Legal practitioner and national chairman, Labour Party (LP), Julius Abure, in this interview with some journalists, including OLAYINKA OLUKOYA, spoke on the preparedness of the party ahead of the 2023 elections, state of the nation among others issues.
What is your view about rotational Presidency?
I think that in the principle of equity and justice, it will be fair for us to actually rotate the Presidency because you can have a situation where a section of the country may have the highest number and if you don’t have rotational Presidency, it may result into a situation where one section of the country may just be producing the President. So, I subscribe to the view that we should, even if it is not a matter of law, but as a matter of principle, we should be able to rotate the Presidency.
Specifically, do you think the next president should come from the South-East?
As a party leader, as we stand, the party, Labour Party is yet to take a decision on that. It will be incongruous of me at this level to now be making such a pronouncement, it will be out of place at this stage to make such a policy statement without wide consultation. As we speak, we have aspirants from the North, aspirants from the South-East, and aspirants from the South-West and so on and therefore, as a National Chairman of the party, you will agree with me that, I will be doing incalculable damage to the party if I stand before you to say that, this is the position of the party. For me to make such pronouncement, I need to consult widely, it will not be my decision alone, it has to be a decision that the party should take. As we speak today, the party has not taken a decision on that and I think it will not be fair for me to be commenting on what the party has not decided.
Some people are of the opinion that youths have failed the nation, but the Labour Party is picking a youth to vie for the position of governorship seat in Anambra. What informed this decision?
I do not subscribe to the position that youths have failed woefully. Youths have never been given the opportunity to express themselves. For God’s sake, the names that we have been hearing since independence are the names we are hearing now. The names that we have been hearing since the 70s are still the names we are hearing now. It is still those names that continued to dominate the political space as we speak today, while those people who were either military administrators who sabotage democracy are still the names we are hearing today. So, the people who have asserted that the youths have failed the country have no basis for that argument. Name the youth that have been given the opportunity in this dispensation that have not performed exceedingly well? They have not been given the opportunity and I subscribed to the fact that there should be a paradigm shift from what we used to have and this was what informed the picking of our candidate in Anambra State. We have made it very clear that there is going to be a paradigm shift in our approach in Labour Party and we have demonstrated it in the choice of our candidate in Anambra State and the people of Anambra State overwhelmingly supported us, the party members believed in it.
What is the view of Labour Party as regards decentralisation of government, especially giving power to the local government?
If you have followed Labour Party position, we have a clear cut position as per local government autonomy. We believe that local government should not just have political autonomy, there should also be financial autonomy. We believe that local government should be able to generate their funds, funds accrue to local government should be given to them and we believe that State Governors should not have absolute control over the affairs of local government and that is why we have advocated that there should be abolition of State Independent Electoral Commissions that is giving the powers, the leeway to Governors to control local government councils. We also believed too that the legislative councils should make laws for the good governance of local government councils and not a situation now where the State Houses of Assembly are the ones making rules for the local government councils.
If you have to advise President Muhammadu Buhari on the state of affairs in the country, especially on security and economy, what would be recommendations?
I have not made pretences in stating clearly that President Muhammadu Buhari needs to rise to the occasion as the President and Commander in Chief of Nigeria, to deal with the issue of insecurity in Nigeria. As we speak today, the economy is in comatose, businesses are closing down, and people can no longer go to farms, the agricultural sector is in comatose, even the educational sector in the North is almost destroyed. You will agree with me that the level of out of school children in the North is higher and today, the level at which they kidnap children from their schools has destroyed education completely in the Northern part of the country. So the security situation in the country has destroyed every fabric of our lives, the economy, political, sociocultural, just name it. I run businesses and my businesses have not fared well because of the level of insecurity, the transportation sector is grounded completely, people no longer travel by roads, people cannot travel because when they travel, it is either they are kidnapped or ransom is demanded and so on. My appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari is that he should put tribal and religious affinity aside and become a patriot that we have known him to be over the years and defend the country. The corporate existence of the country is seriously being threatened and my advice to him is that he must rise to the occasion as the Commander in Chief and deal with the issue of security decisively. I also believe that we need to decentralise our police force; the current central police we have failed woefully, the structure of the police that we have today was what was given to us by the colonial masters and we have retained that and Nigeria population has risen from one level to the other. We have also grown economically, we have grown technologically and crime has also grown and therefore, we need a more advanced system to be able to deal with the emerging situation of crime and criminality in Nigeria and I believe very strongly that one centrally controlled police cannot deal with these issues.
