A top member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Stanley Osifo wants Nigerians to see the party’s presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the solution to the problems of the country.
Osifo, a former presidential aspirant, who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the APC in 2015 after he had been cleared for the election, says the South East has to re-negotiate before they would be fielded as presidential candidate of the either of the two leading political parties in Nigeria.
He speaks in an interview recently.
How will you describe the just-concluded primary of the APC?
The primary was tele.vised to all Nigerians and the people saw everything. Things were going in many directions initially and many people saw what happened. The election was well planned and the organisers did their best to ensure a good outing. One thing I want the people to know is that the projections of many of the aspirants did not go the way they wanted. The emergence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the candidate of the party is a good omen. Now, everybody has a lot of work to do, including the National Working Committee (NWC), the aspirants and others. What we did initially was within the party, now we are going to speak to the whole Nigerians on behalf of the party. We are going to do everything to ensure that we get victory at the polls in 2023. Some people were saying that the party would implode after the primary, but we thank God that everything went the way it did.
But, do you think Tinubu would be acceptable to the generality of the party because President Muhammadu Buhari initially told the APC Governors to allow him to pick the person he wanted and later, we heard of Ahmad Lawan being the concensus candidate?
What I know is that to large extent everything was resolved and even President Buhari came out to say that he did not have any aspirant as his choice for the party or any anointed candidate. He was actually saying that the leaders should come together to choose a consensus candidate that would be acceptable to all during the primary, but that could not happen. At the end of the day, some people were willing to go for concensus, while others said that they should go for primary. It was Nigerians that were rooting for someone like the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo. But, the president came out to say that he didn’t have any consensus candidate. In politics like this, a lot of things happen, but the President did not mention any name. A lot of people wanted some aspirants to be chosen as candidates, but one person had to be chosen.
There were allegations that a lot of money exchanged hands at the primary and for someone like you, your name was not published as an aspirant, what happened?
Well, that money exchanged hands, a lot of people would come up with different stories or allegations. Definitely, there is nothing you do that you would not spend money, even the party also spent money to organise the event. But talking about delegates, I cannot say what happened. Actually, like in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), we heard that a delegate from Kaduna State shared the money he collected as a delegate amongst the people. However, for the APC, I wouldn’t say that money was given to anybody because I was not part and parcel of the whole process.
On whether we bought forms or not, we were part of the political process. It doesn’t matter whether we bought forms or not. In 2018, I was a presidential aspirant under the PDP, but I left the party before the election and I worked for President Muhammadu Buhari under the APC. But for the aspirants, what matters is if you have it in mind to contest.
Did you buy the N100 million forms?
A lot of things happened and we spent money on many things apart from the issue of nomination and expression of interest forms.
Let’s talk about your candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, do you see him performing and fixing Nigeria if he wins the 2023 presidential election despite all what people say about his health, and what are his chances where Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is the PDP candidate?
All I can say is that the APC would win the 2023 general elections. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has mentioned what he would do. But I always tell people that governance is not a one man show, we have the ministers in the various ministries, we have those of health, education and others. What the president does is like that of a manager or a director that you report to on a daily basis. There are things you expect the ministers to do so that they can meet the needs of Nigerians. It is not the President that would to go to the Ministry of Health or Education to work. That is why they have Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings in Aso Rock on a regular basis to deliberate. But I want Nigerians to know that it is not everything that the president knows, sometimes things would have gone out of hand before they tell him. The President is one man, government comprises so many people. Our candidate is capable of fixing the country, I just want all Nigerians to support him.
The issue of Vice Presidency is there, how easy would it be for the party to get a vice presidential candidate from the north who would be a Christian, or do you think he should be chosen from another region?
The north is multi-religious, we have Christians, Muslims and people that practise other religions. So, we have so many Christians in the north. Even some Governors are Christians and we have had Christian ministers from the north.
How do you think the APC would convince Nigerians to vote for them despite the challenges facing the country under the party, especially on security and the economy?
The APC has done well, they have done their bit since they got to power in 2015. Prior to that, we had some places that were being controlled by terrorists and they had their commands there. But you would remember that immediately the President got into office, he gave the military a marching order to take charge. But I always ask Nigerians that why is it that brothers would be killing brothers? So, we also have roles to play, which is what I keep telling people. That was what I used to say, when I was aspiring to be the president too. I said that I would make sure that the issue of security becomes a local issue. We have councillors, local government chairmen and others, let us ask them questions, when these things happen. Let us give them a sense of responsibility too that they should also play a role over the issue of security as the representatives of the people. The Governors have roles to play, it is not an issue for the president alone, it’s for all Nigerians because it affects everybody.
People are saying that the South East should be given an opportunity to rule Nigeria now. It is believed that they have not ruled before and that a south easterner should have been the candidate of either the APC or the PDP, what is your view?
It was the PDP that started the idea of zoning between the north and the south, but right now we are having agitations because the North East and the North Central believe that they have not produced the nation’s president before, same goes for the south east. We are saying that let us have an understanding so that the next region should produce the presidential candidate. But under this arrangement now, it is between the north and the south and the north can be from any part of the region, while the south too can be from any part of the region. When it gets to the south, let them bring someone from any of the South East, South South or South West. However, with this agitations now, we will need to sit down again and address the issue of those agitating that they need their sons there too. It is doable, it is something that we need to sit down and agree upon.