.Says mercenaries have hijacked party
BY Taiwo Amodu
Former Works Minister and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe has dismissed as tall dream, the move to reconcile factions laying claim to the national secretariat of the erstwhile ruling party. In this interview, he says only the judiciary can resolve the protracted leadership tussle.
Your party has suffered two aborted conventions in one year, arising from its leadership crisis. What is the way forward and why is reconciliation so difficult?
As far as I am concerned, the Court of appeal should be the finalarbiter. Any attempt to reconcile is deceitful. You see, power game is difficult to down play and trivialize. It will not work. So, l want the court to decide and whichever side wins, will now reconcile with its rival. But if you talk about reconciliation, it will be there forever, because PDP has become a party of merchants and mercenaries.
That’s their means of livelihood; that’s their means of survival, they can negotiate, they can take money from candidates, or aspirants. So, they aren’t interested in politics as service again. To them, it is business now, it is merchandise and you can identify them particularly in the South West and South East. So, if you don’t have the money to be a merchant in politics, or you hold on to a position where you can extract money from aspirants, then you are nothing.
Is this an indictment of the party’s national working committee?
No, they exist in each state and also exist at the National Working Committee. That’s why they fight; the amount of money they make and run away with is unimaginable. So, if you want to fight, why must you fight for a position, as if your life depends on it? If the people say they don’t want you, fine. But there must be a reason why you must insist that it must be you.
Are you saying those pushing for reconciliation are wasting their time?
There is no way it can be done, because the party has been hijacked by merchants, and merchants don’t give up easily, because they want to make a lot of money. In future, elections are coming and that’s what they survive on, aspirants bringing money to them!
It has become merchandise. So, everybody that’s looking at politics in Nigeria as a person who wants to hold a position in order to serve is missing the point. No, there is nothing like that again. So, there is no need for reconciliation, let the court decide.
Do you believe reconciliation hasn’t been working because one of the factions is allegedly being influenced by forces outside the party?
That’s why I call them merchants. They are already counting the amount of resources they will acquire with that position and he has conspirators in each states that are working for him. They are merchants too. They want to sell positions, they want to sell slots, they want to survive. When they can ask governorship aspirants to go and bring N1 billion, to bring N500 million. That’s what they live on, they aren’t in the party to serve. I have watched them, I can identify them, because they don’t have the interest of PDP at heart. Please, let me tell you apart from the fact that PDP exists in each state, we could have won more elections. If you add the votes of dissident people in Oyo, Ogun, Osun, PDP could have won, but the merchants wouldn’t allow it to happen, because they negotiate.
But while you have reservations over reconciliation, some of your colleagues are of the opinion that litigation wouldn’t bring any result but rather prolong the crisis. What is your take?
But if you don’t allow the court, the merchants wouldn’t allow any political solution to work, because they are merchants and very un-reconciliatory. All these reconciliations are total deceit, what they are doing is different. These people can go to court, obtain judgment, modify the judgment and put it in the newspaper—judgment that doesn’t exist because that’s their character. There is no way you can change them, there is no way you can persuade them. Please, don’t persuade them. If they want to go to Supreme Court, let them go, whoever wins is final. That’s how we can achieve reconciliation. That’s my take.
There was a recent PDP zonal summit in Ibadan. Was there any breakthrough because some of you stayed away from the meeting?
Who called the meeting? It was for a purpose. How can you call a meeting where the governors weren’t there, your members of House of Representatives weren’t there? If they had consulted, the leadership of
the party is streamlined. Look, in the PDP Constitution, the governors take precedence, then members of the Senate and House of Representatives. A leader that has no value: he isn’t a senator, not a member of House of Representatives, he just call himself a leader because he wants to collect money. That’s all. He has no value, he isn’t part of the structure of the party.
In specific terms, who is that person?
No, I won’t mention name, the more I describe them, the more you know them, but the time is coming when we are going to tell them that they are merchants. Why are they disturbing the party? Why must it be destroyed? It is unfortunate.
The governors you just mentioned are perceived in certain quarters as the problem of the party; they are accused of high handedness.
They can never be the problem of the party. In fact, they are the soul of the party. The more you ignore the governors, the more problem you will have, because when it comes to states, the governors have responsibilities to the nation, to the citizenry more than you.
Whether you like governors or you don’t like them doesn’t matter; they are there and their role is specified in the constitution. You that have no role in the constitution, you are saying you are the leader of the party and that’s brewing already in APC. You are saying governors aren’t relevant, you won’t get it right, because as far as we are concerned, governors are the coordinators for your party in the states. You cannot ignore them and it is a constitutional position, he is the chief security officer of his state.
But there is a certain leader of the party in the South West who has his own followers, but not accorded recognition by some of you: I am talking about Senator Buruju Kashamu.
How do you move forward in the zone, if some of you continue to pretend as if he doesn’t exist?
It is because of credibility.
But how can you work as one family if you continue to ignore him?
No, there is no way we can ignore him, but he shouldn’t ascribe to himself the leadership of the entire South West. It is better for each state to have its own leadership. It is difficult for one person, the age of Papa Awolowo is gone in the country. If you say an Ijebu person is the leader in Ondo, it is ridiculous; that period is gone. That’s why they are resisting Bola Tinubu.
Don’t you think reconciliation has been difficult, because certain elders of the party have been sidelined and they also decide to sit on the fence: the likes of Chief Alex Ekwueme, pioneer Board of Trustees chairman and Olusegun Obasanjo, two term president?
Well, everybody has his own peculiarities and that’s Nigeria for you. At each stage, you are very, very important and very relevant; at another stage you are anonymous. But what is important is for all of us to know that there is time for everybody and it can never be forever no matter, how endowed you are and the knowledge, the wisdom and money He has given you, it cannot last forever. Sometimes, it will wane; if not, you become God because He has a way of cutting you to size and say, ‘well, you have done your bit, let somebody else come up’ and that’s what is happening.
Again, when Obasanjo said that the party was dead and in Intensive Care Unit, (ICU), how did you feel?
Well, he sees deeper than almost all of us; he has a lot of informed information than almost all of us. He has insight into what is happening and he is an extremely intelligent person and he doesn’t speak frivolously.
Anything he says, he takes time to analyze it. Don’t ignore it, because before he says something, he must have participated in it, he must have observed it before saying it and you know that he won’t repeat it again; he will just say it once and anybody that wants to
listen should listen. If you don’t want to listen, it is at your peril. He has that gift and I give it to him; he shouldn’t be ignored.
But the import of that message is that those of you trying to revive PDP are wasting your time, beating a dead horse. You agree with him?
Well, I don’t know but he has more knowledge than anyone of us.
Definitely, at his level, he doesn’t speak just to be noticed. Remember, he also said something about the APC not living up to expectations. So, he balanced his comments.
Talks about realignment of forces in South-West, ahead of 2019; forces trying to revive the Alliance for Democracy, (AD) and reconciling with Afenifere. Are you involved in the new political movement?
It is futile, it a wild-goose chase; that period is gone. How many of the governors in South West are interfacing with Afenifere? In Ogun State, Oyo and Ekiti? Things have changed. Afenifere is still relevant, but politically things have changed in the states. Nobody has a monopoly of followership in the South-West now.