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Awoniyi: Kogi PDP still one family despite number of aspirants

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Yomi Awoniyi


• Idris Wada Deserves Right Of First Refusal, But….
Immediate past deputy governor of Kogi State, Yomi Awoniyi told RALPH OMOLOLU AGBANA that for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to win the November 16 governorship election, the party should consider experience, reach in choice of candidate.

For the November 2019 governorship election in Kogi State, is the Wada/Awoniyi ticket still on the card?
That (Wada/Awoniyi) mandate expired on January 26, 2016. But the essence of Capt. Wada running for 2019 governorship is still along the same lines of the philosophy of 2012. Wada is a man who is aware of his environment and has the irresistible desire to see that he uplifts the people of Kogi State and take them to a state where a better life is possible and sustainable. He has said so many times that the reason why he finally decided to throw his hat in the ring was he found that it would be bothering on his being irresponsible if with all the experience he has garnered, his knowledge of governance and government, in the light of happenings in Kogi State; if with all these he decided to not salvaging this situation, that it would be irresponsible of him.

Wada lost his second term bid.  Are you saying the electorate should have a rethink?
His sole desire is to respond to the calls of the people who are looking for someone to rescue them from the morass that we have today, called governance. In a more advanced democracy, Wada should have been given something akin to the right of first refusal, but our democracy is still growing.  Based on the guidelines of the party and the constitution of Nigeria, everybody has a right to throw his hat in the ring, so there is absolutely no wrong in what is happening. We had 13 aspirants; this has come down from about 24 at some stage. Some of the aspirants have collapsed their ambition and joined Wada. Some have just decided not to pursue their ambition.

So, by and large, the simple answer to your question is I frankly believe that Wada should have been allowed a second shot, particularly when the people are talking about the shortcomings of this present administration. It is against the backdrop of the Wada administration that this comparison is being made. If you talk about salaries being owed to the tune of 10 months, 20 months, depending on who you are talking with, it is against the backdrop that Capt. Wada was owing only two months. So, it is this type of comparison that put this present government in bad light. Therefore it behooves upon a sophisticated electorate to try and bring a performer back to contest against a non-performer.

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Not a few have the feeling that the contest for the PDP ticket is acrimonious, which should not be the case for a party seeking to reclaim its lost glory? What do you have to say about this?
On the face of things, anyone who says so I can see where they are coming from, but I will tell you, the type of camaraderie that is exhibited when the aspirants come together puts paid to that type of belief.  It is quite clear to PDP members that at the end of the day we are not fools, we are members of the same family jostling for the same position, so that at the end of the primaries, we go out to contest against the person that we think is our real opponent. Therefore, thus far, the primaries are not as bitter as it appears. The aspirants talk to themselves and at the end of the day I am sure that provided that the process is free and fair, you will be surprised that the contestants will come together.

A situation where Capt. Wada and his younger brother Engr Musa Wada would have to slug it out for the same ticket; Suleiman Idris supporting another candidate even when his elder brother Abubakar Idris is also in the race. A situation where former governor Ibrahim Idris and Capt. Wada are not on the same page going into the September 3 primary election to pick the party’s candidate, despite that Idris influenced Wada’s emergence as his successor in 2012, are you saying all is well with the party ahead of the general election?

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Well, I can see that, but you just mentioned about three aspirants. We have about 10 other aspirants. So, I don’t see that as a major issue. At the end of the day all families will still go home and resolve; friends will still find a common ground.Regarding Capt. Wada and former Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, they are still friends. I know that Capt. Wada is a regular visitor to Alhaji Ibrahim Idris’ house. Look, these elders are leaders; they know when to draw the lines. A friendship that has been on for over 40 years cannot be extinguished on the altar of political exigencies. Ibrahim Idris is the leader of the PDP in Kogi State. I believe his desire is to see that the PDP returns to power and I can assure you from everything that I have heard from him, from his allies, supporters and even from his son who is an aspirant, he has pledged to support whoever wins.

Would you say the PDP has learnt lessons from its 2015 defeat?
Absolutely. Between 2015 and now, PDP has learnt a lot of lessons and a lot of kudos to our national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus. The PDP is doing things radically different from how it used to be in the past. I think it takes a dose of defeat to let realities set in. As you can see the party is more transparent in its processes. If you recall the presidential primaries in Port Harcourt that threw up His Excellency Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as our flag bearer, I think it is probably the best primaries we have held. Everybody thought hell was going to break, at the end of the day it went well. The party has promised that the same thing will be replicated both in Kogi and Bayelsa. So, the party has learnt a lot. Imposition is gradually fizzling out of our party. You have to go and test your popularity with the party faithful. That goes a very long way to douse the angst and the anger that come with past processes. So, PDP is on the march and I strongly believe you can even see the manifestation of the PDP resurgence with the number of states that PDP won during the March 2019 elections. 

What role are you looking to play in the post November 16 governorship poll in Kogi State?
My principal role is to ensure that PDP wins the November 16 2019 election. Regardless of one’s personal aspirations, it cannot come to fruition if your party is not there. So my desire and my wish is for PDP to win and I am working tirelessly for that.

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Yomi Awoniyi
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