I CAN WHIP IBB, JONATHAN, SAYS OKOTIE
Pastor of Household of God Church and Founder of Fresh Democratic Party, Reverend Chris Okotie has dismissed the chances of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in next year's general elections, saying PDP leadership has failed Nigerians woefully in the last 10 years.
Okotie's Fresh Democratic Party will be holding its convention today in Lagos.
In an interview with Daily Sun, the cleric turned politician advanced reasons why neither President Goodluck Jonathan nor General Ibrahim Babangida is fit for the nation's top job, asserting that none of them is needed by Nigeria at this time.
The former pop star said: 'The PDP has demonstrated itself as a party that is characterised by perfidy and mendacity.
There is no integrity, no moral perpendicularity that would constrain them to submit themselves to a code of conduct.' Okotie, who described his party as the most popular in the country, said he would easily defeat any other presidential aspirant in a free and fair contest.
His words: 'They know what Okotie represents. If you go on the street and you ask them, who would you like to be your president, they will say Okotie. But the next thing they will say is, but will they let him? That's what they will tell you.'
He also spoke on other issues.
Zoning, a PDP affair
I have said before that it is a PDP contraption and the reason why it has become a bone of contention is because the PDP has demonstrated itself as a party that is characterised by perfidy and mendacity. There is no integrity, no moral perpendicularity that would constrain them to submit themselves to a code of conduct. So today, there's zoning, tomorrow there's no zoning. And that's why there's confusion. But as far as I'm concerned, it's a PDP predicament and Nigerians should not be concerned with their problems.
The argument they put forward is that the former president had only spent one term since the presidency had been zoned to the North, and that ordinarily, it should be two terms for the North. If that's the argument, then they have a point. But like I said, that's a PDP situation. It doesn't concern Nigerians. What we want is credible leadership, transparent leadership. And it doesn't have to be provided by PDP because PDP has failed Nigerians.
War of words between PDP presidential aspirants
I think it shows what the PDP is made of. I think it demonstrates to Nigerians the inability of that party to exercise the cohesion that is needful to preserve an ideological base. And because PDP has no ideological base, that is why we are seeing this fragmentation, polarised along geo-political divides. So I think that it's a clear indication to Nigerians that PDP has lost direction and must not be considered at all in the next elections.
No, I didn't listen to the speech. We were pre-occupied with more nationalistic issues. But the president has never been someone that I consider to have oratorical skills. I do not think that he's somebody that has been associated with eloquence and elocution, so I wouldn't have listened to him expecting to hear any profound statement that conveys a certain depth. But I respect him as the president and I respect him as a kinsman. He's from my region. But I believe firmly that he's not the right one for Nigeria at this time.
Between Jonathan and Obama
Excuse my laughter, but I think that is the climax of absurdity. It is ludicrous. The preponderance of this so-called support that you see here is all orchestrated. There is a Latinistic phraseology that describes that. It is called grex venalium. It's called a venal throng, a crowd that is bought. A rented crowd. When you see them mouthing slogans of partisan jingoism, you know that they are rented. Because there's nothing in the history or in the pedigree or antecedent of President Jonathan, with all due respect, that can calibrate his position with that of Obama. There is absolutely nothing he has done throughout the almost 10 years of his political career. So there's nothing in his political career so far that will equate him with the likes of Obama. I think that whoever makes that kind of assertion is seeking to embrace an illusive phantom.
Why opposition parties keep losing elections
I think the most important thing that we must recognize is that we've not had credible elections. And once you do not have credible elections, there's no yardstick to measure the popularity of any political party. Because the power of incumbency has continued to perpetuate PDP in the position of authority based on their ability to rig in broad daylight and to do it with impunity.
So nobody who is logical in their thinking can assert that the popularity of the other political parties has been tested. But as for parties coming together just to wrest power from the PDP, parties would only come together if they have kindred ideology, if they believe in the same things and their goals intersect. But outside of that, we can't just come together and say well, we have a common enemy in PDP and therefore, even though we have antithetical political philosophies, we must amalgamate.
I think it defeats the whole concept of democracy. PDP is a failure. It's a huge failure and they are responsible for what is going on in Nigeria today. The bad roads, no electricity, kidnapping, which shows little or no value for life, and the level of insecurity in the nation. These are the things that determine whether a government should be allowed a second chance or not. And the indicators clearly show that the PDP has lost complete control of governance.
