Peter Ajayi is the National Coordinator of the Salvage Group, which comprises professionals in the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview with Deputy Political Editor RAYMOND MORDI, he speaks on the general elections and the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) attempt to woo Southwest voters.
Why did your group call for the resignation of Lagos APC spokesman Joe Igbokwe?
We called for his resignation because he has been unable to use his office as publicity secretary to mobilise the Igbos for the party. It is obvious that most Igbos in Lagos are not for the APC. They have vowed to vote for the PDP in the coming elections. Is it not very strange in a state that has been very fair to them? We have a lot of them occupying both appointive and elective positions at local and state governments. As a matter of fact, Igbokwe doubles as the publicity secretary of APC and the general manager of Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance Regulatory Agency (LASMIRA). As general manager of LASMIRA, he is a very busy person. So, adding the job of the publicity secretary of the APC has overburdened him. The job of publicity secretary requires full attention and concentration. Personally, I don’t have anything against him. Our call for his resignation, which was published in some national newspapers, is to save our party. The position of publicity secretary is one of the most sensitive offices within the party. He is shouldered with the responsibility of giving information, representing and speaking on behalf of the party. At this critical moment, our party does not need someone who is not accessible; who does not have time to discuss issues of our party with members. Our position still remains that Joe Igbokwe should either resign as publicity secretary for lack of competence or as LASMIRA general manager.
What impact would the polls shift make on the March 28 and April 11 general elections?
I believe Nigerians are resolute in their quest for change. They want to see and feel the effects of good governance. They have realised the great havoc corruption is causing in Nigeria. They know stealing is part of corruption. No amount of money can buy their conscience. We are not looking at the short term, but the long term gains of our desire for change. We are not unaware of the billions of naira and dollars being spent by President Jonathan and members of his party in their desperate attempt to woo people to vote for him. Our people are happy to have their share of the national cake. The postponement of the election for six weeks would not have any negative impact on our party’s chances; rather we see it as an opportunity to further engage our supporters and prospective voters. Their attempt to weaken us is making us stronger and more acceptable by the populace.
There are allegations that some aggrieved governorship aspirants who lost to Ambode are secretly supporting Agbaje. What do you make of this allegation?
This is the story purportedly formulated by the PDP. The governorship aspirants knew all along that only one of them would get the ticket. Before the primary, they reached a decision to support whoever becomes the candidate. Our party is a one big family. Immediately after the primary, all the aspirants met with the governor, the candidate and leadership of the party and resolved to work for the party that have given them opportunities to excel in life. Other aspirants at different levels, such as the Lagos House of Assembly, the Senate, the House of Representatives, those who lost out in the primary have also met and resolved to work for the interest of the party.
Do you think the recent successes of the military against the Boko Haram terrorist group would influence the general elections?
Our soldiers have always performed excellently well. They have always performed well at international peacekeeping operations. What our soldiers need is encouragement, motivation and a free hand to work. They will always excel. They were intentionally made to be morally, emotionally and financially handicapped to score some political cheap points in the past. We are all aware that Ministry of Defense has the highest chunk of the national budget, but the question is, why the sabotage? Who are the saboteurs? Why the sudden decision to fight Boko Haram within six weeks? After they have been allowed to cause havoc for years. Why did the President suddenly awake from its slumber to do what ordinarily Nigerians had expected him to do for the past years? It is too late; peoples minds are made up already
President Jonathan has been coming frequently to the Southwest in recent times, to canvass for support for his re-election. What impact would this have on the election? President Goodluck Jonathan has been coming to the Southwest to share the national cake to equally corrupt, hungry and selfish people in the region. I refuse to refer to them as leaders because they are not representing the common interest of the people. Are you aware that the power station the President commissioned in Ogun State has previously been commissioned by former President Olusegun Obasanjo before he left office? We are now begining to have a clearer picture as to why the elections were postponed. It was just to further convince some gullible Nigerians through deceitful outings and projects, more especially in the Southwest. The question is, why has he not visited the region for the past six years? President Jonathan is acting a script written by Doyin Okupe, Ayodele Fayose, Reuben Abati, Obanikoro, Femi Fani-Kayode and others. One of their gimmicks was to come to deceive some gullible people in the Southwest having seen the region as a stronghold of the APC. Our people cannot be bought over.