‘PDP’s 16 Years In Government Has Solidified Nigeria’
YOU are challenging the election of Peter Akpatason of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the member representing Akoko-Edo Federal Constituency in the last election. What are your expectations in this legal battle?
Because the matter is in the tribunal, I really cannot go into the details but all I can say is that the Electoral Act allows for a number of grounds for you to be elected and one of those grounds is that you must have a majority of valid votes count. That is our case, the majority of valid votes count in Akoko-Edo was for Oladele Bankole-Balogun and this is as far as I can say.
Do you have faith in the tribunal?
Absolutely. As an officer of the court, as a barrister in two jurisdictions, I have absolute faith in the judiciary of this Republic especially in the time when there is a wind of change that is blowing through this country. I know that after all the arguments, after all the adversarial businesses of advocates, I know that the tribunal will look through and sift the grain from the shaft. So I have faith in the tribunal.
What kind of a successor will you advice the Federal Government to bring for Jega whose tenure ends soon?
I think Nigeria and Nigerians have shown that the People’s Democratic Party-led government of 16 years have solidified our society, solidified our politics and we thank God for that because the PDP is the one and only homogeneous party that has stayed as one since 1999 and I think that it is a credit to this country.
So anything that will move on from the point where the PDP has left it must be a thing that will be in the general interest and the well-being of this country. So my expectation as a Nigerian is that whatever happens from this point onwards must be for the collective good for the greatest number of Nigerians, whatever way you want look at that; whether it is equity, whether it is justice, whether it is fair play, honesty, whether it be transparency. That is what Nigerians are asking for now because our politics has moved tremendously and thanks to the PDP from 1999 to 2015 where a sitting president in Africa willingly relinquished power to the opposition.
What is your opinion on the recent happenings in the National Assembly and the Senate over election of Principal Officers? It goes in tandem with what I am saying, that the time is going to come in this country when politics will truly be for the people by the people and of the people. What has happened in the National Assembly is fantastic for Nigeria, it is a fantastic blow to god-fatherism and in quote, this business of one or two people being supreme in a party in the name of party supremacy.
The National Assembly of which by the grace of God I am a member in waiting, has its own rules about electing its principal officers, the rules are very clear. It is for the house to decide and not for any party. The PDP tried sometime ago and it backfired and one would have thought that a so-called progressives party would have learnt from the PDP. But they failed to realise that Nigeria is moving so it is good for our democracy that the rule and the law must be allowed to run its course.
I am very happy that Senator Bukola Saraki has emerged as the president of the National Assembly and President of the Senate. I am also happy that Yakubu Dogara has emerged as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. It is good for our politics and I think this is the beginning of sizzling changes that we are going to see in Nigerian politics
Do you agree that there were some inadequacies in terms of assertion of authority by former President Goodluck Jonathan that may have cost him his presidency? Because we heard today that Warri Refinery is suddenly working again.
Before this morning, when was the last time Warri Refinery produced? The point I am trying to make is that it is because of the kind of stability in governance that we have had that this country has had development and how do you measure development? Development is about gross domestic product, it is about the well-being of the people, in terms of infrastructure and so forth. So if we have had refineries in Nigeria that have not been operating for years, and they are beginning to operate today, you must give kudos to the government that made it possible. I hope you are not suggesting that this new government that has been in for one week is the one that made it.
As a lawyer, what is your position on the call by Nigerians that the country’s electoral system needs more reforms?
As a lawyer, as a democrat, I agree with you that our electoral system needs continuous reformation until we get to that stage where the will of the people will truly be represented in governance. We know that the Electoral Act we are using now is an amended Act. I foresee further amendments to enhance that provision but I will like to see a provision where our politics is now focused centrally on ideological basis for the benefit and interest of our people. For instance, we are we going to be a welfarist party that looks after the welfare of the people come rain or sunshine. Of course, the PDP has been doing it whether you like or not.
The PDP has been a central welfarist party, there is no other party in this country that has taken that stand all these other parties don’t have ideological base whatsoever. What I expect from us is to be able to articulate our ideological basis for the interest of our people as part and parcel of that process to enhance our position but agree that we need to slowly, steadily reform our electoral process.