Politics

Why Those Who Worked Against Lagos P In 2023 Should Remain In APC, LP – Apena

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Chief Ola Apena is a former Deputy Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State. In this interview with ANAYO EZUGWU, he speaks on the party's recent stakeholders' meeting, the way forward for Lagos PDP and the political crisis in Rivers State, among other issues

Recently some elders and leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State held a stakeholders' meeting but you and Olajide Adediran as well as several others were not there. What is happening to the party?

They called it a stakeholders' meeting but not a PDP stakeholders' meeting because if you look at the people who attended the meeting, were those who worked for the Labour Party (LP) during the governorship election and they did not work for Atiku Abubakar during the presidential election.

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What they were claiming during the presidential election was membership of G5 that since the ticket did not come to the South they will not work for Atiku. But when it comes to the governorship election, they came up with another gimmick under the guise of Omo Eko Pataki and endorsed the Labour Party.

So, I do not see that gathering as a PDP stakeholders meeting. To tell you the genesis of the whole thing; the guy who packaged the meeting worked for the Labour Party during the gubernatorial election and I learnt from grapevine that he wants to be governor, which is legitimate.

So, he packaged the whole meeting and that was why you did not see our gubernatorial candidate, who by the provision of the constitution of the party, remains a leader although there are other levels of leadership in the state without prejudice to other levels of leadership like Board of Trustee members and the Deputy National Secretary was not also there.

What is the way forward for the party ahead of the local government and state congresses scheduled for August or September?

You see, 24 hours is a long time in politics. So, we are talking in May and you are talking about congress that would be held in August or September. Before then, by the grace of God, the dust would have settled and who is who would have surfaced.

Who is in charge would have been so apparent then, so let's leave that for tomorrow because only God Almighty knows what is coming up. But our position is that there is no fight with anybody talk less of reconciling with anybody because when you talk about reconciliation you are talking of a misunderstanding.

As a party, if we have misunderstanding within the party yes, we have to reconcile but any misunderstanding that made you to work for another party amounts to stepping out of the line and the prescribed punishment in the party's constitution is expulsion.

So, even if the party is not trying to flog any dead horse, it is up to the national leadership to determine whether to start dealing with the dead horse or those who are genuinely committed to the party. So, let's wait till then.

It is better to go to war with 10 committed soldiers than a battalion that always finds one reason or the other every four years to disagree with virtually all the gubernatorial candidates

The challenge of waiting till then is ignoring the directive of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party that state chapters should begin reconciliation. How would the party reconcile in the face of a deepening crisis?

Like I told you, there is no division in PDP Lagos State. We have those who have opted out of the party working for other parties. Those who worked for the All Progressives Congress (APC) were not even invited to the stakeholders meeting. We see those people as APC members and for those who worked for the Labour Party, we see them as Labour Party members. They should be contented with their newfound love in their new parties.

For us, it is better to go to war with 10 committed soldiers than to go with a battalion that always finds one reason or the other every four years to disagree with virtually all the gubernatorial candidates.

If we keep putting them into calculations of where we are going, it means we are going nowhere. It is even better to start identifying those who are still with us and build on that, after all, what is the population politicians?

The most important thing is how do we convince the voting public that our party has better things to offer and you can only do that with those who are genuinely committed not those who will be PDP in the afternoon but they are dining with President Bola Tinubu and APC at night or they dining with Peter Obi and Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour.

So, you can't plan with such people. To continue to plan with such people is to continue to fail and waste resources and human energy. I don't think it is good for anybody. When we started this journey, if you remove from 1998 to 2024, that is about 26 years, I was 26 years younger then. I have ran for office.

I have ran for council chairman in my local government and I ran for House of Assembly in my local government. So, if you remove 26 years from 64 years which I am now, it means that I was just 38 years when this process started. You can imagine what I have lost in those 26 years.

I have never been to Alausa because my party has never formed a government in the state. The best we had was when we were in office, I was the deputy chairman and we had a very compact team and we put all the necessary machinery in motion. We reconciled all the elders of the party who were not working for another party and we toured all the 20 local governments.

We encourage our young ones to run for councillorship and chairmanship and it was a tough battle because we knew we were sweeping against the tie but then it helped us in mobilization and rekindling the interest of people in our party.

Some members of your party were disappointed with the outcome of the recent NEC meeting because they were expecting the NEC to take definite actions against those who worked against the party in the last election. What is your assessment of the last NEC meeting?

