Kola Ologbondiyan, National Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has said no amount of intimidation will save the APC from defeat in the Saturday’s governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States.
How do you react to the recent impeachment of the Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Simon Achuba by the State House of Assembly?
Except Nigerians stand by constitutional democracy, the APC has already turned our democracy upside down. They promised change in 2015, but all we have seen are negative changes. We have not made any development towards the growth of democracy in Nigeria since the APC came on board. Examples abound to buttress this assertion. In 2014, under the government of the PDP, 20 PDP members in the Nasarawa state House of Assembly gave a notice of impeachment against Governor Tanko Al-Makura. A panel was set up to investigate the allegations levelled against him. The panel however returned a no-guilty verdict and the PDP lawmakers backed off on the impeachment move. But under the APC government, what we did in Kogi State is that the panel which was set up cleared the Deputy Governor, Simon Achuba, of any wrongdoing, yet, the Kogi State House of Assembly went ahead to impeach him. The development in Kogi is an abuse of democratic process. When the panel set up by the Chief Judge of the state gave a no-guilty verdict, that should have ended the matter. Under the provisions of the constitution, when there is a no-guilty verdict, no further proceedings shall take place. But in Kogi, without recourse to the law, they abandoned the report of the panel and impeached the deputy governor. The National Chairman of their party, Adams Oshiomhole went to Edo, his home state but thugs chased him around like a common tout. It took the intervention of the police to rescue him. Are they growing democracy? Look at the elections we have held and look at the roles the APC played in upturning the will of the people. We are appealing to Nigerians to stand on the side of constitutional democracy and that is the only way we can preserve the rules, social justice and all the tenets of democracy, which the PDP has enshrined and will continue to uphold.
Your party lost Ekiti and Osun governorship elections to APC, are you not worried that the same may happen in Kogi and Bayelsa?
It will be difficult to have a repeat of what happened in Osun and Ekiti in Kogi and Bayelsa states because the APC as a party has lost a great number of followership both in Kogi and Bayelsa. The two states are traditional strongholds of PDP. What happened in Kogi in 2015 was that some PDP members who were not happy with certain developments in the party, voted for the APC. But they voted for the late Prince Abubakar Audu who died shortly before the election was concluded. They never voted for Yahaya Bello. As soon as Audu died, Yahaya Bello inherited his votes but, his style of administration, policies and governance have completely alienated him from the people. Maybe it is because he never campaigned in 2015 and had no covenant with the people. His style of governance is absolute mis-governance and misrule and as such, in Kogi State, the people are fed up with him and on a one man; one vote basis, Yahaya Bello cannot have 20 per cent of votes come November 16.
What about Bayelsa State?
Bayelsa is the traditional home of the PDP and the people of the state are ready to continue the development strides of Governor Seriake Dickson. As such, it is very impossible for the APC to win in the state. Whichever way one looks at it, either in Kogi or Bayelsa, the people are standing firm with their party, the PDP and they will be vigilant and resist any attempt by anyone or group to manipulate the elections.
You are sounding very confident on winning the election, but former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Timi Alibe has gone to court to challenge the outcome of the primary election that produced Senator Douye Diri as governorship candidate of the PDP. He claims it was flawed and manipulated. How will the party win with a divided house?
The PDP will go into the election as a united family, we will resolve all the problems; every interest in the party will be reconciled and we will win that election.
Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai says they are coming to nail the coffin and bury the PDP in Kogi State. What is your reaction on that?
Governor el-Rufai must have realised that whatever his party, the APC, perpetuated in Kaduna State in the 2019 general elections can no longer be replayed, not even in Kaduna State or any other state of the federation, not to talk of Kogi State, with its long-standing history of tough resistance to forceful occupation and control. Governor el-Rufai, therefore, should not bother to lead a failed team of an expansionist force into a lost battle. He should rather use the opportunity to counsel Governor Yahaya Bello to accept his rejection by the people of Kogi State and be ready to face the burden of a crushing defeat on November 16.
The APC knows that Governor Bello has gone down in history as the worst governor ever in Nigeria; who cannot point to any development project or initiative in governance and under whom a once vibrant and productive state has been reduced to the poorest and most dejected state in our country. If the APC means well for Kogi State, the party should not waste its time campaigning but rather counsel Yahaya Bello to use the remaining days of his abysmal tenure to show remorse, pay up the 36 month arrears he owes workers and pensioners, make restitution for those who died because of his suppressive rule and get ready with his handover notes. The APC Campaign Council should come to terms with the fact that the people of Kogi State had made up their minds to repay Yahaya Bello in his own coin by kicking him out of office. Therefore, no amount of apologies, intimidations, violence, vote buying and “body bag” metaphor can change their resolve or save Governor Bello from defeat in this election.