Executive Director, Centre for Convention on Democratic Integrity, Olufemi Aduwo, is also the National Coordinator of the Rights Monitoring Group. In this interview with Global Excellence editor, FOLORUNSHO HAMSAT, Aduwo speaks on his journey into activism, the speakership race involving Femi Gbajabiamila and other contestants, Tinubu’s reported feud between Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and Senator Bola Tinubu, among other issues. Excerpts…
How do you view the suspension of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State from the All Progressives Congress?
I feel Bola Tinubu and All Progressives Congress have made a mistake by suspending Akeredolu from the party because Ondo people don’t believe ingodfatherism. By suspending him, he has become more popular and he will win the governorship election in the state again and rule for another four years.
When Olusegun Mimiko left the Peoples Democratic Party to Labour Party, as popular as the PDP was then, he still defeated the then incumbent governor of Ondo State. That proves that nobody can dictate to the people of Ondo.
APC should deal with Tinubu and Rauf Aregbesola for anti-party, not Akeredolu. I have proofs that Olusola Oke of the Alliance for Democracy was sponsored by them in the last governorship election in Ondo. Mr Bola Ilori, who worked with Aregbesola as a commissioner, was the Director-General of Olusole Oke Governorship Campaign organisation.
Akeredolu betrayed Tinubu?
Akeredolu is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and he is a very brilliant lawyer. I understand they used to be close allies. But when he was sponsored by Tinubu to be the governor of Ondo in the Action Congress of Nigeria, what happened? In his own polling unit, he lost. When he became a member of the APC and Tinubu didn’t support him, he even defeated the incumbent government.
Like I said earlier, Ondo people don’t like to hear the word, godfatherism. If Chief Olu Falae cannot be a godfather in Ondo, how will Tinubu achieve that?
A lot of things are not clear and people need to be careful about some things. In Lagos, for instance, see what they are doing to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode. But I predict that President Buhari will appoint Ambode as a minister and I am sure that will break Tinubu’s heart.
Do you think Buhari can make Nigeria a better country?
I don’t like the APC and I don’t hide it. I said it in 2015 that Buhari wasn’t a democrat. For me, a soldier cannot be a democrat overnight. But we are living in a society where anything happens.
I don’t see him doing anything different in his next tenure as the President. In Nigeria, many things have been damaged. Fighting corruption shouldn’t be the only thing a government should be doing. If you tackle corruption and you fail in other areas, you’ve not done well as a president. Four years have gone and I didn’t see changes.
Buhari is not even fighting corruption in the right way. The government should be able to detect any corrupt practice before it occurs. In Nigeria, the major area where corruption is, is in contracts. That is why every governor wants to do roads because they will tell you it passes through procurement procedures.
I knew Buhari would win the last presidential election. His closest rival, Atiku Abubakar, is not a better alternative. I call people like him political prostitutes because they always move from one party to another. Atiku can go to court to seek redress but I have told the PDP that nothing will come out of it. I have been observing elections since 2013. The two parties spent money and they rigged, but one party outplayed the other. If you don’t spend money in Nigerian elections, you will lose despite your popularity.
Why do you think Tinubu is arrogant?
Apart from Akeredolu, Tinubu is also not in good terms with Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State. If you are leading soldiers and they are not loyal to you again, something is wrong.
In democracy, you should always have dialogue with your people. But if it is always about you alone, there will be issues. If care is not taken, Femi Gbajabiamila will lose in the race to become the House of Representatives speaker because of Tinubu’s backing. If they (APC) are really a democratic party, South-South should provide the speaker, not the South-West. Tinubu’s overbearing act is glaring everywhere.
Also, a governor ruled for just a term and you stopped him from going for a second term despite being begged by the Lagos obas, Pastor Enoch Adeboye and Buhari. But Tinubu’s wife, Oluremi, could go to the Senate for the second term.
Who do you think should be the speaker of House of Reps?
It is never written anywhere in the constitution that the ruling party must produce the leaders in the House of Reps, especially the speaker and deputy speaker. I don’t even think Buhari cares about who wins. All those dinners were arranged by Tinubu and Adams Oshiomhole.
In the spirit of fairness, if the South-West has produced the Vice President and the North-West has the President, why do we want to take the speakership? We should consider other zones too. When you are playing politics, you should think oftomorrow.
How did you become an activist?
When I came back from France in December 1993, I was picked up at the airport by the military. They said I was a gunrunner, insisting that I went to France to bring in guns for the National Democratic Coalition. I was detained for more than a year.
After being released, I left the country and came back in 1999. I spoke with the late Chief Moshood Abiola and I joined activism. I became an activist because of the injustice I suffered. I felt if it was the only thing I would do in life, it was worth it.
If given a political appointment, will you take it?
My wife died in 2010 and three months later, former President Goodluck Jonathan wanted me to work with him as a special adviser. I was screened for the job by the then State Security Service (Department of State Services) but I told them I wasn’t interested in it.
Even though I was left with four children to fend for, I knew that as a special adviser, I wouldn’t be able to act. With my temperament, I could easily walk out if the President refused to take my advice.