By Ndubuisi Orji
Remi Akitoye is the former Acting National Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. In this interview, he bares his mind on the quest of the South West chapter of the PDP to produce the next national chairman of the party and other issues.
What is your reaction to the visit by some of your party members to Senator Ali-Modu Sheriff over who becomes the next PDP National Chairman?
It is not the South-West advocating. The zoning formula placed long time ago is now to be implemented and automatically, South- West will have a shot at the chairmanship of the party. So, if some caucus went to Abuja to greet the new chairman, a gentleman by every standard, a competent man, Sen. Ali- Modu Sheriff, who I believe will surely lead the party well, it is good. But it is not behoving on them to say South-West does not want the chairmanship now. We want it. It is zoned to us in the papers of zoning that is already there, except some people want to change it now and it is only the NEC that can change it; it is not just the visitation of some people; a small group of people who are not the leading leaders of the South-West to go and talk on behalf of the South-West.
Thank God our respåectable Senator, Buruji Kashamu has come out to say he is a leader and he is truly a leader. Kashamu spends money to mobilize. If tomorrow, you ask Kashamu to mobilize to fill the National Stadium, he will do it. He is a true leader for mobilization in the South-West and I thank God for people like him to have come out and say I am not the leader, the arrowhead of the South-West but a leader in the South- West. We have leaders like Bode George, who is the arrowhead presently and until further developments, he remains the leader of the South-West, of Lagos State.
There are other people like Babatope, there are other people like Shuaib Oyedokun; there are other leaders in the South-West that will sit down and decide what comes to the South-West and what comes how to be handled. It is not just some people paying visitation to Abuja – social visitation to Abuja to start talking about South-West. Nobody has made that decision. The decision at present is that the chairman should come from the South- West. And we in the South-West desire it; we want it and we will take it.
But the party is yet to release its zoning formula for this coming convention?
It is that zoning formula that we all are waiting for. NEC in its last meeting decided that Sherriff with the present core of the National Working Committee people should constitute a committee to do the zoning. So, two issues are developing now. If we are going to look at what has been zoned in the past, because the zoning in the past is what has given the North-East the chairmanship and that is why Sherriff himself can come in now and other people – Mu’azu; even Bamanga Tukur. That is the zoning of the past. If it is going to be rearranged now, which NEC has asked that it should be done, we will be demanding the chairmanship for the South West.
Are you saying that those who went to Abuja do not have the mandate to speak for the zone – that is the South-West?
No! They don’t have that power. Power generates from the grassroots. So, there must have been some consensus of caucuses of elders’ meeting of those that said okay, this is our stand. When they went there, you can’t see any officer that is from the zone. You can’t see national officers representing the South-West.
But the National Vice Chairman for the Zone was there?
Because of caucuses, one thing you must emphasize is that PDP as whole must be thanking Fayose for now. We must honour him. We must hold him tight because he is the frontrunner for the reestablishment of the reengineered PDP. So, we must thank Fayose. If you call Fayose today, he won’t tell you that if the South-West wants the chairman, he would rather even want it to come to the South-West. So, if they say some people gathered themselves for solidarity visit and start making decisions that affect the whole South-West, if Bode George, if Shuab Oyedokun, if all our other leaders were there, we will say oh! they have met on our behalf and they are going there to say a policy that affects the whole of South-West.
Since last general election, the Lagos chapter of the PDP have been in crisis, where does it lead the PDP in the state?
You see! It is the problem that we must face squarely. If just one person called Musuliu Obanikoro can reconcile himself, can be submissive to discipline, and the constitution of the party, Lagos State has no problem at all. We have only disagreements. That’s no problem but like we’ve rightly said, this disagreement is from here to here and here to here. I don’t want to call it like the personal ambition of one person; it is either I get the governorship of Lagos State or I scatter it and that is what is happening in Lagos State now. They have changed names severally. LSM, Patriots, “I No Go Gree”. It is the same set of people who believe in Koro and the party does not say Koro is bad or good. The electorate are the people who decide who and who is elected, not selected; elected.