Thirdly, we must deploy technology in dealing with the current security situation that we have found ourselves in the country. We must employ technology and this is why I said that the country has not grown, we must use infrastructure to deal with the issue of insecurity in the country. For example, in some capital cities of some States, some streets are unknown, some streets are without street lights and so when there is a criminal activity somewhere, it becomes difficult to even track the down. We don’t even have data, we don’t have biometrics of some people who in a place and therefore, there are a lot of initiatives that I think the government can put in place and it is not difficult to do, INEC as we speak has registered over 80 million registered voters if we can even start our biometrics from there, if we can start thumb printing people from there, it will go a long way in fighting this issue of insecurity. Even the telecommunication companies if we seek their support in terms of using technology to deal issues of crime and criminality that we have in the country we would have gone a long. I believe very strongly that our government is paying lip service to the issue of security.
There is a move by the Federal Government to revive grazing routes in some states. As a stakeholder in the Nigerian project, what advice will you give to the government?
The truth of the matter is that, I believe that we should advance. I believe that we should grow beyond the level we are discussing, this is 21st century for God’s sake and there are modern methods of animal husbandry and therefore, thinking of creating open grazing at this level of our development, I think is backward, so my advice is that the Federal government should jettison that idea and come out with policies that will encourage ranching, where those who are in the business of rearing cattle should be able to acquire lands, use modern methods to rear their cows and that is why I have said that our current government pay lip service to issues of development and issues of security. At this level that we are in the 21st century, it is backwardness for us to be thinking of introducing open grazing, it is laughable and I think that we should grow beyond that level. We should be thinking of using a more civilised method of doing our businesses. That move is unnecessary, it is old, it is archaic and we should disregard it.
What is the view of your party in the trend in making governors the leaders of parties in their states?
In the good old days when the parties were supreme, in the days of S. L. Akintola, Obafemi Awolowo and the rest of them, party supremacy held sway because the party leadership was supreme to executive positions. One can conclude that if you subsumed the positions together, then you have a situation where you will never have supremacy of parties and that is why we even have crisis in our political system because parties cannot call their governors to order; they cannot call the president to order. So, for Labour Party, we believe that the party is supreme. In fact, it is even a constitutional matter, a constitutional provision in most of the parties’ constitutions that the party and its constitution is supreme.
Apart from Anambra State, elections in the country have been either way; if it’s not PDP, it will be APC and some people have canvassed that Nigeria should embrace either a two-or-three-party system. Do you subscribe to that?
The constitution is clear because I believe in the principles of the constitution. We operate a multiparty democracy and Awolowo said that the soul of democracy is multiparty system. I want to believe that for a country of over 180 million people, three, two, four or five parties will not be able to meet the yearnings and aspirants of the people. It is because we have so conscripted our system to a centralised system that is making us to look at it as if a multiparty system is not working. You will agree that the system that we operate in Nigeria is not a federal system; what we have is similar to a unitary system of government. If for God’s sake as a political party, I’m interested in controlling and providing for my ward, should I not have the privilege of doing that? If I have the capacity to produce a local government chairman and provide for the local government and make the local government a model and that is my vision as a political party, should I not have the privilege of doing that?
Does the Labour Party have the strength in number to dislodge the almighty All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA)?
The obvious truth is that APGA that you mentioned and other political parties have lost touch with the people. What you see is that they are living in their past glories, the abysmal performance of the government of APGA have made them to lose touch with the people and therefore, the people are tired of poor infrastructure; the people are tired of godfatherism; the people are tired of lack of provision of healthcare facilities and so on. And therefore, the people are determined to make a difference, to make a change and if you have been following our rallies, if you have been following our campaigns, you can see that crowd that we have pulled in Anambra State is mammoth and it is a clear statement to the fact that the people of Anambra State have come to accept Labour Party as the alternative in Anambra State and therefore, in terms of the structure, in terms of the number, it is the people that will decide, power resides with the people and therefore, we have the number, we have the structure and strength, we have the capacity to be able to dislodge any other political party in Anambra State.The people of Anambra have decided to change APGA for Labour Party and I can assure you that come November 6th, we are good to go I’m Anambra State and we are going to make the difference in Anambra State. So, in terms of the number, in terms of the figure, in terms of the structure, we are fine, we have no fear about that at all.
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