PDP will produce next governor in Ondo —Ebiseni
Chief Olusola Ebiseni is a former commissioner and governorship aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the governorship election coming up in Ondo State later in the year. He speaks with HAKKEM GBADAMOSI on issues in respect of the election.
As one of one of the aspirants of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the forthcoming governorship election in Ondo State, how prepared are you for the race?
To God be the glory, ours is an all-inclusive project. Of me alone, I am human and limited, but with God and the party members across the three senatorial districts in the state, we are on a very solid ground for the race. Everything seems to be working well for us this time. This is about the third time I am offering myself for service at the governorship level. This experience gives us strategic advantage, both in terms of popularity with the people and handling the sensitive issues in the campaigns.
What do you mean by sensitive issues in the campaigns?
We are in a country in which, as a result of our development, life revolves around government. Every tribe, linguistic group or nationality, is conscious of its stake in the polity and agitates for the protection of its political interests which gives the group satisfactory sense of belonging. Without being immodest, our knowledge of the state, its territorial and sub-tribal configuration is unequalled. We are able to relate with the people and their problems. We are different from those who do not know the state beyond the local government headquarters. Many of them came into politics in the last few years and are transfixed in elitist lifestyles only now moving to familiarise themselves with the people by addressing a few party leaders at the local government headquarters or inviting them to their own houses where they talk to people they don’t really know but who are selected for them on local government basis to address.
There were some factors believed to have accounted for the loss of the PDP in the last governorship poll. Do you think the issues have been adequately addressed by the party ahead of this year’s poll?
Success and failure at elections are attributable to many factors, depending on the political culture. At the 2016 governorship election, the PDP was an amalgam of the two leading political parties then, the Labour Party and the PDP. We had the problem of integration to contend with in that sudden and involuntary merger so close to the election and the mutual suspicions were palpable. Besides and unfortunately, even in the midst of our internal crisis, we felt large enough to take the state by storm, confident that we could win, even in transgression against the basic nuances of our political culture. By whatever design, since 1999, the governorship has rotated, not only between the three senatorial districts, but also among the constituent groups.
Our fate, in the recent Bayelsa governorship, might not have been unconnected with the way we handled such sentiments. Strategically the party, in the state, has constituted an advisory committee made up of members of the Board of Trustees and some elders who should have no ambitions to run for party or government positions and are therefore able to look at issues dispassionately in the interest of the party. To me, this committee, headed by respected Senator Bode Olajumoke, is well equipped to do justice conscious of the volatility of the issues and the fate of the party.
There has been argument that your party has not been a viable opposition to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. Don’t you think this might hamper the chances of the PDP at the poll?
For a party that won two of the three senatorial districts, got three of the nine House of Representatives seats against a sitting government which, in spite of electoral frauds and brigandage, had one Senate and four House of Representatives seats, within two years of its existence, when it ought to be on top of its popularity, what further evidence of viability as an opposition party is anyone still looking for in the PDP? The APC is a hurriedly packaged contraption which took advantage of the deceptive campaigns for change in 2015 to seize power it was unprepared for in the state. Its rudderless ship of many captains is aground in the ocean of confusion. As the storms gather towards this year’s governorship election, the cries from the ship show clearly that none of the captains chosen can salvage the imminent wreckage.
What is your take on the claims that if the PDP is serious towards winning at the poll, a candidate from the southern senatorial district must be presented by the party?
No aspirant can fairly speak on the issue of zoning because of the human selfish tendencies. That is why in Law, no man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause. Like every issue in equitable resolution of human claims, zoning of electoral offices among contesting groups is an unruly horse: it has to be transparent, defensible and devoid of multiple standards. Those who preach equity must be prepared to do equity with their hands unsoiled. From my experience, zoning is not determined by political parties but the electorate. The success or otherwise of any party at an election is directly proportional to its respect for what the people want. Like I said earlier, I will prefer to give the Olajumoke committee the benefit of the doubt.
But don’t you think that your party should focus on competence instead of its zoning arrangement for the election?
I have heard such sickening argument in some quarters as if the issues are mutually exclusive. There is tendency in public discourse to misuse words and, unfortunately, the media sometimes joins without asking relevant questions. In what context do you measure competence in politics and in which part of the state do you think competent persons are in short supply? In my not less than three decades in politics, I stand tall to put my garnered experience and competence at the disposal of our state as governor.