to favour the north most. Even women are saying they have been marginalised. How would you defend the President on this?
Like I said earlier, at times like this, people will say a lot of things. For now, the President has not appointed any minister and whatever people are saying now is just mere story. One thing we should be mindful of is that it is important to put the right peg in the right hole. Appointments should be based on track records; any appointment that would be made by Buhari will be based on merit. We should stop passing judgment based on ethnicity or tribalism. If a Yoruba man is better for a position, let that person be in charge; if it is an Igbo man that is fit, let him take it and if it a Hausa man that is best, let the person take charge. I am optimistic and very sure that Buhari’s appointments that we are still going to see will be the best in which everyone can sleep with their two eyes closed. By the time Buhari will begin to make appointments, some people won’t even be able to accept these responsibilities because they will not be clean enough to work with the President.
The PDP has said it will take over again at the federal level come 2019. How feasible is this assertion?
It is normal for every rational human being to think forward. The PDP has not been in the opposition for the past 16 years. If you want to talk about a viable opposition, the APC can talk of what it takes to be an opposition. We in the APC know what it takes to agitate for the rights of the opposition; we know what it takes to contest with the ruling party; we know what it takes to defeat the ruling party and we know what it takes to win the election. But the PDP has never been in the opposition party, talk less of contesting against the ruling party and winning; they are just coming there and have not even learnt the rudiments of being in the opposition. There are some things they need to undergo and learn before they can say they want to come and contest election with the ruling party and win. APC is a graduate with certificate. When it comes to opposition politics, we were qualified; we were pronounced and certified before we became the ruling party. So how possible is it for someone who just got to a kindergarten class to tell you that he will jump to become a graduate overnight? The PDP still needs to learn some fundamental principles of opposition; there are some core courses they need to take and they must graduate from one class to the other accordingly. And if they fail to pass any of these courses, they have to keep taking it until they pass it. And if peradventure they couldn’t pass, then it will get to a stage that they will be advised to withdraw. Do you know what it took the likes of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to ensure the amalgamation of the parties that formed the APC? Let us give kudos to Tinubu for the role he played. This man moved from Lagos to Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Edo and for the first time in the history of Oyo State, a governor won the election for the second term. Tinubu’s foresight really helped the APC in the last election because he was able to move from Lagos to other south western states and he was able to think beyond the south west and that is why won at the federal level.