Chief Sunny Onuesoke, a public affairs analyst, is a former governorship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta state during the 2007 election. He is currently the Special Projects Director to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state. In this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, he spoke on the recent defection of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to the PDP and other issues of national importance. Excerpts:
You once appealed to former Vice- President Atiku Abubakar to return to his original home which is PDP. How do you feel now that he is back?
I am very much at home now that he has returned. However, I am still waiting for others like Bukola Saraki, Florence Ita-giwa, Yakubu Dogara, and even nothing is wrong seeing the president declaring for PDP. I believe that a big fish like Bola Tinubu is expected to declare for PDP soon than later. Do not forget that PDP remains the largest party in the continent of Africa. What I know very well is that the return of Atiku has made me proud and vindicated me as the first Nigerian and first PDP member in the country to clamour for the return of the great Waziri of Africa. I am very happy with his return and I believe he will add great value to our party.
Are you not surprised that nobody in APC has defected to APC with Atiku?
That is not true. In a very few moment from now, not less than eight governors, twenty two senators and sixty six House of Representatives members of APC stocks will be declaring and returning to PDP before the end of February 2018. It is a concluded issue for now. And for your information, it will shock you to note that two APC governors are among the eight expected governors who has concluded their declaration and return to the party. Do not be surprised that 35 percent of the Federal exco members are already prepared to declare for PDP.
If Atiku gets the PDP ticket, do you see him securing victory for PDP in 2019?
As for now, we are not talking of securing the ticket or not. What we are doing now in Wadata Plaza is to fix the party back to the foundation days. PDP is undergoing massive re-organisation and putting things in the right direction and reconciliation are ongoing to make sure we do not repeat our mistakes. Atiku is a household name in PDP and beyond. Atiku is one among the prospective presidential aspirants in PDP who can look at Buhari eyeball to eyeball and tell him that what you are doing is wrong and I think you should now quit for development to come to Nigeria. Atiku contributed 35 percent to Buhari’s victory in 2015.
Looking at Atiku and his desire to become president, do you see a man who is passionate about making Nigeria better or somebody out on selfish agenda?
Sure he is passionate about making Nigeria better. He has the knowhow of how to make Nigeria work. He is an industrialist of a known reckoning. From those who have indicated interest so far, if we are looking for a president with a broad mind, I think Atiku is number one among the lot. From all indications, Atiku if given the mandate will make a truly national president.
A chairmanship aspirant of your party, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja has dragged your party to court following the outcome of the party’s recently held convention. Do you think this will augur well for the party?
Adedoja has the right to protest if he knew he won the chairmanship or he was cheated by the convention committee. But as for me, for us not to repeat our past mistake of 2015 then we must call for a truce committee to be headed by party members of high regard that will command national respect. It is better to jaw-jaw than war-war and we cannot afford to be having legal battles now that election is around the corner.
Your recent comment that President Buhari can’t dictate to state governors on how to spend Paris Club refund drew backlash from some Nigerians. Do you still stand by that comment?
I stood by my comments on that. Nigerians should not forget that the Paris Club refund is the constitutional right of the governors. The federal government does not have any control over them on how to dispense the fund. Even the Accountant General of the Federation cannot order or demand obligatorily from any tier of government, including the 36 states’ information on how to spend the Paris Club refunds.
On the issue of salaries payment, it is not all the states that owe workers salaries. Delta for example does not owe workers salaries, so while the blanket order without verification. Thus, such holistic instruction from the President may not go well with some governor most especially when they have different pressing issues in their various states.
I would have equally expected the President to instruct the governors to channel the fund to other area of development in their states instead of payment of salaries alone. The president should advice governors and including the presidency as a matter of urgency to concentrate with Paris fund in areas of parastatal investments, but not mostly workers salaries. Is Nigeria a civil service investment concern or it should industrial investment concern?
But do you think the governors should be monitored on how the funds are utilised?
Yes, they could be monitored so as to ensure accountability but not to dictate to them on how to use the funds .
Coming to Delta state, do you think Governor Okowa has done enough to justify reelection in 2019?
Of course! With the support Governor Okowa is getting on a daily basis from the PDP family in Urhoboland and the entire good people of Delta state, I believe his reelection in 2019 is guaranteed. I can confidently tell you that 87 percent of Urhobo in PDP are solidly behind him and this is the same story everywhere you go in Delta state