‘Absence of ideological divides is not good for Nigeria politics’
Niran Sule-Akinsuyi, an investment solicitor and property developer, is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State and has been in the political limelight since 1991 when he was elected into the House of Assembly. In this interview with SEYE OLUMIDE, Sule-Akinsuyi, a close associate of incumbent Governor Olusegun Mimiko, whose administration he served as Commissioner for Special Duties after holding the position of Special Adviser to the late Adebayo Adefarati on Assembly Matters, said it was regrettable that there was no ideological divide in Nigeria politics. Excerpts:
Ideological bent is important in party politics
The political class in Nigeria, I must say this, owes Nigerians a lot of duty. They shoulder a lot of responsibilities and they must come up with the energy and the capacity that they are actually responding to those challenges. It is extremely difficult to actually identify the ideological line in the country’s politics today in a situation where someone has been National Chairman of a party and he moved to another party for some reason or another. You try to group the political class, put them together in a hall and it become difficult for you see any difference among them.
Political ideology is fading away in Nigeria and it is not good for the system. We are meant to understand that in the advanced democracy, it is even an inheritance of such. If your father is a democrat, yes you may hold your views, but if you have chosen to be a democrat, it is nearly impossible for you to cross the line because ideology is based on belief and on conviction. But in Nigeria the political class has got to a level where they don’t have any feelings to say ‘I’m here for relevance’. It is therefore unfortunate if you now ask a student of political science to do an analysis on the Nigeria political ideology, he will certainly end up with that conclusion that there is no more political ideological line in Nigeria.
However we have a little consistency within those who profess to belong to the progressive class of politicians. On the progressives’ side, what we have is change of names. The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) is an offshoot of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). By the time the APC as a party was put together we also leaned on the progressives tendencies. Till today you can rightly say that we do not have the AD as an active political party but members of the party who have the progressives lineage are consistent. They toe the same line in determining the direction they want to go. So consistency is an issue in Nigerian politics, it is about change in the names of political parties. It is the individual that matters whether you are a progressive today and tomorrow you are on the other side. We have a whole lot of our people, leaders in the progressive group, who have been consistent in the type of ideology that they pursue.
APC will move Ondo State forward
In politics, it is always difficult for any individual to pursue a personal interest except that individual is operating in his own company. In any political dispensation, it is extremely impossible for an individual to set out to pursue a political agenda and achieve it. If your ambition is not located within the interest of the people, you are certainly doing something else, not politics. So for us, yes, we have interest to effect good life, to achieve better society, better life for our people, not for ourselves.
If people are not involved in what you are doing, then you are doing something else; you are not pursuing their interest. In any community, you cannot wake up to say you want to be chairman of a council by force, by hook or crook, it has never worked. So if you don’t have the people as the primary purpose of a mission, that mission would fail. For us in the APC, that has been our guiding principle. I was in the State House of Assembly after I contested an election. I submitted myself for election and went through the primaries. It was a general election, the Option A4. So I believe that in everything we choose to do politically, we must pursue a collective interest; doing otherwise is inordinate ambition and desperation. It will not take an individual anywhere.
Of course, APC would move the state forward. All the parameters are right there. When you look at the APC as an institution that is controlling the machinery of government at the centre and you look at the needs of your state and its destination. If you are in the same boat with the government that controls the centre, it is easier for you to achieve economic development.
Assessment of Ondo politics ahead of 2016 elections
The politics of Ondo State rest largely on the people, on their belief and on their disposition. That is why it is absolutely impossible for anybody to impose an idea or to impose a direction on the people. So moving forward towards the 2016 governorship election in the state, I can assure you that the outcome of that election would be determined by the people because they know where they are coming and where they are going. Any politician who fails to appreciate that is certainly not playing politics in the state. In every situation, Ondo people are focused and they know what they want and what they do not want. We also know how to resist and reject what we don’t want.
Zoning as a major determinant of the election
I think zoning is now an unwritten part of our constitution even between two communities; two local governments in federal constituencies. If a particular area holds the position for a period and it is not prepared to allow it rotate to other parts that means that particular area is cut off from the reality and of course, the people will speak at the appropriate time. Zoning is therefore an unwritten part of our constitution and it has been accepted as part of our politics.
But I do not see any tension building up on the issue of zoning because it is always easy for the people of Ondo State to arrive at a meeting point on any issue. The reason is that Ondo people are homogenous, we communicate easily among ourselves. That is why it has always been easy for us to share views and ideas and agree on common fronts. I do not believe it can raise any tension. What everybody must realise in the state or in the country is that various components make up a particular interest and you must always recognize feelings of those components. No nation or community is an Island. You are attached to others and you must respect the feelings of others. If you have that belief, you will restrain from imposing your views on others.
The kind of governor Ondo needs
The people of the state would expect to see a leader that would respect them, a leader that will operate an open door policy and more importantly, a leader that will open up the economy of the state, increase the purchasing power of the people and create wealth by using genuine workable parameter of empowerment.
In terms of service delivery, either in Ondo or in the country as a whole, what has come out very clearly is weaknesses in the apparatuses of government and until we strengthen some of our institutions we would not be able to deliver either what we called dividends of democracy or common sense obligations of leadership to the people. We still need to do a lot to strengthen our institutions so that we can deliver the dividends of democracy to the people.
How I parted ways with Mimiko
We were in the AD together because we shared ideology along that line but the moment he is in the PDP, it is clearly outside the ideology we shared together and that is why I chose to pitch camp with the APC. In the light of the development in the country and in the light of political and economic ideas in the South West, I acted in the interest of the collective needs of our people. There is a whole lot you will not be able to do alone as a person if you are surrounded by states running different political ideology and you are not part of them. More importantly with the kind of politics of bitterness we play in Nigeria, we need to be together and think together. Mimiko’s movement to the PDP is clearly something that we do not share together.
There was no disagreement between Mimiko and me, as people tend to insinuate. Under the Social Democratic Party (SDP), I was in the House of Assembly, Olumilua was governor, Agagu was deputy while Mimiko was Commissioner for Health. We were together.