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Friday, 16 September 2016

Underestimate Buhari At Your Own Peril – Ojudu

Image result for Senator Babafemi Ojudu,
Senator Babafemi Ojudu, Political Adviser to President Buhari in this interview with Naij.com’s Michael Abimboye talks about the President’s political moves, 2019 election and efforts to resolve APC internal crisis.

What is your role as the political adviser to the President?
It is very clear. I help in gathering political intelligence, analyze and advise accordingly.
How does your experience as veteran and professional journalist affect your job as a political adviser?
I reported government and governance for 28 years. I had a masters degree in political science. I was an activist and a politician. I contested election and won and have a hands on knowledge of the intricacies of governance in Nigeria and elsewhere. I have been all over the country and also visited most parts of the world. I have read several biographies and autobiographies of great and not so great political personalities all over the world. I have
suffered and been punished severely for my convictions. I can beat my chest and say my life, my career prepared me for this job.


The president is not known for politicking. How do you help him manage his almost apolitical nature with his role as President?
It will be wrong to say that a man who has risen to the highest position in his country twice is not known for politicking. You underestimate President Buhari at your own peril.

There is a perception that times are hard in the country today, do you share this view and what is the president doing about it?
I do not only share it I feel it too. Same goes for the President, the Vice President and every member of this government. We are working very hard to solve the problems and when I say this I mean not just by scraping the surface but by finding enduring solutions.

There is a lot of crisis in your party across states and national level, what is the party leaders doing to resolve all these?
What you called crisis is not crisis as such but what you get when you have people who come from different political persuasions coming together to form a bigger party. It takes time to harmonize their positions and ideologies and come up with a singular vision and purpose. We are getting there and we shall get there.

As the political adviser to the President, are you proposing a political solution to the trial of Senate president Bukola Saraki?
You talked about trial. Trials are carried out by the judiciary. The judiciary is a separate organ of government. It is independent of the executive which I work for. It will therefore be difficult for me to be tinkering or suggesting how to tinker with the business of the judiciary.

As a veteran investigative journalist who loves to expose corrupt practices, what do you think of Hon. Jibrin’s budget padding allegation against the Speaker and three others?
It is an allegation as you have seen. It is left for the anti-graft agencies to carry out their investigation to find out if anyone has committed an offense or not.

But it appears the anti-graft agencies are extremely slow on the budget padding allegation, is the presidency seeking a soft landing and perhaps, a political solution for the speaker?
I believe the anti-graft agencies will carry out their duties as specified under the law.

As a former senator of the federal Republic what is your view about the budget padding rocking the House and can it be resolved?
It is not about resolution. An allegation has been made. Somebody has spilled the bean. It is now left for the investigators to carry on from there and I believe they are doing so.

During your tenure in the Senate, did you and your colleagues pad the budget?
I heard about it. I smelled it. Jibrin’s allegations if investigated and confirmed would have confirmed my hunch.

What is your view about the crisis rocking the opposition party PDP?
I hate morbid tasks. Talking about PDP is engaging in morbid activities.

Is the APC responsible as it is being said in some quarters considering the fact that the man at the centre of the crisis in PDP, Ali Modu Sheriff, was a key member of your party?
Sheriff left our party at a very critical time we thought we needed his support. We were betrayed by him. Some people colluded with him to do that believing that will bring about our death. We survived that. They took him and adopted him as the apple of their eyes just because they thought he had a pot of gold. Having taken all his money and they now decided to ditch him and he is fighting back they are thrown empty accusations at us . Let them leave us out of this . We do not belong to the mud.

Does the APC stand to benefit from the crisis in the PDP?
Not in any way. We would have loved to benefit from a robust opposition not the stench that its demise is spewing all over the place.

With current hardship in the land, will your party emerge victorious at the Edo and Ondo election?
We are working very hard and victory will be ours.

Given the current economic situation in the country, do you think APC has a chance in 2019?
Let’s wait till then. You don’t judge a man running a marathon by his take off.

What is President Buhari’s plan for the recommendations of the 2014 national confab, is he throwing it into the trash can?
I think the President himself has spoken out clearly and loudly about this. I can’t say it better than him.

Is restructuring the way forward for Nigeria?
Restructuring means many things to many people. Until I know what it means to you it may be difficult for me to know if it is going to mean the way forward or to perdition.