Says some party leaders discussing merger with others
By ’TUNDE THOMAS
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and member of the party’s Board of Trustees, Senator Bode Olajumoke, has accused two former
presidents, elected on the platform of the party, Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan of laying the foundation of the festering crisis in the party, which is now threatening to destroy it.
He argued that their dictatorial tendencies and pursuit of personal ambitions were responsible for the crisis bedevilling the party.
Senator Olajumoke spoke of how the two former leaders destroyed the party by seeking to control its machinery, without regard to party rules and discipline, actions, he said, caused disenchantment among members.
He particularly said Jonathan’s greed caused the PDP’s defeat in 2015, stressing that the former president had no reason to seek reelection, having agreed to run for only a single term. In spite of the crisis in the PDP, Olajumoke said the ruling APC has not done any better, vowing that his party would bounce back. He also spoke on other national issues.
As a foundation member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, how do you feel about
the current crisis rocking the party?
I believe that PDP is still a formidable party, in spite of this crisis. It is still the most truly national party in outlook in the country. I strongly believe that we will soon get over the crisis and then refocus the party. We are hoping that in the new year, we will be able to chart a new course for the party. PDP has a strong and very enormous structure and that’s the advantage the party has over even APC. Almost half of the entire APC members
emigrated from PDP. PDP is bound to bounce back in due course.
With cases still in court, how come you are sounding optimistic?
I’m very optimistic that PDP will come out of this crisis stronger. Although from the present look of things, it may look as if there is, or should be cause for alarm, but as an elder and with my experience in politics, I strongly believe that PDP will bounce back stronger. Why I say so again is very simple, PDP has a strong structure, and it is one of the reasons why the party has not
collapsed as a result of this crisis.
But what will be your appeal to leaders of the two factions, Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Senator Ali Modu Sheriff?
The PDP Board of Trustees earlier this year spent quality time with both factions, and tried to broker peace. The board is still going to renew that initiative. The gladdening thing is that each faction still claims to be working for PDP and its interests. This is quite
different from having a scenario where the opposition is working
against us. PDP is a very big family and there is bound to be misunderstanding, and this is normal in any family setting.
However, my appeal to both Makarfi, and Sheriff is that they should let good judgment prevail. We should all come back together as members of one family. APC needs a virile opposition. APC has enormous challenges and even within APC some of their leaders have been able to come out and boldly declared that they have crisis. You will recall that APC came together bringing people of diverse interests and ideologies – that’s why APC is today a split house.
Unfortunately the situation in APC should have translated into an advantage for PDP, but because of the crisis in PDP, we have not been able to take advantage of APC’s crisis. PDP by now should have been a very virile opposition party keeping APC on its toes as a watchdog.
Why do you believe that PDP as party is stronger than APC?
The reasons are not far-fetched. Look at most of the APC members, they came from PDP and in terms of structure, PDP, don’t forget, dominated the nation’s political landscape for 16 years. The PDP has a stronger structure than APC – for how long has APC been in existence? Yet the party has been riddled with so many crises.
How do you think PDP crisis can be better resolved?
Dialogue makes a lot of sense. Court adjudication is very artificial and never deep. But when you have genuine and true reconciliation through dialogue, that will endure.
Some people have been asking this question that where were you, elders, before the crisis snowballed to this level, again Sheriff has been claiming that he was invited to take over the party and that he didn’t force himself …
(Cuts in) … Well, Sheriff is right in a sense. But the fact remains that PDP governors should also take a chunk of the blame for this crisis in PDP.
It is sad that the governors arrogated to themselves certain powers, believing that they can do and undo. But that’s what I call impunity. The governors’ action was a clear breach of party’s rules and it amounts to indiscipline. But I believe that the governors inviting Sheriff not withstanding, he (Sheriff) should not allow himself to be seen as a selfish individual who wants to destroy PDP. Sheriff should consider the interests of PDP by stepping aside. He should forget his justified anger, and join hands with others to build PDP. Sheriff should not be directly blamed for PDP crisis, it is the governors that should be held responsible. It is the impunity of the governors that is responsible for the crisis. But for the sake of peace, Sheriff should step aside now.
Are the governors above the party?
No. Every elected or non-elected members of the party including the president and state governors are supposed to
be guided by party’s rules and regulations, and when they flout any of the party’s rules, they can be sanctioned. That’s the way it should be. But unfortunately the rot we have in our political system today where the president and state governors behave as if they are Alpha and Omega, or above the political party through which they get elected into office is very unfortunate. But former President Olusegun Obasanjo should be held responsible for
this bastardisation of our political system. I recall vividly that it was only late President Umaru Yar’Adua that tried to reverse the ugly trend.
Obasanjo and Jonathan sowed seed of impunity. The same impunity that is causing crisis in PDP. When Obasanjo was in power, he behaved like an emperor. He put himself over and above PDP and nobody could challenge or look at him in the face. He was a dictator.
Yar’Adua tried to reverse the trend, but unfortunately he didn’t live long. Unfortunately, Goodluck Jonathan that succeeded Yar’Adua continued in Obasanjo’s footstep. He considered himself as the owner of PDP. Obasanjo and Jonathan should be held responsible in a way for the crisis rocking PDP.
When former President Olusegun Obasajo started taking steps to change the status quo in the party , why wasn’t
he challenged by other party members?
Obasanjo was a Supremo Generalissimo. He was dictatorial in everything. He didn’t tolerate opposing views. He brook no opposition. Whatever he wanted he rolled it down or forced it down the throat of other party members. There were complaints. But who dared challenge the lion, as it were then? This was the beginning of indiscipline in the party, because the state governors now after Obasanjo were behaving and taking similar actions as Obasanjo was doing at the centre in their own respective states. But this is very abnormal. It is not the norm, and PDP is paying the price today.
