Indiscipline is destroying PDP – Dr Saka Balogun

A former Chief of staff in Oyo state and chieftain of the People Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Saka Balogun, speaks on the party’s crisis in Oyo and its implication for president Goodluck Jonathan’s second term bid, among other issues.

As a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State, you seem to be very unhappy about the disunity in the party…?
The title ‘chieftain’ is so common and widespread now that one is even afraid of accepting that one is a chieftain because the title is borne by people who are thugs. As to whether I am happy or not, I am obviously not happy because the PDP in Oyo has the opportunity of developing better than we have done. We have the opportunity of taking over this government by 2015 because not only do we have a record of performance in the eight years preceding this administration, we have men of intelligence and proven integrity and who can do things better. And fortunately for us, the present administration has not been able to perform well. A few things are there to be seen. But they know why and how they did it. To the best of my knowledge, they are not working for the welfare of the people but for the benefit and affluence of the few.Many people are hitching to join the PDP from other parties. But because we are broken into factions in PDP, they do not know where to go. That is what makes me very sad as one of the leaders in Oyo PDP.

What is the way out for the party or is the party doomed to fail again in 2015?
The way out is to restructure the leadership of the party completely. And what I mean by restructuring is removing all the executives and starting all over. I hope we have seen the problem and have learnt our lessons. I believe many of the leaders, if not most of us, will be ready to accept reality, that they are only leaders in a situation that they have followers.

If they have followers, they will not be afraid of any election at any given time. So, let us re-organise all the congresses from ward to local government and then to the state level. Genuinely acceptable representatives will emerge as officers from the fresh congresses and they will have the confidence of their colleagues, the leadership of their followers and the confidence of their mentors. If I see myself as a leader, no matter how highly I feel, I still look up to my mentor. So, if we allow a genuine congress to take place at every level, genuine leaders at the various levels will emerge and then there won’t be this struggle about who is the leader because genuine leadership will emerge. With this, we will be able to harness the potential of the PDP and such potential is tremendous in the State by my assessment.

The party appears not lacking in leadership as Chief Yekeen Adeojo was said to have been unanimously adopted as the leader of the party for the state.
Who adopted him? That is not to my knowledge and I think I know a little about this party to be very humble. Alhaji Yekeen Adeojo is one of the leaders, just like me. I don’t know who appointed him as the leader because, there is a difference between a leader and the leader. Adeojo is a leader not the leader. That is my own perception of leadership within Oyo PDP.

Your party gave away the governorship position in the state in 2011 because some of the leaders teamed up with the opposition owing to irreconcilable differences which are yet to be resolved. Is Oyo PDP obviously jinxed even before the 2015?
If you say the PDP is jinxed, I think is just being superficial or shallow. It is not a question of anything being miraculous or being jinxed. The people, who made it impossible for PDP to win in 2011, are the same set of people that are arrogating to themselves, the leadership of the party now. The same people are either being used by the existing government to further destabilise this party, so that whatever the level of their low performance of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), they still think they will be able to win again in 2015. Some of these people are saboteurs and are alleged to being paid to sabotage the efforts of PDP in the state. Others are afraid that, because they sabotaged us in 2011 and now that they want to be at the helm of affairs, they are afraid that some other people will make it impossible for them to win. So, it is a question of if you can’t get it, spoil it. These are the two aspects of the problem that I see in the PDP.

If those whom you accused of sabotaging the party in the last election are now arrogating to themselves the leadership of the PDP, doesn’t that speak volumes that your party lacks discipline?
Yes and this is a part of the problem. In fact, indiscipline is the kernel of Oyo PDP crisis. But does it manifested only at the state level? Don’t you see it at the national level? Indiscipline, that is the problem. Otherwise, how could a so-called leader go to the radio and assert that he worked against his own party in the 2011 elections and yet the leadership at the national level will be doing business with that kind of person without applying sanctions. Was that heard of in any disciplined party? I can’t deceive myself, there is a large measure of indiscipline in PDP.

