‘PDP was destroyed from within’
Chief Olusola Oke, former National Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Ondo State governorship candidate in 2012, defected to the All Progressive Congress (APC) few days after the March 28 presidential elections. In this interview, he told NIYI BELLO the reasons for his action. Excerpts
Why the defection
The slogan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), my former party that many of us spent more than 16 years to build into a formidable platform, is “power to the people”. By the time we accepted the slogan, probably some of us didn’t know the meaning of the words. The summary of the last elections is that Nigerians have truly taken over power. They utilized that ability on March 28 to bring out the change they needed. All these mudslinging, character assassination and name-calling that leaders of PDP are engaging in are not good. They should look at the causes of the fall of that party because people within who detest what the founding fathers stood for destroyed the party. People who refused to acknowledge peoples contributions destroyed the PDP. A party that lacks internal democracy and does not reward hard work and tolerant to betrayers in high places cannot expect Nigerians to continue to lick their wounds in perpetuity. Criminals, who found their ways to the corridors of power through treachery and subterfuge, shut the gate of mercy to committed members and hijacked the soul of the party. For me, till my last days in the party, I served with absolute commitment without counting costs. This is a party that we built with our sweat particularly in Ondo State where we laid a solid foundation and moved from being in opposition to taking control of government which we did with absolute commitment to the people.
Failure of leadership
It is total failure of leadership. Although many people see some of us as part of the leadership but as I always say, leadership has levels. A few of us gave what we have to the party. We tried our best because we believed in the platform. Incidentally, the top leadership that is supposed to galvanize the members to further commitment reneged on its responsibility. The rot started immediately after the 2011 general elections with the growing influence of directionless, visionless and opportunistic individuals occupying prominent positions and platforms of great influence. They surrounded the authority and overwhelmed it with organized diversion and deliberate sabotage of efforts of patriotic members. These individuals held the party by the jugular because of their selfish agenda. Unfortunately, the topmost leadership was not discerning, bold and committed enough to put them where they belong. Rather they were being eulogized and promoted above committed members. No sooner than this perfidious situation get to its peak than the party disintegrated and the centre no longer holds.
The Holy Bible is clear on this. Whatever a man sowed, he will reap. You cannot expect a rotten head to stand on healthy legs. The Bible says if the foundation is weak, what can the righteous do. Most of the people down the ladder have been treated with repeated betrayal and pervasion in the high places, so their morale has become low and the urge to be patriotic to the party is no longer there. Even the National Chairman admitted before election that there was a culture of “Monkey dey work Baboon dey chop”, which means that instead of rewarding hard-work and commitment, the leadership was rewarding those who are not doing anything for the party. It is very unfortunate. It is understandable therefore that the members too did not stand up to the course of the party.
Role during the last polls
As said earlier, I as a person gave all I had to the party till my last day. During the presidential elections, I spent all funds at my disposal to advance the course of the party. It was shocking to me to read after the exercise that privileged individuals collected billions of naira from the system, whereas some of us were left not only to spend all our savings but also to beg friends to support our efforts. I did not receive one naira from either the PDP as a party or President Goodluck Jonathan as a candidate or any other candidate in that election. All the money that I spent was from my purse and donations from friends. I use this opportunity to appreciate Dr Igali, who gave me N2 million and my friend and brother Kingsley Kuku, who from time to time was supporting my efforts. I put in everything and left with nothing. I didn’t leave the PDP because the party lost the presidential elections. The truth is that I was unable to stand against the wind of change, which my state needed very badly. Secondly, because the enabling environment to operate as opposition was no longer in existence in the Ondo chapter of the party, I decided to move on.
There is a great joy in being part of the change family. You are respected for whom you are. There is no emperor or conqueror that will vow that you cannot be anything and who will also market the impression that you are not whom you are. The space here is broad for everyone to operate and it would appear that the internal democracy that departed from the PDP has come to reside in the APC. I am happy with my decision to change. I came into the APC with huge followership but I must admit that a good percentage of my admirers, supporters and well-wishers are still holed-up in the PDP. To them I tendered my apology. Because of the time constraints I was unable to reach out to many of them. I wish to assure them that I have come to prepare a place for them so that wherever I am they too should be there. As Jesus said, in my father’s house there are many mansions. The only thing that is permanent in life is change. I will be too glad to welcome them into the change family at all times.