Hon. Kola Ologbondiyan, immediate past National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), speaks with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI about political developments ahead of the 2023 general elections. He expressed confidence that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will not last beyond May 2023, when President Muhammadu Buhari's term ends. Excerpts:
The APC has vowed that given its achievements in the last seven and half years, Nigerians will give it another opportunity to continue as the ruling party at the federal level in 2023. What is your reaction to that?
The APC as a political party was woven together as a special purpose vehicle with the sole aim of delivering President Buhari as their presidential candidate and to get him elected for a second term, after which the vehicle would have served its purpose. After that the APC vehicle will be kept in a political museum. It is clear to all that APC has failed Nigerians in the last eight years. Nigeria must not under any circumstance allow this party to return to power after May 2023. Its lifespan must expire with President Buhari on May 29, 2023.
President Buhari recently challenged all citizens pursuing legitimate businesses abroad to always invest wisely back home in Nigeria as part of their contributions towards transforming the nation’s economy. Do you think this call will be heeded based on the security situation in Nigeria?
If President Buhari is calling on foreign investors to come and invest in Nigeria, the PDP and every responsible citizen of this country have no problem with that. However, it is clear to everybody that the security situation in our nation needs to be overhauled. No reasonable investor will want to come and invest in an insecure environment. As an individual, I will not stop stating the obvious that President Buhari and the APC have performed poorly in the area of security.
The issue of fuel scarcity has resurfaced again. Do you think the government can put an end to it once and for all?
I read something recently that Nigerians use 2 billion litres of fuel per day and I screamed. I remembered in 2014 when General Buhari as he was then known before he was sworn into office in May 2015 as President told Nigerians that there is nothing called fuel subsidy. He also said anybody who claimed to be subsidizing anything in respect of fuel is a fraudulent person. However, seven years after he became president, we are hearing that subsidy payment is in trillions of naira. Yet, President Buhari has not apologised to Nigerians or admitted that he was wrong when he said there was nothing like fuel subsidy and it is a fraud. So, it can be taken that the APC as a party and President Buhari have defrauded our nation. I will appeal to them to do something fast about the latest fuel scarcity because Nigerians are suffering.
The 2023 presidential election is just few weeks away. Do you think it is a straight battle between the APC and PDP?
I see it as a two-horse race between the APC and PDP. But I am convinced that given the massive failure of the APC, given the level of poverty they have plunged the country as well as the level of hunger in our nation today, Nigerians will never cast their vote for APC again. Also, given the available reports that between January and June 2022 alone, no fewer than 600,000 Nigerians have left the shores of our country to seek for greener pastures abroad, given the level of insecurity in our nation, given the level in which the economy has been wrecked in a manner that Nigerians cannot even afford to buy ordinary 12.5kg of gas as it is now in the region of N10,000 -N12,000, given the fact that staple foods have disappeared from the table of the ordinary people, given the fact that unemployment rate in the country has become more alarming, given the fact that university lecturers under the aegis of ASUU in the last five months have declared a strike to which the APC government led by President Buhari have failed to provide a solution to, I am more than convinced that the PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar will win the 2023 presidential election. Atiku will be elected into office as president and will restore the glory and pride of our nation as well as give hope to the people of this nation.
Do you see Peter Obi of the Labour Party making any significant in the election, especially given his acceptability among the youths?
The PDP, being the oldest political party in our firmament has massive support among the youths. Our presidential candidate and vice-presidential candidate in the person of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa are youth-friendly. As we speak today, the support our party is getting from the youths is massive and more than enough to give the PDP a resounding victory in the February 2023 presidential election.
With former Lagos state governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as APC presidential candidate, do you think the PDP stands a chance in the election?
I find it very strange when people speak about the candidature of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu ahead of the 2023 presidential election. [b]If the best that can come out of APC is Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who has been searching for a running mate almost one month after he won the primary and he has to use a placeholder in his form to INEC, that shows unpreparedness on his part. It is crystal clear that in spite of the fact that Asiwaju Tinubu wants Nigerians to believe that his presidential ambition is a lifelong thing, his action has shown that he was just mouthing it that becoming president is his lifelong ambition. He is not prepared for it. If he was prepared for the presidency, he would not have been waiting since he won the presidential primary for him to nominate his running mate. [/b]Also, the fact that what we are hearing now are issues bordering on whether he attended a primary school or didn’t attend a college shows clearly the level of unpreparedness of the APC. It also shows clearly the fact that the APC, just like it did in 2015 and 2019 is taking Nigerians on a journey of nowhere and it will amount to absurdity for Nigerians to watch and allow themselves to be misled once again by a people who have no slightest clue of what good governance is at the national level.
Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike is embittered over his rejection by your party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar. What advice can you give to him and your party leadership on this thorny issue?
I know Governor Wike as a leader and major stakeholder in the PDP. He is someone who has contributed immensely to the survival and sustenance of the PDP. I also know him as a truly loyal party man and an essential ingredient in our quest to rescue Nigeria from the clutches of the APC in 2023. As a result of that, I am very confident that Governor Wike will accept all proposal that is put to him in the interest of the party that he believes in and he has laboured for. I believe that whatever is happening at the party now, there will be peace at the end of the tunnel. I also believe in reconciliation and I know that our party leadership as well as our candidates are working on this.