Many PDP leaders have written several letters to the national secretariat on the need to re-structure the party in the state without any meaningful outcome. If before 2015, the Bamangar Tukur-led National Working Committee does not yield to your request, what would you do?
I am not a fortune-teller; I am not clairvoyant. But from my experience in politics and from my study of history of different parts of the world, PDP is not likely to make any headway unless there is a re-structuring of the party in Oyo… Why? This is because the people who openly sabotaged the party in the last election and who continue to boast of their ability to sabotage, are getting the support of some leaders at the national level because of their past offices ex-this, ex-that, which they still tie on to, unbeknown to the national officers that those former officer holders are living in the past. Attachment to former offices will not hold any water because some of them, while holding such offices, really made things bad for themselves; they made enemies of themselves because they never assisted the people who voted them there. In spite of this, the party’s hierarchy at the national level continues to fraternise with them. This is counter-productive in terms of political relevance in Oyo. The built-in contradiction in this matter, where saboteurs are seen as tin gods, is a problem for PDP the people they hold in high esteem at the national level are nothing here in Oyo but are imposed as leaders.

You parted way during the congresses held in the state in 2012.
We had the problem of two parallel congresses on March 17, 2012. Those, who held theirs at Olubadan Stadium felt that those of us who held our congress at Awolowo Stadium with people who openly sabotaged the party in 2011, were not being faithful to the party. For that reason and others, they decided not to join us to hold the congress with renegades and saboteurs and they chose to hold their’s at Olubadan Stadium. I was part of the so-called legal and authentic congress at the Awolowo Stadium. The outcome of the congress did not smack of any legitimacy in terms of the party’s constitution. This is because even if we are going to have consensus candidates, they will have to be subjected to election, but they never did because the congress did not start until about 4:00 p.m. That was where we had the official panel from Abuja which authenticated the wishy-washy result of the congress. The other faction at the Olubadan Stadium did not have a single representation in the list of so-called executives drawn at the Awolowo Stadium congress. Worse still, even the results of the so-called concocted congress were further bastardised, distorted and manipulated by Teslim Folarin who owned up to doing so and who warned us before the congress that ,“Baba, what are talking about on the congress? We will write the result and we have already got a stamp to authenticate it in Abuja.” And that is precisely what is happening.

That is enough reason for any transparent party leadership to nullify that kind of congress and its results. Not only that, the result of the congresses that were held at the lower level was also changed.

If we want genuine reconciliation, those who stayed away and held their own separate congress for genuine dissatisfaction with the system, should be integrated into the new executives. Initially, we were toying with the idea of harmonisation, but this was not allowed to work because those who manipulated the lists insisted that no one should touch the names on the list as approved by them

What do you think could be the reason Folarin and his group are holding tenaciously to the party structure in the state?
I think they felt that was the best way to achieve their ambition of becoming the governor or whatever position they want to hold. We even heard that they have been sharing offices among themselves. That is just in the area of speculation anyway. They felt they would be able to have their way in terms of nomination, but that will not hold water.

Don’t you see the ticket firmly in Folarin’s grip, since his group controls the party structure in the state?
Which ticket? Are they looking for the ticket or the governorship seat? It is possible for the party to say That is my candidate. Give him the ticket. But, it is a different thing to enjoy the support of the masses, the electorate to win election as governor. Having a ticket is not synonymous with being elected as governor. So, if the party is serious and really keen on getting the PDP governor elected in Oyo, that executive should not stand. It should be dissolved. It is a collective thing in politics; it is not a one-man show.

During the festivities, posters announcing the pending declaration of interest by former governor Adebayo Alao-Akala have flooded strategic cities in the state. Do you see him contesting the governorship position again?
I don’t know because he has not discussed that with me.

But if and when he does, do you think he is still electable?
Like any other aspirant and being a member of the PDP, he is eligible to contest. Other aspirants have also come to me seeking my support. The process is well-laid out in our constitution as to how to pick the candidate. So, for now, all governorship aspirants in PDP remain aspirants.

Alao-Akala is from Ogbomosho and some people will say it cannot be the turn of the city to produce the next governor, with a son of the zone having occupied the position for about five years.
That depends on the quality of the people who come from other places. If you find the man from Ogbomosho the best material for the position, why do you want to be parochial and be unnecessarily irredentist in terms of where he comes from, especially since we have not sat down to say this is the zoning pattern. Generally, zoning is part of the general principles of PDP in organising elections. So, I think for now, the race is open to any aspirant from any zone. That is my own perception of it, not necessarily what it should be.

