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2015: APC promoting Buhari’s candidature on faulty calculation — Okupe, presidential aide

Doyin Okupe
*Says Tinubu does not control S/West politics
Dr Doyin Okupe is the Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan. Okupe, who was a guest at Vanguard corporate headquarters in Lagos, bares his mind on burning national issues including the decision by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to field General Muhammudu Buhari as its presidential standard bearer in 2015. Excerpts:

By Dapo Akinrefon and Charles Kumolu
So, how is the President?
He is hale and hearty.
When is government finding the Chibok girls?
That is a very touchy issue, it is a very lamentable situation and an issue of profound national tragedy. It is not an issue of finding or when are we finding the girls. The media has gotten on the wrong side of it, it is not finding the Chibok girls. The real issue is that we are in a war situation and, at the beginning, I am not sure everybody accepted that situation.
Some people are waging a very serious war against Nigeria, nothing is worse than war. When you are in a war situation, anything happens. Murder, cold blooded murder, wanton destruction of properties, kidnapping, rape, you can name it. Even the best armies in the world commit such terrible atrocities.
So a war situation is a bad situation, that is why I said that it is not about finding the girls. When your are a war situation, all the things I have said can happen. The misfortune we have is that we had these girls taken away violently and it is extremely painful. A couple of days ago, I was reading that the American government made three attempts to rescue hostages and all without exception resulted in disaster, fatalities. The hostages were killed, the people that went to rescue them, some were killed. That is trying to rescue one hostage.
So, when you have over 200 hostages, it is bad business. The hostages are not kept in one place, which makes it more profound, so do not let us go into the sentimentality of when government will bring the girls back. We are in a war situation, it is a very dastardly circumstance, but when you are talking of safety of lives, you cannot put tenure to what you must endure, and that is why we must stop counting. It is unnecessary, it does not help us, it does not help the girls. It only encourages the insurgents and I don’t think that is the intention of anybody anywhere.
So, we are in a war situation, the girls are kept as hostages. The Nigerian Army does not lack the capacity to hit at a camp and destroy it. But then, you will be coming back with body bags of girls. Is that what you want?
If all these months and days, Boko Haram has not killed the girls and there is no information that the girls have been killed, it means there is a reason they are holding them. We are not going to encourage them or create a situation where the girls are going to be killed.
That is why government took a lot of effort and took the bait when Chad offered an olive branch; unfortunately, nothing came out of it. That shows you that government is caring; this government, even at the risk of its reputation, is willing to do anything possible to release the girls but we are in a war situation.
When did the government realise that we are in a war situation?
We have always known that we are in a war situation.
General Buhari has emerged as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and PDP stalwarts have been saying they know how to defeat him. There is also a contrary view that Buhari controls a formidable front. How do you see the Buhari challenge of President Jonathan in two months’ time?
Secondly, how do you react to the statement made by the APC Chairman that the party will form a parallel government if the election is rigged? How does the Presidency see that kind of threat?
The choice of APC or their decision to elect Buhari as their standard bearer, is a fatal error. I have been in this game for nearly 30 years or more. I understand this game of politics very well. Buhari is not a winner, will not win and has never won; and it is for a reason that he has never won.
The question you need to ask yourself and what APC should have asked themselves is that, why Buhari?.
Yes, the calculation that Buhari came with 12 million votes (in 2011) without other platforms; now, if you can deliver the entire of the South-west, that is another 20 million votes, you add it and he is going to win. Politics is not mathematics. Yes, Buhari may have had 12 million votes in 2011. But the Bola Tinubus of this world, in the course of showing their capabilities, have been bruised, they do not control the South-west and that is very clear. In actual fact, were it not because they have a lot of money, Buhari should have dumped them long ago because they cannot deliver. At the beginning of this year, maybe the calculation was still clear that they would deliver South-west.
Today, in the South-west, Ondo is not in the basket, Ekiti is not in the basket, Osun is neither here nor there, and I am saying that authoritatively. PDP gubernatorial candidate Omisore may still be the governor of Osun; but even if he does not become the governor of Osun, we have seen the results of the last gubernatorial election in the state. If that is something to go by, it is topsy turvy.
In Lagos State, just as they (APC) are clamouring for change at the national level, people at the grassroots are saying they are fed up with the nonsensical things that APC has been doing in the state.
So, the point I am trying to make is that theoretical calculation may be what has misled them into taking that decision; but it is unfortunate and regrettable and it is a fatal error.
Buhari, to me, is a non-issue. Buhari has only two things going for him. He has not improved himself since he left office; he has not added any value, personally to himself or to any political tendencies that he represents. He is a religious bigot and there is nothing he can do about that. He is not even a nationalist.
Some few days ago, some people came out to say that Buhari is the northern candidate. So, who is the southern candidate? I was telling you that there are two things going for him: one is his purported integrity, the other is his supposed incorruptibility. None of them can stand the test of time and I don’t want to go into details.
Jonathan and Buhari
If a man says he went to buy a N27m form with a loan from his bank and it was alleged that it was   a former governor who wrote a cheque to the party for him to get the form, is that integrity? Why do you need to lie? Buhari is trying to make poverty a virtue, but poverty is not a virtue.
The fact that Buhari has left office for so long and he says he is so poor, is nothing to celebrate; it is indolence and shameful. Is that a role model? Is that who you will want your children to be, a poor man? Indolence is not something we should celebrate. If a man like Buhari at his age says he is a poor person, that is too bad and it is also a deceit. That is not integrity.
