The All Progressives Congress Chairman in Ekiti State, Paul Omotosho, tells ABIODUN NEJO that the party is not responsible for the postponement of elections
The PDP has said the postponement of elections was a ploy by your party to perfect your rigging plans. How true is this?
That is highly misplaced. In the APC, we are law-abiding. We were fully prepared for the elections before the postponement. We were not happy hearing from INEC that the elections were postponed. It betrays our confidence in the whole exercise. We never felt elections could be postponed at such a period.
Really, there is no problem postponing elections, if there are substantial, reasonable and meaningful reasons for doing so. In 2011 and 2015, elections were postponed. INEC is a constituted authority. It is an autonomous body saddled with the responsibility of elections. For INEC now to delay an election and people are now saying that it was because the APC is interested in the postponement, it is too bad. We can see that in about three states, INEC offices were burnt down. We are saying it is the handiwork of the PDP.
The APC is in government, we cannot subvert the government that we are operating. It is the PDP which knows that it cannot win the elections that is trying to truncate the entire process. That was what they had demonstrated before Friday. Their plan was to ensure the elections did not hold because they knew they could not win. How will they tell us that they are on the ground more than the APC? Is it their 16 years of ruin that will make Nigerians vote for them this time round? No. Under the PDP, everybody was in poverty, starvation, political stagnation! Are these what will prompt Nigerians to want to vote for them? It is when you are defeated that you begin to look for excuses.
With the postponement, is the APC not entertaining any fear?
No. We are prepared. The APC is an established party. The PDP has ruined Nigeria. Nobody is prepared for the PDP any longer. Let them go about with their propaganda. We know that we cannot just sit here and deceive ourselves. We know surely the APC is taking Nigeria to the next level. We are optimistic about winning the elections, so why must we entertain any fear. The postponement will be an advantage to us because of their nefarious plans that are already being exposed. To me, it is an advantage even though we did not expect it.
It has been said that the campaigns of your party have been full of attacks on the PDP and Atiku instead of focusing on issues…
Like the PDP is always discussing President Muhammadu Buhari? When you talk of issue-based campaigns, how do you talk about issues without talking about personalities behind the issues?. We are talking about revamping the economy. Why is the economy bad? If the previous administration had done very well, we would only have been consolidating what they had done. If we are talking of security, economy and employment, the PDP was there for 16 years.
Ordinarily, we believed that in four years, the PDP could have turned around the economy by making things good, but what we saw was a clear departure. They sustained themselves for 16 years manipulating elections. President Olusegun Obasanjo manipulated elections for eight years that he was there. Atiku was his deputy. They were doing it together.
So, there is no way we talk about what brought us into this present mess without talking about Atiku. It is not as if anybody is attacking the personality of Atiku. He was a principal player in the destruction of this country. So, how do we keep quiet when he says he wants to come back? He has not even started when he said he wanted to privatise the NNPC like they did in the past, running the whole country aground.
Why is your party being accused of intimidation and oppression by thePDP in Ekiti State?
The APC is different from them. For security issues, we have the police and the military, so when anybody perpetrates crime and such a person is apprehended, does it mean it was the APC that says he must be apprehended? If you are arrested without any crime, the court will set you free. If anybody is being arrested, let that person go and defend himself or herself in the law court. But the moment a criminal suspect is arrested during this time, that person will hinge it on the party in government. There was governorship election in this state some months ago, not even a single person was arrested and there was no single person that was molested. As far as Ekiti is concerned, we are prepared for this election under a free, fair and conducive atmosphere. Nobody is ready to intimidate anybody.
The opposition has attributed the recent attack in Omuo Ekiti to the divisions in the APC following post-primary crisis. Why has your party been unable to resolve the crisis?
What happened at Omuo Ekiti was that a PDP member, supported by some others, inflicted machete cuts on the head of an APC member. The facts are there. It is clear. The matter has been reported to the police. And on the post-primary crisis, some pockets of grievances are not uncommon, but all APC members are united. We have resolved all minor grievances within our party. The APC in Ekiti State is working as a collective body. So, if anybody is saying that APC is divided in Ekiti State, that person does not have his facts intact. For management of crises after the primaries, we have done our best; Mr Governor has done his best; the party has done its best. I disagree with anybody who says that our party is not one. The talk of division is an insinuation from the quarters of those being affected by our unity. The Ekiti APC is one formidable, united and purposeful family. We are fully prepared for these elections.
What are your expectations in the elections?
We are expecting nothing other than victory. Victory all through. We are going to win the elections hands down. You can see what the APC government being led by Dr Kayode Fayemi has been doing since it came on board. Fayemi has given car and housing loans to teachers. He has been paying workers’ salaries promptly. He has taken care of a month out of the backlog of salaries left behind by former Governor Ayodele Fayose. See what is going on in the area of education. He is working on the abandoned projects. He has given money to communities to go ahead with the completion of their projects. He is attending to every challenge that is being faced by this state. For instance in the area of security, you can see what he is doing, you can see there is peace in Ekiti State at the moment. The APC government in Ekiti State is doing what we voted it for through the governor. With all these, the APC expects votes. What we have in Ekiti State is positive.