In the politics of First, Second and Third republics, the parties were supreme, and that was why you have the president and state governors deferring to party chairmen on issues relating to the party, but Obasanjo and Jonathan bastardised everything.
But some people have described former President Jonathan as a gentleman, and that he was not a military ruler like Obasanjo, so why was it difficult for him to reverse the ugly trend?
But Jonathan enjoyed what he inherited from Obasanjo. He was determined to have absolute control over the party and the Federal Government. But this is a manifestation of dictatorship. Jonathan and Obasanjo’s determination to pursue their own selfish interests eventually hurt PDP’s interests as a political party. Both of them laid the foundation for PDP crisis. But my hope is that as we grow in our democracy, things will return to normal.
Is it true as some people have claimed that you elders in the PDP didn’t take assertive actions at the initial stage of the crisis, because PDP governors led by Governor Ayodele Fayose asked you elders to take a back seat and allow younger elements to be in control of the party’s affairs?
I also recollected the governors saying so, but I’m sure the governors must be regretting their action now. Their action has boomeranged, and I’m sure today they must be pondering over their action by asking elders to take a back seat – words of elders are words of wisdom. There is no society that wants to progress that will shun its elders.Any society that shuns its elders will be doomed. It is absolute nonsense to ask elders who build the party to step aside or take a back seat.
How do you feel about the PDP loss in the recent gubernatorial election in Ondo state?
I’m a democrat. I believe that what happened in Ondo State is a manifestation of democracy in action. What do you expect to happen to a government that didn’t meet the yearnings and aspirations of the people? You must remember that the electorate had enormous power to remove a government that has not been responding positively to the yearnings and aspirations of the people. That’s what happened in Ondo State.
Forget about the PDP crisis, Ondo State people used their votes to express themselves. Yes, Jimoh Ibrahim’s factor is there. But Jimoh’s role in the events that led to PDP’s loss is also a form of protest – he certainly wasn’t happy with the political settings under Governor (Olusegun) Mimiko. Before the election, Jimoh Ibrahim had always been coming out to openly voice his disagreement with some of Mimiko’s policies. PDP’s loss in Ondo State is sad, but that was what happened when a government failed to live up to expectations of the people. Mimiko should be blamed for PDP loss. If he had provided good governance, PDP would have won.
Two notable members of PDP in the Southwest who were once friends and political allies have now suddenly become political foes. That’s talking about Governor Ayodele Fayose, and Senator Buruji Kashamu, with fears being raised that the feud between the two may further weaken PDP especially in the Southwest …
(Cuts in) … We are already making moves to reconcile them. Both of them are assets to PDP. The two of them are formidable. We can’t afford to lose Fayose to another party, and same for Kashamu now. Both of them will be reconciled. It is a must for the party to do so.
What’s your take on the speculated formation of a new mega political group?
Honestly, I don’t think formation of a mega party is the answer to our democratic challenges. You remember that APC is also a mega political party, but has anything changed? Nothing has changed. Can you say that Nigerians now know the difference between PDP and APC? I will say APC and PDP are birds of the same feather. They are the same folks. It is same group that you have in power. Nothing has changed. There is no difference between APC and PDP. The difference you have is in the name.
Party affiliation notwithstanding, what will be your advice to President Muhammadu Buhari?
He should re-invent the economy. President Buhari has not shown enough will to re-invent the economy. At times I wonder whether the man is now tired or bereft of ideas. I was an admirer of Buhari. Although I didn’t vote for him during the
2015 general elections, I voted for him in his previous attempt to get power; I voted for Buhari even as a member of PDP because I had so much confidence in him. But so far, I’m not impressed by him. It is very sad the way things are. It is evident that the economy is suffering, although the economic recession is a global thing, there are ways we can still
manage our own that it will provide relief to Nigerians. President Buhari should do something fast to ameliorate the sufferings of Nigerians.
Do you share the views and opinions of some PDP members that PDP would have still be in power if former President Jonathan had not sought a second term?
I agree absolutely with those saying so. There was no need for Jonathan to seek a second term. There was an understanding in place, but he breached it.
However, it was opportunists that surrounded him that kept on goading Jonathan that he should run. But sincerely speaking, Jonathan has no business running for a second term. There was agreement he consented to that he would only serve a term, but sadly Jonathan reneged thereby making PDP to lose 2015 general elections. Jonathan has been so blessed by God. What was he looking for second term for? He has no business running for a second term, but he succeeded in messing up the party because of personal ambition. Anybody PDP put down especially from the North would have won that presidential election in 2015.
Some people are saying that the ongoing reconciliation within PDP, will be incomplete without reaching out to former President Olusegun Obasanjo…
(Cuts in) … To me, I believe that no individual should be regarded as super hero, or that a particular individual should not be subjected to party discipline.
For former President Obasanjo, if he chooses to come back to PDP, he is welcomed, and if he decides not to come, good luck to him. But I still remember that Obasanjo openly tore his PDP membership card and also openly vowed not to have anything to do with the party again. An individual doesn’t make a party. I think PDP should be forward looking, we should not be going to the past again.
Yes, Obasanjo could have money, influence and grassroots support, but that should not be the only determining factor in wooing a person or inviting a person into a political party. An individual joining a political party must be ready to subject himself or herself to party discipline and party supremacy, but is Obasanjo ready to do that? We should also not forget some of his actions when he was in PDP. As I said earlier, an individual doesn’t make a party.