BY LEKE ADESERI, SOUTH-WEST REGIONAL EDITOR
GBOYEGA Nasiru Isiaka was, until recently, the gubernatorial candidate of Governor Gbenga Daniel’s faction of THE People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in Ogun State.
He has since crossed over to become the flag bearer of the People’s Party of Nigeria, PPN. Isiaka, who hails from Imeko ward in Imeko Afon Local government area of Ogun State, played active roles in the PDP from the ward level to the state level.
His defection to PPN was as a result of PDP’s choice of Chief Adetunji Olurin as the party’s flagbear for Okemosan Government House. In this interview, he spoke about his current relationship with Gov Gbenga Daniel, why he defected to PPN and his ambition to become the next governor of Gateway State. Excerpts:
Are you still with Gov. Daniel?
Politically no. At least we are in different platforms in terms of politics but he is my mentor, that I cannot remove. However that kind of scenario is not happening only here. What is happening in Kwara State is a lot more serious than ours considering the people that are involved. These are people of the same blood operating from different platform. We reached a point where we told him that sir, what is happening here is not so good, let us go and express ourselves politically somewhere. At the end of the day the people will speak and we will all abide by their verdict and then move on. That is what is happening everywhere.
Who mooted the idea of your moving to PPN?
The people. I laid the foundation for it when I was addressing the world press conference. We had a congress in 2008, party officials were elected and some people went ahead and formed their own parallel exco. They went to Abuja to get someone to write a letter of harmonisation and we got an injunction against that and the NEC refused to approve that list and the party’s national secretariat began to relate with the right exco all through the time we did the screening.
All of us had the screening in one location and when it was time for primaries these guys went and had parallel primary somewhere and National officers of the party say no, that cannot happen. They forwarded our names to INEC and they went ahead and got one curious court injunction which we now challenged and we had a court battle. The judiciary too in our opinion did not satisfy us.
Look at the circumstances of what had happened, even from lawyers and judges everywhere; they are telling us that the kind of injunction they got will go down in the Guinness Book of Records on one very curious and miraculous injunction- where two people are fighting, without listening to one person you awarded it to the other side and called the first person for discussion after you have awarded victory to the other party.
It is only normal that the final judgment will be awarded to support what was originally done. It was with this scenario that made our people to decide on what next to do. We however, decided to go to a party that did not have a presidential candidate so that our support for President Goodluck Jonathan’s candidature will not be affected.
When the people told you about this development, did you discuss with the governor?
Yes, we did.
What was his reaction?
His reaction at that point was I cannot guarantee what will happen at the Judiciary taking a cue from what you have seen. So, if you guys have a place where you think you can express yourselves why not, you can go ahead and do that and for now let me remain here as the coordinator of President Jonathan’s campaign in the South West.
You are in touch with Gov Daniel but he is in PDP and you are in PPN then who provides leadership for your group?
We just joined the group, before now it had its leadership- the party exco and other chieftains of the party. But having joined the party there will be re-arrangements along the line in accordance with the constitution of the party. Now that the party is populated a lot more and there are candidates where there were none before, what is important to us now is the general election ahead of us and we are not bothering ourselves too much now about who is where. After the elections I am sure we will now sit down and look at the structure in line with the party’s constitution.
Ogun is a state where the people are highly literate with power brokers and where youths like you believe there must be a paradigm shift. Do you think what happened in PDP will not happen in this new arrangement?
It is the strength of the state that encouraged us. What we are saying is that the will of the people must be supreme. A case where elections were held and some people go somewhere to replicate it to subvert the will of the people is bad. We were not satisfied with that because it will not give us the kind of leadership as chosen by the people. We were encouraged by the quality of the people in the state.
What led to the compromise list that had the governor as senatorial candidate and Speaker Bankole but your name was not there?
These are the confusions going on. The electoral act is very clear as to who can nominate candidates, which is the national secretariat of the party but these people went to the court and got an injunction which they now used to truncate all that. After that, they are now hawking the mandate because more than 80 per cent of the people on their list cannot win an election anywhere. It is not about me, it is about what is happening on ground. This people cannot win election.
What they thought was that we are going to sit down and use Amaechi option, let us work for them and they will go and win election and we said no because with them being there we are not sure the election will be won. You will notice that since General Olurin started talking about this governorship thing he had not campaigned anywhere.
I think that in a bid to give an impression that we are working together, we heard they collected huge amount of money from people before they put their names on their list. The court process continues and we are sure that justice will be done at the end of the day.
Did you ever meet the President in this matter?
No, maybe the governor.
How do you see your chances against the Action Congress, for example in the election?
I will be deceiving you if I say that it’s going to be easy but I can assure you that we will win.
We have been on ground in the last eight years. While I am not saying that others have folded their arms, iIt would have been a different thing if I am the only person that moved but it is everybody with the machinery and structure.
However, we are bothering ourselves too much about politicians but there are other people who are not politicians who want to vote and for the right person. These are some of the people that we will be dealing with. We are going to resume campaign anytime from now and we are convinced that we will win.
What about some elderly people that say its over their dead body that you become governor?
We are going to use all manners of approach. Some we will placate. All of them we will talk to but I want to add that nobody should play God. At the end of the day, God determines who rules when. I won’t be distracted about those kinds of statement since my fate is in the hands of God.
They will not die, they will be alive and see it happen.
What value do you want to add to governance in Ogun State after eight years by your mentor?
I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt that in these last eight years major achievements have been made and a good foundation have been laid for the development of this state virtually in all areas: education, industrialization, infrastructure and all that.
I think that the main thing for someone like me to do coming on board is to see how to develop on this. We want to make sure that this state is the gateway to greatness that this nation deserves.
In doing that we are looking at four major areas: growing the economy of the state, boosting agriculture and solid minerals and transportation, infrastructure and education which is a partnership between the student, parents and the institutions.
Governance is about the people so we will take care of their needs particularly that of the women and children. Also, we will introduce transparency in governance. This is where experience in governance will come to play and this is what gives me the confidence to challenge General Olurin to a debate any day on what he wants to do for the people of Ogun State.