The Lagos state chairman of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) Dr Dominic Adegbola in this interview with the publisher, Abel Lazarus bares his mind on the challenges of being in opposition at the federal level for the first time and how the party is enjoying the goodwill of Nigerians due to the failures of the ruling party going into the general elections.
TAM: Sir it’s the first time your party is contesting elections at the federal level as opposition party, what has it been like?
DDA: Well, it’s been tough no doubt as we don’t have the resources at the disposal of the APC as a party in government, however, we are lucky and happy that we have the goodwill of the people which is much more than the money we are talking about. The people are with us and if we liken it to the Yoruba proverb that says “if one embarks on a journey to look for money and on his way he finds honor, it’s better to make a retreat else if he proceeds, he will get the money at the end of the journey but will spend it in buying back his honor”, so the PDP has no money this time but we have the honor and backing of the suffering Nigerian people. So they can go with the money and continue to pay their market women and hire thugs to destroy posters, billboards and destroy human beings or even destroy themselves as they are already doing. I am not saying we don’t need money but the goodwill of the people is far overwhelming and we are fine with that.
TAM: What is your take on the withdrawal of assent on the amended electoral bill by the president?
DDA: Well that shows the nature of the cabal in power. They are confused because there is no reason for the president to withdraw his assent. It’s no longer news that the president is not in control of his government even from evidences around, his memory and intellects are failing him and certainly this action has been taken by the cabal in his government and the people are aware. It’s the main reason why the people are behind the PDP. There is therefore the need for a change as Nigeria cannot continue with this cabal in government.
TAM: How would you rate your presidential candidate against others?
DDA: The PDP has been very careful in selecting it’s candidates not just the presidential candidate. If you take a good look of all of them, they are gentlemen and ladies who we believe have the welfare of the people and the progress of the party in mind. With particular reference to the presidential and vice presidential candidates, it is evidenced as we saw during the town hall meeting “The Candidates” with Kadiara Ahmed. You could see the clarity of mind and purpose as to what is required to get the country out from the hands of the ruling APC and their failure in managing the economy. There is increased insecurity with Boko Haram on rampage. The herdsmen crisis is still there with the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) surging by the minute, left to suffer untold hardships and starvation. So there is no question from anywhere but that President Buhari is no longer fit to continue in office. On the other hand, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is very articulate, calm and with his experience in business and in politics, likewise others, there is no doubt that our candidates are far better than President Buhari and his men.
TAM: What are the current state and challenges of the PDP in Lagos state?
DDA: PDP in Lagos state, frankly with regard to funds which is an important factor, is at disadvantage as Nigerian politics of today has been monetized. National resources are used at the federal level to support the APC. Then the APC in Lagos state is in government both at the state level and the local government levels and they are using all these resources to fight against other political parties. Furthermore, Bola Tinubu who is the leader of the APC has cornered large percentage of Lagos state resources for himself., Nonetheless, as I said before, the oppressions and problems that the APC has brought on the people are enormous as the welfare of the people is going down. The public schools are dead. Nobody wants to send his children to public schools anymore because they don’t exit like they used to be. I went to public school but everybody now sends his children to private schools even the petty traders despite their inability to afford the fees because of the failure of the government. The cost of healthcare is beyond the reach of the common man. People are dying as a result of inability to afford the cost. The traffic situation is even worst despite the huge resources. The state’s monthly IGR of about N40 billion is shared between Bola Tinubu and his cronies. These are the things we have to face but thank God that the people are now aware and conscious and want to liberate themselves.
TAM: Do we still have factions in Lagos PDP?
DDA: Well it depends on what you mean by factions because politics is about interest, especially in a political party. Interests differ and these interests can be referred to factions or groups and the purpose of an organization is to manage and resolve these interests. These challenges will always come but Lagos state PDP today is managing them as you can see that we are marching on. There is no way interests can be one or everybody be happy. But we are managing it and it is the reason we are going into this election with one mind as everybody is working towards victory no matter the divergent interests or purposes we are all focused on delivering all our candidates from the presidential to the House of Assembly as there is no where you can see two candidates for same position.
TAM: Some quarters believe that 2015 was a better time for your party to have taken Lagos State, how do you react to that? What is you opinion this time and what would you say has changed?
DDA: Our chances are very bright. Something has changed certainly; the resources at our disposal when we were in government is no longer available. The APC now has the resources while the PDP is down in that aspect but we have the goodwill of the people who are now aware of the gross mismanagement of the country’s resources hence they (the people) are with us and for us and this has even made our chances better than in 2015 when we had some money to spend than now that we don’t have. Despite no money, the people are even more willing so with very little motivation they will turn out to vote for us.
TAM: Let’s come back to our constituency Alimosho. This is perhaps the first time Alimosho is producing the state Chairman of Lagos PDP. Considering the role of Alimosho in delivering large votes in past elections how do you see your party’s performance in Alimosho now that you are the chairman?
DDA: The vital role Alimosho has been playing in the politics of Lagos State and that of the country is that is more of a negative role for good politicking as the APC over the years has been using Alimosho to perfect their election rigging, Alimosho has large population and very large vast area, so it has not been easy for the opposition parties to monitor all these areas with reference to the last gubernatorial and presidential elections like in one ward there was a difference of about six thousand votes between the APC and the PDP and so it was in about three or four wards in that area. But now we have been able to identify those areas even those that have been perfecting the rigging for the APC have come to confirm with evidences of their rigging and have shown us what they used to do in those areas to rig the elections so we now have a clearer picture since it has been identified and we have ensured that that it is blocked. From what is available now APC had rarely won elections in Alimosho rather they had been rigging to win and once they stopped from doing that then we are sure to win. We are optimistic that we are going to win elections in Alimosho this time.
TAM: How would you rate the performance and preparedness of INEC going into the elections and do you see it conducting free and fair elections?
DDA: Well, INEC is ready but their readiness is to rig elections for the government and for the APC. That is what they are ready to do and our battle now is not really against the APC but with the INEC on one hand and all the security agencies on the other hand. We had a scenario in the past when a police officer carried ballot box from the poling center into the police station when he saw that the voting pattern was in favor of the PDP. He carried the boxes into Igando police station and dropped it behind the counter and of course our members and members of the other parties followed them and insisted that the police release the ballot boxes but they were kept there till all our members and others were forcefully dispersed, We had expected those affected poling centers to be canceled but the following day their results were announced with a landslide victory for the APC. So we have realized that our battle is more with the security agencies and INEC. You could see what happened in Osun State where they brazenly manipulated and changed the results of the election. We are expecting them and what our preparations and strategies are, we are not going to disclose them but be sure that we are ready for the security forces and we are ready for the INEC. Let them come and rig in their usual way, we will be there.
TAM: So what is your advice to your party faithful and Nigerians towards the election?
DDA: As I said earlier, the people want a change from this nonsense change we are in but they cannot achieve that by staying at home. So I urge the people to lawfully go out and vote according to their desire as people are agitating for the change and after voting stay at the polling station and be sure that their votes count. Like I said earlier, the APC is interested in rigging and if the people fail to stay after voting, they will manipulate the figures. So it is important that everybody stay and watch the votes counted. The truth is that this time around everybody is our agent because everybody desires the PDP to win. So get your PVCs, vote and make sure your vote is counted.