The People’s Democratic Party Acting Chairman, Ekiti State, Lanre Omolase, in this interview, tells ABIODUN NEJO that the “pull-him-down” syndrome in the party cost it the governorship poll in the state.
Two months ago, your party lost a governorship election. By now, your party should have reviewed the situation. What are the feelings of the PDP members in the state about the loss?
We are not happy about it. It was painful because we worked assiduously to win the election. But what happened, particularly the movement of former governor Segun Oni and others from the party, contributed hugely to our failure.
Again, some of those who stayed back in the party, who called themselves aggrieved, used the resources distributed to mobilise for the party to work against the party. That is why we had that type of result.
So, how has it been with the party since the loss?
Immediately after we lost that election, as a state working committee, we summoned meetings – we held the first meeting of the state executive and we inaugurated two important committees – the committee for review and another one to approach those who left the party and recommend the needful.
When we did our review, we discovered that the party was seriously affected by those people who stayed within because they were the enemies we did not perceive and enemies we were even planning with. We got all the reports together, but at the time we were about to send the report to Abuja, some of them ran to Abuja to demand the dissolution of the state executive because they knew that the party would probe them. Some of them went with huge amounts of money. The money, which was to be used for the mobilisation of the party, was taken away by some of them, and they did not use the money to work for the party. They knew they would be probed, so they left and started casting aspersions on the person of former governor Ayodele Fayose just to save their faces.
Also, the issue of having a substantive state chairman is the responsibility of the state executive council, comprising 68 people, and must be presided over by me.
Immediately we saw their demand, I returned to Ado Ekiti and called for a meeting to do that. But they did not want to listen to us because of the anti-party attitude displayed during the election. That was what they wanted to cover.
How far has your party gone about the resolution of the crisis that emanated over the choice of the substantial state chairman whereby two individuals laid claim to the position?
I will not comment on that because the matter is in court and the court has made a pronouncement that the status quo should remain and that is why I am still the acting state chairman.
Why do you think the members are of the belief that Fayose made the PDP lose the governorship election?
Ask them, how many of them contributed a penny to the election? The same Fayose that they are criticising today used his resources to prosecute the election right from the time of the congress to the primary to the real election. The man (Fayose) worked very hard with full determination to win that election.
But the people thought that if Bisi Kolawole won the election, it would be an extension of Fayose’s government, forgetting that Fayose had nothing to ask from Kolawole as he had told us.
As it is, do we have anything to share from zero? No, that was the mistake they made. Instead of us working together to win that election, they worked against the candidate, believing that Kolawole was Fayose’s candidate and not a PDP candidate.
Wasn’t the grouse of the aggrieved members about the manner in which the primary election was held and the emergence of Kolawole?
I have spoken about this several times. The best way party primaries should be handled was the way the PDP National Working Committee handled the primaries of Ekiti State. There is no better way to handle the primary election than that.
Even to encourage Segun Oni, the three ad-hoc delegates from each of the 177 wards across the 16 local government areas who ought to vote for Segun Oni were cancelled.
Still, Fayose’s group did not complain but went into the election. The primary election was conducted in strict compliance with the constitution and guidelines of the party supervised by Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, and everybody who witnessed it confirmed it as satisfactorily conducted.
Segun Oni was there. He congratulated Bisi Kolawole after the primary election. If there was any manner that was not fair, did they make any complaint against the conduct? What are former deputy governor, Professor Kolapo Olusola-Eleka, who scored a paltry 82 votes, and former PDP National Treasurer, Adewale Aribisala, who scored 52 votes, fighting for? They are fighting because Fayose supported Kolawole. Fayose is an individual with his own freedom to support his choices. He made his choice and he allowed everybody to know that Kolawole was his choice.
What is your view of the leadership style of Fayose?
