How Makinde’s victory in Oyo inspired the new coalition in Ogun PDP —State chairman
Ogun State chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Honorable Sikirulai Ogundele, speaks to DARE ADEKANMBI about the recent coalition birthed in the party ahead of 2023 elections, boasting that the PDP is now better and stronger in the state to face the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
LAST week, news filtered to town that the PDP family in Ogun State is now one and united. How true is that?
It is very true that we have had a very serious talk of bringing everybody together, even those that are in APC, some in APM, majority of members of ADC, Labour Party, Accord, SDP, UPN and others are now together. We are all of the conviction that our coming together will take us back to government in the state. It is our collective conviction that if we continue to do it separately, it is not going to work. The immediate past governor of the state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, was a very prominent member of PDP. He won his first senatorial election in PDP in 2003. The current governor of the state, Prince Dapo Abiodun, was a governorship aspirant in PDP in 2002. He contested against Chief Gbenga Daniel and lost the ticket to him. Most of the politicians in Ogun State today have had one thing or the other to do with PDP. So, we all now thought we should extend hands of goodwill, fellowship to others and to start to educate ourselves on the reason we must come together. We thank God that all former PDP members who were dispersed in various parties in the state have now come together under a single umbrella. So, for 2023, PDP is good to go in Ogun State. We are ready to upstage APC.
But we are, however, being careful or should I say choosy over our reunion. There are some people who are not electorally and politically minded in the camp of a former Senator in the party. The leader of such few people has sold himself out as a tool in the hands of the APC. He is fighting for his own survival, while we are fighting a political battle collectively on behalf of the people of the state. So, we are being choosy in not bringing on board those who have diabolically committed themselves elsewhere so as not to pollute the clean atmosphere we now have in Ogun PDP. However, about 80 per cent of those untainted in that camp are back in the mainstream PDP. We are confident that PDP will achieve success in 2023. In retrospect, Senator Buruji Kashamu was used to scuttle the aspiration of the original governorship candidate of the PDP in 2019, Honourable Oladipupo Adebutu. We saw the hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob in the judgments they got from court.
So, in addition to PDP bringing back its dispersed members together, the party is also weaving on its platform, a grand coalition to confront the governing party in 2023. Was Ogun PDP inspired along this coalition line by the success of the alignment of parties that brought in Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State?
Yes, we always make reference to the coalition that happened in Oyo State. Although at the tail end of it, there were some challenges about the coalition in Oyo, its success inspires hope. The most important thing in any coalition is the credibility of the candidate presented. We put so much into consideration before we chose Honourable Adebutu as PDP governorship candidate. Let me say this and without apologies to anybody. The person that will face APC today must have money and must be ready to spend it. What happened in Oyo State is a good omen and we have just replicated it in Ogun State and we look forward to its success in 2023.
How much of a headache is the series of court cases for and against your leadership of Ogun PDP?
In some of the judgments that the Kashamu group is carrying about, we saw the hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob. Let me give you an example. APC National Working Committee (NWC) constituted a committee to conduct its governorship primary in the state. Amosun group did its own primary in the state. When APC NWC said the one it conducted was the valid one, the Amosun group went to a Federal High Court in the state. The court told the group that only the NWC of the APC had powers to conduct primaries. That led to the group dumping APC for Allied People’s Movement (APM). The same court was approached by us and we told the court that our primary was conducted by PDP NWC and that some people conducted a kangaroo primary in their sitting room and turned themselves to candidates. The same court and the same Judge that gave a judgment in a similar case by the Amosun group refused to give us judgment in our own case. The court did its usual abracadabra. APC did not want us to contest because it knew that if Adebutu, the authentic candidate contested, there was no way it could have won the election.
But the 2016 judgment of Justice I.N Buba which recognised the Bayo Dayo-led state working committee as the authentic actually threw spanner in the works for your group and Honourable Adebutu.
That judgment was given in error and that much is clear to all. It was Kashamu that went to court and his group acted as the plaintiff and the defendants in the matter. He took us to court, provided lawyers for us and the party, without the consent of the party. When we got to know, we went to court and appealed the judgment. His lawyer went to withdraw the appeal. We petitioned the NJC. He was summoned. He did apologised and called many people to beg us. It was at that point that he was told to do an affidavit on oath that it was wrongly done. He complied. I have all the documents. He was also compelled to write a letter of apology to me. We submitted all these documents to the court. But surprisingly, the court went ahead to give the usual judgment of the hand of Esau and voice of Jacob. With what is happening in our courts today, it is only divine intervention that can save the situation. It is unfortunate that the judiciary that is supposed to be the saver for the commoners has turned to something else.
I will give you another example. There was a case of contempt instituted against me. The matter was adjourned till February 28 for hearing because I have not been duly served. The same Judge who adjourned till February 28, gave a judgment in the matter on February 25 of the same month without hearing my side in the matter. We were shut out completely, yet judgment was given against me. We took two pages of advertorial each in Tribune and Punch to expose this illegality.
What lessons have your learnt from your experiences with the court, INEC and other institutions as you strategise towards 2023?
Once the tenure of a governor expires on May 29, he can’t commission any project on May 30 as the governor of a state. It will be an aberration. That’s the way I will interpret your question. The tenure the Kashamu group is claiming in its so-called judgment expires in February, 2020. The PDP NWC still recognises me as the PDP chairman in Ogun State because Kashamu, Bayo Dayo and Semiu Shodipo stand expelled from the party as of today. So, Buba’s abracadabra judgment is what is still giving them some power. Let them continue to the PDP executive on the floor of the law court while the judgment lasts, while we will continue to operate on the field as the real party structure that is moving the party forward. The PDP NWC next year, upon tenure expiration, dissolve the state chapters and put caretaker committees which will conduct the congresses that will lead to the emergence of a new set of party executives.
Are you saying by February 2020, Bayo Dayo and other will no longer be able to parade themselves as PDP executive members in Ogun State?
Even as we do this interview, 80 per cent of Kashamu’s people are already with us. These are people who are of the conviction that they are just being used. They have all know that their former leader is not after the success of the PDP in the state. They have reasoned that if they continue to take N10, 000 today and N20, 000 handouts tomorrow, they can’t survive for long on these handouts. We spent quality time to do extensive tutorialising to get them to come to terms with realities. They now see that it is better for them to be in a party that is government. So, for us in Ogun PDP, we are just waiting for 2023 to come.