By Olakunle Olafioye
A former presidential candidate and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, John Kennedy Osuala, has said that the ruling party might be persuaded by the quality of candidates that would be on parade ahead of 2023 general elections to zone its presidential ticket to the Southeast. Osuala who posited that it would be fair to give the ticket to the zone which is yet to have a shot at the coveted position, called on the people of the zone to put their house in order and put necessary machinery in motion in order not to lose out.
Osuala who contested against President Buhari in 2019 insisted that the ruling party is still in the best position to retain power in 2023, dismissing the threats from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the Third Force.
In this interview, Osuala looked at the rancorous state congresses of the APC, Anambra State election and insecurity in the country, among other issues of national significance.
The insecurity in the Southeast has been a major source of concern in the last few months, with the governorship election in Anambra State coming up on November 6, are you not worried about the state of affairs?
The situation is dicey and I am suspecting those calling for sit-at-home and those killing people here and there because these are the people instilling fear in the people. Their actions are not in the best interest of the people and of the nation. But I believe that the election will go on. Nobody can stampede INEC or the state not to conduct the election. It is not healthy for the country to fall for the antics of those saying elections won’t hold. The Federal Government should beef up security in the state to ensure that the election holds. In the part of the Northeast even with the level of security challenge there, elections still held. Election is a democratic process that everybody should support. Those behind the insecurity in the zone should sheathe their swords and allow peace to reign. The tenure of the government in the state is ending and there should be another government through a democratic process. The security agents should be on their toes to unmask those behind this problem.
In spite of the military offensive against banditry in some parts of the North, kidnapping, killings and other criminalities still fester in some states. What would you say the problem is?
The military needs to redouble its efforts. There is the need for the military to up their intelligence gathering operations to be able to get to the root of the problem and unmask the faces behind the mask and tailor their operation to suit the degree of insecurity in that region. The Nigerian armed forces fought a civil war and succeeded. The current security challenge is not more than the civil war. I have confidence in the Nigeria’s security operatives. They only need to redouble their efforts. They should dwell more on intelligence gathering. Our security forces used to be one of the best in the United Nations military operations all over the world. This same goes for our police. Why can’t we handle this local insurgency? I am sure that if we really mean it we can effectively contain it.
The cracks in the ruling All Progressives Congress got wider with the just concluded state congresses. As a chieftain of the party, what is your fear considering the magnitude of the crises that emanated from the exercise?
It is not a healthy development, but it is natural when people are jostling for positions of prominence and preeminence because there will always be calculations and counter- calculations. But for professional politicians like us, parallel congresses don’t intimidate us because at the end of the day we will come together and it will turn out to be an added compliment for the party because it will create more awareness for the party. It is also good for the party because the people will know that nobody can pocket the party because it was attempts by some people to pocket the party that led to those parallel congresses. If they had allowed free and fair congresses to take place everything would have gone down well. At the end of the day the crises will be resolved because we have a leader in the president who will intervene at the appropriate time to sort things out. We are not afraid; it only goes to show that we are very strong as a party.
Are you not worried that the widening cracks in the ruling party is coming at a time the major opposition party, PDP, is trying to put its own house in order?
What you are referring to as cracks is not as deep as what happened in PDP. Those in PDP were very careless, the people broke away and they were even laughing. But what is happening in APC is just a struggle for dominance in the ruling party; it is not a struggle to scatter the party. It is a struggle to control the party. At the end we have an overall boss in the president who will say ‘gentlemen let us come together as one”. We may even have to resort to what we call harmonization. So, let the party bubble; it is better to allow the party bubble in this manner than to make it look quite and cold. PDP cannot gain anything from what is playing out in APC now. When those who are interested in contesting elections start coming out, their activities we stabilize the party. When contenders begin to campaign they will be reaching out to the two parallel groups and the quality of their programmes will make them take decision about supporting a candidate which will help to re-unite the factions. As we enter next year the party will begin to stabilize. The cracks, as far as I am concerned, are not deep enough to destabilize the APC. It is a mistake for anybody to think that the fallouts of the state congresses will give any party the advantage to overtake the APC. PDP is far behind to pull any upset; they lost out when they lost the presidency; it will take a miracle for them to get their acts together.
Apart from the PDP, the Third Force is also gathering momentum. Don’t you see another major threat from that direction?
The Third Force only exists in name. It is made of people who left PDP or APC and all that. You don’t just answer Third Force by name, you do it through your actions. I welcome the Third Force on board but I will like to say this Third Force does not pose any threat to the APC. If you are looking for power in Nigeria, you must go through a major party like the APC or PDP. The Third Force members are people from the APC and PDP. If they are strong enough they should have been inside their former parties and turn it around. That was what they did the other time and before we knew what was happening they petered out; they will peter out. When the true Third Force comes, we will know, the Third Force has not come.
Many analysts have predicated the unity of Nigeria on fairness and equality, but with the body language of the two dominant political parties on zoning, how do we ensure that interest of minority groups is properly taken care of?
Zoning or no zoning in APC, the truth will appear by the quality of the contestants that will be on parade. Ordinarily, APC should zone the presidential ticket to the Southeast. That is what is fair. But professional politicians will contest because they are democrats. Let us not bother so much on whether they are not willing to do this or that. When the candidates appear and the country sees what is happening, they will be persuaded to accommodate the fact that a zone that has not had a shot at the presidency will be given the leeway. But then the people should put their house in order and begin to do the necessary things. By the time we get to this time next year, the signs will begin to show more clearly. We have to thank the National Assembly for the Electoral Act and electronic transmission of electoral results; direct primary of getting candidates. All these will galvanise the whole practice and revolutionise the entire system ahead of 2023. So, I commend the National Assembly for the good work they have done.
You contested the 2019 presidential election, do you still have the intention of running in 2023?
Yes. As an APC chieftain and a 2023 presidential aspirant, I make bold to say that the Nigerian president come 2023 must have the fundamental goal of transforming Nigeria into the industrial manufacturing workshop of the world, surpassing USA and China in the foreseeable future of 12 years, once predicted by President John Kennedy of America in 1960, using the Nigerian Bank of Industry policy of one community – one Industry and operation Patriotism, Nationalism, Federalism, Constitutionalism and industrialism of the new Nigerian political philosophy for making Nigeria the best nation on earth. We must inaugurate the struggle to make Nigeria the best nation on earth.
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