INEC and government
My problem has never been INEC. It's the interference with INEC. Government continues to interfere. Professor Maurice Iwu did a good job. And it wasn't his fault. It's the interference of government that has made it impossible for INEC to conduct its responsibility. And it's the same thing if they interfere with this newly constituted INEC. Professor Jega can do everything he wants to do but at the end of the day he may not succeed.
INEC can stop government from interfering. Yes they can. And in a very small way because of the fact that the enabling statute gives them the power to do what they do. What they can do is to ventilate their fears, and wherever there is a deference, they must shout on the rooftop. But the PDP is like a deaf adder; no amount of charming can change its course. Except there is divine intervention, we'll be back to square one. But I believe God will do what he has promised.
Running mate? Not an option.
Can I be running mate to somebody? No. It's not an option. If it were, I would have done so. Because I believe that the generation that will save Nigeria is my generation. I believe that the present generation is geriatric in its thinking. It's retrogressive in its operation. It's incapacitated ab initio because of its alliances and associations, particularly in the PDP and therefore cannot take Nigeria, realistically, beyond where Nigeria is today.
Must it be the presidency?
Not even the Senate?
Not at all. You will not bring change and the kind of change that is needful in Nigeria today if you are not an executive president.
How hopeful are you this time?
I'm a man of faith, and faith is now. It's the same enthusiasm with which I contested in 2003 that I carried into 2007 and it's here today. I will continue to run for that office until I succeed because Nigeria is worth fighting for.
Do you think you'll succeed someday?
Definitely. Absolutely. For how long will these old politicians be around? For how long will a political aberration like the PDP exist? It will soon be dismantled. And we know that for sure. Their days are numbered.
When is your party's convention taking place?
It will take place on Thursday, September 30 (today) at the Planet One, and we look forward to that.
Any other presidential candidates?
It's up to them. The party will determine that. If you are interested you can indicate your interest and follow procedure.
Have you chosen your running mate?
Is the party running for all positions?
We are and it's dependent on those who wish to run for positions. We cannot prevail on anyone to take that responsibility, it's up to them. The platform is available if they so desire.
How popular is the party?
I think we are probably the most popular party in the country today. And when I say that, people say, well, you haven't won elections. And I say because there haven't been elections. Nigerians despise the PDP and that's the truth. Because of what the PDP has done to the Nigerian people. And they are powerless to do anything.
They thought that the democratic process would enable them choose their leaders, but the process was hijacked from the very beginning by the PDP. They thought that through protestations, they would ventilate their grievances, but even in that, they were denied. They are helpless. That is why the only one who can sustain Nigeria today and that can help the people is the Almighty God. So we know that God has heard the cry of the poor, of the oppressed, of the incarcerated, of the marginalized and he has sent deliverance. That is why I'm here.
People like Ribadu, Dele Momodu and co also want to contest. Why don't you align with them?
There's logic in that thinking, but the question is, are we ideologically compatible? That is the issue. It's not the question of getting to the presidency at all costs. It's the understanding that the road to Aso Rock must be paved with kindred ideological compatibility. And if we are ideologically compatible, then we've scaled the first hurdle. Then next, we'll have to decide, negotiate instrumentality.
Who is the person to represent us? As far as I'm concerned, I represent a philosophy that I consider to be the only viable option for Nigeria. And the tenacity, the resilience with which I've pursued this goal is indicative of my seriousness. As far as I'm concerned, I have paid my dues. I think if we have a level playing field, then these men that you have mentioned can come before the Nigerian people and pontificate political solutions to our nation. I respect each one of them, but it will come down to the point that we will all have to come before the Nigerian people to verify the impetus that drives us to this goal. So, anyone, including those in the PDP and whichever political party, they can come up and we can discuss the issue.
Will Muslims be comfortable with you?
Oh, they will be more comfortable with a minister than a hypocritical, sycophantic politician who claims to be a Christian and acts otherwise. Christianity is a relationship with God that man can trust. Because if you are a true Christian, you'll respect the law. You'll respect others. You'll value life. You'll wish people well. You'll be more sacrificial. You won't be self-centred.
You'll be compassionate. You'll desire progress for other people. That is what makes Jesus Christ the messiah. So a true Christian will be more acceptable in any society than some pretentious leader who claims to fear God but yet, he epitomises satanic values. So, I think that the politics of ethnicity and religion will not stand this time. Go to the North and ask them what their leaders have done for them. If they tell you that their leaders have done well for them while they were in power, fine. But I do not think that many will say that to you. Because the problems we have today is universal.
