Chief Henry Oladele Ajomale is the former Chairman of the Lagos State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress, (APC). In this interview with AYO ESAN, he speaks on the prevaling insecurity in the country and how it may affect the coming elections. He also speaks on other issues as they affect the nation Excerpts:
INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, recently warned that if the spate of insecurity in the country continues unabated, it may affect the conduct of this year’s election. What is your take on this?
There has been general anxiety because of the security situation in the country. Many Nigerians are worried about the nefarious activities of kidnappers, bandits, and other criminals terrorizing the country but I think, things are a bit better now, and it is my hope that the situation will get better before the polls.
The federal government has been taking some actions that have ensured that things are getting better. Although we are not yet out of the woods, I’m optimistic that the situation will get better. During the Yuletide period, a lot of people travelled home by road to celebrate with their families and loved ones, and this was not something that could be done about a year ago. That’s to show that we are getting some positive results in the battle against these criminals.
This is to show us that the situation is better than what it used to be. We can’t say that we are yet there 90% in the battle against insurgents but things have improved dramatically within the last six or seven months.
This insecurity challenge is not only peculiar to Nigeria, it is everywhere. Look at the Sahel region, in Chad, Burkina-Faso, and a host of other countries in that region, insurgents are making life difficult for the people. Some of these countries even have to look for foreign assistance to combat the threats posed by these terrorists. The economy of these nations have also been affected just as it has also affected our own here. It is not only here that we are facing this crisis. We should try to understand that what is happening is not peculiar to Nigeria.
But the federal government must find ways to solve the problem because one of the primary responsibilities of the government to the citizens is to provide security. As the elections are fast approaching, tension will be heightened, and this is why the federal government must step up the battle against the insurgents in order to reassure Nigerians that there is no cause for alarm. They must step up the present campaign against them. If there is any need for the federal government to seek foreign assistance, and co-operation in order to get the desired results, they should not hesitate to do so. Nigerians should not entertain any fear about the elections. I believe that the federal government is up to the task.
How will you rate the chances of the presidential candidate of the APC, Senator Bola Tinubu?
I have a strong conviction that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu still stands a shoulder above others. He has a track record. He performed very well when he was Lagos State governor between 1999 and 2007. He laid a solid foundation which other succeeding governors are building upon. He is the architect of modern Lagos, and it is due to the excellent work he did that Lagos state has become a role model for other states in the country. Other leading candidates are also qualified but of the whole lot I can vouch for Tinubu, and I believe that with his running mate, ex-governor Kashim Shettima, the two will be able to transform this country.
How will you assess INEC’s preparations for the coming elections?
INEC is doing very well, and I have no doubt that they will conduct free and fair elections. Again with the introduction of BVAS, it will be difficult for anybody to rig the elections. The introduction of BVAS is a coup against election riggers. It is a good step in the right direction as election results will be electronically transmitted. I know that some politicians have been calling for its reversal because BVAS will spoil business for them, and I believe that it is those politicians that want to rig the elections that are making such calls. But they should be ignored. BVAS will do us good for the polls, and I believe it is even too late now to be calling for its reversal.
We shouldn’t distract INEC from the good work it is presently doing. I will however like to appeal to the federal government to provide adequate security around INEC facilities across the country because we are gradually entering a crucial period towards the elections. President Buhari has promised Nigerians free and fair elections, and INEC has also given similar assurances, and I’m optimistic that they will keep to their words. I strongly believe that INEC will conduct the elections without fear and favour, and not only that; I also believe that the elections will be free and fair.
The Lagos State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has vowed to defeat the APC in the gubernatorial election coming up in March . What is your reaction to that?
That’s empty boast. PDP is dead in Lagos state. Lagosians have seen the light, and they will never want to go into darkness. Since 1999, that’s how PDP leaders have always been boasting but they have always been defeated, and this time around, it is not going to be different. APC will inflict a crushing defeat on PDP. To make matters worse for the party, PDP’s top leader in Lagos state, Bode George has vowed not to vote for the party’s candidate during the election. So who is going to mobilise votes for their candidate? The party is already divided before the polls while APC is waxing stronger by the day.
Not only that, Lagosians have been enjoying the dividends of democracy under APC since 1999, and the transformations taking place under APC-led governments are visible for all to see. PDP only exists in name in Lagos state as the party is already dead, and buried. Under APC, Lagos is working, and not only that, unique revolutionary changes which are having positive changes in the lives of Lagosians are taking place, and Lagosians are happy with the government, so why are they going to vote for a party that is non-existent and that is already extinct? PDP is dead, and it can never resurrect again in Lagos.