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Ogunlewe: Northerners Benefited Nothing From Buhari’s Eight Years As President

Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, a former Minister of Works is a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

In this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, he speaks on the need for Nigerians to elect a credible leader who will address the myriads of challenges confronting the nation.

He also warned against the danger of voting along tribal, ethnic or religious sentiments. Excerpts:

Campaigns for the 2023 presidential is already in progress. What are your expectations from the various political parties and their candidates?

My appeal is for every candidate to brace up and tell Nigerians what you have to offer. Things are not too good for the country now.

The level of unemployment, insecurity, poverty and lack of social amenities is alarming. My own advice is that Nigerians must make a wise choice in 2023 by electing the best for the country.

Let the best candidate who can save this country win. Everybody must pray and on election day, come out and vote for the best among the candidates. You journalists must also question the candidates, don’t talk to their spokespersons.

That was what happened in 2015 when Buhari was campaigning. So many people were saying so many things without Buhari’s knowledge.

When it came to the implementation of the promises, he said he didn’t know about them. And nobody could fault him because he never made some of those promises. But if I were to choose among all the candidates, I will choose Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Why do you think Tinubu is the best among the candidates?

I will choose him because of his antecedents, knowledge and his commitment to advancement of democracy in this country.

Tinubu will perform very well because he will want to prove a point to Nigerians that he is the best president we’ve ever had. So, I don’t have any problem voting for him because I believe that he will perform well if elected.

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But many Nigerians are concerned about his health challenges. They think Nigeria may return to the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua era with Tinubu as president. What do you think?

Luckily for us in Nigeria, we are running a presidential system of government. The most important part of a presidential system is the president’s choice of cabinet members.

No matter the manifesto you prepare; no matter the knowledge that you have, if you don’t have cerebral and committed people in your cabinet, you are going to be a failure. That is what is happening to this current administration headed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

No matter how good Buhari’s intentions are, the cabinet is not performing to his satisfaction. That is why we have these problems we have today.

So, Tinubu’s health will not matter much because what is important is the team he will assemble together. He must choose the best for the country because the people he appoints into his cabinet will be the ones that will drive these developments we are talking about.

He must look for the best brains anywhere in the world and bring them home to salvage the country. The team must be cerebral. Don’t bring in former governors as ministers. They are too rich to work.

Why should you appoint a former governor who was in office for eight years as minister? That is the problem we are having in this current administration. They don’t want to stress themselves so that they don’t die in the process.

They have made so much money already. What does a former governor want again? We are talking of somebody that is controlling ₦500 million monthly as security vote not to talk of federal allocation and IGR and you are bringing him to a ministry whose total budget is ₦60billion.

He will just look at it as chicken feed. We need new faces who want to prove they have something to offer. A former governor has nothing to prove again. He has made so much money already and he will not go the extra mile in service to the country.

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Do you think Tinubu will get the required votes needed in the Northern part of the country?

It depends on his capacity to negotiate. What the northerners want is participation and relevance. What do you have to offer them? Northerners don’t vote based on sentiments.

They don’t vote because somebody is from their region. What is important to them is ‘what are you going to give to us’?

Which ministry are you going to give to us? That is what the northerners want. They are very articulate in their choice of ministries.

All you have to tell them is that you want the best of brains from them and mention the ministries you will give to them. Once they are satisfied with you and they realise that you are reliable, they will vote for you.

With a northerner like Atiku on the ballot, don’t you think the North will want to queue behind one of their own as that is the common practice in Nigerian politics?

Like I said, northerners don’t vote based on sentiments or because someone is their son. They tried their own in Buhari, but they have since realised that whether you are a northerner or not, it doesn’t matter.

What is important is the quality of person that you are. What do you have to offer them? With all Buhari’s noisemaking, what has he offered the north? What has the north gained in his eight years as president? To my mind, they have not gained anything specifically.

They still have all their children out of school. The economy is still bad. They still rely entirely on the federal government. That is what we are saying is bad about the system. We want a president who is a problem solver.

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As far as I am concerned, I don’t care where you come from, what is important to me is your capacity to deliver. We have tried a Yoruba person; we have tried someone from the South-South and we also tried northerners but where are we now? Have we made significant progress as a nation?

So, why are we now talking about where you are coming from? So, the question is, what is your plans for the next four years? What do you have to offer this country? We don’t want somebody who cannot predict the future for us.

We have too many children out of school today, what are we going to do to bring them back to school? We have 5.7 million candidates participating in JAMB, yet all our universities combined have only space for 500,000. What are you going to do about that if you are elected as president?

That is why you see many young Nigerians going to Benin Republic, Ghana, UK and other places and fritter away our foreign exchange. There are two items that is lacking in the system in Nigeria. Number one is mortgage. We must establish mortgage banks.

All over the world, it is mortgage and credit that individuals use to progress in life. You can buy a house through mortgage once you have the capacity to pay the money gradually. You can also buy other things through credit. That is the function of government. If all these facilities are not provided, how can an average person survive?

He will move out of the country. Number two is insurance. All over the world, they don’t wait for government. It is your insurance company that will take over your health and if your children want to go to school. These are the tactics you must use to develop the country.

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