Aggrieved PDP govs may cost Atiku victory –Oyo chair

Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in Oyo State, Dayo Ogungbenro, talks to DANIEL AYANTOYE about Govenor Seyi Makinde’s chances of winning a second term, and how the crisis in the state chapter of the party is being addressed, and other issuesG5

How is the Peoples Democratic Party preparing for the 2023 general election at the state and federal levels?

We are preparing and you can see the signals everywhere. No tangible political party like ours will fail to prepare for such elections. More so, we are the ruling party in the state, and so, we have to do the needful and we are sure of victory by God’s grace. I was with my principal recently and we discussed the modus operandi of the elections and we are not new in this. We know what we should do and at the appropriate time, we will begin the activities as expected.

Some critics are saying that the Seyi Makinde-led administration in the state has not performed to expectation to deserve a second term. What is your take on this?

We don’t live on rumours and the opposition can say anything. You don’t expect the opposition to blow our trumpet, but I want to say this without mincing words that Seyi Makinde has been the best governor in the last decades in this state. I am sure you are very conversant with Oyo State. You will remember the eight years rule of the late ex-governor Abiola Ajimobi; you can do a comparative analysis of things. Go to the market places, go to the teachers and go to the students, go to non-governmental organisations to confirm. Look at all the structures that the governor has put in place, be it in health, education, name the sector; it’s a done deal based on his (Makinde) achievements.

So, without mincing words, Makinde’s second term is a done deal. When you talk about development, there are yardsticks for economic development, though I am not an economist. But if somebody can come on board and decide to open all the zones in the state to link each other with ease, what is that directed towards? I don’t know why people are being dishonest with opinions. The fact remains that Seyi Makinde has changed the narrative of governance in this state and people are yearning for his second coming.

On security, people are saying the governor has exposed Oyo State to insecurity by allowing attacks on people. One of such claims is the alleged attack on APC members during their rally. How will you react to this?

They were not attacked. My PRO responded to that swiftly; they were just looking for something to hang on to. Why do we have to attack them if the campaign is going to be based on issues? I want to see what the APC will say about this state that will give them the vote of the masses in the state. Why do we need to attack them? We have a performing governor, performing in all ramifications. We don’t have any fear at all from any of the opposition parties. We are going to base our campaign on fundamental issues that affect the lives of citizens and residents of the state and not frivolous talks and attacks.

There were claims that the governor was using thugs to intimidate other political parties in the state. What’s your reaction to this?

Have you seen people being intimidated? If they have been intimidated, our great achievement is what is intimidating them. Politics is about the dividends of democracy. It’s not about I chop, you chop alone. If they are being oppressed, are you saying market women are being oppressed? Are you saying artisans are being oppressed? Who oppressed them when they could not pay salaries for six, eight months in those days? Was there any greater oppression than that?

Sometime in September this year, some of your party members defected to other political parties, alleging that the PDP-led government had not performed as expected. What is your take on this?

It is expected that people will defect; it is normal in political activities. But to say it is because the ruling party didn’t perform, that’s not true. I have told you the fact that our governor is a performing governor and the indices are there. Please, avail yourself of those facts.

Have you made any effort to placate some of those aggrieved members of the party?

We have made concerted efforts to placate them. I said it publicly on the 16th of October during my acceptance speech that the umbrella of the PDP is so large and can accommodate everybody, and that everybody should come on board. Any opportunity that my principal has, he says the same thing. We have done our bit, but those who are not ready to stay will go whether we like it or not, and once they have gone, all we can do is to wish them the best of luck. But if you remember those who have gone, I want you to also remember those who came in. Politics is dominated by substitution. You know politics essentially is about interest. The moment you fail either rightly or wrongly, your interest is not catered for or you may be too ambitious. That is why we usually say that it is not wrong to have an interest, and say I want to become a governor, I want to become the senator of a senatorial district, or a member of the House of Representatives, but within that context, you have to allow the fact that God Almighty alone puts people in positions of authority. Unfortunately, some people find it difficult when they lose primaries; they will just think they have to go elsewhere to try their luck. I wouldn’t know if we can call that service to our people. We have tried, a lot of people are back, some people are intransigent and we wish them the best of luck.

Will you say the same on the issue of the former deputy governor, Rauf Olanihun, who was impeached?

Why should I say the same thing about him? The Yoruba adage says, ‘One shouldn’t pour away the water in the bucket just because the cloud rumbles.’ This is because you may not see water to drink at the end of the day. Is he now the governorship candidate of the APC or a running mate? Fingers are not equal; it is only when it pleases God that he will put you in the position of authority. But if it pleases God to put somebody on the Number two seat of a complex state like Oyo, I wonder what such a person is looking for. So, let’s wait and see.

Owing to the fact that the ex-deputy governor also has some supporters, are you not concerned that this may have an adverse effect on your party in 2023?

I am saying a categorical no to that; I am not concerned and not bothered. If I can take you down memory lane, he joined this political party less than three months before the elections. How active was he then? I don’t want to run him down, he is my friend; we are from the same axis. And by my nature, I don’t run people down, but when the time comes, we will know who owns the field.

But some are saying that his impeachment was plotted because the governor has the members of the House of Assembly in his pocket. What’s your take on that?

