Oni: APC can only die due to poor strategy

Segun Oni

For Deputy National Chairman (South) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Segun Oni, the party’s primaries that will produce the next presidential aspirant will be free, fair and competitive.

As Deputy National Chairman of APC, what is your reaction to former Vice President Abubakar Atiku dumping of the party?
In a democracy, you cannot stop people from joining political parties of their wish, just as you cannot stop them from decamping to another party.

Won’t this negatively affect the party?
Anybody leaving the party will have an effect, but how significant the effect will be is another thing. Who is the person leaving and what are the remedial actions being taken by the party will determine the effect. But as far as we are concerned, there is no cause for alarm. There is no cause for panic at all.

What do you say to his statement that APC is a dying party?
Whose concept is that? Let me tell you, there is something called product life cycle concept. I didn’t create it. A product has initiation stage, after which it will grow and mature. This product called APC can be described as a magical product, because it won the general election at the initiation stage. So, it is now at the growing stage and nothing can stop it. This is natural. At initiation, we won federal election, so at the growth stage; we cannot do less, because it will continue to grow. And you can see this in the size of the party membership in the South South, South East, South West and other parts of the country.

When the PDP was to die, it had already reached maturity stage; it could not grow further but come down. The only surviving thing was to be more strategic in stretching its maturity stage, but unfortunately they were not cautious and strategic enough to grow beyond that stage of maturity.

When I was a member of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP, I told them that the party had reached a stage of full maturity and that the only place to go now is down. And if they didn’t want the decline to come very quickly, they needed proper strategic management. But they did not get the management needed to survive beyond that level, so it came down under its own weight.

Don’t you see APC also coming down?
No, it is just at the growth stage; it can’t die off at this stage. The people saying APC is dying are not being scientific in their reasoning; they are being emotional. A product at the growth stage doesn’t die off like that. The people managing it are not morons. If it dies at initiation stage, that is abortion. If it dies at growth level, it dies of abortion but after maturity, there is nowhere to go again. It can die naturally, if it is not re-launched through sound management strategy.

What is your opinion to insinuations that APC may not allow for open presidential primaries in the next election?
People should not think for us, they should rather wait for us. There is so much talk of APC may not do this and that, but I plead with them to wait for us. The primaries we did that brought in President Muhammadu Buhari were unprecedented in this country’s history. Everybody saw it and applauded the process. Why can’t people believe that the same party that did that will not abandon its own principles?

I am an official of the party. I won’t like to go further on my opinion about this, so people won’t mistake my personal opinion as the party’s position. The party is yet to take any decision on this and I would rather plead with the people to wait for us and be assured that APC will come out with the best for the country.

We are likely to have competitive, free, fair and transparent primaries.

Are you saying the fear of imposing a ‘consensus candidate’ should be ruled out?
Consensus is part of democracy. If there is consensus, it means everybody agrees that it is the best course of action for us. You cannot rule out any possibility. People can have a change of mind. Mind you, the constitution recognises consensus. People can have a meeting of mind and say let us do it this way in the interest of our party and the country, but we are yet to get there now. People are just jumping the gun. Let them wait for us. And I urge the media to be patient with us, to just wait and watch.

There is so much hardship in the land and many may not agree with you that APC will survive beyond 2019. What are the party’s economic policies that will earn it a re-election?
If you are talking of hardship, please you may need to define it properly. Is it hardship caused by APC government or the one inherited by the party? We all know that Nigeria was on the verge of famine by the time we took over the reins of governance. Everybody was forecasting it because no reasonable agricultural output was coming out of the field. But what can you see today? You can afford not to touch imported rice in Nigeria now because homegrown rice is now in the market. Our economic policy is to promote productivity. Any economic policy that gives money to people without corresponding returns will crash.

But people still ask how much was the dollar, when APC came in? How much was a bag of rice then and how much is it now?
An average Nigerian is thinking as if economy drops from the sky. Economy is a product of day-to-day interaction, people’s workings and its output. If output is increasing, that means economy is improving. It cannot be immediately felt, but it will be obvious later. Since Buhari came in, have you seen people dying on the queue because they wanted to buy petroleum? Is this not part of the economic management we are talking about. But now, people need not to store petroleum at home again? If there are high prices of foodstuff, it is a function of demand and supply and I will be happier to pay N15, 000 for a bag of rice produced locally than to pay N7, 000 for imported rice, which you cannot guarantee its sustainability.

With various revelations coming out now, even among members of your party, would you say this government is still fighting corruption?
We are fighting corruption and corruption is fighting us. But we are not relenting because the leadership is serious about it. Up till now, nobody can say the President is paying lip service to fighting corruption, people know that gone were the days when it was a norm. Hardly will you see people getting contract without executing it and go around gallivanting with people’s money. Before, many contracts awarded by the government were not executed.

We know many that have to pay back now because they failed to execute contracts after receiving money from government. I am sure anybody with government money in his private pocket will not be sleeping with his two eyes closed. The whistleblower is there and they will be running helter skelter to cover their tracks.

What are APC’s chances in Ekiti State in the next year governorship election?
Our chances are very bright. Indeed, nothing is brighter. No other party, either new or old can defeat APC in the next election in Ekiti State. People naturally react to what is happening in their environment. If you know the number of people vying for APC’s governorship ticket, that will tell you the level of the people’s perception and acceptability that APC is a strong party that will surely succeed the ruling party in the state.

When over 35 people are jostling for a position in a party, it means people strongly believe in that party to produce the next governor.

Presently, there are political parties that do no have a single aspirant. Politicians always test the people’s pulse before pitching their tents with a particular party. I charge you to go to the field and feel the people’s pulse. Please conduct your own survey to know what people are saying on the streets of Ado Ekiti and other towns. I am sure you will be convinced that Ekiti people are waiting for APC to take over. They are yearning for good governance, which only APC can give them.

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