Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has been on the hot seat since his party emerged as the ruling party in Nigeria. Seeing the former Permanent Secretary, last week, at his residence in GRA, Benin-City, you will behold a troubled man. He bared his mind on the leadership crisis in the National Assembly.
According to him, those accusing the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration of being slow are unfair. Oyegun also spoke on other national issues. Excerpts:
People are complaining that this APC government is slow. What is happening?
No, I don’t think the government is slow. Like I always say, we are not talking of 16 years, we are talking of over 50 years. Since independence, this country has been ruled by the same tendencies. So, it is good to go with deliberate speed, deliberate steps, make as few mistakes as you can in the appointment that will come. So, I think that process is nearing the end now. As you can see, appointments are being rolled out, the activities people thought were slow are taking place, even the implementation of some aspects of the program of the party that we promised are already underway.
I think all that is left now is the list of the ministerial appointees and it will come out anytime from now and we will be up and running. So, there is the need for us to be cautious, given the fact that this is our first experience in governance. There is the need to be careful given a totally different nature of our manifesto and the social welfare promises that were made to the people to be sure that those the president wants to bring in to execute these policies, which are dramatically different from anything we have experienced before, are also dramatically different, they understand what is required to be done, are passionate about what is required to be done and have ideas about what is required to be done. Once prime appointments are settled, things will move. The issue of insecurity is being addressed, the war on corruption has started in various parastatals; the government is already very well on steam.
Are we going to see technocrats or politicians in the cabinet?
It will be a mixture of technocrats and politicians. There are politicians who are technocrats, we seem to forget that, but it will be a fair mix.
The leadership of the party is yet to the come to the reality of the emergence of Senator Saraki and Hon. Dogara. How long will it take to come to the reality and stay with the fact?
I think the reality is there. I don’t think there is any leader who doesn’t realize that Hon. Dogara and Senate President Saraki are a reality and facts of life, but there is also no leader in the party that doesn’t recognize that this went against the basic position of the party and that has created problems.
The issues border on discipline, supremacy of the party and the rest of it. We are hammering on indiscipline and, at the same time, creating an environment that everybody within the party will find comfortable to work with. I hope, by the end of this last week, we would have arrived at some workable arrangements to put these issues behind us, but it has attracted this attention because, so to speak, it was the only subject in town. Now there are other issues that are beginning to engage the media and we will get a little bit less attention to what is going on in the National Assembly.
Lack of appointments for the South-East and South-South
Why does the public think that if you appoint three people it must be balanced when, in fact you are just at the elementary stage of appointments? They should hold their breath for a little time to come. The ministerial list has not come, the chairmanship of boards has not come, there are so many first rate appointments that are still coming down the line, the ones that has happened are more or less specialized, they are more or less appointments that have some degree of severity governance around them. If you talk about the security agencies, you must pay due attention to the requirement of this time, the reality of the security situation in the country.
So it is unfair to make three appointments, everybody expects to see one from A, one from B, one from C; no, it is the total package. It is when the total package is presented that you will now start looking at who is in what ministry, the status of the ministry and the caliber of the ministry. It is then you can really now make a fair assessment. It is still too early and the appointments we have made now are too specialized for us to jump to that kind of conclusion.
Talk about Nigeria going into dictatorship/strangulating PDP
Well, I will need to see one example. We don’t have time for them (PDP) yet, all that we are doing today is to put ourselves on the ground, put the government in place so that we can start responding to the yearnings of the Nigerian people. PDP hasn’t put itself together yet, so they are no source of concern to anybody. I don’t know what they have to cite to substantiate that issue and I can’t think of any.