Funsho Ologunde is not a new name in the politics of Lagos State, especially among stakeholders in the All Progressives Congress (APC). He is currently the Vice Chairman, Southwest of the APC in Lagos State, in this interview Ologunde speaks on the last general election, the performance of the APC, especially in Lagos State, the performance of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), among other issues. PATRICK OKOHUE reports.
The APC in the last election, unlike in 2015 won almost all elective positions in Lagos State, how was this achieved?
We did not win everything. We won most of the positions and lost some; but not many positions were lost, which was a significant improvement on our performance in the 2015 general elections.
The 2015 election was not a reflection of our performance; all those places that we lost it was because of the dollars distributed by PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) in their crazy bid to win Lagos State at all cost.
But we sat down and realised the mistake and this time around we were able to overhaul our machinery which make us to string back.
However, we are not there yet, in subsequent elections, we would establish the dominance of APC, for the governorship election we could have done more.
In the governorship election in 2015, we defeated the PDP with about 100,000 votes, but this time we had 500,000 votes’ differences.
Before the election you would realise that the PDP never mounted any podium to campaign, which indicated that they didn’t have confidence in themselves; they had planned to rig massively, unfortunately for them it was neutralised this time around.
Their plans to rig collapsed like a pack of cards; they depended too much on rigging that they never bothered to mount a table to tell Lagosian what they were going to do.
But some opposition parties have accused the APC of colluding with INEC to manipulate the 2019 election in the state, some of the governorship candidates are in tribunal now?
Well that is the imagination of a loser. I said earlier, that parties did not go out to campaign, they hoped on rigging because they had been assured by their god -father outside the state that they would do it for them.
So how could they have won the election? That was failure. You said they are in the tribunal; let them go, who was it that sang the song that the harder they go they will continue to fail; the tribunal intrigues will fail like a pack of cards before the eyes of all Lagosians.
The election was free and fair, is it because they were not able to smuggle thumb-printer ballot paper?
But there were allegations of violence against non-Yoruba’s in some part of the state.
That is not true; because as an officer of the APC in Lagos State there was no such plan, or an order to some people to do that.
Those places you talked about are my constituency over which I have responsibility; there was never a time the party programmes anybody to go out and cause violence, never.
If some people misbehaved and some people reacted they should not blame it on anybody.
You were here during the campaigns and after the campaign, the Ohaneze sent messages to South-easterners residing in Lagos State, about who they should vote for in the election.
If all those things, happened and our people kept quiet, believing and trusting God for the good things the APC can do in Lagos State should anybody now turn around and blame the APC.
It was even the reverse, when a tenant enters the house of a landlord and begins to challenge the landlord and start to prove equality it is palaver that is coming.
What happened in the supplementary election in Ajeromi Ifelodun federal constituency of the state?
That is another story, in 2015, Rita did not win by popular votes it was rigged, the first part of 2019 elections in Ajeromi-Ifelodun where she had 3,000 majority votes it was through the influence of name dropping and the use of imported fake military men, DSS and fake Police officers, that she imported.
The people were going round intimidating voters; because she knew that she could not win comfortably if the election was allowed to hold peacefully.
She also planned with her supporters to cause violence in a key section in the constituency where her opponent from the APC was popular, while she allowed peaceful election to hold where her stronghold was.
She disrupted elections were it is not her stronghold; and she thought she could influence INEC to cancel elections result in those areas and declare her winner.
The party protested to INEC and we were able to convince INEC to see reason with us, so she went to court, and the court said no INEC was in charge of that election, INEC should declare the result and go ahead and hold rerun election.
In the course of the election, some of her supporters were driving around in a Siena bus, as they approaches a Police check point they felt they would be caught and they all ran out of the car.
When the police searched the vehicle, they saw 5 long range guns, it was an unmarked vehicle, an unregistered Siena bus.
She knew she won the election fraudulently in 2015, and the APC also had put their house in order; the people are no more ready for her money, the money even no more coming freely.
The APC know who often give the money out, that person is tired of bankrolling violence and election in Lagos.
So you are saying APC won?
Yes the party won. The same day there was also a by-election for the state Assembly position for Surulere, the APC won that place too.
The PDP were unable to raise anything or protest because it was obvious they could not even come out and mobilise their supporters to vote, was it the APC that locked them at home?
They could not come out, whoever is complaining that the election was not free and fair is not sincere.
What is your assessment of the performance of INEC in the general election across the country?
INEC tried their best across the country; I recollect how INEC was sabotaged in the first election to the extent that the election had to be postponed.
