Otunba Segun Adewale popularly called Aeroland is a former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Lagos chapter.
Legit.ng reports that in this piece, Adewale reveals why the PDP is unable to govern the Lagos state since 1999. He also speaks about the internal crisis within the party, the solution among other issues.
What do you think is responsible for PDP's failure to govern Lagos state since 1999?
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) remains a virile political platform and this is an incontrovertible stance, but the major setbacks suffered by the party was majorly orchestrated by the party's bigwigs, busy imposing unpopular characters in key positions.
I make bold to say that PDP political chances started dwindling when genuine procedures give way to 'Jankara' arrangements.
In time past when we strictly adhere to the party's stipulated procedures, when the right and popular choice have the reins of control, disruptions as now witnessed had no place.
It is a fact that I Segun Adewale, would have had no place politically if fairplay was not entrenched in PDP as at then. I came from nowhere and even defeated the seemingly anointed one because our electoral process was not tampered with.
This feat, I repeated a number of times and it worked only because the process was fair, since then, things have become dysfunctional in that ruthless imposition has stalled the political movement that should have guaranteed a better progression.
Some of the grey spots I will vividly mirror here include; numerous challenges like indigenous people factor, leadership tussle, endless in-house fighting which often robs us of our deserved victory owing to disaffection, lack of unity and proliferation of factional groups in the party.
These problems and many more stem from the fact that since the death of Engineer Funsho Williams, we have not really had any election into administrative offices and hierarchical positions within the party frame in Lagos state.
Often times, it is an assemblage of leaders that determines who has what position in Lagos state, unlike other states where constitutionally entrenched congress remains the process via which officers are churned out to represent and direct the affairs of the party, this is not afforded in Lagos PDP and it's quite unfortunate.
Here in Lagos, leaders always come together to harmonise the list every four, four years and the worrisome trend is that most of the said leaders can not even win their polling units. These leaders now replicate their likes in positions within the party and failure is the end result, there are instances that I can cite regarding this.
Though not passing the bulk, I know that Chief Olabode George is at the epicentre of all challenges we have in Lagos PDP, it is, however, clear he is a nice person and he wants the best for the party but he is surrounded by hypocrites who engage in praise-singing without giving him a sincere counsel.
Personally, Chief Bode George is a fine politician and party chieftain who calls the shot here in Lagos, but his foot soldiers are not helping him to deliver the good as he should. I am a witness of his clear practice of fair play in the politics of Lagos, but for that, my feats in 2011 and 2015 respectively would not have been possible. Although he had a preferred candidate, he still allowed free, fair and credible primaries and elections.
I think for this great posture of his not to be misconstrued, he needs to be much more firm and also reprimand his lieutenants to emulate his stance on fair play for PDP to win Lagos state.
Can you share your experience during your electioneering campaigns in 2011 and 2015?
In 2011, I contested to be party's House of Reps candidate in Alimosho, Chief Bode George's boy M.M Lawal was also contending but I came from nowhere and defeated him because there was an election, if there were no elections, M.M.Lawal would have won and my name would not ring a bell in Lagos or in PDP.
The same scenario played out in 2015, when I moved a notch higher vying for the Lagos West senatorial district seat. Chief Bode George's interest was represented by Salvador, the person that brought PDP to Lagos, Chief Dapo Sarumi was contesting as well, we are about four of five and I won the election landslide but BG did not twist the hands of history backward by subverting the process and sending his preferred name to Abuja as the winner.
As it is today, the splinter groups who claimed their loyalty is for BG are the ones fighting him in PDP all because they wanted the culture of list harmonisation to continue. The bulk of those bickering is his ilks, Dr. Ogunkelu, Shelle and more.
What do you think is the solution to the crisis rocking the party in Lagos
The only solution to our predicaments in Lagos, where we have never won the senatorial or gubernatorial election is to conduct proper primaries and elections as in 2015, when we had a number of House of Reps and House of Assembly members and even Senate, though we were robbed.