It is being said in some quarters that Alao-Akala is no more relevant in Ogbomosho, having ceased to be governor coupled with the fact that leaders from other parties have made huge inroads into the Ogbomosho terrain and consequently whittled down his influence in the zone.
That is not true; that is a lie. It is not only that Alao-Akala is relevant in Ogbomosho politics, he is relevant in the politics of the State as a whole. Let anybody who is not realistic stop deceiving himself or herself. I am from Ogbomosho and I see him as very prominent and relevant, not just in politics but also in other aspects of life- social life for instance. In fact, he is more relevant in social life than I am because he mixes and is a socialite.

What implication does the non-resolution of this crisis portend for the second term bid of President Goodluck Jonathan?
It depends. Voting for President Jonathan is not predicated on a single factor of unity of the party. In the last election, people from ACN as they were called then, voted for Jonathan. It may not directly affect him, but in terms of unity of purpose and because the scenario has changed (the former ACN are now APC see themselves not just as political adversaries, but they want to turn themselves to political enemies of the president), so that there is a danger of division within the party itself. If we are then not united, it becomes double jeopardy in terms of protecting the interest of the president.

So, it is in the interest of the president himself to ensure that we unite so that we can work together for him. What we now have is unlike the situation in 2011 when both friends and opponents just accepted him in the South-West region. The political calculation has changed and the president must also realise this and work hard, so that his own party in Oyo will be unified so that we can all work together for him. But that does not mean if the unity is not there, we cannot vote or work for him. We can organise to vote for the president without supporting a particular candidate that is not popular in the state.

APC is profiting from your crisis at the national level. The opposition party has netted five of your governors, taken over the House of Representatives and is raring to go to the Senate and consequently take over the central government in 2015 to fix the country.

That is their wish and wishes are no horses; otherwise, fools will ride. We now have our crisis and theirs is at their doorstep and will soon come. APC will soon implode. I believe some of our governors that have left have genuine reasons for leaving. But if we tidy up, I believe we can still reconcile. That is my genuine opinion. I will plead with leaders to do things well and appropriately in the party. Even now, we can still reconcile. 2015 is still a long way in politics. Between now and the next one month, tremendous changes can happen in politics. So, the APC will try to benefit from the current crisis in the PDP. This is legitimate and if they have a problem, we will also exploit it. But, I think they are not as stable and tested as they think they are and as some of us know they are. There are still too many hurdles in the way of APC which they have to clear. It is still possible for some of the five PDP governors to come back. But, maybe one or two may not come back if their grievances are genuinely resolved.

There is no love lost between Agboola and Akala over the Oyo North Senator
Has Alao-Akala indicated interest in the ticket?

Speculations are linking him with the ticket
That is a mere speculation. But if Alao-Akala decides to contest for Oyo North Senatorial election, from the little that I know of that zone, he will have a field day, irrespective of the incumbency of Senator Agboola. We are very familiar with that terrain and Ogbomosho bloc is solid and I mean it. I won’t say more.

What is the relationship between the Misiter of State for FCT, Jumoke Akinjide and Alao-Akala? Some say there are at loggerheads.
It is not true. You know some people will like to exploit any given situation to their own advantage. In this case, there are a few people who initially were not happy that Akinjide and Alao-Akala are very close. To start with, Akinjide benefitted from the support Alao-Akala gave to her when the latter was the governor. Even when she was to become a minister, Alao-Akala’s support was also there, though anyone else could have made contributions here and there. All these are recognised and appreciated by Akinjide. Immediately she became a minister, the mutual understanding, the confidentiality were there. Most of the things, a Minister is saddled with, in terms of welfare of the people, she was channeling through Alao-Akala either directly or through the nominees of the former governor. But some people are not happy about that and started saying ‘you are the leader’ and so on. This created some kind of gap. But that has for long been taken care of. For now, Akinjide and Alao-Akala are doing very well together because we insisted that that is how it should be and how we can make headway.

Can the two of them take PDP in Oyo to greater heights in2015?
I will say that everybody must come on board because, if they can even do it, they will do it easier and better with the support of everybody. Figure nine cannot become 10 if it stands aloof from figure one. But if the two groups and other leaders, that is, Akinjide and Alao-Akala and other leaders come together, Folarin will not be able to stop us.

 

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