BY DAYO JOHNSON Akure
CHIEF Segun Adegoke is a Chieftain of the PDP in Ondo State. He has been in Politics since the days of the Action Group. He was one of the aides to the late sage and Leader of the Action Group, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He was a Special Adviser on Political Matters to two former governors in the state, the late Chief Adebayo Adefarati and Dr Olusegun Agagu. He spoke on the factions in the PDP in the state, possibility of Gov Mimiko joining the PDP, the recent verdict of the Election Petition Tribunal and other national issues.
The PDP in Ondo state has been factionalised for years now, what are the leaders doing to reconcile the two factions?
The national chairman is doing a lot, few weeks ago a committee came from the southwest to hear the opinions of the two factions, they met with us and also met with the Agagu faction, they are preparing their report and we don’t know what their report will be, so there are a lot of efforts, we attended one meeting in Abuja with about four governors in attendance, we have held series of meetings and I’m sure they will discover that it is necessary for us to unite because 2015 is nearby.
In 2015 there will only be two tendencies, any of the tendencies that its members are in disarray will have to bear the burden of losing election so it is compulsory and imperative that we unite, we are for unity but we want to unite under good umbrella, not an umbrella that covers half of the people under it and exposes the other half to rain and sunshine, we want an umbrella that will cover everybody and will make all members have a sense of belonging.
Are you saying efforts are on to bring back all the aggrieved leaders of the party that left because of their ambition or disagreement? Is Dr. Mimiko inclusive?
Yes, that bringing Dr Mimiko is our major task, long ago before the election, we met at an open meeting and Dr Olusegun Agagu, the former governor himself was there, we said this party had been battered beyond panel beating and that it was not possible for us to win this election that we were about to enter into, we suggested that we should talk to Mimiko and form an alliance with him so that our party members will not again be at a loss completely for another four years and then we could ask him if he could concede certain positions to us like the deputy governor, like some commissioners and some parastatals. Mimiko was willing to do this and his condition is that we will not field any candidate for the election, we tried to convince the leaders, at that time Oke had not come in and Oke later came in long after, then they believe because Oke was a legal adviser, because he was OSOPADEC chairman, because he was in NDDC, because he contested to be
Senator all through the instrumentality of Agagu can make a change. But you cannot resurrect a dead person unless you are Jesus Christ, the party was and it is still structurally bad. How can the party won in two local government areas out of 18, a party that was in control of this state, Mimiko had 13, look at ACN that had no structure in this state before, they had 3 then is what we have said not true? Is this a matter of money? At the time we were talking to Mimiko and unknown to us because they did not disclose it publicly, they were also talking to ACN and it was their talk with ACN that led to Saka Lawal being made a running mate even when there were PDP leaders who lost out in the primary. Olabimtan could have been a deputy governorship candidate, Bada was there, they could have picked one of those who wanted to be governor and they were deprived, so they were negotiating with ACN already, they have forgotten that Jonathan promised electoral
transformation, that there will be no federal might, that there will be security, that INEC is now competently headed by Prof. Attahiru Jega, they did not take all this into consideration, but we were vindicated, they lost woefully.
The reason why we said we should talk to Mimiko is because he is more approachable, more assessible more politically friendly than Akeredolu, if one sees what Jagaban and his cohorts are doing to PDP you will find it difficult to say you wanted to approach them to work together, Mimiko was a secretary to government under PDP, Mimiko was a minister under PDP to all intent and purposes he is more friendly it was more reasonable for us to approach Mimiko and say you are strong on the ground, you have performed creditably, we have assessed that these Ondo people like you, you are likely to win this election, we want us to work together, at least that will minimise his struggle. Mimiko was willing to do that but those who want to be masters in hell rather than servants in heaven did not want hear that.
Is the National Secretariat of the party aware that you made moves to collaborate with Mimiko before the last election?
Yes, we communicated it to Abuja because when we prepared the document and we gave it to Mimiko to look at it, a copy was given to Senator Bode Olajumoke and it was sent to Abuja, we did not do anything on our own, they were even aware in Abuja that PDP is in a mess in Ondo state, that for us to win again, it has to be 2015 and that we should restructure the party for future election but in election it is difficult to call a candidate and say you probably may not win the election, they will not want to say that. It would have been different if the President had not said that the election was free and fair, for the president of a country to say that the election was free and fair against his party, it means Nigeria is moving forward
Why is it pretty difficult for Dr Mimiko and Dr Agagu to work together?
