IDEAS Radio 3 October 2018
Ayo Obe: Well good afternoon listeners, it’s great to be back with you on IDEAS radio NG, and you can contact the show on Twitter @ideasradiong and we’re soon going to be on the web in more ways than one.
But we’re here to talk about the issues of Integrity, Ethics, Accountability and their role in our Democracy. And I’m happy to have a guest with me, my first live guest in the studio. His name is Dr. Adeoye Joshua. He’s the pro tem Deputy National Secretary of the African Action Congress. He’s one of the founders and leaders of the Take It Back movement and I should also perhaps describe you as Chief of Staff to the presidential candidate of your party.
Dr. Adeoye Joshua: Unofficially.
AO: Unofficially. My name is Ayo Obe and welcome to the programme, and Dr. Joshua, welcome to the programme.
AJ: Thank you very much Ayo. Good afternoon Nigeria, Good afternoon listeners and Take It Back!
AO: Okay, now as I said, the issues that this section of the Countdown 2019 programme is concerned about are issues relating to Integrity, Ethics and so on. We look at how corruption is impacting our democracy and our form of governance, and the impact it has on development and so on. And at the moment because we’re in the run up to the 2019 elections it’s a very live issue. As you know, under the timetable that has been set up, set out by the Independent National Electoral Commission
a lot of the parties are having their party primaries or trying to select their candidates, and some of the things that Nigerians have seen, they have found rather disturbing.
But I want you to tell me about, in your own political party, the African Action Congress, what is it that you would say exhibits the virtues, or the qualities of Integrity, Ethics, Accountability in the way in which you selected your candidates?
AJ: Thank you very much Ayo, I think that’s a very good question and it’s germane to the issues affecting Nigeria now. As regards the African Action Congress, we have taken these issues head-on. We only, we’ve only gone for candidates who do not have, we’ve only gone for candidates who do not have tainted records, people who have not, shall we say, drunk from the well, or the poisoned chalice or, and if they must have dined with the devil, at least they must have done it with a very long fork, or at least not dined at all. And so, for example, when selecting candidates, every candidate goes through an office of compliance which was set up under the office of the overall Director General of the Take It Back Movement and then we look at the educational records, we look at their financial records, we look at their political history, we basically look at everything about them. Economics will tell you that the best indicator of what someone will do in the future is what they ‘ve done in the past. Now that is not to say that people cannot change, but the truth is a leopard rarely changes its spots. That’s one. The second is we’ve basically tried to ensure that it’s not just a few people doing the picking because godfatherism and meritocracy, you can argue would probably not be able to mix together.
So when, if we are trying to do true democracy, which is ,allow everyone pick, what then happens is since everyone has a say, and we provide whatever information is available about the candidate to the public, then everyone chooses, and statistically at least, I guess you’d say that everyone’s eyes would not be hoodwinked, or rather, covered.
AO: Well, I wonder about that, I mean, you say that you that you don’t have godfathers, but even in parties where you have godfathers, they still also do have their candidates chosen by direct votes, or by votes of individual members.
AJ: Yes, but by then, those godfathers would have done stuff beforehand, including selecting the delegates who would vote, or deciding the only people who can come out to be voted for. In our own case, all of this is open.
AO: So what, how did your members actually then get to do the choosing? Did you have, did they all have to come to a venue, or was it by …?
AJ: Everyone registered online . We’ve said it that for Nigeria to move forward, we need to move away from analogue thinking to digital thinking. So if you are interested, just go online, go to the party website, put up your details, register to be a candidate and then the vetting process starts. And then at the state congresses everybody who has registered for that position in that place shows up, so you don’t need to …
AO: When you say “shows up”, you mean they come in person to vote?
AJ: They come in person to vote, yes.
AO: Ok, so you can be a member, so if you want to be a candidate in your party, you have to be able to go online, but if you want to vote in the party congresses, you have to be there in person.
AO: And how did your, how did people get to know where and when to do that?
AJ: Adequate information. Luckily, you’ll be surprised that right now, the average palm wine tapper is on Twitter. I know that we like saying oh, the grassroots, they don’t use social media, but by all extensions of the imagination right now, that is actually false. Most people understand the meaning of WhatsApp, and we organise, when we started the Take It Back movement, our major form of organisation was WhatsApp. And so every, we disbursed the information on WhatsApp, on Twitter all forms, and we also used, shall we say snail media too, so word of mouth, it’s there in the market, it’s there on our posters: it’s there, just show up at that particular venue.
AO: So did you attend any of these congresses?
AO: And which ones did you attend?
AJ: Well, I attended the one in Kogi State, and I attended the one in Lagos State.
AO: And how did it, how did it go? What was the turnout of your members?
AJ: The turnout was fantastic. Fantastic is what I would describe them as. And it was interesting to see people who were previously disillusioned with the entity called Nigeria you know, have the spark in their eyes once more. You know, think finally that good can come out of their Nazareth. And so, sometimes it seems as if passions were even going to boil over. It just went on to show the level of engagement that has been fostered in these people over the last six months of the Take It Back movement.
AO: I would s, I think that one thing that observers see, is that the more likely, or the more people feel that a political party is likely to actually get a winning candidate at a general election, the fiercer the competition for that party’s ticket tends to be.
AJ: So based on that, then my candidate is winning the election then!
AO: The, well I mean, the fiercer the competition is. And sometimes, when that competition becomes very fierce, the next thing is that money begins to play a role in the people who want to become candidates. How much of a feature has that been in your own party’s primaries or selection process?
AJ: I won’t say it has been absent, and this is because the party initially, you know was, we founded the party as a vehicle for young, fresh, bold, young Nigerians to vie for political office, but we were targeting forgotten geopolitical zones in Nigeria. Maybe I shouldn’t call them geopolitical, let’s call them geo-economic zones or political-economic zones. We know the North West, North Central, North East and all of that, but we always talk about Zone 7 in the Take It Back movement, which is people who have been forgotten, people who don’t have godfathers, people who don’t have access to the current government, people who do not have formal jobs, the downtrodden basically. And we were targeting those people,. And those people are not the kind of people who come and try to play money politics. They really wanted to be taken along, they really wanted to participate, they really wanted, and they really responded to having their views heard. Even just having the opportunity to air it was wonderful.
AO: So you don’t think that money politics is part of it. But do members have to pay a membership fee?
AJ: Our membership fee is N200. It’s so cheap that even a good pot of stew is more expensive than our membership card.
AO: But if your membership fee is so cheap, doesn’t that really leave you vulnerable to somebody who has a lot of money, who can buy up a lot of members and then flood your party with them?
AJ: So where I come from they say because you can have an accident doesn’t mean that you won’t try to cross the street. We have to start …