• Parties will fight over presidential slot, says PDP chieftain

    Parties will fight over presidential slot says pdp chieftain - nigeria newspapers online
    • 9Minutes – Read
    • 1735Words (Approximately)

    In this interview with , a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party and one of the party’s governorship aspirants for the 2023 elections, Segun Sowunmi condemns the rising pains, hunger, and poverty under President Bola Tinubu-led APC government among other topical issues

    Let me start by wishing the President and the country a happy New Year. The pain of democracy is that people don’t usually take advantage of the opportunity given to them to change their leaders so that they can elect who they want. If the people feel that a particular leader is not doing well, they should not be the ones extending their punishment by voting for such a leader again but rather do the needful. General Muhammad Buhari failed woefully on his unique selling point of the anti-corruption crusade. And if President Bola Tinubu is there now and we are hearing all sorts of sordid stories concerning the CBN and others and what the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is doing, it goes to show one thing Buhari failed in the anti-corruption fight.

    When we are also talking about doing things to tinker with the economy, improving on the internally generated revenue and all that, then you can say that this is the unique selling point of President Tinubu but when we begin to see signs that he’s beginning to falter on this one thing that we all thought is his forte, are we to wait for eight years again (God forbid) that Bola Tinubu will fail on the economy. It will then be that if he fails on the economy, who can succeed? I concede that he met the economy in tatters with the way his predecessor handled it but I queried his approach of tackling this problem. I queried it emphatically and I considered the directive principles so inappropriate. I queried these approaches because no nation should pretend as if it wants to grow its economy only because it wants to get the applause of rating agencies.

    You must rather grow the economy of your country so that the people can breathe a sigh of relief. The neo-libra policies and privatisation concepts of capitalism that President Tinubu and his government are using to solve the problem will only injure our people more.

    It is unfeeling to remove the fuel subsidy and wait seven months to fix the increment in salaries for the civil servants.

    This is because the impacts of this policy start immediately with an increment in prices of goods and services, a lot of multiplier effects. Therefore, that approach was wrong.

    I also don’t think that the President understood the level of pain that the people are going through as a fallout of his policies. I feel that he wants to run business as usual such that if we are not careful the covetousness of people around him will not even allow the little that they have to touch the people. The people were seeing the positive impacts of the PDP government of Dr Goodluck Jonathan running a budget of N4.5trn but they are now running a budget of N28.3tr and the people are crying.

    What I am saying is that President Bola Tinubu needs to pull himself up. He should remember his days in the trenches. He should look at his people firmly in the eyes and say I am not here to add to the burdens of Nigerians.

    If people in the South-West could be shouting they are hungry, you can imagine what is happening in far-flung parts of the country where commerce and industry are not so localized.

    I can see what the President is trying to do with taxation, he is trying to have a unitary tax system and remove multiple taxation with the hope that it will stimulate growth but I am surprised that President Tinubu thinks that the solution to this is devaluation of currency.

     You don’t have to imagine that every policy failure of the government must be burdened on the people or what were you thinking was going to happen to the people when the cost of the exchange rate was going to be such that even a loaf of bread is no longer what it used to be when a bag of rice is N60,000. What do they want people to eat? So, I am telling President Tinubu that his neo-libra policies are totally off-tangent, only making life so difficult and forcing many more people into poverty. There’s this need to have conversations around all of these and look critically into them.

    If you grow corn, in about six weeks, you must have been seeing the visible growth but we are talking about seven months here. Do you know of policies that could have been signed off that will have immediate impacts within the last seven months? You need more than seven months to create a database for the Social Security programme. What I am saying is that what are we going to say if President Bola Tinubu’s economy fails? The people who are running the back end of their strategies are Lilliputians who don’t know what they are doing. I say it with every sense of responsibility that if they want to challenge me to a debate I am ready to show them how to budget on behalf of the poor. There is what is called budgeting for the poor.

    Well, I am not among those who built castles in the air. I have been telling our people that they should wait and of course, be hopeful. What is important to me is the conclusion, the outcome. And yes, there was a 2 to 1 Appeal Court judgment, the majority said yes and the minority said no. If the people at the Supreme Court have the moral integrity to look at it and decide to order what they will order, we shall live with the judgment after all, we are living with the Supreme Court judgment given for the presidential election.

    That’s why I am at peace with myself. If the Supreme Court will say we did not prove our case beyond reasonable doubt, that is not tantamount to we did not win. I cannot find evidence to say somebody killed O.J. Simpson’s wife does not mean she didn’t die.

    There are over one million reasons why the law is called an ass.

    Well, the truth is that even APC members in the state in their private discussions are disappointed with their government. If those sitting down to plan are so disappointed in their planning, how then do you want somebody like me in opposition to feel? In fact, not minding that I am in the opposition, I have even been the one propping them up that let us not throw the baby and the bathwater out. I have always told them that if indeed it is the governor’s lot to lead us for eight years, let us not over-demarket our state. Instead of attacking the governor, I have been the one defending him subtly and asking for understanding. I don’t want a hubris society in my state. Dapo Abiodun couldn’t have been paying for petroleum subsidy when the federal government said it had been cancelled. He couldn’t have done a wage increase when the Wages and Salaries Commission has not agreed on what is sustainable. The gloom in the air is so much that I don’t want anybody to wear the governor with the cloak of this gloom and that is why I have been advising that his best policy will be for the governor to be a bit more accessible.

    Why do I have to lobby four or five people to see the governor? Why do I as an appointee have to lobby another appointee to see the governor? These are the areas of challenges I have noticed in the present administration of Governor Dapo Abiodun.

    However, I want to say that I am not impressed with Gov Abiodun’s cabinet, particularly this second one, which is too ordinary. This second-term cabinet is below expectations. Maybe Dr Tomi Coker, the likes of Talabi, the SSG, and Dapo Okuboyejo, these are people with hands-on quality, I expected him to have gone for people like that.

    Well, collaboration is better but I suspect this merger of a thing is because the thinkers of this policy are lazy. They think they can use what their enemies used in beating them to also defeat them. When their enemies wanted to beat them, science dictated a merger would work out fine and that was done with President Tinubu’s Action Congress of Nigeria and Buhari’s Congress for Progressives Change. Some PDP members also left to join this merger hurting themselves because many of them are back in the party now.

    They are going to spend the next 20 years struggling and fighting themselves on who is going to be President because all of them want to be President at the same time….rather than all this drama, the party should rather reform itself and see how this will boost its membership and elevate its ratings and acceptance. We lost an election, but that doesn’t mean we can’t win again once we look inward and correct our mistakes. People must see what we are offering and doing differently.

    Well, that is the truth and my interest in the National Chairmanship race of our party is because people have been urging me to come on board. It must have been as a result of what I have been doing in the party and with the party over the years. My articulation is out there for the people. I have always spoken my mind to powers that be and I will also offer a way out.

    Just like I said the neo-libra policies of President Tinubu and the idea of dancing to all the dictates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank won’t work for Africa. I have talked about budgeting for the poor. This is when you will ask how will the poor feed, you will put the solution down, how will the poor access healthcare, you will fix that too, and so on…you can’t be repairing your houses, buying things for yourself and you will get the poor bailed out.

    See More Stories Like This