‘Why I Set Up Independent Campaign Group For Jonathan’
Immediate past Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro said he set up the Independent Campaign Group for President Goodluck Jonathan to advance the president’s re-election. In this interview with the media, he speaks on the inauguration and frowned at how the APC in Lagos is clamping down on opposition especially with removal of their posters. OLAWUNMI OJO reports
WHY did you set up the Lagos Independent Presidential Campaign Group for President Jonathan?
I set up the Lagos Independent Presidential Campaign Group for President Jonathan to deepen the President’s presence in Lagos State and take his message directly to the people. There is a lot of misinformation going on and a critical way to counter that is through grassroots mobilization.
Do you see President Jonathan winning the election?
I have no doubt in my mind that the president will win. It is going to be a close election, but I have no doubt in my mind that at the end, the President will carry the day. However, from the distribution and collection of PVCs, it is clear that the APC wants to rig in the North.
How do you explain states like Borno and Yobe with the dislocation occasioned by insurgency, recording 80 percent collection?
The All Progressives Congress (APC) is setting the stage to write election results. I am more convinced about this, because their candidate is not a known democrat, so he doesn’t mind doing or condoning whatever it takes to win. He has no history of promoting the rule of law.
Do you foresee any outbreak of violence after the presidential elections?
I hope not and that is why I am happy about the peace accord signed by Buhari. Let’s not forget that it is his silence that escalated the violence we are witnessing today. After his loss in 2011, his followers went on rampage and he kept quiet. This degenerated into the activities of Boko Haram. Prior to that, the activities of Boko Haram were not as deadly as they became after the 2011 elections.
What are Jimi Agbaje’s chances in the gubernatorial elections in Lagos State?
I am confident with the feedback I am getting with an average person on the street of Lagos that they are clamouring for a change that will end one man’s control over our resources. They are clamouring for a government that will invest in education as a way to end the slavery in our state. Just recently, Lagos State Government placed a N10, 000 fee on children sitting for JSS 3 exam. This is wicked and grossly insensitive on the part of a government that promised to give hope to the hopeless. And when education is no longer affordable, how can the people have hope? So I am confident that the mood of Lagos State at this time favours the victory and emergence of Jimi Agbaje as the next Governor of Lagos State and we are putting in everything legitimately possible to make this dream a reality.
Do you think there is a level playing ground for the campaigns in Lagos?
Not at all! The APC government in Lagos is not concerned about democracy. They are trying to kill the opposition in Lagos while we have created space for the opposition at the center. In Lagos, they are hiding under LASAA to deprive us, the opposition a voice. In today’s Lagos, an average person cannot contemplate running for office because of the huge cost of running a campaign. This is what they are doing consistently to ensure only their posters and billboards are out there. This is a recipe for unnecessary crisis. Because when you remove other candidates’ signposts, billboards and posters, they on their own too can retaliate and this can lead to violence. I believe people deserve to know what the opposition is saying and put it side by side with what the APC is saying. On another level, the APC campaign has been largely crisis ridden. Recently 3 people were killed in Shomolu during one of their campaigns. They have also officially christened their thugs, TEAM LAGOS and they have bought lots of deadly weapons that they want to use on Lagosians. I think it is time for the police to begin to beam their searchlight on these people.
Propagandas are being employed by politicians to promote their acceptance. Do you see that as healthy?
A lot of mudslinging and misrepresentation have been made of the Jonathan’s administration. People are trying to sell blue as white to Nigerians. We cannot afford to go backward. What we are expecting are brighter days that the Jonathan/Sambo administration will bring not darker days. The change they are selling is backward change. That is why we are putting all energy to ensure victory for Jonathan and Agbaje in Lagos. The best thing that can happen in Lagos is to have Jonathan and Agbaje at the centre and in Lagos. He said that if PDP takes over power in Lagos it would give the state more edge and more advantages. It will help the state to move forward more and get more support at the centre without antagonising the Federal Government to the detriment of the people of Lagos. The best thing for Nigeria is to stay with Jonathan. It’s either we embrace the future or go back to the trenches as we inch closer to election day.