Femi Ikuomola, a former member of the House of Representatives and the newly elected chairman of the Accord Party (AP) in Lagos State, in this exclusive interview with Iniobong Iwok, speaks about the state of the party, its chances in the 2019 general elections, among sundry issues in the polity. Excerpts:
You have just resumed office as chairman of Accord Party in Lagos. What is the position of your party in the state?
We just had our state congress, where new officials were elected. Currently we are trying to harmonise the affairs in the party, speaking with members across board, and the people have agreed that we need to move forward. The Accord Party is on ground in each local government area in Lagos State. We are very strong in at least 16 local government areas of the state.
The party had a strong showing at the last local government elections in the state. It was the only party that could challenge the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Does that give you confidence?
Yes. We are on ground. The problem we have in Lagos State is that with the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC), there is no way we would have a credible election in the state. The election was not free and fair and our party was rigged out. In Lagos State, the governor has a hold on LASEIC. They say he who pays the piper dictates the tune. The party tried its best to challenge the result of that election in court, but it seems the court is still part of them.
But there is a report that some chieftains of your party are currently on the verge of defecting to another party. Is that so?
We are unaware of this defection, particularly that of Hon. Dauda Kakoare, the House of Representatives member in Lagos. We would talk to him. I don’t see why he should defect, but if any member feels he wants to leave, we would allow such individual to go. We have to tolerate each other, and I don’t think we should put personal interest above the unity of the party.
What are your immediate priorities?
My immediate goal is consultation among stakeholders in the party; that should be done within two weeks, and we would meet with all aggrieved members and prepare for the coming elections.
Is the Accord Party part of the current alliance by the opposition parties?
Well, such decision depends on the decision of the national leadership of the party, but what they said may not be binding on us here in the South-west; we may have our view and position on issues.
How strong is your membership drive?
We are embarking on strengthening our membership and we would try to rejuvenate the party. The party is still strong, we are the third force. I have enough experience in politics to be able to move the party forward.
What is your assessment of the Buhari-led administration?
I don’t think the present government is doing what is right. The people with President Muhammadu Buhari are only after what they would get, I mean his kitchen cabinet. Look at the former SSG, what has happened to him, including several other people in this government? What is happening now is worse than we had before. Yes, they may be doing their best in the anti-graft war, but it is one-sided, and they are only after the people who were in the Goodluck Jonathan administration. Godswill Akpabio defected to the APC because he was trying to avoid criminal arrest. Some people were promised something to defect also. These are the issues to me.
What is your view about the presidential election?
Unless something miraculous happens, I see a run-off, and it is time the election reordering controversy between the National Assembly and INEC is resolved. They are still arguing about it now, but I am sure there would be a run-off.
Would your party present a candidate in the general elections in Lagos or join an alliance?
We would challenge for positions. We have governorship candidates here in Lagos and all other positions. When the time comes, we would see and resolve things; we don’t want to announce it yet.
Do you think INEC can conduct credible elections in 2019?
INEC has no choice, the world would be watching. With all the things they are doing, there has to be an improvement from the last elections, but I doubt.
The commission recently registered more political parties. What is your view on that?
Most of the people who own the party are only trying to use the party to negotiate. A lot of what we have now are husband-and-wife parties; they don’t have structures. How many of them have offices here in Lagos? In the South-west here, the ADC and Accord Party would come together to fight for the survival of the South-west. In the North, Sule Lamido would be there; Arewa has not come out to say who they want to support.
Do you think the president would give up power if he loses the election?
The president does not have a choice than to give up power. The United States predicted that the country would collapse some years back, I hope this would not lead us to that. I think he has no choice than to give up power if he loses the election.
What is your assessment of Buhari’s policies?
What the government is doing is stampeding the people; it is not making any impact on the lives of the citizenry. What would people do with N10, 000? I would have thought they would provide infrastructure, create jobs, which would make people employed. What is the meaning of building houses that people cannot afford? They are not building educational institutions or health centres; we are not making any progress.
What is your assessment of the Akinwunmi Ambode led-administration in Lagos?
Is Ambode working? Look at the roads he is building; they are having two layers instead of eight layers. I am an engineer and I know. These are the issues. I would ask him when the time comes for us to meet. What is he doing with the funds?