Dr. Kayode Ajulo is a legal practitioner and rights activist. In this interview, he speaks on the recent alignment of opposition political parties, the 2019 elections and the state of Labour Party, among other national issues. TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE reports
What do you make of the recent coalition of political parties to face the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 presidential election?
This has never happened in Nigeria, Africa and indeed the whole world. I haven’t heard or seen any occasion that such a large number of registered political parties come together in one voice to achieve one core objective. This to me is the reflection of the popular view and a strong indication that a vast majority of Nigeria citizens are not happy and comfortable with the conduct of the present government.
There has been mounting calls from some sections of the country on the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and other young politicians from the North to run for president in 2019. What do you make of that?
The condition to contest for presidency as stipulated in the constitution is simple as it is and anybody been denied the right through any other suspicious process is illegal. Both the sitting Senate president, Bukola Saraki and Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal are so eminently qualified to contest for the presidency of this country. Many other Nigerians, including myself, Kayode Ajulo, are eminently qualified. So, nobody should use any attempt to stop anyone from running because any attempt at this is not only criminal but the violation of our constitution. So far, they are both eminently qualified, the sole decision to run for the office or not rest on them and it is also the duty of Nigerians either to vote for or against them.
Does that mean you would also be running for a political office in 2019?
My core ambition is to serve my people, and I will always be there for them with a vision to direct them well. As a leader, it is one of your primary duties to direct your people well. 2019 is around the corner, and in as much that I have an ambition, when it comes to seeking elective post, it lies in the direction of the Almighty God and the call from my people. I will however not deny the fact that I am under intense pressure to contest for the senatorial seat to represent Ondo North senatorial district. I will however continue to seek the face of God on this and also continue to make all necessary consultations and when it is finally the moment to represent them, I will not disappoint my constituents and my God.
The Not Too Young to Run Bill was recently signed into law by the President; do you think it is enough to increase youths participation in politics?
Yes, it is a good development that certain provisions of the constitution were altered as the eligibility age to run for the presidency and some other political positions were reduced to give room for a larger spectrum of the youth population. However, I am still not satisfied with the amendment because I believe that if the constitution gives room for an 18-year-old young man to vote, it should also give him the room to be voted for at that same age. Until this is achieved, I will not rest on my advocacy for more flexibility in the age eligibility for elective positions in Nigeria. We have had an occasion where a 22-year-old lady was elected as a parliamentarian in Europe and several others who are younger have been voted into political offices in developed societies, I am sure that’s not too much to achieve in Nigeria. But certain provisions and aids should be made available to young Nigerians who desire to run for public office, especially financially to assist them to have a substantial financial war chest to compete considerably with the older age group. When this is put in place, only then can the nation be assured of the consensus and readiness to pass the baton of leadership to the next generation.
The continous killings in the North Central have increased the call for the removal of the nation’s service chiefs with the Senate president recently adding his voice. Do you see their removal as the antidote to this unending crisis?
There is no price too much to pay if it will solve the problem of incessant killings and avert more bloodshed. If the price to be paid to ensure peace in Nigeria is the removal of the service chiefs, we have no choice but to take it. If the change in the security architecture of the nation will ensure peace, I will gladly join the call for the replacement of the service chiefs.
There has been rancour about factional leadership within the Labour Party where you were once a National Secretary, how are you resolving this with 2019 election in sight?
There is no faction in the Labour Party and this is a fact I can attest firmly to confidently. As a lawyer and a former National Secretary of the party, my knowledge of the party constitution and provisions make me to understand that forming a faction is a task almost impossible. The process of declaring a faction requires the removal of the incumbent chairman; a process which must be carried out strictly according to the provisions of the party’s constitution, one of which stipulates that the present and only recognised National Chairman of the party; Alhaji Abdulkadir Abdulsalam, must be present at such meeting where his impeachment is been discussed and decided upon which is practically impossible. Anything outside this is totally unconstitutional.
Dr. Mike Omotosho, who is being described as a factional leader of the party in some sections, is an individual I respect highly and a friend, he is a man with a worthy enough profile to take up any role of leadership and I would gladly recommend him at any instance. But I believe that Dr. Omotosho is been wrongly advised and deceived to take over the party leadership by some sects who obviously are not conversant with the constitutional provisions of the party.
What is your assessment of the three years of the Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government?
It will be uncharitable for me to rate the present government in my opinion, but the cry and suffering of the masses have made it audible to the deaf and visible for the blind that this government is not performing up to expectation.
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