Due process churned out quality candidates that won elections; 6 members of the federal House of Representatives and 8 members of the state House of Assembly. The process was credible and therefore brought about credible candidates and we won all through aside a few points where our people sold out in Mushin, Ifako-Ijaiye and Alimosho.
It is pertinent to note that if we continued with harmonisation of the list in Lagos, factions that feign loyalty to Chief Olabode George but abhor fairplay will naturally take the lion share and the rifts ranges on, acrimony and animosity would fester more within the party and the victory would elude us repeatedly.
The sad tale is that most of his lieutenants give him wrong counsels that breed failure. A clear instance is that of Dominic who was selected as chairman of Lagos PDP, he ended up disrupting the template of victory already laid and we did suffer a colossal defeat at the polls in 2019.
Dominic created a parallel exco from the state to ward level in the party, given our victory in 2015, we ought to have consolidated on that in 2019, but no, we failed woefully due to imposition by the leaders.
A continued disruption of procedures, where hitherto congresses dictate emergence of party officials from ward to state level is an ill wind that brings Lagos PDP no good but outright failure and this must be discountenanced forthwith if we desired victory at polls.
I feel so passionate about this because sometimes next month PDP southwest congress would hold, the needful should be done to ensure unhindered procedural flow of the process.
When we have popular candidates no height is unattainable. We also contend with the idea of the indigenous laying claims to positions within the party, they claim to be Lagosians so basic leadership positions and even elective positions should be allotted to them. This in itself is a template for failure, we need to check out what they are bringing to the table; their political clout, economic and social prowess in the state.
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It is a known fact that Lagos and Abuja are cosmopolitan states not indigenous, Lagos is the former state capital of Nigeria, while Abuja is presently our nation's capital, you cannot afford to give any indigenous colouration especially when the polity is in question.
So, Lagos is a microcosm of Nigeria, the Igbos, Niger Deltans and more all have a stake here, so they must be factored in politically. We have to do things in common here with less attention to indigenous colourations, imagine what is in your indigenous claim if you can't win your polling unit?
Facts they say speak, I have always won my polling units, wards and more, either when contesting for a position or not. A popular candidate will always do well, so to end rancours in the party and guarantee the sustenance of a winning streak, a free, fair, and credible congress must be held.
It is disheartening to hear them make claim to being Lagosians and only celebrate their Nigerianess when a Nigerian citizen gets an appointment in the Diaspora; the UK, US and Europe.
Many of them when the push comes to shove here they referred to others as of Igbo descent or south-south and so cannot lay claim to positions their quality and clout deserves, we need to rework the system and allow credible process thrive.
In order for us to win the election in Lagos, we have to go back to the drawing board and make sure that the right people, candidates, exco members are voted or appointed not selected by the leaders.
If we still go by the selection, a lot of people will be against it and the party will be factionalized on account of preference of one above the others group loyalty problem arises, but credible elections put paid to rancour and faction because the popular candidate wins at the end of the day.
Our major problem is the harmonisation of the list, a style that debars the emergence of the best candidates to represent us.
The PDP national should come and ensure elections are conducted into offices as against sharing or harmonizing list in Lagos state.
Then we can now win Lagos. Lagos is not winnable if selection holds sway. Chief Bode George should work on his lieutenants making sure that elections are conducted.
He should discourage sharing of positions as his people have the majority in such scenario and internal wrangling, more splinter groups arises and the battle continues for another four years.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that a former deputy governor of Oyo state, Taofeek Arapaja said that if all hands are on deck among the ranks and files of the Lagos chapter of the PDP, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) would be defeated in 2023.
It was reported that Arapaja made this known in Lagos on Thursday, March 11, during a stakeholders meeting where he was endorsed for the position of national vice-chairman (southwest) of the party.
Wale Akinola is a passionate journalist and researcher. He works as a senior political/current affairs editor at Legit.ng. He holds both B.A and Master’s degree in Communications and Language Arts from the University of Ibadan. He also holds a Diploma Certificate in Peace Journalism. He has over 15 years of work experience in both print and online media. He derives joy in keeping the public abreast of current happenings locally and internationally through his writings.