By DAPO AKINREFON
THE build -up to the 2015 governorship elections in Lagos State is getting hot. Already, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are engaged in subtle moves.
In the APC, the endorsement of erstwhile Accountant-General of Lagos, Mr Akin Ambode by the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, is already causing stir. The Lagos PDP, which has been in the opposition for 15 years, is not resting on its oars to ensure it forms the next government.
Spokespersons of the two leading parties in the state, spoke to Vanguard on the matter.
We’re prepared to kick APC out of Lagos—Gani
Mr Taofik Gani is the state Publicity Secretary of the PDP in Lagos State. In this interview, he expressed optimism that the PDP is strategising to end the 16 years rule of the APC in Lagos State. Excerpts:
How is your party preparing for the 2015 general elections?
The Lagos State PDP is well prepared more than ever before. We are indeed satisfied with the progress we have made in our preparations. Our preparation will however continue and improve till it culminates into our victory in all the elections, from House of Assembly, House of Reps; Senate, Governor and President.
Do you think your party is strong considering the various factions in your party?
Point of correction, there is no faction in Lagos PDP. All who were used as moles to always cause acrimony in the system have been demobilised and most have left the Party to their paymasters. We now have a membership that can be trusted. We shall no doubt expect betrayal. Even Jesus was betrayed. We shall however reduce that to very impotent level as we go into elections. Now, what we have is healthy competition amongst the various interests and aspirants. There is the jostle for popularity and this has increased activities in the Party.
This is indeed acceptable in ordinary Politics especially in a large political party as PDP. There are no factions at all in the Party. Ditto any life threatening bickering. All that, are things of the Past in Lagos PDP. This is one area that the State Chairman, Tunji Shelle, has left an indelible imprint. He must be commended for promoting, Fairness, Justice and Equity in the Party. His Leadership has turned around PDP in lagos State.
He reorientated the members to know that we all belong to PDP and whatever differences must not be used to divide the Party, but to strengthen the Party. Tunji Shelle is the game changer in Lagos PDP.
Mixed reactions greeted the outcome of the Ekiti State governorship elections. Do you think your party can repeat the feat recorded by Mr Ayodele Fayose?
Before the landslide victory in Ekiti, Lagos was the surest for PDP to win. The certainty has not changed. This is because the APC is being rejected in Lagos State as a result of their own undoing. They lost Ekiti because of same reason(s), that is they run a government with no human face. There is high handedness, arrogance and Secrecy. Ask people in Alimosho, Ago, Okota and many areas of Lagos and they will tell you they can’t wait for the elections to vote out APC. The people are agitated and ready. Governor Fayemi was warned to improve his governance before the election but he chose to be arrogant and confident in the Power of incumbency. Now he is regretting.
Same way Governor Fashola will lead APC to Political perdition in Lagos State. He is not only destroying his government, but also his Party. He has been very arrogant and harsh in his Policies for over seven years, but now that they suffered defeat in Ekiti and because election is near, he is now faking humility and even has made subtle moves to relax some of his obnoxious policies, like in the areas of transportation, education and human rights abuse.
This is laughable and indeed coming too late. Lagosians cannot be fooled again. APC remains rejected. Our areas of campaign will remain in our kitty until when the campaign proper starts. We are convinced that Lagosians will agree with our criticism of APC and vote out the Party. We will thus equal the record achieved in Ekiti State.
What are the qualities the next governor must posses?
First is to be God-fearing. We believe this is lacking in Fashola. Second is to be close to the people. We will not reel out other attributes so that APC does not use as template. You will find all the qualities in our eventual candidate.
How do you assess the APC-led government in Lagos State?
The APC led government in Lagos state has been overwhelmingly disappointing, very deceitful and propagandists. They have failed in the delivery of actual dividends of democracy to Lagosians. Fashola is only sustaining his government on propaganda. This type of Party must not be allowed to continue governing Lagos State, not to talk of the Centre. A Party where leadership is only interested in taking over public property and resources. Very soon we shall make public the Lagos State Property and Resources stolen since 1999. The APC people may likely end up in jail after this tenure.
Why do you think the local government elections have not been conducted?
They cannot conduct the Local Government elections because they will be further exposed as weak in electoral value. They only make noise and rig Local government elections. They enjoyed the exclusive control of the local Government because PDP boycotted the Local Government elections as a result of Constitutional issues. When we eventually participated in 2011, we jolted APC. We won in several Local Government Areas, but they imposed themselves on the people, especially in such Local Government Areas as Badagry, Agbado-Okeodo, Eti-Osa, Somolu, Eredo, Epe, Ikorodu, Oshodi, Lagos Mainland. They conspired with LASIEC to announce results of elections conducted far away in Badagry, Epe, etc; as against the results announced by the returning Officers posted to those Areas.
We believe strongly that the LASIEC officials must have compromised. We avoided Street Protests but rather approached the tribunals. The Tribunals returned some of our victories, but Fashola compelled and influenced the Appeal tribunal to deny us the victories. The APC and state government undermined the judicial process to deny PDP of any Local Government Control. They have both murdered Democracy and Justice in Lagos State. Fashola is now avoiding any Local Government election because we will be better prepared to protect our votes. Defeat will also expose them as unpopular before the next Governorship elections.
Your party is threatening to capture the Southwest . Do you think this is feasible?
Not Capture, but will win southwest. It is more than feasible. APC as AC and ACN never won any elections in Southwest. They got all the supports from the Court of Appeal which turned the Courts to ballot boxes. He gave them all the Judiciary support to steal Southwest from PDP. Now they have been there and the people have seen how repulsive they can be. They have come out worse in acceptance. They have lost Ondo, Ekiti. They will lose Osun. They will lose all south west states, especially Lagos State.
Will your party be zoning the governorship seat as the APC has done?
The Zoning theory is a bait by APC. We will not be caught up in that. They have the burden to Zone as they have disappointed the People and are rejected in Lagos West and Lagos Central. PDP will give to Lagosians, the best man for the Job, irrespective of the Zone. We are interested in credibility, Sincerity and ability to deliver actual dividends of democracy in Lagos State. This is without prejudice to the eventual decision of the Party’s leadership on Zoning. Such decision will be made meticulously.
How is your response to the agitation for a Christian governor by some Christians?
Another bait. Lagosians don’t play politics of religion. APC is fielding a Christian and so they want to promote the agitation. We have all it takes to diffuse such negative politicking in our system.
Our leaders and researchers are already working to know the true expectation of Lagos voters on religious consideration. We will thus satisfy the majority wish. PDP is not a party of religious bigots. Lagosians want good governance and that will be our target for our Candidate.