Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, a former minister of works, has said the South-West could deliver 20 million votes for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), if he decides to contest in the 2023 presidential election.
Ogunlewe, who described Tinubu as the most prominent politician in the South-West, said the reason northern politicians were bragging about retaining power beyond 2023 was their voting strength.
According to the former chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it is alarming that despite having 16 million registered voters in the 2019 general elections in the South-West, less than four million people, representing 17 percent voting populace, voted in the 2019 general election.
He said: “Let us wait and see what happens. Let the man (Tinubu) come back home and solidify the South-West votes.
“The South-West can produce 20 million votes if we all work together and if we are serious about it. Is it not votes?
“Why the Northern elders are saying all this is because their people vote. They don’t joke with votes during election.
“Only 17 percent of South-West people voted in the last election while the North had 34 percent. We are targeting 60 percent votes in the 2023 elections, and we are going to be prepared for it.
“That is the way to be scientific in any political argument. Anything they are saying in the North is because of their voting strength.
“What is our own arrangement here? When they were talking of collection of voter cards, people who were in Boko Haram-ravaged territories in the North-East collected their voter cards more than us here in the South. Rather than go out and enlighten people on the need to collect their cards, our own is to pull people down.”
Ogunlewe, who said he joined the APC five months ago but was yet to officially decamp until he gets 20,000 registered members, said rather than saying negative things about Tinubu, it was time for politicians in the South to come together and mobilise people to vote in the 2023 general election.
“My own is, the South-West has enough votes to win the 2023 presidential election if we are serious. Lagos State alone can give five million votes if we are serious.
“Most of the Northerners are here now riding ‘okada’ (commercial motorcycles) and ‘keke marwa’ (tricycles).
“Why can’t we arrange them and make them vote for us because they are living here, survive here and making their daily living here.
“Take it or leave it. We are the leaders in this nation. Why do you think everybody is coming here? It is when you get to the South-West that you prosper.
“That is the advantage a Yoruba person should talk about, not negative things. Let’s be positive and do the voting. In this country, Lagos State was paying the salary of the people in Borno State. We are giving them staff. The solicitor-general was from Lagos State.
“So, I will implore all our leaders to come back home and present a united front. If the Northerners are bragging about retaining power, it is because of their voting strength.
“We should ask ourselves, how can the South-West generate 20 million votes? That should be our focus and master plan.”
On the allegation that he had been collecting money from Tinubu, Ogunlewe said: “No. I am not the type of politician who will go and collect money from anybody because I want to join their party. I want my people to register.
“When we register 20,000 members, that is when we can decamp officially. If you expect to give people money to decamp, the next day, they will go back to their party or you see them fighting on the road for the money.
“We have started registering. Go to APC office on ACME Road and see our register. In Lagos Mainland alone yesterday, we registered over 500 members. It is when we get about 20,000 registered members, that is when we’ll decamp.”