Lagos State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain Dr Abayomi Finnih spoke with LEKE SALAUDEEN on the protracted crisis in the troubled chapter.
Well, the party leadership is doing everything possible to ensure the unity of the party is in the state. We have issues, which the former reconciliatory committee has not been able to solve. We are trying to bring every member on board to work together and guarantee electoral successes. We don’t have statutory meeting time, but we have all come to realise that dialogue is the way to move the party forward and to avoid any form of acrimony within the party. We believe that, if the party must remain solid, peace has to prevail and we have to ensure equity and fair play.
Is it true that the party has succeeded in reconciling Chief Bode George and Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe?
I am not in a position to confirm or deny their reconciliation. If they have, it’s good for the party. We all have to come together to make a success story. We have invested our time, energy and resources towards building a virile party in the state, but the personal ego of few individuals is pulling us back. I think this time around, we should put the party interest above personal interest, so that the party can win elections in the state. Some members of the party have gone to court to seek the removal of Chief Bode George from the PDP Board of Trustee because he is an ex-convict.
Is it a collective decision?
I read the court action on the pages of newspapers. I was upset by the action of the members. I found it uncomfortable that the members are taking themselves to court on party matters. This is an issue that could have been dealt with at the party level. In any case, we are in democracy and people have freedom of decision making on any issue. The court is there as an arbiter. Lagos PDP has disowned the Minister of Trade and Commerce, Dr Olusegun Aganga, as state representative in the Federal Executive Council.
When are you getting a replacement?
Yes, the clamour for a true Lagosian as a member of the federal cabinet has been on for a while. It is a legitimate demand we are making. The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria says that each state should have a minister. Dr Olusegun Aganga is not from Lagos State. I have not been able to discuss with him to find out where he comes from. We have discussed the matter at the party hierarchy, we have made representation to the Presidency, we have written letters calling on the President to give Lagos State its slot by appointing a true indigene of Lagos State into the Federal Executive Council. I am not sure, if Dr Aganga himself is claiming to be an indigene, but all we know is that he is not from Lagos State. Before the present cabinet was reconstituted, we made efforts to get Mr President to correct this anomaly. But what we heard was that, because Aganga is doing very well in his position, the President prefers to retain him. It is not clear to us how that should be a justification for Lagos that is being short changed, in view of the constitutional provision. What the President should have done is to appoint another minister from Lagos State. Anyway, we are still hoping that an indigene of Lagos State will be given a ministerial appointment, in fulfilment of the constitutional requirement.
Is Aganga a registered PDP member in Lagos State or does he attend party meetings?
When we were planning for the election of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011, he attended some of the strategic meetings. He is not a politician. He is a technocrat. He is not expected to perform like a politician appointed as a minister. Your group is critical of the congress that produced the current state executive of the party.
What went wrong?
That is the bone of contention. Few people hijacked the process. The court halted the congress from holding, but the Olabode George faction called “the Establishment” defied the court order and went ahead with the congress. So, a faction is in control of the party executive. The other two factions namely: the Union, which I lead, and the Non- Align group are left in the cold. This action has further brought the party down. A serious party should open its doors for every member to be part of decision making. There were several reconciliatory moves made from outside, such as Southwest zone, the Presidency and PDP Governors Forum, all to no avail. The panels recommended a harmo-nised executive that would embrace all the factions, but the George Group is adamant. Even, the INEC wrote the party’s national chairman that the Lagos congress contravened the party guidelines and the constitution and that the commission does not recognise the congress. That was over a year now. Nothing has changed. Some of us have bent backward by reaching out to George and his group to find solutions, but their incalcitrant attitude does not allow to reason with us. Politicians don’t behave that way. There must be compromise. My concern is that the situation on ground will jeopardise our chances in 2015. The Southwest Zone met in Ibadan recently and picked Professor Ladipo as a replacement for Oyinlola, the erstwhile national secretary.
Is Lagos a party to that decision?
There is no issue on this because there is a subsisting order on choosing a replacement for Oyinlola. I was at the congress that produced Oyinlola. Everything was fairly and transparently done. The party’s constitution does not allow anyone to hold position in acting capacity. We (my group) stand with what the law stipulates. The appeal on the removal of Oyinlola is still pending in court.
Will the party use the zoning formula or adopt consensus in picking its governorship candidate for 2015?
Consensus should be the right thing because going to the primaries has always led to disenchantment and acrimony. At the end of the day, the party is broken into different factions such that you spent most of the time settling crises and having little or no time for field work. I hope, this time, we should look for a consensus candidate that would boost our chances at the poll.
Is it true that the PDP is wooing Mr Jimi Agbaje to be its governorship candidate in 2015?
Jimi Agbaje hasn’t joined the party. He has to join first before any other thing. Once he joins and shows interest he will be given equal opportunity like other members who have shown interest for the office.