Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, former Deputy Governor of Lagos State is a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, she speaks on latest developments in the polity. Excerpts:
What was your reaction when you heard about the invasion of the residence of Supreme Court’s Justice Mary Odili few days ago?
I was greatly disturbed because it seems that there is a pattern with this APC government of trying to intimidate the judiciary by carrying out midnight raids on the residence of judges, claiming they find fantastic amount of money in their homes. It does not augur well for a democratic society when judges are subjected to such types of intimidation.
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) leadership is calling for an independent investigation into the matter but this has not gone down well with Abubakar Malami, the Minister of Justice who accused them of pursuing a personal agenda. What is your perspective on this?
Anything can happen in Nigeria today. And you can see that this is a government that cannot tell the people the truth about whatever happens in any case. This is a government of lies. Look at what happened at the Lekki Toll Gate and look at what has been unraveled in the report by the panel set up by the Lagos state government. So, we are in a very precarious situation in this country right now.
What are your expectations from the Lagos state government on the report of the #EndSARS panel report?
First of all, they should apologise to Nigerians and the families of those who were attacked, maimed and killed at the Lekki Toll gate. Also, they should compensate the families of the victims. I know money cannot possibly compensate these families that have lost their loved ones but at least, they should try and make amends by compensating them.
You campaigned for the PDP in the 2015 and 2019 presidential elections. Given the performance of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), can you say you have been justified?
Of course, we have been justified. Look at what is happening in the country today. Take the state of the Naira to the Dollar. Take the state of ordinary food items such as rice, beans, yam and other foodstuffs. Everything has more than tripled in price and it is beyond the reach of the common man. We cannot really know why this is happening, except maybe the President is just there to impoverish the populace.
With the PDP national chairmanship already in the North, how will you react to plans by the party to throw the presidential ticket open to all aspirants?
We have always had rotation between the North and South. In our party, we have always tried to make sure that all the six zones form part of the hierarchy of government. Therefore, I am looking forward to seeing some Southern people come out as presidential aspirants in our party. We still have a year and half to go before the election. So, let’s just wait and see.
Do you have anybody in the South that can win the presidency for PDP?
What makes you think that it is only the North that has presidential material? The north has been ruling us and it has been a disaster for this country. When we had occasions when Southerners were ruling us, the country was not in the parlous state. When Obasanjo was president, we saw improvements in many sectors. He even got us debt relief from the Paris Club. When Jonathan was there, the country was moving forward. People were coming in to invest in our country. However, as soon as this government came in with all sorts of policies, half of the investors who came into the country ran away. So, it just goes to show how badly we are being governed. They pretend that they are moving the country forward. All the rail lines they are commissioning were all dreamt of and planned by Jonathan. So, why will anybody say we don’t have presidential materials in the South? We have people in the South who can effectively pilot the affairs of this country and move it forward. What we have seen in the North is that they want to move us back to the Middle ages.
As one of the leading female politicians in Nigeria, can you say you are impressed with the way the men have been managing Nigeria’s affairs?
I am not impressed by the men at all. Most of them seems to be there to fill their pockets and not for the benefit of the country. I think if we have more females in government, the country will be in a different condition completely. I will say to the women and the youths ‘come out and vote’. I am pleased to see that in Ekiti state, so many women have come out to contest in the forthcoming governorship election. I think there are about nine women aspirants for the governorship in Ekiti state. I hope that we will see this in other states as well because you cannot have a country where half of the population is excluded from governance and expected that country to make meaningful progress.
The Lagos state congress of the PDP was aborted. What do you think was responsible for this?
Two things were responsible for the suspension of the congress. I think the people who came to conduct the election did not take cognizance of the advice that was given to them by the people on the ground. That was the first thing that happened. The second thing is that as a result of their not taking cognizance of the advice of the people on the ground, they allowed all sorts of people to gain access to the venue and that is what led to the abortion of the congress.
What is the way forward?
The way forward is that we will have another congress. We are awaiting for the new executives to take charge at the national level so that they can organise the congress.
As deputy governor, Nigerians are still interested in knowing why you fell out with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, then Lagos state governor which led to your resignation. Could you please shed more light on that?
I have stated this a lot of times. What happened then was that the governor was asking me to be disloyal to those who supported us to be governor and deputy governor. And I don’t think it would have been right for me to be disloyal and to try and hijack the party from the hands of the people who formed the party. After all, the governor was not around when we formed the party. The governor wanted us to take over the party from them and I refused. That was the main point of our disagreement
After you resigned, the person who succeeded you as deputy governor, that Tinubu himself chose, Femi Pedro also fell out with him. Do you think it is more of a personality issue?
I think if you know Tinubu, he seems to be somebody who is always having issues with various people. I think one of his problems is that he doesn’t like opposition. When I say opposition, I mean he doesn’t like people who deviate from his own views and agenda. Of course, if you are like that and you are not ready to listen to other people, thinking your view and whatever you do is the only thing that must be, then of course, you are bound to have problems.
Some people are calling on the Lagos State House of Assembly to revisit your case. What is your take on that?
I don’t know what they are going to revisit about my own case because I resigned. When the problems became too much, I was asked by my family to resign my appointment as the deputy governor of Lagos State. It wasn’t a case of being forced out of office.I wasn’t impeached. Femi Pedro unfortunately allowed himself to be impeached. So, I don’t see any need for why my case should be revisited.
Have you forgiven him over the manner he treated you as his deputy?
Of course, I have forgiven him. I am a Christian so I have to forgive. As I said at that time, I have left him to God.
As a Lagosian, I know you will be glad if a fellow Lagosian becomes Nigeria’s President. If Tinubu gets the ticket of APC and your party fields a northerner, will you put your differences aside and vote for him?
I am not in his party. So, I can’t vote for him. I will only vote for whoever emerges as the presidential candidate of my party.
Do you think deputy governors should be given more roles so they won’t be at the mercy of governors?
Yes, I believe deputy governors should be assigned constitutional roles because, that way, they would have their own portfolio and their roles would be clearly defined. What is happening is that because the role of the deputy governor is not clearly defined, a lot of governors may be because they have a complex of some sort don’t want their deputies to outshine them. They think that if their deputy has a role, they might be able to perform better than them. Therefore, they try and put them down.
Source:- Independent Ng