By Banji Ayoola
‘Of course, all of them ganging up together, you know the reason; you are a journalist; you should do your research. You know the reason they are ganging up. It is because government does not allow them access to the treasury any more, where they just loot the treasury. It is as simple as that.’
Opposition against the reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari in the coming February 16 election, is mounting for various reasons; with prominent Nigerians led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, including the nation’s main sociopolitical and ethnic groupings across the country, uniting in their position that there should be a change in the leadership of Nigeria.
But one of the president’s men, and secretary of the Ondo State chapter of the Presidential Campaign Council, Engineer Ife Oyedele, describes this stance as a mere gang-up due to alleged personal reasons. Above were his exact words.
The council, chaired by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, was inaugurated last week, by the governor.
In this interview, Oyedele reeled out reasons why his principal deserves a return, even as he touched other sensitive national issues. He spoke on Monday in Akure exclusively with Banji Ayoola of The Radiance.
How does your council intend to fulfil its mandate?
It’s a very simple mandate. All we are doing is organising a rally in the state for people, with lovers of the president and the party. So our task is very easy, just to announce to the people that the president is coming to meet them; and we expect them to turn up in large numbers. It’s as simple as that.
Why should Nigerians vote President Buhari?
I don’t know why anybody should ask this question. There are so many reasons why Nigerians should vote for President Muhammadu Buhari.
Let me start from what we know around us. One is the fact that salary arrears all over the federation have become a thing of the past, due to the efforts and the compassionate leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari. When this administration came in 2015, even the Federal Government was owing money to pay salaries. That is no longer the case.
What about power supply. All over the federation, there are testimonies of people enjoying improved power supply facilities all over the country. In the southern part of Ondo State for instance, where in Ilaje they had not had power supply for eleven years, and in the other parts like Okitipupa, it is seven years. You can understand what the joy is in the heart of these people when they realise that there is a government that has restored power supply to all the neighborhoods.
The economy is improving. The PDP handed over to us a comatose economy. Twenty seven billion dollars was only what we had as foreign reserve. Today despite the fact that revenue from oil has dipped by above 60 percent, the foreign reserve has grown to over $47 billion dollars.
This government has embarked on the largest social welfare programme anywhere you can find in the world where they feed school children, where they pay the poorest of the poor every month, where they give assistance to small scale and big time traders.
So, what can you talk about. You want to talk about revenue from other sources like for instance Customs now generated over N1.3 trillion, FIRS generated N5.3 trillion in 2018.
What about the massive restructuring and improvement in Agriculture. I was listening to the Governor of Central Bank only yesterday (Sunday), and he confirmed that whereas importation of rice from Thailand used to be 1.3 million metric tons. Today it has reduced to 56 million. That is over 90 percent. What kind of magic is that in three years.
Are you going to talk about massive exportation of sesame seeds, ginger, cassava, even yam, which before now was rejected by other countries of the world. Are you going to talk about improvement in egg production, in poultry. Are you going to talk about security where almost one sixth of this nation was occupied by Boko Haram insurgents.
Today, all across the northern part of the country, people can worship in churches and can go to the praying grounds during Sallah celebrations without any problem.
Are you going to talk about the fact that bombs were exploding in Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, all through four years of the administration of PDP, where even the police headquarters was attacked by Boko Haram; where even the United Nations office in Abuja was attacked by armed robbers. Are you going to talk about the eradication of fuel shortages across the country.
Nigerians have more than 100 reasons to continue to pray for this government and to support this government because we are at the stage now where we have to institutionalise all of these reforms, progress that we have made over the years.
The fight against corruption has got to another level. This is the first time you see a government, you see the prosecution of even members of APC who are alleged to have committed one infraction or the other.
What about the fight against corruption in the judiciary. It has never happened. In the past, this would have been covered up. That the Chief Justice of Nigeria was allegedly committing infraction and government has stepped in to ensure that he should face the law.
I don’t want to go on and on, but Nigerians have every reason to thank President Muhammadu Buhari and to continue to support him.
But despite all the points that you have reeled out, the opposition is still saying that President Buhari does not deserve reelection. How do you see that?
Of course. He has locked the tap. You have watched the video of the Vice President talk of how $222 million was taken from the Central Bank in one day for election purposes. That is a lot of money; and that can cater for all of the social welfare programmes we are doing in ten years.
So these are people who used to make money, who used to be, who have enslaved Nigerians.
Today, government has been returned to the ordinary Nigerians. They now occupy the centre stage in Nigeria. That is why you see the massive crowd that attends all the rallies held by APC with the President in attendance. And the opposition are not campaigning. They do one rally today, take a break for seven days.
Every day, the President and the Vice President hit the road, the governors are hitting the road; our senatorial candidates are hitting the road all over the country. Have you seen their campaign. I can go on and on.
Of course, all of them ganging up together, you know the reason; you are a journalist; you should do your research. You know the reason they are ganging up. It is because government does not allow them access to the treasury any more, where they just loot the treasury. It is as simple as that.
That is the reason why they are campaigning against him. Have you heard the presidential candidate of the PDP talk about enriching his friends. And the following day he defined corruption as using the state facilities to enrich your friends. In the same breath, he said ‘I am going to enrich my friends.’ What are we talking about.
What is the next level that this government is taking Nigeria?
That is the next level. The next level is the completion of all infrastructural projects – railways across the country, steady power supply, zero tolerance for corruption, improvement in agricultural exports and establishment of processing units and industries all over the country, security of lives and property.
Of course you have seen that the economy is bouncing; the economy is growing in leaps and bounds.
Then we would continue to attack infant mortality. We would continue to ensure that Nigerians can live longer. We would continue to ensure that Nigerians can have access to quality education all across the country. That is the next level we are going to.
What specific message do you have for the people of Ondo State?
The people of Ondo State are witnessing massive improvement in their lives; and of course I know that they would not be deceived by the rhetoric of the opposition. They should come out to vote massively for President Muhammadu Buhari and Prof Yemi Osinbajo as President and Vice President respectively in the February 16 election.
Could we have the programme of the planned visit of the President to Ondo State on Tuesday?
We are going to receive the President. I think he would go to Ekiti first and return here. And then we would just receive him at the Independence Park.
Thereafter, he would depart for his remaining schedule; and he would continue campaigning at organised campaign rallies in all the Senatorial Districts, local governments; and thereafter, we would continue with the door to door campaign that we are doing to bring out some of these things to the people, to educate them on how to vote and why they should continue to vote for the APC led government.
Are there any further comments?
No, thank you.