• Tony Igele

Nigerians Should be Patient, Things Will be Better by 2019 — Professor Osunbor

Former Governor of Edo State, Senator Oserheimen Osunbor, a Professor of Law and former chairman Nigerian Law Reform Commission, NLRC, in this interview spoke extensively on the salutary effects of President Muhammadu Buhari’s return from medical vacation and its impact on Nigerians, as he dismissed hopes of a possible return of his former party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to power in 2019.Excerpts.

Do you see your party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, delivering on the dividends of democracy between now and 2019?

My first response to your question is what do you mean by dividends of democracy? I ask this because democracy itself is a dividend. It’s a benefit to the people. The very fact that we are having democracy is a benefit to the people, that you are having a government that is responsive to the yearnings of the people, is a benefit in itself; that the government is not as corrupt as it used to be in the past is a dividend to the people.

But beyond these, people also want to see that the rate of inflation is down, that white collar jobs are generated and that a lot of the unemployed youths have become gainfully employed. They want to see roads and other infrastructure being revamped and the availability of electricity enhanced power.

Talking about power, it is interesting that I now spend less on diesel than was the case in the past. I am spending only about 20 per cent to buy diesel for my generator now than maybe this time last year; so there is improvement. Even in the village, when I go home to Edo State, I enjoy public power supply now more than ever before. So we can say in the area of availability of electric power there is improvement.

However there are other areas like the roads which call for a lot of attention. Talking about going to Edo State, from Abuja the state of the roads now is very bad and people expect to see a lot of improvement in the road condition of roads. To answer your question directly I believe that before 2019 roads will be fixed, and become better given assurances that I have received in that respect.

Regarding the issue of employment, a lot of improvements are also going on. Through the interventions that the APC administration has introduced, the N-Power and Conditional Cash Transfers and others, a lot of people are creating jobs on their own, creating wealth, and creating employment opportunities for others.

What many youths are looking for are white collar jobs. But I think the experience in the last few years should teach Nigerians that future opportunities for employment are not government white collar jobs or civil service but in the private sector. This government is encouraging the private sector. It has also eliminated waste in public spending.

Through a combination of all these strategies that the APC administration has put in place, I believe that definitely by 2019 things would be much better than they are now and the government would have been well positioned to build upon and consolidate on these achievements in the period post 2019.

I will like to urge Nigerians to be patient. When a new administration comes into office they normally need a period to settle down. So let’s be charitable and concede that the APC administration needs time to settle down. It needs time to study and discover firsthand the depth of the rot that they inherited and to be able to implement measures to correct the wrongs that they met on the ground. All these things take time.

As I said before, people expect to see magic and that overnight things would be transformed, but it doesn’t happen like that. Once you accept that there is sincerity of purpose in the mind of those in charge of running the government of the day, once you believe that Mr. President himself as a man of integrity who is committed to the wellbeing and improvement of Nigerians and the Nigerian society then I can say let’s be charitable. Let’s be kind to the government by allowing a few more years before you can conclude whether they have succeeded or failed.

PDP had 16 unbroken years to transform this country and take us to where Nigerians expect APC government to get us to. PDP government didn’t take us there in 16years; so you should be patient with the APC administration that has spent only two years. In four years perhaps a little beyond I strongly believe APC will be able to take Nigerians to the position that we all aspire for and desire Nigeria to be.

Do you see the success of the Ahmed Makarfi faction of the PDP posing a threat to the APC in 2019?

You are right in your observation that after the Supreme Court judgment there was a lot of euphoria and joy in PDP. People were thumping their chests and boasting that they were set to win the elections and in particular the Presidential election in 2019 and become the dominant party in Nigeria again.

As you know very well elections basically are local things. Before you can think of winning the presidential election or any election at all, you must assess the strength of the party locally. Even those who are saying that PDP will win in 2019, look at each of the individuals and ask yourself who among them can win in his state? Which states are they going to win? Is it Kaduna State or Edo State? PDP cannot win in Edo State. Even among the current PDP states, there are many that APC is going to win in 2019. In 2019 APC will win Enugu State. Take that from me. In 2019 APC will win Cross River State. APC will definitely retain Edo State because everyday people are leaving PDP.

One of the strongest politicians in Edo State, Hon. Matthew Iduoriyekemwen left PDP recently. In my own local government area, some of the strongest PDP people are set to join us in APC. Who is PDP going to count on to win the elections in Edo State in 2019? Let me use this opportunity to urge Ize Iyamu, the PDP candidate in the 2016 governorship election in Edo State to return to APC where he rightly belongs instead of wasting his time in PDP.

Consider all the states of the federation and the FCT, one by one, in which one is PDP going to defeat APC in 2019? What record will they campaign with to be able to defeat APC in those states in 2019? Talk is cheap, anybody can boast. About a year ago we were told that many APC, Senators about 20 of them were ready to decamp to PDP. We are still waiting to see the APC senators that will decamp to PDP.

On the contrary, it is PDP Senators that are decamping to APC. It is just an illusion for anybody to imagine that PDP can win the presidential election in 2019. I am not a dreamer so I do not support that dream at all, it cannot happen. PDP destroyed itself with wickedness, greed and arrogance and cannot rise again unless and until they first seek God’s forgiveness and apologise to Nigerians. PDP will not control more than eight states after the 2019 general elections.

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