Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Honourable Moshood Salvador, in this interview with BOLA BADMUS, speaks on various issues affecting the party, both in the state and at the national level. Excerpts:
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) just held another failed national convention. What lesson has the party learnt from the exercise and what effort is the leadership putting in place to move forward from there?
Well, you called it failed national convention. If you can recall this year alone, I think that was the second one. The first and the second were orchestrated by (Governor Nyesom) Wike and (Governor Ayo) Fayose due to their inexperience and greed. These are inexperienced politicians that found themselves in that position and disregarded value of experienced people; they disregarded value of knowledge.
I think that William Shakespeare said it that giving power to the poor, the greed will have no bound. I think that is what is happening. Check their background; they are already governor and they are still eyeing another bigger office without even thinking of the outcome of the one they are sitting in. It is because of this greed that (Senator) Ali Modu Sheriff was able to lure them. They are the ones that brought Ali Modu Sheriff.
Let me tell you this categorically, personality wise, experience wise and wealth wise, whatever you say, both Wike and Fayose are too junior to Ali Modu Sheriff. Now for such junior ones to call such a person to come and be chairman and decide to throw him out, you know there would be problem. It would not augur well and that is the cause of the problem.
What are the lessons the party has learnt from the two experiences?
We have now learnt that a governor is just one among equals, it doesn’t mean he is more knowledgeable or experienced than any other person. The leaders and the elders of the party should sit down and map out their strategies and make such strategies available to the members; they should not rely on the governors.
The state PDP chapter appears to be embroiled in leadership as Mr Segun Adewale (Aeroland) is claiming to be the authentic party chairman, a position which you are holding, saying you were imposed. What is your reaction?
I don’t have any reaction to that. Come to my office at the party secretariat, you will see me there. I am the Lagos State chairman of PDP. Segun Adewale is relating with me; he never discusses this type of thing with me. He is only helping you people to sell your newspapers, as far as I am concerned. He was also one of the delegates on the list I sent to the national. I don’t know how you get all these things. Anybody can say whatever he likes; I don’t have any response to that.
PDP has been an opposition party in Lagos State for the past 17 years. As the chairman, what steps are you taking to ensure that the party wins the next election and become the ruling party in the state?
My strategy is not what I can be discussing on pages of newspapers or on air. I have my own reservations and I can confidently tell you that it is a herculean task. I only need to tell you that it is a winnable and doable project. During the last election, we were able to have a very good showing, winning eight House of Assembly seats out of 40 seats and six House of Representatives seats out of 24 seats. That is enough to tell you that it is not an impossible task, if the strategy is mapped out in a right way. I am putting up the strategy and I would surprise the whole nation. I am not here to blab or to boast.
But what do you think must have been responsible for the failure of the party to take over power in the past years?
I don’t want to be commenting on that; I want to be working and when you work, I can tell you what I did to succeed, rather than condemning one strategy or one method or the other. It is better for me to work, bring everybody on board. Part of their problem is endless fights and quarrelling. That is why I responded to the issue of Segun Adewale (Aeroland) the way I did. Segun Adewale is a brother and a friend and we talk and strategise every time.
In every organisation, there are different interests and that is what is happening. I don’t even consider them as factions; I agree that we have crises in our party. But I have been warning and talking to them that, ‘look, if you have sympathy for Ali Modu Sheriff, let the sympathy remain with Ali Modu Sheriff. But let us first think on how to win our state for PDP’. They have the right to do it (to be sympathetic to a cause) but they should not allow that to impede our success in Lagos State. That is what I am working on and we all agree on that. So factional thing should only be for national level, not our goal in Lagos PDP.
Despite assurances by past party chairmen, Lagos PDP leadership and members always go into war when the polls get nearer. What do you think could be responsible for this?
Well, the past chairmen were not Moshood Salvador. I have my name and a stake in this thing. I would try as much as possible to make sure that we would not fight to go to any poll; I can assure you of that.
Lagos APC spokesperson always sees PDP as an unserious party, saying it should not dream of winning the state…
That was what he said that we are not serious and we got Ajeromi- Ifelodun House of Representatives seat from them. That was what he said; that we are not serious and we got Surulere House of Representatives seat from them. That was what he said; that we are not serious and we got Oshodi- Isolo House of Representatives seat from them. We are not serious and yet we had so many like that. It is that attitude that I want him to put up till we get everything from them.
Do you ever attribute crises in PDP to the ruling party in the state?
I am not such personality who thinks in that line that APC might be behind our crisis or whatever. Whoever must have been behind the crisis, what is important is for you to be able to solve the problem. I don’t believe any problem of ours is from APC.
You said that Senator Bola Tinubu is not a pushover but deeply rooted in grassroots politics in South- West. As the APC National Leader who is based in Lagos, do you think PDP can win the state, as long as he remains in the political space?
Was he not in Lagos when we won all those seats I mentioned earlier? Let me tell you this; do you think he is happy to have lost those seats too? He is not. He tried his best and he couldn’t get them and we got them. There is every possibility for us to get Lagos, but we need to work harder and get more and that is all. And this is all about ability, strategy and planning. I always tell you that it is a very difficult and herculean task but not undoable. It requires some special strategy which we are putting up and I can assure you; it would work.
APC has been saying PDP didn’t record any achievements for the whole of 16 years it ruled but ruins…
They cannot say that PDP did not work now. It is not possible for them to say that because they have made nonsense of the country; so they cannot say somebody is not good again. It is not possible for them to open their mouth anywhere in the country; they are covering their faces in shame.
What is your assessment of the administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode in the state?
There is nothing to assess because he has not done anything. It is taking him too much time to get settled down in office.
The local government election will soon hold in the state although no date is fixed yet, what preparations is the party making towards the exercise?
Have they announced the date of the election? Let us know if they are really going to conduct the election. I can use this medium to get a message across to them. APC must not think it is business as usual. If they think what they did in the last local government election is what they want to repeat in the coming election, they will burn Lagos.
What do you think happen then?
There were so many local government areas we won and they did not release the results. In fact, in some cases, they would say you got eight councillors, but they are going to give you three. In Badagry, we won the chairmanship; it had been announced, but they refused to release it to us. In Agbado-Oke-Odo, we won the chairmanship and about eight councillorship seats, but they insisted they were not releasing them. They employed area boys, guns and the police to dispatch everybody at the council secretariat.
So you can imagine the way the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) made the announcement. They said “all seats won by ACN.” Is that the way to issue the results of the election without announcing the figures and giving a breakdown of those figures? They should not think such thing can happen again. I wouldn’t say more than that.
My own is that let them come and repeat that abracadabra they were doing before. It is not possible, period. We are going into the election, we would do the election, a free and fair election; one man, one vote; count the votes and the result must be announced immediately, not later. And the winner will take over immediately. Let’s wait and see; I don’t need to talk too much about that.