Adedeji Doherty is a chairmanship aspirant for the Lagos State chapter of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and organising Secretary for the South-West.
A professional engineer who doubles as Chairman of Dain Group, he recently spoke with Olasunkanmi Akoni on a number of burning national issues such as the PDP’s internal problems, its chances in Lagos ahead of 2015 and more. Excerpts:
How would you assess the current political terrain in the country?
I think the political terrain in the country right now is something that everybody can see. Good enough, the democracy in the country is developing. It is reaching a point where the electorate have a good idea of what good governance is supposed to mean and what it is supposed to give them. I believe that if one looks at the political terrain, a lot of things have to change as democracy is evolving.
First, the politicians’ mindset needs to change. Whichever party one belongs to, we all know what the dividends of democracy are all about. The dividends of democracy in London, Africa, Europe and any other continent are the same.
Affordable houses and quality healthcare, good roads, quality education, youth employment, transport and others are the things that people living in a democratised country should benefit from. I believe that what Nigerians should now learn is to vote based on what they get, what they can achieve from their various candidates rather than what comes into their pocket.
You see Governor Ameachi, Governor of Jigawa and others that are performing excellently. In contrast, we also see some that are not performing as expected. They are a disappointment to the party and the citizens of the state. The same thing in Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, APGA and others. However, when a party is in opposition, one has the propensity to make the electorate feel happy and that, I believe, is what is happening in ACN. It is something that I can conclusively say they have at least done well.
As PDP chieftain in Lagos, are you comfortable with the running of your party and how prepared is PDP for the 2015 election in Lagos?
I do not believe that we are prepared at this particular time. I think we are just preparing. And I believe that once the leaders of the party come together, they will be able to get ready as a unified force to achieve a good outing in the 2015 elections.
Are you satisfied with governance and party administration?
Well as far as party administration is concerned, one thing we always understand is that the party is the one that wins the election and not the individual, because the party is the platform the individual uses to achieve his goals towards governing his people.
The party has a constitution and manifesto. So once one wins on the party platform, one is expected to be a representative of the party to the people by executing what is in the manifesto of the party. If construction of roads was listed in the party manifesto, it is the duty of the candidate who has won an election with the party platform to construct roads. If good healthcare was also listed, it is his responsibility to provide such a facility to the citizens. It is the party that creates the manifesto. So when one is talking about the party as an institution in the PDP, and I am supposed to raise it in terms of the party being supreme at this time, it is about 40 percent. That, I believe, is what is being addressed now in the party.
Whether in PDP, ACN, APGA and others, the party should have a way of funding themselves to make them independent from individuals. With this, the issue of democracy can crystallise to favour the electorate whom we represent.
How do you expect parties that are not in control of any state to raise funds?
They have to be able to raise their funds somehow. Those that have created the party need to invest in businesses. If you do not do that, there is no need to float a party that cannot fund itself.
Then we are not through with godfatherism in politics?
Exactly. If you have a party and that party doesn’t know how to generate money and members have to subdue themselves to pay party dues, then the founding fathers should come together, create businesses like hotels, invest in transportation and others that can bring in funds daily to run the party. The party members have to get themselves involved in empowerment that will create jobs. That is what a viable party should be like. That is what we expect in the PDP. If we are to invest in different businesses, we should create those businesses and let our members be either the GM or the MD, and the business will yield money to fund the party so that the national chairman of the party will also be the chairman of the entire group and will not be subject to anyone, including the president.
The Lagos PDP has all the
wherewithal to run the party but it seems the funds are not well utilised?
In Lagos State, we the PDP do not even have anything. All the ministers that were appointed from Lagos State are not from the state. At the same time they call themselves technocrats, we do not really have any funding. The Lagos State PDP has never had a governor because we do not have anyone funding the party. It is left in the hands of those leaders that have the passion for the party at heart and can donate to the party for the PDP to make any meaningful impact in the state. They play quality roles, they get affordable healthcare. Development of the rural areas is happening everyday but the people of Lagos have been subjected to multi-taxation. These aren’t what the people of Lagos bargained for. Lagos should be an industrial-friendly state, but right now, it is not. And the land mass of the state is not changing; it is constant. What are the agricultural prospects of the state? There are none. We need to be able to convey this and merge it with the ideals of governance to create a vibrant society in Lagos State.
My own mission is the delivery of good governance. It is good that the Lagos State government has built a flyover in the state. But how does that affect the life of the people in the state? The bridge from Bourdillon to Lekki is a good edifice. If you look at some newspaper publications in the country, they showed a bridge in Ayobo-Ipaja LCDA made out of wood. The majority of the people in Lagos State live in the Ayobo axis of the state. It is the rich people that will use the Cable bridge in the Lekki axis of the state. The state government has succeeded in using that bridge to increase the property value in Lekki. But what happens to the poor people in Lagos? What happens to the remaining 13 million people of the state? Why are we getting it wrong? We need to take ourselves back and look at whether it is the choice of candidate or whatever else is making the state look the way it is now. But this is not the PDP I bargained for.
Before 2007, the PDP was controlling almost all the southwest states except Lagos. But suddenly, things changed. What actually went wrong?
Well, I cannot say. But many things went wrong. For instance, Oyo State was lost due to the disagreement between Ladoja, Akala, Adedibu and Obasanjo. Unfortunately, we lost Adedibu and that excluded the PDP immediately. In Ogun State, Obasanjo again and the then incumbent Governor, Gbenga Daniel. This created an avenue for an ACN candidate to win the governorship election, and that is Governor Ibikunle Amosun. In Ekiti State, it is almost the same thing. We had a lukewarm attitude. What happened in Ekiti was that Obasanjo succeeded in removing Fayose from Office for whatever reason and that boomeranged to a weak PDP in Ekiti State.
