“I can tell you that out of ten or eleven presidential aspirants, one will win the primary. The managers of PDP are seasoned politicians.”
Wole Oke, member of the House of Representatives, represents Obokun/Oriade federal constituency. Oke, a lawyer and chairman, House committee on public procurement speaks on various issues including this Saturday’s governorship election in Osun State.
It has been a case of mixed blessing for your party in recent times, what are your thoughts?
It’s not anything new. The same scenario played out in 2014. What you are seeing today is similar. What it signposts is that victory is on the horizon, that PDP should get prepared for celebration. It’s as simple as that. In 2014, about five governors defected from the PDP and joined in forming the APC.
How do you then react to the claim by the APC that President Buhari will get re-elected no matter what?
What do you expect them to say? They never said anything new. That is what they will keep on telling you. Let’s see how it goes. Nigerians will decide who they are going to entrust their future to in 2019. APC will field their presidential candidate; other parties will field their presidential candidates. A formidable coalition will present a candidate on the platform of PDP and we’ll slug it out.
PDP remains the largest party in Africa and you can see that those who defected from the party are gradually coming back, so I have no fear in my mind that the Nigerian electorate will vote PDP. They are like a wife who has the privilege of testing two husbands. They’ve tried PDP, they’ve tried APC. Under PDP, they bought a bag of rice for eight thousand naira, under APC, they bought it for N16, 000, and so they are in a better position to make up their minds on which husband to stick to.
How do you then react to APC’s claim that if PDP had won in 2015, Nigeria may have ceased to exist?
That remains a speculation. The government of the day do not really understand what political economy management is. They have no clue. They don’t even understand, they don’t have the technocrats. They don’t have the professionals and even where they do, I doubt their opinions on economic matters. That is just the fact. There were policy somersaults, mismatch, and so things got out of their hands. They don’t even understand how to manage the economy.
Managing the outcome of the presidential primary is one of the issues your party would have to contend with, does this not bother you?
We’ve learnt a lot of lessons. It is better to be a member of the ruling party than to be in the opposition. I can tell you that out of ten or eleven presidential aspirants, one will win the primary. The managers of PDP are seasoned politicians. They have the experience. We know how to manage ourselves, so I don’t have any fear about that.
Are you comfortable with the usage of direct primary?
We don’t use direct primary, we use delegate system. We don’t have the infrastructure to manage that in the country. You saw what happened in Osun APC. It was a sham. That was why the party went into oblivion. We don’t have sound database, you can’t identify who is a member of your party clearly, so it’s tough.
Your party needs a strong candidate to rival President Buhari, especially in the north, would this happen?
There are so many factors that we have to take into consideration, you can see the youth agenda. It’s a factor that nobody should play with. Among the aspirants, there are many young people who are running, we have the zoning factor. Now, the north has two terms, so you need a candidate that can complete a second term for the north before power can shift back to the south, so you have to begin to look at which candidate. These are some of the factors that will determine so many things. Even perception, is a factor. Unlike what happened in 2015; it will be a northern candidate against a northern candidate. I can tell you it is not yet Uhuru for President Buhari.
Are you not worried that the APC is trying to make an in – road into PDP’s strong hold of South-East and South-South?
We are not bothered because the South-South people know themselves and they are very mindful of who they pitch their tent with. One of two people who were been threatened right, left and centre gave in, capitulated and left the party. That does not sign post that the South-East or South-South will give in. I can tell you for free that APC won’t go far in South-South and South-East, even in the South-West. The signs are very clear. The signs we are seeing in Osun were the signs we saw in 2003. Recall that in 1999, AD won all the states in the South-West and in 2003, PDP came and won in five out of the six states. The signs that gave us victory in 2003 are there to see. All things been equal, South -West will go to PDP in 2019, even including Lagos State.
The Osun governorship election is here, won’t the APC factor work?
It won’t work. One, APC has made it easier for PDP to win the election by not picking its candidate from the west senatorial district. APC picked their candidate from a zone that had produced Chief Bisi Akande and Prince Oyinlola. APC also produced Governor Aregbesola, my brother, from the east senatorial district. Osun people are very reasonable, very fair minded. The consensus is that the next governor should come from Osun west. That was why PDP went for a candidate in the west; even other parties picked their candidates from the west. I don’t see APC going far.
There are two major parties in Osun State, APC and PDP. The fact is that the electorate have compared both parties and majority of them have seen that they suffered so much under APC. 80 percent of the people in Osun State are finding it difficult to survive. The civil servants don’t get their salaries as at when due. The government patronise contractors that are non indigenes of the state, so there is capital flight. When you take these into consideration, coupled with the fact that we need to be fair to Osun West by allowing them to produce the next governor. The fact that APC picked their candidate from the central secretarial district is a fundamental error. Also, majority of the members of APC have left and regrouped under another party. I am very confident that the PDP will emerge victorious at the end of the day.