By Bashir ADEFAKA
Hakeem Gbajabiamila was the Gubernatorial Candidate of the Alliance for Democracy, Lagos State, in the 2007 election.Â HeÂ had served earlier, under the administration of Governor Bola Tinubu, as Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development but now a card carrying member of the Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party (PDP). He spoke to Saturday Vanguard on why he moved to PDP.Â Excerpts:
Going back to the past,Â why did youÂ remain in AD when other progressives leftÂ preparatory to 2007 elections?
I wasÂ one of the Alliance for Democracy members who moved to form theÂ Action Congress (AC) and we gave the necessary foundation to the establishment of AC in Lagos State.
The reason we all believed that we should form AC was because we felt that we needed a broad based platform that would span beyond the region and beyond ethnic politics, where the ideals of the progressives would be pushed forward, where there would be true internal democracy, where you can aspire to be what you want to be, where you can strive to be who God has created you to be, where you do not require somebody who will be your godfather and hand over to you what does not belong to you.
That was the basisÂ reasonÂ ACÂ Â formed.Â AndÂ we build AC on that platform until about six weeks to the election primaries when we realized that all that we had laboured for, to build AC was to build another autocratic leadership in the person of the governor at that time.Â I and many others said that, that was not what we wanted and so, I returnedÂ Â AD.
Imposition became the order of the day and there were series of impositions which showed that we had not really changed from what we wanted to change from.
So, you believe now that the PDPÂ has those thing that was missing in your former party?
As I told you, we left AC because AC was not progressive.Â We got back to AD and we found out that we had done too much damage to AD that it cannot continue to hold the progressives in place. And we saw that majority of those who share my ideals, my belief in a democratic process from AD have now moved to PDP.Â So, I challenge anybody to check and say if the progressives are not in the majority in the PDP.
The present governmentÂ in the state is said to be doing well,Â what is your take on that.
For me, the issue of taking over Lagos goes beyond where I am heading to.Â Lagos, we believe, is for us all.Â We believe that as it is today a lot of people are being marginalized.Â We also believe today that with the resources and sophistication of Lagos, the state can do far better than what is happening now.
No doubt, the present governor has done well.Â We believe that there is opportunity for him to do a lot more than what he has done.Â But he is over burdened with the things that you, yourself have seen recently that will continue to keep him from achieving his objectives.Â Therefore, there is a need for change.
Party politics apart, what is your perception of continuity in government?
I believe that governance is about delivering democratic dividends to the greaterÂ majority of people,Â to do everything in the interest of the greater number of people.
Therefore, if a programme is on, that is good and laudable, it should be continued.Â If there are areas in need of improvement, improvement must take place and therefore there is nothing wrong with a good programme that is continuous.
In essence you are averse to politics of bitterness.Â Is it?
Oh, politics is not for people who are bitter. It is about expressing your idea as it will benefit the people.Â That is politics.
So , how prepared do you think we are for 2011 elections?
But you know the situation with Nigeria is such that there is always the cloud before the sunshine.
So, there is a cloud now but the 2011 election will come, will go and will be successful.
Now as a PDP stalwart, what would you say that your party has to offer Lagosians if given the chance?
First and foremost, Lagosians have not been judging PDP fairly.Â The PDP in Lagos is far more credible than people perceived it to be.
I challenge the other party to line up their best eleven and let PDP line up their own best eleven and you will see that there is a lot of credible people in PDP who are genuine Lagosians, who are interested in the development of Lagos and the people of the state because, a lot of people look at the past performance of the party and they feel that the party will need to do more than it used to do.
But the major propeller with which Lagos PDP moved, Chief Olabode George, is not in place.Â How much of strength has the party to push forward without him i
Well, Chief Olabode George, we miss him.Â But in a situation like this, there will always be people who will live up to the challenges
The party is already working together.Â It has a lot of people who can make things happen.Â The party has a lot of people who are new entrants into its fold and who are giving new life into the party.
Recently, about two-third of the people in AC moved into the PDP in Lagos State: The Sarumi group has moved; the Aro Lambo group has moved; the Prince Olowu group has moved.Â These are significant blows to the existence of AC in Lagos.
If they have the people let them line them up! AC is no where in Lagos today.Â And regardless of the situation of a â€œperformingâ€ governor, regardless of that, there are lots of questions that Lagosians want answers to.
There are lots of questions of accountability that Lagosians would like to have answers to; there are lots of questions of impunity and there are lots questions of recklessness or rascality that Lagosians want to be answered.Â When those answers are not given, then, the people want to know why.Â It is better that the AC begins to answer those questions that we have been reading about in the papers.
Why has PDP in Lagos State not been living to its expectation as opposition who knows what the government seems not to know?
No.Â the questions are there and the people want answers to them.Â It is not only PDP that should be asking for the answers.Â Every Lagosian should.Â If PDP decided to ask questions about things, everybody would say it is a politically motivated demand.