Former National Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP), South West, Chief Eddy Olafeso, has reviewed his party’s recent victory at the recent Osun governorship election, noting that PDP’s victory at the poll signifies the rejection of the All Progressives Congress (APC) by Nigerians.
Olafeso, in an interview with NDUBUISI ORJI, stated that Nigerians are fed up with the APC and would not hesitate to vote out the ruling party from office in the forthcoming 2023 general elections.
He asserted that with Osun State in the opposition party’s kitty, the PDP is confident of winning more states in the South West, as well as the presidential election in next year’s general elections.
What is the significance of the PDP victory in the just concluded Osun State gubernatorial election?
It is enormous. It pricks the minds of Nigerians of how much they are tired of the APC’s governance of the country in the last six to seven years, and the fact that enough is enough for this moment. That all the promises they made in 2015, none of them ever happened. The country is going down the drain. It is on the precipice, awaiting a total fall and destruction. So, the people are extremely very tired of the APC. I think they are handing out their punishment and what will happen in the general elections of February 2023. Osun symbolizes the new reawakening of the nation.
But there are argument in some quarters that the people actually voted for Adeleke and not the PDP, and that the infighting in the APC is probably responsible for the outcome of the election.
That is true. Senator Ademola Adeleke fought for a long time. He was robbed in 2018 and he remained. He was resolute to rescue his people from the claws of poverty and misery that they (the APC) have turned Osun into. So, if you say well that it is because of Senator Ademola Adeleke that we won, it is right. But the fact is that he is a product of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He served as a senator under us. And he ran under us in 2018. So, his perseverance, his persistence earned him that position. But please, do not doubt that apart from the PDP, every citizen of Osun had enough of the APC. It is a result of many factors – the PDP as an alternative platform, the candidate that has distinguished himself in the struggle, the entire Osun people that are very resolute to do away with the lackluster, non-performing government. So, there are all factors that actually played together in this.
Now that your party has regained Osun, what next for the PDP in the South West as we go into the 2023 elections?
In a recent interview with another newspaper, I have said it that this is going to be a quantum leap for us in the South West. We are going to win in more states in the South West, by the grace of God, in the general elections of 2023. We have enough time to be able to mend fences and work very hard to win those places. And the symbolism of the victory in Osun is the fact that it is the home base of the APC candidate. And if he has been uprooted from Osun, then what is left for him? Everybody was thinking that was their strongest base in the South West; but it has just been taken out. It just shows that the APC has nothing to offer the Nigerian people anymore. And I am very confident that across the South West, the PDP will do far better.
You see, don’t look further to see the reason why people prefer the PDP. In 2015, you know the pump price of petrol. In 2015, you know how much a bag of rice was bought. In 2015, you know the exchange of the dollar. In 2015, you the state of security and insecurity. Look at what has happened today. Senseless, needless killings. Violence all over the land. Kidnapping and banditry. I think the Nigerian people are just firing the warning signal to the APC that enough is enough. And we are going to win the South West too.
Talking about closing ranks, in many of your state chapters, including Osun State, party leaders are working at cross purposes, with some in court. Would that not affect the PDP in 2023?
Isn’t that democracy for you, to resolve your matters within the framework of judiciary and constitution of the land, and ensuring that you don’t take the law into your hand? If anything is being queried in court, the court will look at the veracity of your claims and give you judgment. To me, that does not stop this train moving. We believe in the PDP that people are free to challenge whatever they want to challenge and the truth will prevail. For Senator Ademola Adeleke, he has fulfilled all the requirements to be our candidate and he won the election. No matter how anybody thinks otherwise, the court will hand them over whatever judgment that is within the framework and ensure that he is not cheated. He is the governor of Osun State come November. No matter what anybody does, that will never change.
Believe me, democracy is not the absence of disagreements. It is the resolution that is different. Nobody is shooting at each other. Nobody is wreaking violence on one another. We are all going out to say, “it should have been like this.” And we will allow the court to interpret what the law says about what we think it should be. So, for that, there is no issue at all. Parties are allowed to engage themselves and ensure that they find equity and fairness within the framework of the laws of the land.
The outcome of your party’s presidential primary, especially the nomination of a running mate, has been trailed by controversy, with some governors in your party staying away from party functions. Does this not bother you?
It shouldn’t bother me. I am a former member of the National Working Committee of this party. And I understand that not every governor will be present in every occasion or in every event of the party. And the truth is that, if there are certain misgivings about the choice of who the vice presidential candidate is, we will resolve it within ourselves.
I am so surprised that in the media, every issue is a crisis. There is a clear distinction between crisis and disagreement. When disagreement festers without solution, it becomes a crisis. But none of these issues have actually festered without a solution. So, just take it for granted that the party will resolve itself. Our internal mechanism is adequate for us to resolve whatever the challenges are. So, do not worry about nothing. We are going to be all right. And we are going to sort our challenges out within the laws of the party and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
How far has the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar gone in galvanising the party for the 2023 contest?
He is doing extremely well. I believe Atiku is not new to the rest of the country. The people are going to make their choices. And they have seen what the APC has become in their own nonchalant and probably disregard for the sensitivity of a fledging democracy and a diverse plural society like ours; and their inability to actually find a common ground on which many of us can relate together as one, the problem with the country, the division that has visited us within the last seven years is adequate for them to be sensitive to all segments of the society. But APC is deaf and they are probably dumb. And their decisions will make Nigerians vote them out in 2023.
It is the choice of the PDP to pick somebody from the North; because if you look at the power acquisition between 1999 till date, you will know that the North just did a couple of years under President Yar’Adua. And since that time, there have not been anything.
Besides, in a democracy, we do not have to do what the APC is doing. We have the choice to pick our candidate and Nigerians have the right to vote who they want to vote for. Don’t let us even bother ourselves about one is from the North and the other one is from the South. What have they done to ensure that this kind of killings, the violence and the horrible situation in the country is abated in the last six, seven years? People will vote. Nigerians have been completely rubbished. There is no middle class anymore. Poverty has taken over the land. There is so much going for our party They have increased the pump price of fuel; with an inflation that has gone bizarre. Unemployment that is the highest since independence. What exactly are they coming back to do after six, seven years and plunging the nation to the situation it has been? You know exactly what is going on. The people will speak very loud come February 2023.
There are insinuations that the exit of some of your former party leaders, like Peter Obi in the South and Rabiu Kwankwaso in the North, will deplete PDP support base in 2023
Is there any party that people are not moving from one place to the other? It is part of democracy. The right to make your own choice. For me, when somebody leaves and others are coming in, there is not so much to lose. I wish we could all work together. But you cannot stop the individual aspiration of people who want to be this or that.
So, let them test their popularity with the people. If they win, they become the issue and the focus of the nation. If they lose, maybe in future, they will learn to make a better choice. For me, I think the PDP is getting stronger by the day. And I believe that we can win come 2023. Nigerians have nothing to test or any experiment to make with APC anymore. I think the game is over for them.