The National Chairman of the African Democratic Congress, Chief Ralph Nwosu, in this interview with TOBI AWORINDE, speaks on the need to eradicate godfatherism in Lagos politics and the party’s plans for presidential election in 2019
What is the impact of the adoption of the African Democratic Congress by former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Coalition for Nigeria Movement ahead of the 2019 general elections?
It has been very tremendous. Obasanjo happened to be somebody that a lot of Nigerians respect. Not just that they respect him, he is the man I should advocate that Nigerians should respect. Obasanjo is one of the few African leaders in this generation who is on a first-name basis with many presidents and former presidents of the world. So, no matter our little politics in Nigeria, he is a great man and he mentors us. He is not a member of the ADC, but he mentors the ADC, he guides us and I appreciate him. I have been around the man and I hear former presidents and presidents of the world and they joke. He is one of the few Africans, living or dead, who are on that basis with world leaders. We should respect him and the Midas touch of his is affecting the ADC in many ways. Inasmuch as there are some few persons still trying to denigrate him, I will not. But has the ADC gained? Yes.
What is the working arrangement between the ADC and the other parties in the Coalition of United Political Parties?
We have the CUPP and the CUPP is a strategic vehicle where we containerise the idea (of a consensus candidate). We signed a memorandum of understanding to containerise everybody who is running for president in this vehicle or container. If you are running for president under the ADC, we put you in this strategic vehicle. If you are running for president under Labour (Party), we put you in this strategic vehicle. Everybody, who is running for president under any of these political parties, is containerised in this strategic vehicle. By the time we put all of them together, we have the selection process. All the leaders of the political parties will nominate persons, and we will screen them. After screening and filtering, we are going to choose one candidate. When we choose this one, all the leaders of the political parties will determine the political party we are going to use to run the candidacy to be able to make sure that we change the face of the leadership of Nigeria, working together. Will it work? Yes. Is it challenging? Yes. But you need challenges to be able to achieve success.
What is the level of involvement of the ADC in the CUPP?
The ADC is getting good guidance, and just like I am clarifying to you now, what the CUPP means, the leader of the steering committee is an ADC member to make sure that it is well spelt out.
What arrangement has the ADC put in place to conduct its primaries?
Everything is going very well. There are primaries for the Houses of Assembly, House of Representatives, the Senate and the governorship we are putting on the ground. Then for persons who are running for president, we have advised them that we are putting them in the strategic container, so that they are going to do it with the aspirants of other political parties among the 40 that are working together for that purpose.
Are the dates of the primaries of the ADC been set?
For the Houses of Assembly primary of the ADC, it is the 29th of this month. For the House of Representatives primary and the Senate primary, it is the 2nd (October) and the governorship primary is on the 4th (October).
Does the party already have aspirants who have bought their forms to contest other positions apart from the Presidency?
How many forms have been sold?
So many forms have been sold already. I can’t tell you. We are decentralised as much as possible. State chairmen are working; the national chairman is working. As we speak, I am in Lagos attending an event. The headquarters of the party is working and I must not be there. On a daily basis, we have about 10 to 15 persons walking into our national headquarters alone. I don’t know how many have been going into our state headquarters. But at the end of every week, we take stock.
How strong is the party now that it is in alliance with the CUPP?
Has the CUPP grand alliance affected our development? Yes. But we don’t have to be selfish. We could have said, ‘The ADC will go the presidency alone’ and so on. But considering the kind of dictatorial tendencies and the complete degeneration of our democratic process, we decided that it is best to do it as a coalition.
Is your party at all worried about the Peoples Democratic Party usurping the coalition to achieve its aim of returning to power?
You know, the PDP has its own challenges. But at least, being a part of the coalition, I would not discourage them or discuss whatever things we are experiencing in-house in the public space. We are coping with ourselves for the purpose of the presidency.
Has your party zoned the presidency to any part of the country?
That is part of the decisions that the CUPP will make. All of that will affect who the CUPP throws up as the presidential candidate of the CUPP.
What is the ADC’s position on restructuring?
What is restructuring? We need to decentralise. As we were speaking, I said the ADC system is decentralised. The state chairmen are working, local government chairmen are working and the national office is working. Restructuring in Nigeria is decentralising the government system and stop holding up a country with over 200 million persons in one place — in Abuja.
It doesn’t challenge all of us. Even in our own homes, we have difficulty marrying our wives and controlling our children. Now, you want to have all the wives in Nigeria and all the (men) women (and children) in Nigeria, 200 million of them, and you want to make decisions pertaining to them and how they work in one place in Abuja, when even homes, we have difficulty managing.
Are you looking at restructuring in terms of fiscal or geographical?
Decentralising means let the local governments work well. If we are saying we are a federal republic, let us allow the federating states to take off. Most of the states in Nigeria are bigger than most of the West African countries. Lagos State alone is bigger than five countries in West Africa put together in terms of population. Lagos is bigger than any other country in West Africa other than Ghana, and you want to sit in Abuja to manage the affairs of Lagos that is bigger than many countries. Look at Iceland. With a population of about 300,000, it qualified for the (2018) World Cup, and Nigeria, with a population of 200 million, we couldn’t qualify several times until 1994 and it was a big deal for us. But the population of Iceland is not up to the population of one local government in Nigeria. So, you can see, if you make it small, it becomes more effective to manage. That is decentralisation.
Is your concept of decentralisation the same as restructuring?
Restructuring means decentralisation. The president is (still) there but if we restructure, where the states are working well — if you take the population of Nigeria, we can have as much as 50 effective states. Iceland has 336,000 persons and it is a country. So, supposing you have 50 states in Nigeria, working effectively as they should work, if you divide 200 million by that, that is still 10 times the population of one European country. Since I am in a Lagos event, I can tell you that part of the strategic reasons I am in Lagos now is how the ADC will take Lagos and we are ready to take it. With our hard-working chairman, Chief (Tunde) Daramola, Lagos is in our pocket in 2019.
Do you have a candidate yet?
You will soon see them. We are about to do our primary and we will invite you to cover them. We will present to you the best quality persons to transform Lagos and we have said no more ‘godfatherism’. It is killing Lagos.
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