The postponement was imposed on INEC because the big time politicians in Nigeria did not want the presidential and National Assembly election to hold in one day, they were not ready even with the postponement, they could not sort it out, but Nigerians voted who they wanted.
You remember before the election a former president who said that the election was bad, later changed his mind that it was the candidate that was bad; does it mean the other candidate is the one that is now good.
Why did the Card Reader fail? Why did they have to revalidate the Card Reader to work properly?
The logistic challenges faced by INEC were not all their making; there were evil men that were out to disrupt the election, they did not want the election to hold, even during the election they instigated violence across the country after the election of the President,
they had planned to cause violence and show the international community that the election was not free and fair, they said Buhari was not popular they said APC was bad.
They are not sincere, inspite of negative campaign for Buhari Nigerians still voted for Buhari.
In 2015 Buhari won by 1.5 million votes, this time, he won by more than 4 million votes, now they are still crying that Buhari is not popular and APC is not popular they have to sit down.
Don’t you think the signing of the Amended Electoral Law would have eliminated some of these bottlenecks?
Despite that the President refused to sign that law that was amended by the lawmakers mischievously was there any state that the Card Reader was not used? I have not seen any report that says that.
Some political observers were surprised with the number of votes the President Buhari got in some Northern states, compare to Lagsos, and the number of voters?
Yes Lagosians appears to be the most educated in terms of the concentration of citizen in Nigerians, but it appears, the more educated the less likelihood of them voting.
So you cannot blame the people if Lagosians did not come out, it is not the fault of the people who are not educated in the North, if you are educated and you refuse to exercise your right to vote then you don’t care who governs you.
We have more than 5 million voters in Lagos State, but they did not come out, there was no restriction, even with all our campaigns in Lagos State people did not come out to vote, who is to blame?
How do you react to the comment by an Afenifere chieftain, who said he would not recognise President Buhari beyond May 29?
Chief Ayo Adebanjo is just one person, he has never contested election for any position in his life. One of the oldest men we have in this country, but he is a specialist together with Afenifere in criticising and destroying.
We know the role Afenifere played in the 2019 election, by making this point, what does he want to do now? Is he going to pack his things and leave Nigeria?
I am sorry to say, that is the view of a frustrated elder citizen who is so disappointed that his negative wishes for the country was not actualised.
But Afenifere leaders have always said their only problem against Buhari is his opposition to restructuring of the country, and that they are supporting Atiku because of his support for restructuring?
Because Afenifere always give a reason to behave the way they behave. You remember Afenifere moving from the South West to the South Est to engage Ohanaeze, they engaged the Middle-belt Forum, and also moved to the North to engage Arewa to join them to build a Fabre of destruction for the country, but it is unfair.
I don’t see them as good, the way they behave during the period of the election. All the leaders of Afenifere, this is the kind of attitude they put up that makes the young ones like us say that Afenifere does not represent the interest of Yourba’s.
You can see the way Ohanaeze stood in the just concluded election, they did not want Buhari to win the presidential election, but the South West came out to say no.
What areas do you think President Buhari should give priority in his second term?
President Buhari should give priority to the anti-graft war, he should step it up. The economy, security and agriculture, education, job creation.
I think the four point which the President used to campaign in 2015 is still relevant; is not as if he is not working, just that the more he works the more those areas are exposed.
Does it mean the APC does not believe in the on-going agitation for restructuring?
Look the people who believe we need restructuring are people who sleep and work. I remember at independence we had three regions; the North, South and Eastern region.
Restructuring started after the war, we had region later Lagos was removed from Western region.
Gowon enacted a decree and dissolved the region and created 12 states so from three region, we had twelve states. Later it was eighteen states, twenty, states, twenty- four , thirty to the present thirty- six states that we have now, plus the federal capital territory.
What can kind of restructuring can be more pragmatic? The Federal Government also created the local government areas, and today we have 774 LGA’s, and before Abacha died we had geo-political zones created, this are all evidence of restructuring that is on-going.
But the APC promised Nigerians restructuring?
APC did not promised restructuring, even when Jonathan assembled people to write the constitution for the country, APC opted out because we told them as a policy that nothing good would come out of it and it has come to pass.
I know that APC said that restructuring should be on-going, until it continues to be better and better, today, we say we are moving to the next level.
Before the election you would realise that the PDP never mounted any podium to campaign, which indicated that they didn’t have confidence in themselves; they had planned to rig massively, unfortunately for them it was neutralised this time around. Their plans to rig collapsed like a pack of cards; they depended too much on rigging that they never bothered to mount a table to tell Lagosian what they were going to do.