There is a Yoruba proverb that says ‘If your hands have not handled the sword by the handle, don't ever ask for who killed your father because that sword is still in the hands of that person.' We are in a very precarious situation; I'm not defending those who attended the NEC meeting when you look at it as an assembly of people who are committed to the party and people who undermined the party openly showing up shamelessly because they have no shame.

But most of them are committed to destroying PDP because they are working for other parties. Let me be direct, Nyesom Wike has already endorsed Bola Tinubu for 2027 and whatever Wike is doing in the party is to destroy and weaken the party, so that PDP will not provide a strong opposition. But let us leave that for tomorrow.

Thank God Wike is having his turn of problems in Rivers State now. A time will come when somebody who went to fetch hot charcoal with his hands will not have time to exchange words with anybody. So, God will give all of them enough problems that will allow PDP to have peace.

Since you mentioned Rivers State, what do you make of the development in the state?

What I see happening in Rivers State is Karma. One thing is that if God helps you crack your palm kernel, don't see other people struggling with theirs as lazy. Wike is a very lucky guy because immediately after finishing his university he was elected as a local government chairman and he began to climb up the ladder and he was using people.

Of course, Peter Odili was there as one of the ladders he used. Goodluck Jonathan and his wife were there as the ladder he used but presently, can Jonathan or Odili talk to him? So, this is somebody who is now seeing himself as the Alpha and Omega but it is God who is Alpha and Omega.

Let's wait and see but I see Karma playing out in the state because he thought he could become a godfather and dictate affairs of the state. Godfatherism is not unethical in politics because Chief Obafemi Awolowo was almost a godfather in his party but he mentored good followers who turned out to be good leaders.

People like Lateef Jakande, Bola Ige and Ambrose Alli were some of his mentees. And they were exemplary in their conduct both in office and private lives. But if you are a mentor assess your mentee very well and place them where they fit in. Some mentees are supposed to be in charge of organizing boys for rallies, they are not meant for public office irrespective of the degree they parade. I think there are lessons to be learnt.

Are you not concerned that your party might lose Rivers to the APC?

The state was lost because the governor was not meant to be ours, it was meant to be Wike's governorship ticket because Simi Fubara was not answerable to PDP before now. He would not go to the PDP Governors Forum even when they made him the deputy chairman of the PDP Governors Forum.

He wasn't attending until crisis broke out between him and Wike and he now ran back to the party. So, whatever is happening in Rivers State is a good thing for PDP because the key stakeholders are now rallying around Fubara to end godfatherism in the state. So, the PDP is getting stronger in Rivers and with the exit of Wike from the party, let him go to APC. I'm sure if he steps into APC today, the likes of Tonye Cole and Amaechi will come back to PDP. So, it is like we lost one and gained five or six.

What do you make of the demolition of houses in Lagos and the ‘deportation' of some residents to Osun State? Deporting people within the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the craziest and undemocratic thing anybody could embark on. God made Lagos the centre of gravity because Lagos is the first seat of government in this country and it attracted a lot of developmental projects.

We are not the only port city in the country, we have Calabar port but providence brought everything back to Lagos. As a result of that, Lagos became the economic nerve centre of the country and by the benevolence of Almighty Allah and the wisdom of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, he created an industrial estate in Ikeja, which was under the Western Region.

Then, Lagos stopped at Mushin and because Awolowo is a purposeful person, he created an industrial hub in Ikeja because he knew that one of the factors of the location of the industry was nearest to the source of raw material which is the port. All those things added up to so many things made people to flock to Lagos because there were jobs in Lagos.

There is a national seaport, and industrial hub where we have factories though most of them have now turned into churches due to economic mismanagement but that was what made Lagos the centre of gravity and Lagos was rapidly developing and expanding. Before you know it, people started looking at Lagos as our own London and some people will even beg you to take them to Lagos even when they don't have where to lay their heads.

That is why you find a lot of people sleeping under the bridges because they believed that when they come to Lagos, they will make it. What makes Lagos thick is these people, they provide cheap labour and workforce for the industries and Lagos State is taxing them directly and indirectly. So, if there is any social menace that comes with it, I think we should address it with good governance. In the days of Mobolaji Johnson and Lateef Jakande, there were rehabilitation centres established for both juveniles and adults.

 


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