Senator Tayo Alasoadura is a senator representing Ondo Central Senatorial District. In this interview with BISI OLOMINU, he spoke on the closure of the National Assembly, 2019 elections among other burning issues.
The National Assembly has embarked on recess since. What does this portend for our democracy?
The senate is on recess and we are to resume on September 25. But what’s not good about it all is that we have issues of national interest that we need to discuss. For example, government needs to execute capital projects, INEC budget for 2019 elections, the confirmation of Mr. President appointments are lying there for discussion. So ordinarily, the National Assembly should have been opened for a day or two for members to discuss on those matters and pass them to law. We expect that very soon members will reconvene to deliberate on the issues. I know that National Assembly will not die, Nigeria too will not die.
The gale of defections that recently happened in the National Assembly, what is your take about the opposition party producing the Senate President and Deputy Senate President?
I can never subscribe to that, but the rule of the game gives the enormous power to both of them. To impeach a Senate and Deputy Senate Presidents, we need two third of members and that the APC does not have either in the senate or the House of Representatives. So as far as I am concerned, I will keep my fingers crossed. It is however very late to effect changes in leadership of the National Assembly. How many months before the next elections and tenure of members of the Senate? In September, parties will be involved in their primaries and conventions. Members will be criss crossing and engaging in politics. Around November and December, parties will start campaigns, so, you can hardly do anything either at the National Assembly or elsewhere. We don’t have much time left, whatever happens, it is our resumption that will determine that.
Will the defections not adversely affect the fortune of your party in the coming elections?
The gale of defection will not affect APC, the party will become more stronger. My brother,the Senate President, Olusola Saraki, whatever people say about him, he is a strong politician. Aside him, I don’t see any other strong politicians from the National Assembly costing APC not winning the election. For example,two senators defected from APC in Bauchi State to PDP, yet APC won the last by-election in the state. And same thing would happen everywhere in the coming election. I cannot see their defections really affecting APC.
Some have canvassed that the Senate President should resign his position based on moral ground?
I am not Dr. Bukola Saraki. He has to use his discretion or prerogative to vacate that position. He is somebody that I respect much, so, he should use his discretion on the matter. He should not do anything that would wane his popularity among his people.
APC is making a strong incursion to the South South with the coming of Senator Godswill Akpabio, Emmanuel Uduagan and others. What will this add to the fortune of APC in the area?
If you are talking of electoral processes and enhancement, the defections of these people will improve the fortunes of APC in the coming general elections, mostly in Akwa Ibom and Delta States. The former Governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Uduagan seems to be in limbo for long. He seems to be the one controlling the politics of the state after James Ibori. Their joining APC is a welcome development, so also, is the coming of Godswill Akpabio and others. All these will add glamour to the fortune of APC, they are those in the PDP who have not soiled their names. Their coming is a great asset to APC. Senator Akpabio is s fantastic politician in his state and his coming to APC is a great electoral value come 2019, his sojourn to APC will add value to the party in the South South .
Less than four years after the formation of APC as a political party, are you not surprised about the recent crises in the party?
There’s nothing like explosion in APC. You know the formation of the party was quickly made, there was no total separation of the wheat from chaff. It was the coming together of strange bird fellows. You know that the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo had predicted that for the progressives to rule Nigeria, they have to join hands with the conservatives, but the conservatives will find their way out due to ideological differences. To me it is the coming into reality what Baba Awolowo had said over 30years ago that has come into reality. I don’t see any bad effect on this.
What then is the fortune of APC in next year’s general elections despite the array of people who have defected to other parties?
Well, I don’t know about the array of those who have defected from APC and their electoral values. All I know is that APC will come out victorious. In the last election in Ondo State, many people were jostling for the governorship slot, when we went for the primary election, there were some who did not score any vote, some scored one, two votes, some four and one person won the primary election. If you juxtapose that with the people who want to be president of this nation in PDP, there are some who are there for people to recognise them alone. There are some still jostling for the senate and some who are serial failure and can never win any election in the country. I know many of them and I worked with many and I know their capabilities. But APC will never believe that any election will be a walk over, we are going to talk to Nigerians about our achievements, even of corruption of the past. What corruption has done to the youth who are roaming the streets today and how it will continue to affect their lives if they allow such party to come to power again. So there are nothing like a walk over in an election.
The Peoples Democratic Party and thirty-nine political parties have formed a coalition against APC. Is this not a threat to APC?
There’s nothing like coalition in Nigeria. During the last election, those parties that contested for presidency were more than ten, but it was only two parties that fought between themselves, APC and PDP. There are some parties in a whole state that did not score one thousand votes. Again there was in a state where the votes scored by PDP and other parties were not up to those scored by APC. What’s coalition? They are not serious, some parties are just to say that we are there. Don’t you find it funny that Nigeria is having ninety-nine political parties? It is laughable. Some parties have the husband, wife and children as members.
The 2019 general elections are just six months away and INEC’s budget for the election has not been passed. What’s your view about this?
Well government has its own way of doing things. Even, if the money is not appropriated near the election time, government will still find a way to give INEC money for the election. We all must join hands with the government to ensure that next year’s election does not fail.
The National Executive Council of APC at its meeting concluded that direct primary should be used for its presidential election while states should either use direct or indirect. What is your take on this?
Well, the party has spoken and the leaders of the party have decided. I am not in a position to say that states should either use the direct or indirect primary. Whatever the party and the leaders decided in Ondo state that I will comply with. Direct primary is very good and I would have love it being adopted for it gives room for members to participate in choosing their own candidates and it is a way of mobilizing party members for the general election. In indirect, you may be talking to about just two thousand people, but in direct primary, you may have about one hundred thousand people to talk to. That would also make them to feel that they are the one sending you to that position or office.
Many bigwigs are jostling for your position in the coming election. What’s your view about this?
It is a welcome development; it will make me to work harder. The people of my senatorial district know my contributions at the National Assembly, the numbers of motions that I have moved and passed the numbers of projects that I have facilitated, numbers of our youths that I have taken off the streets. I know that our people appreciate what I have done and I think when the time comes, they will support me to contest for the second time.
What’s your take on vote buying?
If I talk on this, people will think I am being selfish. During the time of Baba Awolowo, in my village then, when people wanted to run for an election, they started putting in electricity poles and some many other tricks they were using then to entice the electorate. But what’s bad in it is that for people to be doing it openly and I think that the law enforcement agencies should be up and doing. Offering money on the day of election is bad and those engaging in it should be arrested and prosecuted.
Osun governorship election is few days away,do you see APC winning the election?
APC will win the election, but it is not going to be easy. Some have defected from the party to other parties; some have genuine reasons for their defection, mostly those from Osun west area of the state who thought that they have been shut out of ruling the state for long. Despite this, APC will still come out victorious. Again, you cannot write off Iyiola Omisore from the coming election, he is very strong in his area. With hard work and the achievements of Governor Rauf Aregbesola, APC will win Osun state governorship election.
With the APC now controlling the Southwest, will the Southwest Integration now be easy to be implemented?
Southwest integration will not be only effective, but it will be good for the general well being of the region. A state may have money but its idea may not be as bright as the one without money. But if both are combined, it is good for us, we may all benefit from it. Once there is a synergy, all states in the Southwest will benefit from it all.
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