Without better party system, democracy will remain comatose —Gbadamosi
Alhaji Bolaji Gbadamosi was Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) candidate for Ibadan North-West/Ibadan South-West House of Representatives in the 2019 general election. In this interview with STEPHEN GBADAMOSI, he shares peaks on why democracy remains challenged in the country politics of Oyo State and his return to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
YOU flew the flag of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) as House of Representatives candidate for Ibadan North-West/Ibadan South-West federal constituency in the last elections. Less than a year down the line, you have defected to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Doesn’t that make you appear as a politician without principle?
I am not a politician without principle. I appreciate the opportunity you are giving me to clarify what may be unknown to you and the majority of the people out there. It is true that I was the candidate of the ZLP for the Ibadan North-West/South-West Federal Constituency, but do you know what I was made to go through in the process? I got the ticket of the party after a thorough internal democratic system and we started working towards the election. But do you know that some leaders actually did everything possible to substitute my name with that of another person? Do you know that if the ZLP had won that election, there would have been a legal tussle over who the candidate was? Until the day of election, there was confusion over who the candidate of the ZLP in that election was between me and Rotimi Ajanaku and this happened because some leaders could not rein in their shenanigans.
In fact, I make bold to say that if not for the confusion that the leadership of the party created about the candidature, ZLP would have won the House of Representatives election in Ibadan North-West/South-West. I have a large support base and my supporters cut across all parties, but they were thrown into undue confusion by the leaders of the ZLP.
So, yes, I have left the ZLP, because the party didn’t want me. And let me point it out that reason our democracy has not matured is because we have a poor party system and there is a deep-seated resentment for internal democracy. Until we have a better structured and managed political party system, our democracy will continue to wallow in one spot.
But why PDP? Why didn’t you defect to another party?
What I did was not a defection per se. I only returned to my home. For me, PDP is home. My late father, Alhaji Abdulateef Gbadamosi, brought the party to Oyo State and there are people who can still testify to this fact in the country. Yes, I had cause to leave the party upon noticing that some leaders in the party, back then, were not prepared to do the right thing.
But I must tell you that until I left, I was one of PDP’s most consistent members since my registration in 1999. I have been with the party continually till the last election. Even people that benefitted most from the party have long gone. Some even came back, took another slice and ran off again.
Why PDP? Today, the situation in PDP has improved, thanks to the emergence of personalities like Governor Seyi Makinde and I can say that in the country today, the PDP is the only party with internal democracy. One of the reasons I was attracted to returning to the party is that it now has Governor Makinde as its leader. This is a man who not only believes in equity, fairness and justice, but also has gone through the same treatments I had been through in PDP and so, would know how to better handle members’ aspirations.
I must say that I am fascinated by the governance and leadership style of Governor Makinde. I commend the governor for the wonderful job he has been doing in transforming the state and delivering good governance. His style of leadership, his humility and humanness has made politics and the PDP more attractive.
So, I am back home to join hands with the governor to rebuild the PDP in Ibadanland and Oyo State and through the many great strides of the governor; it is now easier to build the party. In just eight months, Governor Makinde has redefined governance in Nigeria and has put Oyo State on the path of progress.
The ZLP was part of the coalition of parties that supported Governor Makinde during the election. Could your defection or return to PDP be because you have been enticed with an appointment or a juicy offer?
Indeed, the ZLP worked for Governor Makinde’s emergency and I can tell you boldly that even if the party hadn’t supported him, I would still have mobilised my supporters across Oyo State to support him, because I believed in his aspiration. So, if the ZLP worked for him, that means the party also believed in him and if I believe in someone enough to support him and he has now won election, why can’t I fully associate with him by joining his party?
I have not been enticed with an appointment or anything. I have simply followed my heart by leaving a place where I was not wanted to return to a party I believe has the right structures and mechanisms for internal democracy.
What is your view on the political situation in the state, especially the local government crisis?
As you may be aware, the case is in court and any comment made on it may be sub judice. But one must still plead with the parties in the controversies to put the interest of the state first in whatever they do. This plea is particularly to the sacked All Progressives Congress (APC) chairmen and the individuals backing them. What they are doing is not in the interest of the teeming people of the state. As you might already have known, the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) members have declared a sit-at-home and that means activities at the local councils have been paralysed. With this face-off, the grass roots are at the risk of stagnation in terms of development and I am sure this cannot be in the interest of the people.
So, my view is that the parties should await the decisions of the Court of Appeal slated for February 19, instead of taking laws into their hands and resorting to forceful acts.