People say you never campaign
We do. But people don't vote for you because of campaign. If you are voted for because of campaign, then there is no ideology. The truth of the matter is that people know what you represent by what you have said, and the examples that you have shown, and the philosophies that you have pursued. They know what Okotie represents. If you go on the street and you ask them, who would you like to be your president, they will say Okotie. But the next thing they will say is, but will they let him? That's what they will tell you.
When they did the polls here in Lagos, I won by a very wide margin. But when we went to the elections, compared to the results that they published, it's laughable. All I'm saying here is, go to the east, west north and south, they know Okotie. I've never been in government, yet people know me. For most of these politicians, the only time people talk about them is when they are in the seat of authority.
Once they get out of that they become totally unknown. Their memories fade. It's because they have nothing to offer our people. But Okotie, I've been in the public for 30 years of my life. And I've never held public life. So people know when they see that which is authentic. And Okotie is authentic.
You were always against Obasanjo, but these days, you are always praising him
But Obasanjo is the greatest leader this nation has ever had, and that is the absolute truth.
But you never said that before
I did. I have always maintained that he is the most courageous leader this nation has ever had, and that the only reason Nigeria is where it is today is that the PDP as a party stood against the lofty ideals that he had for Nigeria.
Obasanjo was the leader of the PDP
That is what I'm telling you. That is why I'm saying that President Goodluck Jonathan has no hope. Because if a great personage like President Olusegun Obasanjo couldn't even carry his programmes to their logical conclusion, what hope does President Goodluck Jonathan have? The PDP is a conglomerate, it's like an octopus. There are so many interest groups within that party and it took the strength of a man like Obasanjo to hold that party together for as long as it was there.
Obasanjo is seen as Jonathan's godfather
I know that definitely he's an ally of Jonathan because it was through his benevolence and his beneficence that Jonathan got to where he is today. So if he gravitates towards that direction it would be a natural propensity. But supporting somebody is not the same thing as being in charge. I know that if we were talking about Obasanjo it would be a totally different matter. But talking about somebody like President Goodluck Jonathan in the context of a 21st century Nigeria, with the myriads of problems that confront the nation today will be the greatest error, the biggest mistake this nation will ever make.
I've often said that IBB is the quintessential political art master. He maintains a certain fluidity that has kept him in that position of political reverence for these many years. If you underestimate him, you'll be rehearsing your political dirge. And politically, it's a plus. But he has suffered certain political misadventures in the past, and that is why we are even talking about him. If it were not so, you can't even compare Babangida to Jonathan. There's no basis of comparison. I mean, you have to give honour to whom honour is due. That's the truth. But if you ask me, should IBB be president, my answer is no. Because he represents a generation that is the past. I represent a generation that is the future.
I do not know much about him. Because at the time that he was there, it was a corporate entity that we saw, you know, the Buhari/Idiagbon coalition. And they were not there long enough to establish, in the minds of Nigerians, the possibility of a renaissance for our nation. But the only two that you can consider in the PDP will be Jonathan and IBB.
I think that because of the fact that Vice President Atiku Abubakar was subordinate to Obasanjo and the events that transpired just before the last elections have made it more difficult for him.
Some clerics have prophesied doom for Nigeria next year. What's your take on such prophecies?
But it is the truth. If the PDP insists that they must retain power, then they will push us beyond the edge of the precipice. They will precipitate a situation in this country that will be beyond their control. The only way that there will be peace is that there must be free and fair elections. And where the PDP cannot guarantee that, then an interim government must be put in place.
You can see the confusion that is already there with Professor Jega asking for extra time. They knew from the very beginning that this was not going to work. But characteristic PDP shenanigan calculation was that they would create this confusion. And seeing that whatever position they had in their permutation is definitely not likely to occur, so now they are going to go to the National Assembly to amend the constitution which could have been done from the very beginning.
That is why I'm telling you that these people don't mean well for the nation. So if it's going to take an eruption or violence or whatever it is that is going to happen to bring sanity back to Nigeria, so be it. My position is that it can be averted. We don't have to go the path of hostility. But if they insist, then there is judgement coming from Almighty God and it will be worse than anything that they've envisaged.