National Secretary of the Labour Party, Comrade Kayode Ajulo, is excited about the new opposition role his party is determined to give the incoming administration of General Muhammadu Buhari. Shola Oyeyipo writes
Now that the elections are over, it is a perfect time for scheming for offices and other largesse of politics, not only among members of the winning political parties, but also for defectors who are taking advantage of the moment of change sweeping across.
Interestingly, one man is not contemplating leaving his party for anything – not even for an appointment with the incoming government. Rather, he is already preparing himself to be the next face of opposition and provide exactly the manner of opposition the All Progressives Congress (APC) provided Nigerians during the days of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The individual is no other person than the National Secretary of the Labour Party (LP), Comrade Kayode Ajulo, who is of the opinion that a very active opposition is important to keep the General Muhammadu Buhari-led government on its toes and that the PDP lacks what it takes to stand as opposition.
“I did not see, and yet, I don’t think there would be anything like opposition in the DNA of the PDP. PDP lacked the capacity to be an opposition party. And when you look at the characters that made up the PDP; 90 per cent of the characters are those who traditionally can never be in the opposition. You can see most of them have been silent all these days. Some people said may be because they lost the election but I say no!
“To highlight the whole point, within two hours after some of their candidates were returned as Senators, they quickly joined the incoming party and I think the party should take serious stand on that. Some of them are even afraid; not that they lacked what to say, they are afraid that if they say anything, Buhari will come after them, so they prefer to remain mute wherever they are.
“So, how do you expect such people to be in opposition? By the character of the PDP, you will see that there is no way that they can stand to be opposition. That is why we talk of the Labour Party. We have always been doing that. It is our antecedent right from the day one and even now. What you need to do is to look at the political space of Nigeria and see who is filling the opposition position. Labour Party has taken that mantle of leadership and we would drive it with the people.
“It is not a quest for power. Our opposition will not be like the APC opposition that all their opposition was targeted at being in charge of power – to be in charge of that ‘national cake.’ You don’t need to do that!
“What we will do is that where the APC-led government is doing the right thing, we would praise them. We would even commend them to do more, but where they are found wanting, you should know that Kayode Ajulo and the Labour Party will never be quiet,” he assured Nigerians.
Though General Buhari eventually won the election, he said his party and himself have no regrets whatsoever for declaring support for President Jonathan of the PDP on principle.
“As a party of the masses, the only thing we needed to do was to see their antecedents. As God would have it, two of them – one is serving and the other had served before. Who are we going to support? Even sometimes, when you believe in principle and you believe you have to go through it; even in the face of extinction you still stand on that principle and that is what the Labour Party will do in all ramifications.
“Today, General Muhammadu Buhari is the president-elect. We have congratulated him. We wish him luck. But if we must still say the truth, Labour Party is a workers’ party, between the two, if we should choose who has been pro-workers; it is President Goodluck Jonathan.
“In his six years as president, not once did we hear anywhere, covertly or overtly that a single worker was retrenched in Nigeria. Even, let us look at the minimum wage; Jonathan signed it into law and this is the five year anniversary of that and by now, it has to be reviewed because there is a provision there that every five years, there must be a review and I believe it would be too bad when we call ourselves a pro-workers’ party to say you will not go with the president when you know that this man is implementing what is helping the workers in this country.
“The Employee Compensation Act – that is a law made by Jonathan. This Pension Act too. Jonathan really revived the Pension Act and based on these by the time we put it side-by-side even if there would be another election tomorrow, given the same circumstance, it would be Jonathan. I’m not saying tomorrow if Buhari answers his name and helps our interest of course we would go for him, but as at now, no regrets for supporting President Jonathan. His endorsement is on principle and those principles were well stated,” he noted.
According to the seasoned legal practitioner, the fact that he had imbibed the necessary character, principally the integrity required for the responsibility ahead of him during his secondary school days and some of the standards already set by outgoing President Jonathan would be the basis of assessing the incoming government.
“I look forward to reintroducing integrity into our political and professional space. I’m lucky to have passed through, Aquinas College, Akure, a Catholic Missionary School and the school motto is a Latin word: integritas, meaning integrity. This belief was ingrained on us. It may be difficult but the cheapest form of practice. That's why any step taken by me must be rooted in integrity of purpose,” he assured the people.
Besides, he has been very critical about issues of national importance lately. For instance, despite the portrayal of the just concluded elections as free, fair and credible by some, Ajulo has expressed reservations about the electoral process.
“I did not see the last election as an election but I see it as a rigging competition where two opposing chose to go on rigging spree. The smartest among the two got the election. When you look at the North, it is more of underage that took control of the whole thing. You can see it on our TV. CNN and all that and TVC – that is one of the medium that belongs to the party’s stalwarts showed in full public how the underage were voting with INEC officials even aiding them. It got to a point that it seemed we had some other unwritten laws in Nigeria.
“That is the highlight of that election. And we have to be sincere, even in some core South-south states, its more – if we call it underage in the North, it is under-table. What they did there is under-table. You see people thumb printing here and there. We are yet to get to where we are going to in this country. We have to be sincere,” he said.
He also doesn’t see any reason why the incoming government should fail Nigerians because the party had assured the people that it had what it takes to provide better leadership and to quickly improve the fortunes of the country.
“They made promises and I believe they must have thought very well before making those promises. It is like a man looking for a woman; there must have been underground talks and may be after marrying your wife, it is then you tell her you don’t have this and that. That is quite wrong and I believe that will be unacceptable.
“I’m a lawyer, there are some promises you make to a woman that will constitute rape at the end of the day. I’m afraid Buhari and co are trying to rape Nigeria. That means if they fail, they have taken us for granted. They have raped us and I don’t think we would allow that to happen.
“If you check my phone, you will see all the promises they made to Nigerians. Now that people are asking what you would do, you are now saying ‘they should not expect you to perform miracles.’ The question we need to ask Buhari is: did you promise Nigerians miracle? If you promised them miracle that miracle you must perform because the essence of anybody voting for you is based on the promises you made and for you not to do that I must say, with respect that it will be uncharitable,” he added.
As the APC did with the PDP, he said the Labour Party is also establishing the needed source of information around the APC, so as to keep abreast of steps the party is planning to take to be able to caution the party and alert Nigerians and one of such allegations is that the incoming government may lay off some workers employed at the twilight of the Jonathan-led administration.
“There are some things they have been doing that we have been raising issues about because one of the best ways to be in an opposition is to have your intelligence around the party to know what they are doing. We have been shouting that there will be mass retrenchment of workers very soon. And when we raised that alarm what they told us was that the outgoing administration is employing some workers.
“Till May 29, they have the right to employ whosoever they want to employ. The question we should ask is: those being employed are they not Nigerians? Are they not supposed to have employment? So these are the things! Are you going to say because they have been employed you must sack them? It is their duty to provide jobs – even as they come, they are to create more jobs and not retrench people,” he insisted.
But the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh disagreed entirely with Ajulo and all others who are presuming that the outgoing PDP would not give the APC a good opposition. To him, it is rather too early to begin to castigate the party as a weak opposition. Instead, he enjoined the people to give him and the executive of the PDP a little time to prove their mettle.
“It is like somebody is pregnant and you are saying the child will not pass JAMB. From June you will see the capacity of the PDP. Then executive meddlesomeness will no longer be there – when political jobbers will go on television and say they are working for the PDP. Let those who say we cannot be a strong opposition judge us after three months. Passing judgment on us now is unfair,” he said.
Like most other PDP optimists, Metuh, is one of the party leaders who is confident that the party would re-group and bounce back stronger soon.