Until the Ekiti PDP desists from the “pull-him down syndrome”, there may not be headway. We cannot be all equal. In a household, we have a father, a mother, and we have seniority. Tell me of a state in Nigeria where we do not have a leader, as far as the PDP is concerned in Ekiti, Fayose is a leader and a two-term governor. Is Tinubu not a leader in Lagos? He was governor of Lagos between 1999 and 2007.
Since that time, he has been producing governors in Lagos State and I have not seen any of the governors who have challenged Tinubu to step aside. I have never seen Osun people tell former Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola to step aside. Bode George is still doing politics in the PDP in Lagos—why in Ekiti? What is wrong with us that we cannot work together? Those people who are crying foul today are the same people who have benefited immensely under Fayose’s leadership.
The moment another person is developing, they will develop cold feet. It is then that Fayose is no longer good, but when they were benefiting, Fayose was good. When Fayose picked Olusola-Eleka for the governorship, former minister Adedayo Adeyeye was not happy. He left the party. When Kolawole was picked, Olusola-Eleka was no longer happy. That was what I meant when I said unless Ekiti PDP desists from the ‘if it is not me, it must not be another person’ syndrome.
The moment they are benefiting, Fayose is good. The moment it is not their turn, Fayose is no longer good. I have never seen Fayose struggle for another position with anybody since he left office. He has always demonstrated the leadership style of a righteous and determined leader.
Last week, some members, under the aegis of Ekiti PDP Stakeholders…
That is exactly what I am saying. All of those people in that category have benefited under Fayose’s leadership.
They say they are fed up with Fayose’s leadership style and are calling for collegiate leadership. What is your reaction? Do you think collegiate leadership can work?
There is no time that collegiate leadership has not been operational in the party. When Fayose wants to do anything, he refers to us as party leaders. We sat down with him as our leader. For instance, when Senator Biodun Olujimi’s ticket was to be returned to her, Fayose called us as leaders. We held meetings for hours on different occasions. Even during the screening for the state and national assembly candidates, the committees were presided over by leaders. The leader of the Ekiti PDP made all decisions in a collegial manner.
So, who is the leader in the Ekiti PDP?
There is no controversy about that. Fayose, a two-term governor, is the leader of the PDP in Ekiti State. Do you want to pick somebody in the SDP as a leader? Do you want to pick a senator over a governor? I do not know what they mean.
Your leader, Fayose, is a friend of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, who is having a crisis with the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku—so where does Ekiti PDP stand here?
It is clear that the PDP presidential candidate has emerged in the person of Atiku Abubakar, and that is where we stand in the Ekiti PDP. Nobody is doing any other things.
Despite the emergence of Atiku, who is from the North, Fayose is of the opinion that Nigeria’s next president should come from the South—isn’t that a message for you?
If Governor Fayose said that, that is his personal view and it should be a reaction to a particular thing. That Wike is annoyed today does not mean that Wike is not a PDP member. He has told us that he is not leaving the PDP. He will work for Atiku. He is only aggrieved, and it is normal for individuals to be aggrieved.
When things are resolved, then he will tow the line of the party. They are meeting now to resolve the issues. Nobody in the PDP is doing any other thing; Wike is not contesting Atiku’s candidacy.
Don’t you see the action of the ‘Ekiti PDP Stakeholders’ as a kind of division in the party? Has the party made any effort to address the situation?
As it is, today, the PDP is not divided. The members only have agitation, and it is normal. We do not have any quarrels. We can have as many groups as possible in the party, as long as their target is to work for our people. Those leaders you saw there had the objective of working for Atiku. Those Progressives who returned to PDP from SDP on Wednesday are also working for Atiku. So many other committees will still come up. They are working under the umbrella of PDP.
The PDP has a big umbrella that can accommodate all of them. However, we do not joke with reconciliation.
Immediately after the primary, I led the committee that visited Olusola-Eleka, Segun Oni, Adewale Aribisala, and all those people who participated in the primary election.
After the loss in the election, I also set up another committee that is working.
By now, if not for the distraction (those people asking for the dissolution of EXCO) we would have finished and collated our reports and we would have started implementing the resolutions of the committee.