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I am Not Tinubu’s Lackey-Akande, Provides Solution to Economic Recession

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He is an indispensable newsmaker that journalists, irrespective of status in Nigeria always chase around to have his well-informed views on state and national and issues. But he rarely talks; and when he does, there is always explosive information and helpful realistic ideas for people to grab. Chief Abdulkareem Adebisi Akande, a former Secretary and Deputy Governor of the old Oyo State, Osun State governor, national chairman of the Action Congress, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the first interim national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), speaks with CityMirrorNews crew on issues affecting Osun State and Nigeria (check “Why Omisore was impeached as Deputy Governor-Chief Adebisi Akande” for the previous segment of the interview). Excerpt:

Years after the party you midwifed got into power with President Muhammadu Buhari as the President, people are complaining that the economy is in shambles; that the change the APC promised is a ruse and that people are actually in chain and pain. Do you regret helping President Buhari into power?

Akande: I do not regret it. I want to remind Nigerians that it is not the geographical boundaries of this country that is called Nigeria, it is the people. Buhari inherited recession or a bad economy and he must put things right. It is like a surgery in hospital, you have to be cut in flesh and bones and it has to be painful. Nobody wants to do a surgery without having pain. All Buhari needs to do now is to find the pain killer, but there is no way he can repair the economy without inflicting pains on the public of this country, because you have to turn around the situation in a very aggressive perceive manner, otherwise without treatment, the patient will die and that is Nigeria.

Chief Adebisi Akande

Chief Adebisi Akande

But the opposition has said that it is the mismanagement of the country’s economy by the ruling party that led Nigeria into recession. They claimed that why there were in Power, Nigeria was the biggest economy in Nigeria. What do you think of this statement?

Akande: I thought they are talking to intelligent citizens of Nigeria; they are free to say anything but my belief is that they are talking to intelligent Nigerians who can be able to know this economic impasse.

When we were coming to power, we promised three things: We said we are going to bring peace, Nigeria was never peaceful then-Nigeria was being traumatized by terrorist. And we said we are going to remove terrorist from Nigeria. Terrorism is painful than this economic thing we are experiencing now, because you can be going on the street and your head maybe off your body. We said we are going to remove terrorism in the politics of Nigeria; we are doing very well on that. We said we are going confront corruption; we are already doing very well on that. We have to deal with the economy which is shamble as a result of lack of peace, as a result of corruption. In dealing with the economy, it is like what I said earlier- is like a hospital surgery, and a surgeon has to cut your flesh, cut your bone and rematch them, it is going to be very painful. What Buhari needs to do now is to find pain killer, but you must have the pain because you are already dying and he is trying to get you to the right path.

What are the pain killers?

Akande: If he throws a lot of money to the infrastructure: throws a lot of money into building of roads, into building railways, into doing the electricity and so on, the economy will move up and the people will get result.

You are advocating the government spending its way out of recession?

Akande: O yes! That is what I mean. You need to find money from wherever you get it and use it to build roads, hospitals, railways, schools, electricity, etc. You need to pump a lot of money in infrastructure and in doing that; you will come out of economic recession.

Some people say the PDP mismanaged the country’s economy while it ruled, that also the APC while it begun to rule the country had inconsistent policy? Do you agree to that?

Akande: I have told you earlier that PDP has an opinion and they can say it anytime the way they like, but they are talking to intelligent Nigerians. I know APC came to save Nigeria from bad governance that PDP had brought on this country for 16 years, and the bad governance that the military as brought on this country before the PDP came. It is an historical thing. The disease had been there eating the country and the APC came to remove this disease from our body, and in removing it, they have to cut through several places in our body.

Do you agree to the statement made by some people that the forex policy contributed to the deterioration of the country’s economy?

