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‘PDP’s post-convention reconciliation on course’

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Senator Abiodun Olujimi

A former Deputy-Governor of Ekiti State and current Deputy Minority Whip who represents the state’s southern district at the red chamber, Chief Biodun Olujimi, spoke to AYODELE AFOLABI on ongoing efforts to reconcile aggrieved members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Southwest with its national leadership after the December 9, 2017 National Convention. Senator Olujimi also spoke on political developments in her home state.

Many Southwest members of your party, the PDP felt shortchanged in the last elective convention. Is the party doing enough to reconcile with them? 
Well I am one of those who believe that after such event, there must be reconciliation. People must feel and have a sense of belonging. People must feel and know that someone cares. They must know that it is not winner takes all. I thank God for the people at the helms of affairs right now, the day after the convention, they took off, and the National Chairman started visiting those that contested with him and I believe that, this is the way to go. We are bonded and we are together. We must reconcile for the party to stay together. What they have started should be allowed to dovetail to the states where there are unprecedented crises, to bring back our people who are sitting on the fence.

That is why I kept saying that in Ekiti, the 16-0 defeat we handed over to the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in 2014 governorship election was because we were together.  16-0 was because I will hold my unit and everyone else will hold theirs and win it. 16-0 was because we had a goal and were driven by that goal and determination. There cannot be 16-0 when all of us are scattered, that will be mere wishful thinking. So, I believe that the right thing must be done. We must allow equity and fairness. That is the only way to go. I appeal to the national leadership to allow reconciliation to continue at all level.

APC has been in the saddle for over two years and there is hardship occasioned by fuel scarcity, herdsmen menace and other socio-economic challenges. What is your take on this? 
APC is a political association; it is not a political party. Political parties are where the government pursues the party programme for the growth of the nation. But in an association, people work at cross-purposes without a common agenda. In the last 18 years of this democracy, I have not seen a government that is poorly managed like this APC government. They rode to power on the pretext of populist ideology. They didn’t have a blueprint on how to govern the country. They don’t know what to do up till now. We are just drifting, everybody is just doing what he likes and so, we went into a recession.

They say we are technically out of it, but I don’t know what they mean, because people are still in recession. No jobs anywhere, prices of goods have skyrocketed. The roads are bad. Electricity is zero. A man who cannot put food on his table who cannot send his children to school is in recession. People that are begging are too many, that is not the Nigeria we knew. The Nigeria we knew is the one where everybody will eat and drink and some would even travel at Christmas. But right now it is no longer so.

We handed over a good government to APC. Forget all the lies and half-truths, the bulk passing and the razzmatazz. People have now seen the difference. I am not one to speak evil about a government. This one has failed all of us. So people must follow the PDP. The party knows how to govern and have people at heart. Yes, I admit we made mistake. But we know how to regulate ourselves and deliver good governance to the people.

Is your ambition to govern Ekiti State still intact or you are going back to the Senate?
Of course my ambition is very much on track. My ambition to govern the state arose from the fact that I have been in the system. I have worked with two governors; I have been to the House of Representatives and the Senate. I have been a member of the apex body of a political party, that is the National Executive Committee of a party. So, I know what it is to run a government, I know what it is to be in executive office and I know what it is to take care of my people and above all, I love Ekiti people.

In view of the fact that the governor, Ayodele Fayose has picked his Deputy, Professor Olusola Eleka as sole candidate, how do you intend to realize your ambition?
That is a huge joke because it has never happened before in the state for a governor to just wake up one morning and picked his Deputy as preferred sole candidate. The choice of the successor to Fayose is the business of the party. It is not even the business of the party in the state. It is the business of the party at the National level. What happened, to me, is just wishful thinking. The party had already said that there would be a free and fair primaries and that is where I stand. The five of us that are aspirants have come together to say that there must be free and fair primaries. If the primary is fair, only the best will win not the one that has been anointed.

Going by INEC timetable for Ekiti State governorship election, the primaries should hold between March and April. How prepared are you to face the governor?  
Don’t forget that we have been in this game for some time now. We know the players and we know the game. We know what they are capable of doing and we can also read their game plan. We are prepared and we are ready. We are going to look for delegates. It is a business that we have been in for a long time. Even when I was not contesting, we looked for delegates for people. I have even scouted for delegates for a president before. So, it is a business that we know how to handle. What is most important is the sincerity of our party, the umpire. It is the umpire that determine what happens in the final analysis and I believe that we have an umpire that wants to showcase his skill, that want to show the world how to conduct a primary. And I believe that the best person will win.

Are you open to reconciliation or negotiation regarding the governorship election?
There will be no compromise regarding my ambition. On reconciliation, I will say yes. People are aggrieved right now. People think that they are disenfranchised. People are unhappy; they don’t know what to do. They felt that they should jump ship. But no, the only vehicle that can still drive us back to government house is the PDP. That is why people are quiet, waiting and hoping that something will happen very soon. We hope that something good will happen very soon.


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