I have no idea and I have not said it is difficult but the problem with Agagu is that he is a non forgiving person, Agagu did not like the way he left government and I doubt if he will ever forgive Mimiko for pursuing his own ambition to that extent, that may be a reason. You will discover that all the activities of Agagu are centred to anybody he preferred but not Mimiko and that should not be.
Now to the recent judgment of the Election Petition tribunal in the state. What is your comment?
I have gone through the judgment from the serialisation of a particular newspaper, I did not only read, I went into the reasons why the petitions were thrown away, I must confess that the judgment was so thorough, so meticulous and the judge was so strenuous in putting out some facts, if one looks at it you will see that there was no point in going to the tribunal in the first instance, but we Nigerians, we have refused to accept defeat when it comes to election. Going through what the judge wrote, I consider it to be the best judgment I have ever read.
All arguments canvassed that were thrown out were backed by current legal authorities, there is no issue about begging the question, also we are in this country together we know that that election was thorough, was devoid of irregularity the security on the ground was so strong that nobody could play any game. They have their constitutional right to go to the tribunal and the result I am not surprised, I am only happy that Nigeria is advancing, that judges are becoming more truthful and honest.
Do you subscribe to the general opinion that the judgment was a reflection of what happened on Election Day or you think otherwise?
Exactly, we were all here in the state, we saw what happened, there was no snatching of ballot as it used to happen in previous elections, there was no stuffing of ballot papers into ballot box as it used to happen, violence was reduced to the minimum, it was a free and fair election, the president of Nigeria must have received a report on that election, the president of the Senate must have received a report of that election, the Speaker of the House of Representatives must have received report, all these people congratulated Mimiko and testified to the fact that the election was free and fair.
Forget that, the tribunal now confirmed it than anybody else that the election was perfect. For instance, the issue of injection of names into the fosters register, look at what the judge wrote, apart from the fact that law does not aid indolent, they had 30 days to the time, they did not complain, they could have complained that the list is not proper, they didn’t do that. What is even worse was that the sworn evidence of the witnesses was at variance with the petition.
I only see it as an attempt by Oke to keep the people together; we are more concerned with the progress of the state and that of the country.
But Oke is insisting that he would still challenge the verdict. Can’t the leader’s advise him against this?
I’m not in a position to dissuade him, but I must say this sincerely and this is what my faction of the PDP is fighting against, that Oke went to the tribunal at all besides the fact that it is his constitutional right is a sign of indiscipline in PDP.
If the president of the country, who is the leader of the party in his own wise counsel adjudged an election held against his party to be free and fair and somebody sponsored by that party decided to go to tribunal, if the party is well disciplined and want to enforce discipline, they should call him to order, the party’s pronouncement should be supreme, that is how to run a party, I am not in a position to tell Oke not to go to appeal, he will meet the same fate, the judgement is unassailable, it is unassailable because I am saying that from the point of law and not about anything that goes under he table because we have seen a lot of experience in this country, besides any undercut, that judgment is unassailable.
As usual in Nigerian politics, the losers at the tribunal are alleging that the judgment was cash and carry.
Some of us that believe that PDP has to be restructured to fight a future battle were labelled PDP-Gbasibe just because we said we cannot put this party under one man’s umbrella, no man can turn a political party into his own estate and field anybody he feels will win election. We are saying that, I have been in this game for quite a while, as a politician if I belong to a party that party must be as good as what we expect that party to be but they did not believe that the party needs to be restructured, we said it sometimes ago that PDP is dying in Ondo state and that we need a political surgical operation for it to survive. But our people said we want to support Mimiko because he gave us money, because in a situation where a political party that held sway in this state for seven years and lost all house of assembly seats, all the senate seats, all House of Representatives seats and even a former governor contesting senatorial election and lost, you must know that something is wrong with that party, that the headship of that party should be changed or restructured but they said Mimiko has given us money, that is the attitude of Nigerians, they will say the judgment is faulty, any knowledgeable Nigerian does not have to be a lawyer to know that the judgment is sound.