You know that Aregbesola had been shouting here that the money from federal government was no more coming, that federal government was seizing the money many years before Buhari came. The economy had been bad particularly to you in OSUN state before Buhari came. I know a few moments before the election, Aregbesola had to find some money he borrowed to pay three month salaries in one day in other to annihilate the suffering of the people . So, the economy is not bad when Buhari came in, it had been bad many years before Buhari came. When I came to government, I inherited debt, including salary debt. Workers salary for many months were not paid before I was sworn-in 1999, and when I was sworn-in, the total money Osun state was having was short of the salary of the workers by N110 million per month. Was that a good economy? it had been so, but within a period, immediately after I left the government, and may before Aregbesola started making noise, plenty of money was coming to this country but it was not being used the way it should be, otherwise infrastructure would have been very good within that period and Buhari would have came to enjoy himself in power. But now, he inherited bad situation and a dying baby. There is need to perform surgical operation on the dying baby to save him from death, and surgical operation causes pain, and that is the pain you are having now that you are calling bad economy.

One thing that the government said has contributed to the bad economy is the renewed militancy in the Niger Delta, as an elder state-man, how do you advice the government to go about the militant issue?

Akande: What I know is that the Niger Delta remains part of Nigeria, they have not seceded. They cannot be left to do what they like. If they are Nigerians, they must be handled or must obey the laws of Nigeria and if they are becoming criminal; crime is not part of what the law accommodates. When you are a criminal, you are offending the laws of this country and you should be handled like criminals. So, if you talk of militancy in the South-South or in the Niger Delta, I see militants as people to be treated as criminals. So how you treat criminal depends on your style whether by dialogue or by force.

On February 20, 2009 you advised the government to be careful in dealing with militant, what do you mean by the word careful?

Akande: When I say careful, it means many things. When arresting a thief, you have to be very careful, in dealing with dangerous things, it is a good advice to be careful. I wanted government then and now to be careful in dealing with them in Niger Delta, because it is a very dangerous terrain. It is unlike this place where you can walk on the floor; on the ground, through the forest. In that place, you have to pass through the water; you need special equipments and training to be able to deal with the kind of war you will fight there. That is what I mean by being careful. Know that your arsenal or apparatus of war is the kind you can use in Niger Delta. That is what I mean by being careful.

You once describe former President Goodluck Jonathan as a kindergarten President, so how will you describe the current President Muhammad Buhari?

Akande: Well, Buhari is a man of high integrity. He doesn’t want any stain, he doesn’t want any bad thing in the side of him. He doesn’t want to steal your money and he doesn’t want other people to steal it. You can see he is a very complicated man. That is why he is a little different from me. If am going and I see a thief, I will not raise alarm, I will just pass, but I will not share out of his loot and I will not join him in stealing and I will not arrest. But Buhari is ready not to take the government money and at the same time arrest the thief. That is why you have a lot of noise on his head.

Many people felt it is uncomplimentary and disrespectful to the office of the president when you described President Jonathan a kindergarten President.

Akande: It was supposed to be disrespectful to the person in that office, because he was behaving in a kindergarten manner.

What vexed you so much for you to use such a word like that for a President of a country?

Akande: Because he was behaving like that, he does not even know how to handle a situation when situations arise. People told me he doesn’t wake up from bed until about mid day and he doesn’t go to bed until about midnight doing nothing. Only a kindergarten President does that.

People think that the anti-corruption war of this administration is one-sided; it is only targeted at the opposition members. That the APC is peopled by former members of the PDP, and immediately they cross over to APC they become saint. What can you say to that?

Akande: Put it this way, they once described me as somebody who stole and swallow without seeing the sign in my hand and mouth here in Osun. If you don’t see things in my hand and you don’t see it in mouth and you guess it is in my tummy and you couldn’t arrest me then, can Buhari come and arrest me now when I wasn’t in government, when I didn’t handle the money of the country? So it is those who are active in the management of the funding of the government that should be arrested. APC had not been part of it for quite a long time, and even those who were part of it and joined APC are being arrested. As big as our senate President is, he is being questioned.

But people said it is because Saraki came from PDP and he went against the decision of the party to become the Senate President, and that is why he is being persecuted?