Let me ask you one rhetoric question; who can be stupid enough not to impeach such a deputy governor? What will you do if you are a sitting governor of a state and your deputy has the audacity to say he is leaving your political party to another? Our people say, you don’t keep the baby of a quail (bird) with you and still plant corn. It is wrong. If I were Olanihun, the day I said I was leaving the PDP for the APC, then I would drop my resignation letter as the deputy governor of the state. That would have been more honourable for him. Do you expect us to allow him to be an insider and an outsider at the same time? You cannot hold two places at the same time. You will only hold one because there are always two sides of a coin?

Are you saying that he got punished for his action?

That’s not punishment; he got what he deserved. He decided to be smart, and we showed him we were smarter. It is constitutionally allowed. The constitution allowed for impeachment and it was so carried out.

Your party recently alleged that the APC governorship candidate in Oyo State, Senator Teslim Folarin, was stockpiling arms ahead of the 2023 general elections, how true is this claim?

If you say ‘ja gba’, meaning snatch it, what are the indices of ‘ja gba’? Politics has gone beyond gangsterism. Politickineg is based on issues now. We want development for our people. This is what I am capable of doing, and this is what I have done before. Luckily, he (Folarin) is a third time member of the Senate;  let him come out and tell the people of Oyo State what he has done for them to deserve dislodging a performing sitting governor. It’s not the issue of ‘mo le ja gba’ (I can snatch it). To say ‘ja gba’, that means that thing does not originally belong to you. So, if we allege that he is doing this or that, we may not be wrong. We want politics of civility. Yes, there is no point for anybody dying because somebody wants to come to power. Let everybody come out to exercise his or her civic responsibility. Let people cast their votes and let them be counted. That’s the beauty of democracy.

Every four years, you are elected and given the opportunity to serve your people. The next four years, you are tested, do you measure up to represent your people based on the last one you did. If you did, they vote you in again, and if not, you are rubbished out of power and that is the essence of democracy which is what we should expect here too, so that we can continue to experience development. Ordinarily, the electorate has the power, let them decide who will rule them, not ‘mo fe ja gba’ (I want to snatch it.) That ‘ja gba’ connotes gangsterism and we don’t want anything like that in Oyo State again. Election does not deserve the life of anyone in this state. So, I will admonish not only the APC candidate, but all governorship candidates in the state to play the game according to the rule in the interest of our people if the essence is to serve. We have been in power at the federal level before and Nigerians said we were not performing and you can see the result now.

Talking about federal issues, with recent happenings, it is clear that the Oyo State chapter of the PDP is backing the position of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, on the call for the resignation of the National Chairman of the party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu. What’s your position on the issue?

The Rivers State governor is not my governor, but I want to tell you that the PDP in Oyo State that I am privileged to head is in complete alliance with our principal, the leader of the party in the South-West geopolitical zone, that is Oluwaseyi Abiodun Makinde. There are two fundamental issues; one, the southerners were yearning for the presidency and our principal decided to align with his people, that is the South. We have no apology for that. The position of Governor Wike and my principal is that the agreement that Ayu would step aside if a northerner emerges a presidential candidate must be honoured, but he refused. Now, we have Baba of the  Atiku as the presidential candidate, Ayu as national chairman, Tambuwal as the director-general  campaign. They are all northerners. We have no issue with Atiku, the issue with (Ifeanyi) Okowa is already a foregone conclusion, but what about the unwritten agreement that if a northerner emerges as presidential candidate, Ayu will resign?

But it is believed that the then PDP Board of Trustees’ chairman, Walid Jibrin, resigned to placate Wike and his allies. Don’t you think that’s enough to resolve the issues?

That’s not enough, It’s just a tactic that they think they can use on us. They thought they could divide us.

Now, campaigns have kicked off, it seems that the PDP is moving on and Governor Wike and his allies are being sidelined from the activities. Do you think this will have adverse effects on the PDP?

Shouldn’t they know that, given the calibre of the person that Atiku is in Nigeria? Do we have to tell him to do the needful before resuming campaign? Maybe they thought they could do it all alone. If we are saying we want to reform Nigeria, why can’t we reform our own political party first? The PDP in Oyo State completely aligns with this because wherever our leader is going, we are definitely going there.

But some are saying that Wike’s allies, including  Govrnor Seyi Makinde, may be sanctioned by the PDP. As the Oyo State PDP chairman, are you not concerned?

Two plus two in politics is not equal to four. I am not concerned. It’s just a mere political statement.

What will happen if they are sanctioned?

Why can’t you wait until we get to that bridge? If we get to that bridge then we will know how to cross it.

Are you insisting that Ayu must go before the elections can be held?

Ayu must go until the contrary is heard from our leaders.

Wike recently endorsed an APC candidate in Lagos State, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, against his PDP counterpart, an action many considered as anti-party. Don’t you think he deserves to be sanctioned for that?

For what! That’s politics for you. Has Atiku been sanctioned for reneging on the earlier agreement? What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. It’s a mere political statement to knock them to submission.

Do you think without Wike, the PDP does not have  a chance of winning the 2023 general election?

I don’t need to tell anybody that we have strength in unity; they don’t need to be told. I don’t need to be a sought-after seer to say that.

So, it’s possible to say the PDP is already moving towards a loss of the presidency if the Wike group is not appeased before the 2023 election?

Your guess is as good as mine.

It was said that the national chairman of the PDP is intentionally delaying the NEC meetings. What do you think may be happening?

He might be playing smart, and people with heads are smarter too. It’s all politics and it happens everywhere.

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