This led to the assumption of office of Governor Segun Oni which the court later nullified. In Ondo State, everyone knew that Olusegun Mimiko was a PDP member and he later ended up in the Labour Party. This was due to the quarrel between Obasanjo, Olusegun Agagu and Mimiko. I see, basically, that our leaders in the Yoruba land, especially in the PDP, have failed the party and our own generation in their mismanagement of things. Even in the Presidency, the management of what has been zoned to the South-West members of the party has grossly been mismanaged. And that is why we have recorded a negative position in the hierarchy of running the nation. Right from the Speaker of the House of Representatives downwards, if one looks at the position of the first five citizens of the country today, the Yoruba extraction is not represented. There is no one speaking on our behalf and the reason for this was that our leaders failed to look at handing over to their next generation. When I was in CMS Grammar School, Bariga, Obasanjo was my President. When I became a father, Obasanjo still came back to be my President. My son has gone to school and graduated, Obasanjo was still his president. At this time in the PDP in the South-West, Obasanjo still calls the shots; whereas Gowon, Danjuma, Akinrinade, Banjo and other military men including Bode George were all Heads of State, Chief of General Staff and Governors respectively, and they all ruled this country in their 30s. What has created this? I do not know why our leaders cannot hand over to the next generation.
Someone asked me if President Goodluck Jonathan is about 52 years old. But will anyone from the Yoruba extraction be allowed to rule this country at that age? Will any of our fathers allow a man of that age to be the president of this country? In politics, one has to develop his thinking and look at what is on ground and how it benefits your people. What is on ground now does not benefit the South-West people of this country.
How will you rate governance in the Southwest now?
Governance in the Southwest today is developing. I believe that there should be a symposium of Southwest leaders, and this symposium should cut across all parties’ affiliation in the country, where a common agenda must be adopted as the agenda of the Southwest people. The first thing on the agenda should be total integration of the various Southwestern states. A common body that must look into the development of political parties in the Southwest and what they are delivering to the people vis-a-vis what the mandate of that people is. Our agenda as a people is the integration of the entire people of the Southwestern states in terms of road network in all the states, integrating in terms of rail network so that people can live in any state and work in any Southwestern state; in agriculture through buying and selling within ourselves. There has to be a mandate on housing policy, infrastructural development for the people, health requirement for the people. There has to be leadership and vision for the Southwest region in the country between the years 2013 and 2050.
Who do you think will champion this call?
I haven’t thought about it but it has to be something that has to be created by our people.
What’s your take on the suspension of Amaechi and others?
Wammako has been recalled. The only person left on the suspension list is Amaechi, and this was based on obvious reasons. In the PDP, suspension can be described as ‘go home and come back.’ It isn’t as weighty as it was reported in the media. If one is suspended from the party, the person will be the one who will call for the next PDP party. It isn’t a very strong thing at this time in the party. In contrast, that doesn’t mean that if one commits anti-party activities and one is caught, he or she will not be sanctioned. I believe that suspending Amaechi or Wammako is in the hands of NWC and they are looking at it very seriously. I am sure that there might have been miscommunication or misrepresentation in a lot of things that have created the suspension in the first place.
On the NGF election, ACN has been pointing accusing fingers at the PDP as the cause of the problems
Well, the creation of the NGF is to execute what I am explaining to you, which is integration, looking at different problems like security and others and proffering solutions to them. This should be the job of the NGF. Where I have a problem with the NGF was that it began to overstep its boundary when it got involved in the upcoming 2015 presidential election, an issue still in its incubation stage whereby the sitting president is being questioned whether he will be vying for the next election or not. And out of these governors, they are whipping up the electorate and bringing up new agenda as far as their own candidacy is concerned. I don’t think that it was right for the NGF to start whipping up political discourse concerning the presidency and I wouldn’t have suggested the election at that time. I don’t know if the president has veto power on the forum, but the NGF should have been disbanded. Let each political party have its own Governors’ Forum. And the reason was that all the governors didn’t contest for their post on the same platform. Definitely, their ideology is not the same. So what happened was bound to occur.
When you merge people with different views, definitely the minority will strive to woo some of the members of the majority into its own circle. And then cross-carpeting starts. That is the psychological attitude of human beings and that in itself has created a problem within the group.
For me, I will advise that the NGF should be disbanded. All the governors should go back to their states and deliver the dividends of democracy to their electorate. When each party organises their governors’ forum, we will have peace in the country and we will be able to rate the governors based on what they delivered to the people.
Will you consider any offer considering the crisis in the PDP?
I am open to the advancement and progress of our people. It doesn’t matter who calls. Once I am called upon, I will answer because it is for the benefit of the people. Definitely, there are issues that need to be addressed urgently in the Southwest; I can foresee it coming. We have to throw away party affiliations and differences and come together as a single body for the progress of the Southwest region.
How would you assess Fashola’s administration ?
The Lagos government has worked considerably over the years. During the time of Tinubu, we saw him in his first tenure battling with the leaders in his party. We saw in his second term, a situation whereby we had to condemn him. And I am one of those who criticised him for not doing much. Later, he handed over to the executioner, Governor Babatunde Fashola, who was then his Chief of Staff in his second term. Fashola used three years from his first term to execute projects that were already put in place by his predecessor. For instance, the expansion of the various roads-Allen Avenue, Alausa, Lekki, Ozumba Mbadiwe, Adeola Odeku, the Bar Beach and others, all these roads were funded from the taxes paid by the residents of the state. And the tax payers are paying for the road today. This will continue until the next 25 years in terms of toll. If one looks at these projects that were started by Tinubu and executed by Fashola, apart from these, which other project has been created? I mean, which new road has been built in the last 12 years in the state?