With barely four months to the governorship election of Ekiti state, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the major opposition party in the state, is still embroiled in crisis over choice of its flag bearer in the exercise. In this interview with ROTIMI OJOMOYELA, the state chairman of the party, Chief Makanjuola Ogundipe dismisses such apprehension as a mere storm in a tea cup, even as he carpets the APC-led government in the state
Disunity within Ekiti PDP
The PDP in Ekiti State is not divided. We are united. We have had our own share of crisis a year ago. Today, we are robust, we are focused, we are prepared and we are strategizing. Nothing like division is coming up among our members. I hold meetings with my executive council members and the aspirants. The aspirants are holding talks, visiting members and conducting their affairs in peaceful manners. We talk about the next election. How can we be divided and we are able to assemble all the governorship aspirants and took them to Mr President to assess them, to talk with them, to appeal to them in so many ways? How can we be divided and have one aspirant talking to the other and discussing issues in the party and the need to support the eventual candidate? Is that the way to be divided? No.
It is the ruling party that is divided. Today, they are killing themselves, tomorrow, they are maiming themselves. Are you saying that the party that unilaterally picked a candidate as the party’s candidate is united? Are you saying a party that has not done anything to enhance the living standard of the people it tends to be governing is united? That is the party that is not united. In PDP Ekiti state, we are united more than before.
Chances in the June 21 poll
The PDP is the party to beat in Ekiti State. Our chances are very bright. If you have the opportunity to listen to the electorate and public opinion, you will realize that we do not have a government in Ekiti state now. The All Progressives Congress (APC) government is just buying time. A government that cannot guarantee the lives of its citizens is not a government. A government that promised rice and beans but now serving sand and sawdust is not a government. A government that cannot be trusted with the state economy is not a government. The people are saying that this governor is gone. A government that cannot pay salary when due has no responsibility in the Government House.
A government that uses tax-payers money to pursue unprofitable and white elephant projects, building a Government House with N2.2 billion at a time the teachers, the local government staff are yet to receive their pay and allowances is not a government. Let the governor tell us his priorities in government.
When Fayemi was coming in, he spoke about eight-point agenda. Ask today, what is the status of Ekiti schools? The governor said education would be highly subsidized, at the end of the day, the subsidy is not coming and school fees in Ekiti State University is higher than that of its contemporaries in the South West. How many agricultural ventures has he established? He tells you about free health in Ekiti, but go to EKSU Teaching Hospital in Ado Ekiti, you will find that there is nothing near free health programme. Come October 2014, PDP will take over Government House.
PDP’s healing mission
We have a lot of things to correct when we get to government. We have lot of things to do because this government has bastardised the system. We have a lot of job to do. Today, Ekiti State is running a bankrupt organization because we are borrowing more than we are receiving. Under the revenue profile of about N46 billion that we get, we are borrowing over 60 per cent of what is officially allowed, which means even the bond the governor took is already giving the problem of how to pay. The economy of Ekiti State is the worst right now amongthe South West states just to do a mini-comparison. In most cases,
people go from Ekiti State to Akure in Ondo State to buy foodstuffs; it should not be. We should be in a situation where we make use of what we have in Ekiti. This is happening because of the capital flight. Nobody knows how the government awards contracts and the contractors are not from the state. So, most of the things that our people rely upon are being taken away from the state. Our priority is not going out to purchase awards as being done by the present government.
Selecting the party’s flag bearer
In the actual sense, no party has a candidate yet in Ekiti State because no party has submitted candidate’s name to the Independent National Electoral Council (INEC), so, we are not running behind schedule. For the emergence of our candidate, our leader, President Jonathan, has spoken. Penultimate Saturday, about 15 governorship aspirants were with him and he said that for reasons of wisdom, we would use consensus system for our candidate to emerge.
Nothing can be more direct. We have adopted the consensus system. It is not new to our constitution. There were situations where some aspirants spent millions of naira to emerge as candidates in primaries and they would not have money to prosecute the election proper again. That is, to me, a faulty system. In PDP, we have always done things in manners that confirm the family that we are under the same umbrella. The system will produce a candidate that every other aspirant will rally round. That is the commitment that we have given to Mr President that whoever is chosen through a transparent and an acceptable process of consensus will be worked with by all other aspirants because they have something to give and something to share. That is the beauty of democracy. However, before we get to that point, some people must concede to a logical reasoning.
