Moshood Salvador, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State is also a former chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state. In this exclusive interview with INIOBONG IWOK, he spoke on the just concluded general elections, the call for restructuring, state of the PDP in Lagos, among other issues in the polity. Excerpts:
The PDP in Lagos State performed poorly in the just concluded general elections; looking back are you happy you took a right decision to defect to the APC?
It would have been the best election for PDP in Lagos State to shine, but unfortunately, they did not. Recently, I was watching an interview on TV and the politician being interviewed said, United Arab Emirate is a desert, yet it is the quality of leadership that has taken them this far. If the PDP had good leadership in the 16 years it ruled the country, we would not have been where we are now.
I told you before the election that I will make Lagos State a one party state and you can now see that promise has been accomplished.
In the 2015 general elections, the PDP and APC had 96 percent of the total votes cast in Lagos State; it was like two of them sharing the votes and the other parties were just there.
Before this election, we had a lot of PDP agents moving into APC because of the behaviour of the leadership of that party; they often think they are bigger than what they are. That is the problem PDP had, if people are moving en-masse into APC like that, there would be nothing left for them again. So what do you expect? That is what I analysed and predicted before the election and that is what we saw. So, there was nobody left again in the PDP in Lagos State because of these defections. In the last election, the difference between the two parties in Lagos was just 100,000 but in this election it was a landslide.
Three, four days before the election, we saw how PDP was moving into APC, they were coming to me and we organised their defection at the APC secretariat at ACME road.
This people included their party agents.
Now that the election has been won, the best thing is to advise APC not to abuse the opportunity; they should protect the opportunity and make it a permanent situation.
Were this agents’ defection done to purposely sabotage Agbaje as an individual or the PDP as a party?
I told you that most of the agents were the agents I organised for PDP for the general elections, and it was not a surprise that they left and they lost that way.
Would the PDP have done better in Lagos State if you had not defected?
I can assure you it will not have happened like this if I was in PDP. APC would not have found it so easy. They found it so easy when the main commander was not in APC. I had my strategy to defeat APC in Lagos State but it was obstructed by Olabode George by lying against me.
A chieftain of the party admitted in an interview with me recently that some leaders worked against Agbaje?
When mature and elderly person like them in the party are talking like that, such is an empty talk. He should talk about the interest of the party rather than talking about individual. It is not about what happened to him, it is about Agbaje, they know what plan they had and made against Agbaje, but all of them are going to suffer for it.
What happened to PDP in Lagos State is because they have terrible elders in that party; they should give the youth a chance to move that party ahead.
Buhari won a second term; you where one of his campaign directors in Lagos State; what do you think should be his immediate task?
Buhari is now a seasoned politician. People often call him a military man, and it is a lie. He knows where the success he had came from and that is why you can see him coming to Lagos and the South-western states to commission projects.
Buhari knows he has done well; that is why you see him coming. In the next four years, he has to focus on the economy; if you say you want to have good health, its means you have to eat good food. You have to exercise; and so if you talk of economy we are talking of power and industry and so many other things that go along with economic development in a nation.
Every time you see the man talking, he talks about security and you know that if you want economic success, you have to provide security. There is no rich man in the world that does not provide extra security in his domain not to talk of his country; because the people that would aid the success of your country would not be able to come if there is no security. So, it goes hand in hand. The issue of security must be taken seriously.
What is your assessment of the conduct of the presidential election; was it free and fair?
Good; very free and fair. I gave you the analyses of the election, how it would be won and lost weeks before it commenced. I am not just talking; I have an MSc in Political Science and I told you what would happen, the whole thing happened and manifested itself just like I predicted. I was talking to you with figures of registered voters in the whole country and I told you the number of registered voters in Lagos and Ogun states; upon all that they did, the APC still won in that state; that is to tell you the popularity of APC in Ogun State.
But Atiku disputed the result of the presidential election; he said he won with the result on INEC server?
Who gave him the server result? They are controversial people; where there is no trouble they would create one and they have just created one, controversy is not what anybody can take to court and win. If he does not go to court his followers would say he has accepted the result of the election and did not challenge it and he accepted it so easily. So, going to court for him as a leader is necessary. Buhari would win at the tribunal and court hands down.
The APC has been accused of intimidating the judiciary?
Those talking about that and the Onnoghen issue should be ashamed of themselves. Somebody that was accused of not properly declaring his assets and he said he forgot it at the initial stage because he saw some people who are not peace-loving encouraging him and he taught he has a case for the position of a Chief Justice of the Federation. Instead of tendering apology and looking for soft landing and everything for success on the issue, you now allow them to be pushing you up and down. I have learned one thing in this political game; look at Abiola’s death, it is not just that he died; it is because he did not do things smartly. At the same time Nigeria was holding its election in 1993; same presidential election was held and annulled in Haiti, but the candidate who won the election left the country and appealed to the United State president to come and help him.
The US president just asked New York governor to take over the issue; the governor sent some military men and they removed this general and they took him to Panama and the man was sworn into office.
This is what Abiola should have done, if you allow society to decide for you; that is what you will get and same goes for other leaders. Once you allow the society to use their selfish interest and push you around you would become a caricature. The same thing happened to Onnoghen. How do you forget such; because one governor is saying they would not remove you.
That is why I said it is not wisdom; they go to school from childhood and still no wisdom. You know this thing and you did not do it and you are arguing; ignorance is not excuse in law.
Who set him up who asked him to open account and have properties? We have to be sincere if we want to move this country forward. People just like controversy, what are we going to do with all this controversy? He should have resigned and they may now tell him, put health excuses, put that excuses, his resignation would be accepted because he has pleaded leniency. But what all these people are just saying is unnecessary things.
How do you describe the recent nullification of Osun governor’s election by the tribunal?
You know the way tribunal judgments often go in Nigeria; the tribunal chairman was not in support of the judgment and it is not a popular judgment.
Afenifere said they would not recognise Buhari beyond May 29; how would you react to this?
What recognition does he need from them, old men who are saying they are representing Yorubas, but they are rather the people working against the interest of Yoruba nation. In the real sense, a Yoruba man is the number two in the country; we don’t have a Yoruba as the president of the country, but we have a Yoruba man as vice president and you want to stay with the Igbos and drag your tribe’s man to nothing; that is what they are doing presently.
But their main point of supporting Atiku is that he is in support of restructuring?
What is restructuring? I would not bother myself because they are old people. I have explained to the public, it is reorganisation for better effectiveness that is what restructuring means. Reorganisation is necessary everywhere; when you are talking about a nation’s political restructuring, economic restructuring is important too. So, it is a vain statement for someone to say I would do restructuring. I told them the last time that Atiku has no power to carry out restructuring of the country. Even if he becomes president, he has to carry out a referendum, and he does not even have the majority to carry out a referendum. It is not something one man can say I promise you restructuring.
Awolowo knew that he had no power over political restructuring; it is economic restructuring that he did and in the Southwest region, they are still benefiting from the economic restructuring he did till now.
What would you benefit from political restructuring that economic restructuring cannot give you? The present constitution allows more than one states to join hands for economic purpose, to develop their region. So, what are you looking for with all this opportunity? People would just sit down and talk; some people would keep talking about restructuring for 50 years and they don’t get anything from it. Nobody is saying restructuring is not good, but you need to reorganise first.
Are you looking forward to any appointment at the federal level after contributing to Buhari’s victory?
Look at me; I am not that kind of person that works for the party because they want a position as a Minister or Commissioner. My effort is for the people; when you give my people positions; let them have what to eat, they would be happy. Forget about me, I am not bothered, except the President specifically requests for me.