2023: APC may go the way of PDP – Jackson Ojo




Jackson Lekan Ojo is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He is also a golden member, International security Association (IWA), Switzerland. In this interview with ABDULRAHMAN ZAKARIYAU, he speaks on the security situation in the country and implications of Nigeria’s proposed budget for security, as well as the build up to 23 general elections stating that the expressed fears that the ruling party may go the way of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

What is your take on the 2020 Budget recently presented to the National Assembly?

Well, people speak from the perspective of their interest. People have politicized everything in Nigeria and when a government is formed by a political party, it is seen as government of some people. So, whatever the government does must attract negative reactions from those who do not support that party and the government.

One thing I know clearly is that President Muhammadu Buhari has a sound economy team, and has many financial experts of global repute around him.

I am also aware that his ministers are sound and they can come up with a realistic budget. So, if all these people come up with a budget for their country, I don’t think they mean bad for the country. They mean well and they are discharging that service from expert angle.

Some people want the government to fail by the budget to failing; this is why some people work towards budget failure. But I am optimistic that the President Muhammadu Buhari led federal government will do well with this budget.

This budget is not going to be his last budget; this is the first budget in his second term.

As a security expert, are you not concerned about the amount budgeted for security sector?

Well as a security expert, I am not so concern about the amount budgeted for security. And you will be so surprised why I am not.

The reason is that if your child is hungry and he is stealing, there must be a reason he is stealing. Is it to go and buy excess food for that child or remove the reasons he is stealing?

There are reasons for the economic downturn that we are facing right now. I want to tell you clearly that it is a global economic downturn.

So, what we should be concerned about is how to curb these bandits, high levels of insecurity. I think it is time for us to tackle all security problems from the root. It is not to manage it, management of insecurity is when we begin to use billions of dollars to go and buy military hardware to combat it.

But this time around we need an approach that will put an end to insecurity. So, the question is, is it good for us to begin to manage crime and insecurity? Or is it good for us to curb insecurity from its root?

For me, I think those things that led to high level of insecurity in the country are what I think we should dedicate most of our resources to eradicate. It is not supposed to be war, war, it is supposed to be jaw, jaw, jaw in curbing insecurity from its foundation. It is not for us to begin to use billions of naira to manage insecurity.

I can tell, as a global security expert and a politician, that no country in the world can manage insecurity by purchasing military hardware and survive. The better way to go about it is to invest more in other sectors to put an end to insecurity.

In my opinion, the budget for education, agriculture, health, power, works, and housing should even be more than that of defence. These will open more opportunities for our youths and crime will no longer be attractive. By doing so, the society will be safe for all.

So, the amount budgeted for security in 2020 proposed budget clearly shows that President Muhammadu Buhari and APC led federal government want to end all our security challenges and not to manage it with military hardware. To me that is a better way to go about it.

Does the border closure have any implication on security?

I must commend the President and the Comptroller General of Custom for that bold step. I urge them to allow the border to remain closed until neighbouring countries do the needful. There are multi-dimensional benefits from the border closure to all Nigerians. Before now, our border was so porous. People brought in and take out anything they wanted without hindrance. Illegal arms were even smuggled through our porous borders. Now that the borders are closed, it has put an end to all these illegal activities that are causing serious havoc for us as a nation.

Also, some of these neighbouring nations allowed some of these things to pass them because they mostly brought them through their country and to help their economy at the detriment of Nigeria’s economy. But since the closure, most of these things that passed through our ports and this has helped increase the daily revenue generation of custom.

The highest level of insecurity is a porous border. So, this closure will be of immense benefit to Nigeria in the aspects of security, economy, and health. So, to me it’s kudos to the federal government.

The longer the borders remains closed, the more Nigerians and Nigeria stand to benefit.

The President has been criticized for numerous foreign trips, what is your take on this?

Let Nigerians know this, we have the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; we have the ministers; we have the chief of staff, we have Secretary to the government of the federation, we have the service chiefs and many others. Do all these people travel with Mr. President? In most cases only a few of his aids followed him.

The Presidency is an institution; the President is just a person. Also, most times that the President travels overseas are for bilateral relations. Part of this is his recent trip to Russia which had to do with Nigeria’s economy, security, and infrastructural development.

So Mr. President is not just travelling around the globe for no reason. He is travelling to all these parts of the globe for all that I have already stated. All that he was able to bring back from some of these his foreign trips if he sits down in Nigeria will the country be able to get all that?

I want to tell you that Mr. President’s foreign trips are all in the interest and development of Nigeria.

President Buhari has also made efforts towards cutting the cost of governance, what is your reaction to this?

I see it as positive action which will bring about meaningful development. It is generally known that when you have land and you want to build a powerful structure on it, you need to put in place a very solid foundation. Nigeria is the land and President Buhari is laying a solid foundation on economy.

He is laying foundation for solid economy, solid security system, and solid agriculture system. All these cannot be done on a shallow foundation, the foundation must be solid to stand the test of time.

The President may be slow but is it better for him to be fast and put in place weak foundation? Or for the President to be slow and build a solid foundation? Mr. President is doing well and our party is going to get Nigeria back on the right track.

I think what Nigerians like are short time and immediate gain. I want to urge Nigerians to begin to consider long term benefits. They should be patient with Mr. President, as most of his actions will bring about long-time benefits for all.

If President Buhari succeeds in putting in place the solid foundation you talked about, which region do you think should come on board to sustain the foundation in 2023?

I don’t know who will come in. The most important thing for us in APC is to put our house in order. All is not well with our party APC. Look at what is going on in Edo state, the problem we went through in Ogun state has not been solved. The problem that made us lose Imo, Oyo, Rivers, Adamawa, Bauchi and Zamfara states has all not been solved. These problems are still there and the party leadership is not doing enough to settle this, instead they are aggravating the system.

They are creating more problems, where there are surplus problems. APC under this current leadership is going the PDP way. If President Buhari and the leadership of the party fail to address these issues head-on, am expecting serious implosion within the rank and file of APC before the next general election in 2023.

The house of APC is not in order, so we must put it in order before we start talking about 2023 presidency.

What do you suggest the party do to solve these problems?

To me, the National Working Committee (NWC) of APC need to come up with good strategy towards building new and restructuring old structure. They should put in place a reconciliation committee of people with good characters that will help solve these problems without fear or favour. If the APC fails to address the animosity we are nurturing against ourselves and the internal rancour it will affect our chances in 2023 no matter the candidate and the region he may be from.

On a final note, do you think your party will come out victorious in Kogi and Bayelsa election?

It is not going to be easy for all political parties in Bayelsa and Kogi states because these two states are security flashpoint. It will be very tough for anybody to rig elections in Bayelsa and Kogi state. APC still has few days to put their house in order in these two states for victory. I wish the party success.

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