Before Honourable Soji Adangunodo emerged as the Osun State chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he was a member of the state House of Assembly. In this interview with TUNDE BUSARI, he speaks of a more vibrant PDP, set to reclaim its lost power. Excerpts:
How did your party get to its present predicament?
Telling that story is not what is important again. It should no longer be anybody’s business now that we are fast departing from that past and making meaningful strides towards the future. But I must say that there is nothing we passed through that is unusual in politics. Our experience is normal in democracy and party politics. You are in politics for a purpose or for a number of purposes. You are there to better your community, local government, state, zone or your country. You may also be there to pursue your personal interest. Basically, interest is the purpose of being in politics. So aggregation of the interests is the strength of a party.
It could be a weakness if individual interests are allowed to subsume collective interest. Such conflicts of interest naturally result in division and internal crisis. It is not peculiar to our party. We all see what the ruling party, which has not even spent two years in office, is contending with. What does this tell you? It says in PDP, we are not passing through a strange experience. I think we also deserve a credit for our unprecedented record of ruling for 16 uninterrupted years. It never happened in our political history. I am assuring you that we are bouncing back sooner than imagined because Nigerians under just one year have seen the difference between a welfarist government and one pursuing a narrow goal.
As a former lawmaker, how can you describe the Osun State House of Assembly then and now?
We are talking of a different setting and time. In our time at Osun State House of Assembly, we worked according to the principle of democracy. We enjoyed internal democracy in the house and this helped government to remain focused and deliver the dividends of democracy to the people of the state. What we had then is a contrast to what obtains now. In our time, members were not restricted in exercising their rights and performing their duties. Under such circumstance, the house is not independent and the principle of democracy is insulted. An important tenet of democracy is separation of power among three branches of government.
Do you think your party will bounce back in 2019?
Mark my words and watch developments as they unfold. Nothing can stop us. We have what it takes to bounce back and chase the ruling party to where it rightly belongs. The truth which Nigerians should understand and in fact appreciate is that APC is a natural opposition party. It is very good in that role. But when it comes to governance itself, it is not so, as we are all witnessing now. Our national convention is going to be a turn around from our immediate past experience. We are coming out in a stronger form to restore the public hope in a government that cares for them. The leadership that emerges will take the party to a higher level that will be too difficult for the ruling government to ignore.
Nigerians should expect a more vibrant opposition party, a party which is not out to live only on propaganda but one interested in changing the dwindling fortune of Nigerians. If you are in doubt, I want you to point at what the ruling government has done since May 29, 2015. What has it done except its so-called anti-corruption campaign which is taking it to nowhere? What we have is as if there is no government. Nigerians should persevere but make a better choice now.
The committee of elders of your party in Osun PDP seems to be vital to the reconciliation effort…
I am happy you recognize that fact. This committee is a blessing in the sense that it is made up of tested politicians who have a rich history. They were there during the days of Chef Obafemi Awolowo. They understand politics and its intricacies. They have weathered the storm and are a living witness to our political evolution. Their experience is also sought and used to resolve issues. Again, we are blessed in this state to have them. That is why we are achieving results. I should say that the constitution of elders’ committees of any party at all levels is key to the success of the party, especially in managing crisis to have a genuine resolution.
The ruling government is being accused by your party of fighting a selective anti-corruption war. Is this your own position?
I am doing a forensic analysis of what is going on as regards the so-called anti-corruption war. I don’t want to make any public comment on it now until I am through. I will definitely speak on it.
Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, appears to be a thorn in the flesh of the Federal Government. Are you comfortable with his stance?
That is the nature of life. Governor Fayose is in order. He is exercising his right not minding whose ox is gored.
The party is supposed to be doing what he is doing but because of fear of persecution as being witnessed in the so-called anti-corruption war. I think he is enjoying the immunity which the constitution confers on him and he is doing pretty well in that regard. Government cannot move forward without such an opposition to his policies. I said earlier that APC is better as an opposition party because of what they did before they came to power. If former President Jonathan did not suppress them when he had the power to do so, they should also not persecute any opposition to their policies. Nigeria belongs to both the ruling and opposition parties including other parties.