Let me tell that the greatest problem this country has had is the military regime, so the representative of the things that we want to forget is the person you people are bringing back as president and you are saying you want change. Nigeria has not benefited from the past military regimes and one of the principal characters is Buhari. What change can he bring?
On APC’s threat of forming a parallel government
That is absolutely irresponsible. There is no basis for it in law. How do you determine an election that is rigged or not rigged. It is only a court of law that can pronounce that an election was rigged. Preparing to form a parallel government before an election, should not be taken serious. The person who started the discussion was Amaechi (Rivers State governor) and that should not be taken serious. Amacehi first made that statement and the party adopted it. It is an irresponsible statement.
On the position of the Inspector General of Police on the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, and Obasanjo’s position that President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration has not performed up to average
What I said on Obasanjo’s assessment on Jonathan was that the former president’s position was not true. We published it in the newspapers. That was all I did because I was employed to correct errors and misconceptions about the Presidency. I said that the statement was not true because it was not supported by facts. I was misunderstood on my position on the Speaker. What I said is that the duty of the police boss is to enforce the law.
We derive the law from our Constitution and the interpretation is done by the courts of law. In Plateau State, the Speaker of the House of Assembly and some people defected to another party and their seats were subsequently declared vacant by the court. Therefore what I am saying is logical. If you change your party and someone goes to court, that shows that there is a problem. A section of the Constitution says that anybody who changes his party without evidence of crisis in that party, would lose his seat.
The courts have interpreted that law and have maintained the position of the law. The job of the police is to carry out their job to ensure the enforcement of that law. After that judgement, if such thing happens again, the police have the right to ensure that the seat is vacated. Tambuwal has violated the law.
Despite the trillions of Naira that has been invested into the military, hunters are helping them to recapture some lost territories to Boko Haram in the North-east. Also there is no news on the budget and it looks as if the government is preoccupied with politics. What do you have to say?
The last time the military was kitted was during Shagari’s era. During the time of Obasanjo, some efforts were made to bring some equipment from China but that did not work. The military deliberately under-equipped its people because the military was preoccupied with its own security. It did not want its constituency to create problem. The last major procurement in the army was during Shagari’s era. A large part of the budget so far, is often dedicated to recurrent expenditure. Majority of the money you see in the budget, is for the upkeep of the personnel.
Security agencies were the ones that acquired intelligence gadgets, it was not the military. We had challenges in the military and government is doing its best to overcome these challenges. It is not wholesomely correct to say hunters are leading the fight for the recapturing of lost territories. Majority of the soldiers don’t know the terrain, so the hunters assist them. The needed fire power still comes from the Nigerian Army.
I don’t know why it is easier to believe that hunters who are using dane guns and arrows are the ones that are chasing the insurgents away. The military does not intend to take on anybody on this issue. They are rejigging their arrangement. In the last four weeks, virtually all the places that the insurgents had put their flags, have been taken over by the military. Peace has returned and most of the areas have been recovered from the insurgents.
On the budget
There is need to have some level of confidence in the government. There are many things that go on in government that is not available to the public. Oil is our major source of revenue and the prices are fluctuating almost on daily basis. Government can not budget on fluctuating price. It has to come to some reasonable figure which it will base the budget on. These are things that will take time. We have crisis at hand now and it will be unfair to say government is only concentrating on politics.
On right of first refusal
We are politicians and we want to win elections. Political parties are not formed for funfair. The majority in the party believe that Jonathan is the man that can win for us. It is our duty to tell the nation why we are backing the man. We have things that guide what we do and our preoccupation is to win election. And we have no apology for putting forward the best candidate that can win election for us. The two people who picked forms are not the people who can win elections for the PDP.
This is an enduring political party that has existed for 16 years with same ideology. The party has a pedigree and track record of wining elections. We don’t have time for charlatans. When a sitting president anywhere in the world indicates interest in running for second term, the party has the right to sympathize with him.
Don’t you think that the state of Apapa/Oshodi Expressway is in conflict with the achievements that this government is laying claim to? There is also so much problem in the power sector inspite of government reforms to make electricity available to the people.
Apapa Oshodi Expressway is less than 22 kilometres and about 65 percent of the road has been completed. The challenges being experienced by people now as a result of the ongoing construction is akin to sacrifice. Things will get better. The problem about power is that many things are not fully comprehended by people. Virtually the entire system has become archaic. Even if we were to generate more, we will not transmit effectively, because of distribution and transmission problems.
These problems have bedeviled us for 50 years and no government has attended to them. Now a gentleman has a road map to resolving the problem. It is inconceivable to expect a 50-year-old problem to be solved within four years. In four years, a lot has been achieved. One of the greatest achievements which is unsung, is the privatisation of the PHCN.
If it was not privatised, there is no way the problem would have been solved because government does not have the requisite resources to fund it. All over the world, power is mainly distributed by the private sector. We have meticulously done things top ensure that the power sector works. That is why about 20 billion dollars has come into the sector. Now we are generating 4,800 megawatts from the 2,000 that we inherited.
The DISCOs (distribution companies) are doing all they could to ensure that the situation becomes normal. Government has decided to pay the money that was being owed to the DISCOs. We are not where we were in 2007; we are not where we are supposed to be in 2014, but the advances that have been made in that sector are irreversible.
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