The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State, Hon. Sikirulai Ogundele, is optimistic that the party will return to power next year. The former member of the House of Assembly spoke on the intra-party crisis in the chapter, its prospects and other partisan issues. Assistant Editor LEKE SALAUDEEN met him in Abeokuta, the state capital.
Why is your executive committee still operating from outside the party’s secretariat?
Secretariat is a mere structure. It has nothing to do with the party administration. It does not make our executive less authentic. The Sikirulahi Ogundele–led Peoples Democratic Party executive in Ogun State is legitimate and recognised by the national secretariat of the PDP. If Buruji Kashamu believes holding on to the secretariat will confer legitimacy on the so-called executive led by his puppet, Bayo Dayo, it will soon dawn on him that he is just wasting his time. At the appropriate time, the security agencies would do the needful. We would not use force to take possession of the secretariat, because we want to avoid bloodshed.
Where do you operate from?
We have a temporary state secretariat where we carry out day-to-day management of the party. We have documents to work with. In fact, I’m just coming from there; we have just finished our executive committee’s meeting. The PDP national secretariat recognised our secretariat; we receive official communications through the secretariat address. We are law abiding; we are for peace, no matter the provocation being perpetrated by the Kashamu group.
Did your executive influence the suspension of Senator Buruji Kashamu by the national executive?
The suspension is over; it was one month; it lapsed in December. It is not over for him; he has to face the national disciplinary committee of our party in Abuja for appropriate sanctions against his anti-party activities. The PDP is a disciplined party. No one is above the party’s constitution; members must subject themselves to the party’s guidelines and constitution.
Can you still work with the Kashamu group?
My plan is to run a united party in Ogun. Despite that, we have to be extremely careful with Kashamu. We don’t want people that will go and disclose our strategies to the opposition parties. In any case, when we get to the bridge we shall cross it. When he is through with the disciplinary committee, we shall know what to do.
We started having problems when Buruji Kashamu came up with a deceit. We found out later that Kashamu was out to use our political fortunes to enrich his business interest through a diabolical organisation he called ‘Omo Ilu Foundation’. He forced many members of the party to swear to an oath of allegiance to his leadership. He took the party to court on certain issues. He used court injunctions to take over the party structure. What Kashamu did to Ogun PDP was the height of deceit. He is on his own. He should retrace his step. You can’t foist yourself on people no matter your wealth. You can earn leadership, you don’t buy it. The Ogun State Chapter of the PDP under my leadership will continue to preach peace and unity through constructive engagements with all aggrieved members of the party in order to achieve the sole aim of winning not only the 2019 governorship election, but in all other elective positions to give the people of Ogun State the good governance they deserve.
But, the Bayo Dayo group is claiming to be the authentic executive…
The highest organ of the party had dissolved the Bayo Dayo-led PDP executive in Ogun State and conducted congresses from where the new executive headed by me emerged. Kashamu should stop flexing muscles over the former executive. Bayo Dayo-led executive has become history; no amount of threat, blackmail or court injunction will bring it back.
The Bayo-Dayo group challenged the appointment of Southwest National Vice Chairman. What is your reaction?
How can they challenge a party official that was validly elected at the party’s national convention? The man paid for nomination form; went through party screening and got elected at the party’s convention held in Abuja on December 9, 2017. It was a stupid action. How can you say someone who went through the process of the party election should be removed?
What are the chances of Ogun PDP in 2019?
Our party, the PDP, will bounce back to power in 2019. We will win not only in Ogun State but at the centre given the high-level insensitivity of the APC administration. People will compare the cost of living under the PDP government to what it is under the present government, especially the price of petrol and food items. All this will be taken into consideration before the electorate cast their votes. Before anybody can thumb print the ballot paper, I am sure he or she will consider the hardship the APC government has put us through.
Have you zoned your governorship ticket to a particular district?
We have decided to zone the governorship ticket to Ogun East. The PDP took the decision as part of political strategies to win next general elections in the state. The party cannot afford to gamble on 2019 hence the strategic decision to offer the governorship slot to the Ijebu axis of the state. The PDP had zoned the governorship in two previous elections to Ogun West but lost. Now, Egba is occupying the office, we want to try Ijebu this time around. The people of Ogun West- the Yewa should speak in one voice and let disunity stop among them, then, they will be in a position of strength to produce governor.
Have you endorsed a candidate?
Not at all, we have many aspirants jostling for the party’s ticket. Many of them are coming out; we will encourage them by creating a level playing ground. The field is open for everybody. They will go through primary. All we are interested in is for the best candidate to emerge.
What is your advice to the electorate?
I sympathise with the people of Ogun for the poor management of governance by the APC government. They should remain calm and steadfast. PDP is coming back to restore the lost glory of the state in 2019.