Performance not sentiments will count in 2023 polls - Issa-Onilu
Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu is the National Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
In this interview with journalists in Abuja, Issa-Onilu speaks on the party's losses in some states; and the difference between elections conducted under APC and PDP governments among others.
On Kwara State APC governor-elect, were he to be indicted in the alleged scandal charge against him, what would APC do?
There is no any scandal. You see, APC is a party of due process. Once you comply with your own rules, things become easy for you. We have a process and they (the then governorship aspirants) went through the right process. We are confident and completely certain that our governor-elect has nothing to hide. The certificates are genuine. So, those who are involved in the antics...
You see, it is laughable that of all things, they cannot come out to say the election was rigged because they were trapped even beyond their own imagination. So, maybe they could use something from that to say that they have something on which to go to tribunal. At least, they can't just walk away.
But they need to wake up and face the reality of that defeat. It is an eternal defeat, it is total.
In the just concluded elections, your party lost some major states like Bauchi, Adamawa, Sokoto, Oyo. You narrowly won in Kano. Is your party not jittery ahead of 2023?
Not at all. Again, the picture you painted is not exactly correct. Sokoto, we lost by less than 500 votes. Kano, we won by thousands of votes. Which one is narrow? Is it the Sokoto that PDP claimed they have won with 300 or Kano that we won by over 20,000 votes. So, it is not narrow. But the important thing to note is that, and that's my word, being a journalist myself, and I begin to ask myself, what has happened to us in the media regarding the roles to interpret events?
If we interpret these events very well, you have a ruling party that is supposed to mobilise all the resources of coercion, all instruments of coercion to get what they want and you have said now that we lost some states - major states. I will tell you that the only reason that happened was because this party has provided a platform for people to go and face the electorate and for the electorate to pass judgement on the people that had been put forward without anybody doing anything against it. You have seen major politicians in this country, big politicians in this country losing election even in our own party. You saw a serving governor in Oyo State who couldn t win one-third of the state; a governor who is governing the entire state couldn't win one-third of the entire state to get to the Senate. You saw a struggle that is still going on in Akwa-Ibom State.
Somebody of the calibre of Godswill Akpabio, even though we know there are issues to that and it would be corrected. But at the same time, we should have deployed in such a way that we will want to arm-twist anybody or manipulate the system. That question did not even arise at all and I think the media should step back from the milieu so that they don't get carried away by whatever kind of 'flu' politicians are going about with; so, they can see the issue clearly and say what is responsible for this. You could see that we lost Oyo in the presidential election and we have a sitting governor. We lost Ondo and we have a sitting governor. But because we didn't want to condone impunity, we did all we did in Imo in a way to undermine ourselves. And the choice we had was to accept what would have amounted to impunity so that we could win Imo. But we said no! We would rather do what is decent.
What is the chance of your party ahead of 2023?
The chances are even now brighter. You know why? Nigerians have shown that they have also come of age that no matter who you are. See what happened in Kwara State for instance, despite the behemoth status of somebody like Bukola Saraki his opponent's results nearly doubled his own. Not a single person was slapped. He couldn't even go to tribunal to protest. The only way this could happen was because voters have come of age and they now look at performance unlike sentiments that they've been following. You knew what a lot of clergies did. And the elections this time around, you could not say it went along divides, No! In most cases, voters passed judgment based on performance. So we now know that the only way for us in 2023 is to ensure that we have credible performance, so Nigerians can still claim that we have clearly done so well, that they can't take the risk of not voting for us. So, we will be facing Nigerians in 2023 and we want to be judged based on performance.