Akande: May be when he was in PDP, he was holding the fund of the country. Me from APC, I was not holding any fund of the country, who will come and arrest me? If they see Aregbesola keeping the government money in his pocket and you know, write petition, they will arrest him.

A case in point is that of Rotimi Ahamechi, many petitions had been written against him and he has not been arrested.

Akande: You did not know how much and how far he has been investigated because EFCC will not come to your house to arrest you on the basis of petition. Like Nuru Ribadu told me, when I was in government, they followed me everywhere but I wouldn’t know. So, you would not know how much Amechi has been investigated and you would not know how now. If tomorrow he was arrested, you should not be surprised. The Amechi you are talking about came from PDP like Saraki or was he APC.

Is it true that there are some elements in the Presidency working against the interest of Akande and Tinubu block?

Akande: All I know is that the President calls me most of the time to ask about my welfare and I know he loves me. And I know Tinubu always tells me the love President has for me. Whether Tinubu and Buhari meet themselves to exchange blwo I don’t know. But they see themselves often. You know what they call monafiki (hypocrisy)? All those stories you hear are from the monafikis to discourage our followers. It is possible, Tinubu and the president can have a lot of argument like I have a lot of argument with the President and Tinubu, but that does not make us enemy.

Of the legacy parties of the APC: the ACN, CPC and PDP, people say that the CPC is dictating the pace, while the ACN has been sidelined. Is this statement true?

Akande: Biyi Durojaiye is not CPC; Sunday Dare is not CPC and numerous other Yoruba people who have been selected to board and corporations. There are many Yoruba people who are of no political background that have been appointed into positions. Not every appointee could be a politician, what a matter is that Nigerian should rule Nigeria.

What led credence to this rumour is the incidence in Kogi. James Faleke was said to be the candidate of Tinubu. When the APC governorship candidate, Abubakar Audu died, Faleke being the deputy governorship candidate was expected to be the flag bearer of the party but but Yahyah Bello was chosen, because people believe that some people do not want Tinubu to have presence in Kogi State.

Akande: How does Faleke become the candidate of Tinubu in Koji? It was the Late Abubakar who met me and said he wanted Faleke to be his running mate so that Tinubu would fund his election. That is the way he put it to me and I laughed because I don’t know Faleke. I told Abubakar that I would discuss with Tinubu on it. I asked: is Faleke an indigene of Kogi, he said yes. He told me his constituency delivered the largest vote to Buhari in the presidential election. Under that circumstance, won’t you support him?

There is an insinuation that some forces in Abuja seriously worked against your interest and that of Tinubu in ensuring that Mr Rotimi Akeredolu won the governorship primary against Segun Abraham who was said to be the candidate of Tinubu.

Akande: But they don’t say Abraham was my candidate, and you don’t know my candidate.

But people think you are always on the same page with Tinubu?

Akande: I am not his lackey, I am his leader.

But you are always on the same page politically?

Akande: No! You don’t know! We so much respect ourselves that we try always to resolve our differences privately. But I am not always on the same page with him. I know an occasion when he said baba if you go ahead on that thing I am going to ask the court to stop you; and I said I was ready to meet him in court. Some people intervene on that matter and we resolved the matter. We would not go to pages of the newspaper to say our differences. Only inefficient politician will want something from his colleague and ask for it on the pages of newspaper. I will not do that; I will go to my colleague directly and tell him I need this, I need that. Before the primary in Ondo State, you see that aspirants and their supporters going on the pages of newspapers, it is not right.

How would you access the administration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola, your political son?

Akande: His a magician, he is a man who is making things happening without money and have not discuss with him to ask where he is getting the money; maybe one day EFCC will arrest him for using Osun state money very well. Because I came and I see him working and I was amazed, because I know the economy is so bad, I don’t know he can still be working. Some states are already paralyzed. I think he is a magician.

But Aregbesola has issues with some aspects of the state, especially with the civil servants

Akande: Everybody will have issues with the civil servants in any arrangement where civil servants are numerous than needed. That is the situation he inherited.

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