Jackson Lekan Ojo is a chieftain of the APC who recently defected from the PDP. In this interview, the political analyst and security expert spoke on Buhari’s administration, National Assembly, anti-corruption war among others. He spoke with Chibuzo Ukaibe
The National Assembly has expressed no possibility of passing the 2016 budget this month. What do you make of this?
Well, Nigerians will not take the National Assembly seriously if they continue this way. I think they want to manipulate the 2016 budget; they want to delay the budget so that possibly Mr. President will call them for negotiation. On the other hand, the delay could be in sympathy with the Senate President Bukola Saraki. It is possible that they want to use the delay to negotiate the freedom of Bukola Saraki which I don’t think the President has the power to negotiate. Any interference will be resisted by Nigerians because corruption must die. What they used to do in the past was to adjust the budget upwards so that they could have a share at the end of the day but I think that is not possible now.
Mr. President is determined to fight corruption but he might have forgotten that this corrupt Nigerians are so powerful; they are so influential, they are everywhere. Mr. President wants to fight corruption but he has forgotten too that corruption can fight him. How many people in the Presidency can Mr. President trust? How many people are really happy that he is fighting corruption at the detriment of their own pockets? Those that are not happy about his fight against corruption may want to discredit Mr. President in any form so there could be evil collaboration with some evil men in the Presidency and the Legislators and by the time these two collaborate, if Mr. President is not careful there is no way a single person can fight the institution called the Presidency and the National Assembly. If he finds any member of his executive culpable of any corrupt act, I think he should force them to resign immediately and if there is any legislator caught in the act of corruption they should call on their constituency to recall them.
The Senate President is undergoing trial over assets declaration while still in active service. Do you see this as a blow to Nigeria’s democracy?
I think I am one of those that canvassed in the media that Bukola Saraki should be made the Senate President. But this time around I am telling you if we know what we are doing, Bukola Saraki should be made to resign. Yes, Ogbulafor when he was the PDP chairman and had a case of financial misappropriation when he was minister under Obasanjo, he was made to face his case. Since it is Senators that voted him to be Senate President and not the masses, I think Bukola Saraki should resign now to face his case squarely. It will be too bad and shameful when the number one lawmaker is put in a dock for financial crime; no, it is not the best. So let him resign.
Your party, the APC has criticized the Supreme Court judgment in Rivers State where the PDP candidate Nyesom Wike’s election was upheld as governor. Would you say the APC has a strong argument over the judgement?
I recognize the Supreme Court as the highest court in the land so to me instead of the APC leadership to begin to complain, I think they should take it as a pride that they have a government now that is not ready for any undue interference in the judiciary to favor their own party. Let me tell you one thing, it is very clear that if Mr. President wanted any undue interference, he would have done it and the victory wouldn’t have gone to the PDP. But he allowed the Supreme Court to do whatever they wanted to do. Now everything is history the supreme court with absolute power has ruled and I don’t think anybody has the right to say anything but for me I will use this opportunity to appreciate Mr. President for not interfering in the work of the judiciary in favour of his own political party.
The expectations of some Nigerians is that the money recovered from some looters would have been channeled to some sectors in order to develop the country but we don’t have the authentic figure of what has been recovered so far? Don’t you think it is time to begin to make things public?
To me, I don’t want to know who has paid or returned what but we need to know what has been recovered. There was news that N3 trillion has been recovered. I don’t know the authenticity of that news but what I am saying here is this, this is the only area that I disagree with Mr. President and his cabinet. You cannot keep money in the bank while your children are suffering; You cannot be saving money while your children are crying for school fees; you cannot say somebody has come to steal part of your property and you begin to pursue that person and you leave your home leaking. As you are pursuing those people that have stolen your money, your children are dying, no, the little you have recovered put it out for the children to feed so that as you are pursuing that one the children will be feeding and there will be peace at home. But I said it recently that there is no point using the two hands to fight corruption, use the right hand to fight corruption and whatever you have recovered use the left hand to begin to do some work for the people of the country not to be crying again. But fighting corruption with two hands will make the people suffer because at the end of the day the money recovered is meant for the people. I think the best thing to do would have been to carry out the investigations of the people involved in corruption, arrest them at once and continue to try them from the prison custody in the court, different from what is happening now because some of the yet-to-be arrest may have a way of twisting the process. But so far no contract has been awarded. I am not saying that the President does not know what he is doing but this is my opinion, I think the little that must have been recovered they should begin to spend on for infrastructural development and the boosting of our economy.
Your former party, the PDP has zoned its 2019 presidential ticket to the North. What is your impression about this?
Honestly, if I want to follow the normal system, the power has been in the South-west and South-south for about fourteen years, so if power comes back to Northern Nigeria this time, it is not bad let the APC and PDP zone their presidential ticket to the North for the next eight years for the North to enjoy the power. So if my former party, the moribund PDP, has zoned its Presidency to Northern Nigeria in 2019, it is a welcome development and I think even if Mr. President is not going to run in 2019, the APC should zone its presidential ticket to Northern Nigeria. I think I will advice all the political parties to zone their presidential ticket to Northern Nigeria.
There are strong indications that before 2019, some progressive elements from the APC and the PDP will come together and form a new party. Don’t you think the new party will be a threat to the APC winning the presidency?
I think that is part of internal political strategy and tactics of the APC. APC remains one strong body, we remain under one strong roof but a lot of people may think that there is problem and APC does not really need to come out and say there is no problem let persons begin to carry the rumour that there is problem in the APC but I want to tell you that the APC remains one body, if there are skirmishes here and there as a result of political power sharing, there are a lot of positions that have not been given out after which I believe everybody will be satisfied. But I want to tell you that APC cannot scatter and there is no problem now. We are one serious united body it cannot be mutilated and battered like the PDP is now.