When a judge said “ I disbelieve this man for this reason, I believe this one for this reasons, because of these reasons and as decided in a case of this nature with this similar” and he puts the case there and say the evidence given by the witness is watery and will not rely on that we cant say that judgment is bought. A judgment that is bought is watery judgments that even if a layman reads it he will say how can these Judges arrive at this conclusion. Secondly, the Court of Appeal will only see the documents, they will not see the witnesses again, whereas the tribunal saw them physically, they assessed them, they weighed their demenon, they look at what they said, they compared it with their statement on oath and they arrived at a conclusion and the conclusion they arrived at was not perverse, it was readable, it was great jurisprudence.
Also the A C N candidate Rotimi Akeredolu SAN has said that the Court of Appeal will rely heavily on forensic analysis which was jettisoned by the lower Tribunal?
That is Akeredolu’s version, you will see what the man said about a forensic analysis, a forensic analysis will only be acceptable if it is genuine and there are laws that do make forensic analysis inadmissible in law. You see the problems with our politics are many, instead of Akeredolu who did not register in Ondo state, who did not have the intention of voting in Ondo state, who registered in Ibadan and wants to be our governor in Ondo state that is part of the so called injection, you will see that Akeredolu was not prepared to contest election but he came suddenly and wanted to be our governor. Oke also came he wanted to be our governor, Oke who wanted to be national secretary of the party, later a minister then he discovered that probably we are short of rich people who want to be governor, so he ran back and the thing was stage managed, that is why the Director General of his campaign organisation said he was foisted on us and that is what we are fighting in PDP.
Let’s go back to your efforts to bring back Dr Mimiko to the PDP. He was quoted recently that he was not contemplating leaving the Labour Party.
That is what you expect a good leader to say, he won’t tell his people that they will leave their party, Mimiko is clever enough to know that to work with PDP will pay him more because he will still be able to push his followers to a bigger sea and he will still be in control, it will be like Labour Party expanding rather than trying to develop the party in other states, he does not even has the resources and he will not dissipate energy unnecessarily when there is a better cause, whatever Mimiko is saying he is saying it like a nationalist, like a politician of note that wants his party to develop and he has done that. The party has developed, they have left a legacy in this state that PDP for years will continue to remember because those legacies are not perishable no matter what his enemies are saying.
Going by the crises within the PDP both in the state and the national level do you think the party can still remain under the same umbrella before the 2015 election?
All these are in the realm of speculations, this is always a prelude to election, tell me who of the people fighting Jonathan is better than him, is it Buhari?, is it Tambuwal that they are trying to punch out, is it Ameachi, is it Lamido, who among them is better? which of them will have the experience that Jonathan has acquired over the years, this Jonathan matter is a matter of methodology when you are during a vehicle on a good road your style of driving may be different from mine, if you are driving on a bad road, you may want to avoid the pot hole by swinging to the right and i may want to do the same by swinging to the left Jonathan is a cool headed young man, he is calculative and he is steering the car of the nation clearly and cleverly dogging many potholes and the largest of the pot holes is Boko Haram.
There was no Boko Haram when Obasanjo was there we would have been able to test his reaction to that, so instead of us to give praises to Jonathan for being cool headed, an irrational president could have set this country ablaze longest time.
The situation will have been like foreign countries where people are suffering, being killed like Somalia, but am surprised that profession critics have been criticising him just to make them relevant, many of them have been using vulgar and irresponsible languages to describe the president. You are talking about PDP breaking into two, ACN will break into pieces before 2015, the rancour that is going on underneath them is worse than the one going on in PDP, our solution is to support Jonathan and get him back as President in 2015 because we don’t have a better person at least for now.
Is it Tinubu that made his wife a senator and make his in-law a member of House of Representatives, in what sense will they be better? Is it Buhari who does not even believe in democracy from the on set, people say he is honest and no evidence to show that he is honest. Somebody that contested election three consecutive times and he lost do we know how much he spent on the elections, where did the money come from?