Restoring peace in PDP South West
In any institution or organization, political parties inclusive, there will always be agitations. All I see here is agitation, agitation, agitation. Somebody wants to be somewhere. That is part of politics. You cannot stop anybody agitating to go up, agitating to make more money, agitating for security. You cannot stop anybody agitating for recognition. These are the core issues that the press blows as crisis in the PDP in the South West. We are talking about unity, we are talking about security. We are also talking about moving forward.
These are the efforts our leaders are making. I want to commend their efforts. They are doing it right.
Modality for consensus
I will get the directive on the modalities for the consensus at the appropriate time. But the President gave us a month to look inward. You should expect our candidate any moment. Every one of the aspirants in PDP has the capacity and capability to defeat Fayemi in the election. It is only that we have to choose one among them. Each of them has qualities that surpass the incumbent governor. All of them are up to the task, they all have the integrity and the know-how to defeat Fayemi in any open contest.
I want to tell you, when you get to a bush, you use the best stick there. This is because there are so many sticks standing there in the bush. What I am trying to say is that politics is about agitation. You talk about self. You will not say you cannot do it. In politics, people say they are the best. But it is the duty of the system to bring out the best. I am assuring you that we will bring our best to contest the governorship election.
Contest among PDP, APC and LP
Where is Labour Party in Ekiti State? Who is the chairman of LP in Ekiti State? We are few months to the election. Who is the candidate of LP, where are its structures in Ekiti State? I can even accept that Fayemi and APC are somewhere waiting to be shoved aside, but the issue of LP does not really come on board. There is nowhere that a boy of two days will contest anything with his father. I do not know where such people arrive at the straight fight between APC and LP. Which of the Labour Parties? Is it the one we know or the one we do not know? As far as I know, there is only one vibrant party in Ekiti State that has structures in every political ward and the 2905 polling units and that is PDP in Ekiti State. That is the truth. Is it not thinkable to say APC divided itself into APC and LP? What I want to reveal to you is that most of the people in APC today are products of PDP. The APC chairman left PDP, the APC vice chairman left PDP, what I am trying to say is that we are the base of all the parties because we give them food to eat. But now, we are saying they have eaten enough, it’s time for the food to go back to the owner.
Adoption of Governor Kayode Fayemi as APC flag bearer
The adoption of Governor Kayode Fayemi as the candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) for the June 21 governorship in the state will spell doom for the ruling party, his presentation for the election would make victory easier for the PDP. Fayemi has run Ekiti aground financially. His dismal performance in office will boost the chances of the PDP in the election.
Fayemi’s tenure is a waste and monumental failure which had put Ekiti in bondage in terms of indebtedness. Ekiti people are eager to show the administration the way out come June 21, 2014. The APC will lose again just as it lost in 2007 and it should forget about taking the government through the back door as it did in 2010 through the court because in our courts today, we have judges with integrity and fear of God.
The Fayemi’s approach to labour dispute has brought untold hardship on workers, local government staff, primary health workers, university staff among others, are not left out of the economic torture being experienced under the administration. Above all, nothing on ground to justify the N25 billion that Fayemi sourced from the Capital Market.
LP’s defeat of incumbent in Ondo in 2007
This is not Ondo State. In Ekiti State, we have had our own share of court-snatched victory. The court snatched it from Dr. Olusegun Agagu in Ondo State. The court snatched it from Engineer Segun Oni in Ekiti State. The court snatched it from Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola in Osun State. That is the end of it. We cannot have that again in Ekiti State. We are going to win this election neat, square in a free and fair contest. There is no doubt about that. Go and check it out, for every 10 persons discussing politics in Ekiti State, eight are behind PDP. The remaining ones are undecided because of the lack of performance of the incumbent. Ekiti people have learnt their lessons. The artisans have learnt their lessons. The local government workers have learnt
their lessons, the hospital and health workers have learnt their lessons; the result is that Fayemi will be voted out of office.
Effect of defection on PDP
As a loyal member of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), I have no fears about the defection of members. It happens periodically. Those who defected took the wrong decision. A governor going to another party where he has no position has not taken a right decision as he is not going to meet fools there. There are some people there who have been financing the party before his arrival. Will such people just vacate the room for him to take the lion share? I have reports from the affected states, the defected governors are having a hell of a time in their new parties. As for PDP in 2015, we thank God that this is happening early. That will give us opportunity to reposition, restrategise and redefine the way forward. You cannot take this away from politics. The defecting governors have not reached their final bus stops. This is because when they are not allowed to operate in their new parties, they will go back to the basics.