Dr Olu Agunloye is the Deputy National Chairman (South) of Social Democratic Party (SDP). He speaks with HAKEEM GBADAMOSI on governorship election and the SDP as an alternative platform in the forthcoming election.
THE governorship election is coming up in the state in October, do you see your party, SDP as the alternative to APC, PDP in this election?
Yes. We see SDP as party of choice for people who are not satisfied with the way things are going generally or the people who are not satisfied with the PDP is being run or people who are dissatisfied with the way APC is being run in the state or in the country and people who have seen the condition of our health sector, education, roads, and those who have seen the state of economic development in the state which is literally negative; people who are not happy with the state of unemployment in the state and want something better. We expect them to come to the platform of SDP.
Are you not seeing this as a tall dream, with no state Assembly member or National Assembly member, how do you want to do it?
Well, those people didn’t also have at one stage, but they organised themselves to be able to have that and that is what we are doing. We want to have members of House of Assembly, House of Representatives, Senators and we want to also produce the governor of this state. Currently, you know we have Tajudeen Adefisoye from Ifedore/Idanre Federal Constituency is a member of SDP. We also need to understand that SDP is the party that used to win in the past. One of the governors of the state won on the platform of SDP and it can be done again and we think the best way to do it is to get properly organised.
Some politicians have been romancing SDP as regards the governorship election in the state, and to use the party as a stepping stone after losing the ticket, achieve their goals and return to their party thereafter.
In most cases, there is nothing wrong with ladder or stepping stone and if they are good they won’t remove it after achieving their aims and if they remove, it means they have removed the same thing will use to come down and it’s not good to be a good thing. But if you run to somebody’s house to take refuge and the house is good, you don’t need to leave the place. So, that is why reorganisation is number one for us in SDP. It happened the last time and that is why I didn’t leave the party. To make this party a vehicle of good transportation and if it’s not, you will leave it and go to another place. But if you organise yourself properly, you don’t just come by to join a party and say you want to contest. There are laid down procedures and that is what we have told all the people who have spoken to us.
In Ondo at the moment, we have about five people and we have spelt out the procedures for them. One of them spoke with me today, asking for another meeting. So, you can understand the structure and it is not as if we have a ticket somewhere. We have told those that came to us how they will go back to their wards and the process they will start from their wards. We will be fair to them. We will be honest to them and we are trying to stop all those shenanigans associated with political parties because we had that for too long in Nigeria and it is not working. For 20 years, same faces have ruled this country. Some time they bear PDP; some persons bear the name APC. There’s no difference between these two people who are usually twins of the same father. If you ask them, they will criticise themselves and say they are doing well, but we know they are not doing well.
They have to realise that issue of governance is not about winning election but performing and serving the people after you have got the mandate. So, in SDP, we are positioning ourselves as viable alternative for progress. When people come, we explain to them because are happy to see people join us, but we are not going to be begging them or become over exited because they are coming to join us. Our focus is on the people and we know we can improve the lot of the people by serving then through the political concept.
But your party seems to be in crisis too in Ondo State, following the dissolution of the state executive?
SDP, at the moment, is the oldest party in Nigeria and we see need to reorganise the party and reposition it by looking through and ensuring that both the people, the party and the structure of the party are well-streamlined and things are done in the way we have agreed on in the manifestos and the constitution.
Whenever we talk about reorganisation in Nigeria in particular, it is of two aspects, a determination to go towards perfection, a determination to go through success, and determination towards doing things correctly. But the other part of it, just like any reorganisation, is usually me with stiff opposition when people have different interpretations to it.
In Ondo State for instance, members of the state working committee were led by a veteran, who has been the chairman of the party since 1998. He has been the chairman of SDP for 12 years and who at this time is not considered to be appropriate anymore. He is 77 years old and his position as the state chairman is no longer in the same direction as the organization. So, he has to leave, but that is not well taken and that is causing what I will call crisis in the party. That is why you see different groups agitating in Ondo and some are even involving the police, fabricating lies against the other side. We know these changes must go on and we now have a new chairman who is 47 years old. In Ondo state, SDP will participate in every election, like we are fielding candidates for the local government election and in the forthcoming governorship election, we will have candidate.
But are you going into the election with divided house, what is the effort of the national leaders of the party to ensure peace return to the party?
I personally believe that when you hurt a child either by scolding him or flogging him, he could cry and you cannot deny him the right to cry after you have scolded him. So, when people started to protest the dissolution of the executive in the state headed by Chief Korede Duyile, we took action to reconcile the aggrieved and make appeasement. But we found out that because Chief Duyile felt slighted and we know that he needs not to feel that way because he had known all along that his executive would be dissolved. The national secretariat has earlier written to him to tell them why the exco should not be dissolved. At a stage, I called him and after a letter was sent to him to inform and explain to him that his exco will be dissolved. So, he was not caught unawares. He got worried and tried to take laws into his own hands by appointing an exco by himself when the national had already appointed a caretaker committee and sent the names to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
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