The chairman of the Labour Party in Edo State, Comrade Kelly S. E. Ogbaloi, spoke with OJIEVA EHIOSUN on current political situation in Nigeria, including Buhari’s second term bid and insecurity, among other issues. Excerpts
Looking at the outcome of Ekiti elections, what signal does it portend ahead of the 2019 general elections?
The sustainability of democracy in Nigeria is in total dilemma from the example we saw in Ekiti State. Although I was not physically present in Ekiti, but from reports and what was told by those who were in Ekiti, it is clear that this country is not yet prepared to sustain its own democracy. It is quite surprising that it does seems to appear that we have not learnt from our past mistake at all, if at the level we are in our democratic movement the stories of ballot boxes being snatched, exchange of physical cash in terms of winning an election still papered in the entire electoral system, I’m afraid where we are going to.
What can the electorate do to get it right and shun money politics?
Except we are prepared to tighten our belts, because in this country, there is a deliberate intension on the part of those who govern to fuel and perpetuate poverty. Therefore a hungry man is likely to be acceptable to anything within the confines of the economy of this country, and that is what actually happened. So it then becomes very difficult to sincerely advise on what we should do. But we won’t run away from saying it, hunger may not definitely kill us but let us use our conscience. The money comes at once, and goes at once, that does not in any way change the lives and situation of anybody in this country. Yes there is abject poverty in the land, and the poverty remains and if that is the case, can we not resist the temptation of taking money in place of our votes. So my advise therefore is that now that it is clear that the government at the centre and at state levels will normally not deploy funds to convince the people has to how they will vote. My sincere advise is that let us hold ourselves because if at a point in time you are given shit in place of food because you are poor you, you must try and refuse it.
You said there is dignity in poverty, how do you mean?
You know this advice I’m giving is actually difficult to give but I had to give it. There is dignity in poverty to an extent. If in place of food you are given the mess, there is the tendency for you to notice that and reject it. So far so well now, the Nigeria government is giving the shit to the people and that cannot change our lives, that cannot change our economic status , because if the policies of government remain the way they are unchanged, it means that we will perpetually remain in poverty, no matter how much money you are giving in terms of voting in an election. Mind you, elections are periodical, the rest part of our lives matters such, because if you take the pea-nuts today from a government, or those who are asking you to vote for them, does it change your life? Unless the economic policies of this government is change towards seeing how the lives of the poor in the society will change then of course the money you are taking will take you nowhere. So that is why I’m advising instead of giving us money that will not change our lives, it is better for you to review your economic policies to reflect positively on the lives of the poor people of this country. If you take a critical look of the kind of lives we are living in Nigeria, you will find out that the majority of the poor masses of this great nation are in total bondage begging for freedom. Today there is no light, the infrastructural development of this country is in disaster, they are in disarray. Nothing is going on, APc government is a colossal failure. If those infrastructural rearrangement does not take place, the life of an average Nigerian cannot change even though you give them millions today. In 2014 and 2015, a bag of rice was selling for N8,000, but today, it is sold for N18, 000 and upwards. What can the pea- nut do for you if the economic policies to bring down the prices of food stuffs in the market is not changed then what can the poor do in such a situation? So I’m saying yes we are poor now but taken the bitter in the interim does not change anything. Therefore let us continue to remain in our status, retain our dignity, and say to them, go away with your money, we shall vote for the government that is ready to look at the faces of the poor in this country and do something about it.
How do you see the use of thugs and the importation of hoodlums to Ekiti?
Well, it is all part of the things we are saying. It is part of the physical inducement that was brought to play, but that is not the first we are seeing, it happened in Edo State during the 2016 governorship election, the thugs were also at play, money was equally at play. So these are the two things the government of these two political parties brought into politics of today. It was not so pronounced in the past years of our politics but it is becoming very clear that that is the tool that is used by everyone of them today to win an election. So I wouldn’t have been surprised if there was importation of thugs and the use of physical cash in that state with a view to ensuring that power is taken by force. It is a coup of different status that happened in Ekiti.
Do you think President Muhammadu Buhari has the capacity to govern Nigeria again considering his performances in the past three years?
I do not see it possible or reasonable for Buhari to ask for further reelection into governance in 2019. We ask ourselves what have we seen, what is on ground in the current administration, that will bring the impetus for which any man would have the pride to say I want to come back. Absolutely there is nothing;. Take it from the economic perspectives, dollar still sells as it is selling now, that was not what it was when he came on board. The prizes of goods in the markets are on the increase everyday, today you look at the security situation of Nigeria, it is worsened by his emergence. We are not saying that he is physically involved or he is rather asking the herdsmen to kill people, but so long as herdsmen continued in their evil activities unrestricted, unchecked, then as a matter of fact the government is helpless. Government is supposed to be in charge of both the protection of properties and lives of the people, so is that is not happening then were lies the rationale to say ‘vote for me in 2019’. But I want to tell you that the present method of voting in 2019 will be dropped. No reasonable Nigerian would want to put his or her vote into a ballot box where PMB is inscribed.
Did you just describe the APC government as a failure?
To me is colossal, it is a colossal failure, look at at it from whatever angle, in fact everything in Nigeria about this government of PMB is nothing but failure. Any government whose policies and decision cannot reflect or better the lives of the people to me is a total failure. There is nothing absolutely nothing that this government has done to better peoples way of life. They are propelling executing completing the projects that were started before he took over.
What do you think is the motive of those behind the R-APC?
When the R- APC, a good number of them left the PDP then and joined this merger of APC then what were they doing then, if we now quickly want to explain their action their action off by saying they are disgruntled, oh indeed is because they didn’t get this and that from the current government that is why they are leaving, that which they did in 2014, 2015, what was that because they left PDP to join the APC, what were they doing then? So at that time it was good for APC, then they were not disgruntled, then they were them who were satisfied with the conduct of APC as at that time, so in this country, those who are the corridors of power have a way of coming out with frenziedly excuses and explain things off just like that taken Nigerians for granted. Now if you say they are disgruntled as you have said, why are they disgruntled, are they just disgruntled, there are things within the confines of APC that have not been done well for which they are not satisfy with, you as APC have you address that , they have cried that internal democracy is lacking in APC, they should be disgruntled because if you literally want to look at the ward Disgruntle, that is dissatisfaction so is not a criminal thing, people can be disgruntled when they are happy with the system. It is not the only R -APC that is disgruntled, the entire Nigeria people are disgruntled with the Buhari- led APC government and I call on Nigerians to vote them out in 2019. The suffering in the land is loud and clear. This is not the country that our politically fathers fault for we need people with ideals to give us the needed change.