CHIEF Ishola Filani is the South West caretaker committee chairman of the People’s Democratic
Party, PDP. In this interview with Vanguard, Chief Filani lampooned former Deputy National Chairman, South, of the PDP, Chief Olabode George, describing him as the major problem of the party who has singularly impeded the party’s chances of election victory in Lagos State. Excerpts:
By DAPO AKINREFON
How far has the PDP gone in settling differences within the party in the Southwest?
We actually set up a six- member committee per state and I must confess that I am very impressed with the outcome of their exercise. When their report was submitted to us, we also set up a review committee under the chairmanship of Professor Femi Okubanjo.
They have come up with their report, but one thing that is interesting is that even without the report, the kind of appeal and discussions that members of that committee had with stakeholders in each state, you will discover that there has been a lot of improvement in all the states particularly in Ondo, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and Ogun. I am also happy that the National Working Committee and the new reconciliation committee under Governor Seriake Dickson adopted our position.
The matter in Ekiti has been settled and everybody is now living in peace. In addition, the Ekiti State chapter was made to understand that their executive has no right to set up a reconciliation committee because it is only the NWC that has the power to do it and at the appropriate time. They will set that in motion if it is the best thing to do in the circumstance.
In Lagos State, we had reports that their congresses were not the best and we do not know what the status of the delegates from Lagos State is now until we hear a pronouncement from the NWC. But the state chairman recently addressed a press conference where he said the state chapter had no issues with the congress. I am not aware of that but what we are aware of is that there are nine states and Lagos is one of the nine states (with issues).
I am not concluding on anything but all I am saying is that it is because of those nine states that we are now repeating the convention to correct the anomaly. So, I do not see where one state will be singled out. The only problem we have in Lagos is leadership problem.
What do you mean?
A situation where the leadership in Lagos State has not been responding to the hopes and aspirations of the members of the party. We held elections in 1999 PDP lost, we held in 2003, the PDP lost, we held in 2007, the PDP lost, we held in 2011, still the PDP lost under the same leadership.
That is why we have all these problems and everybody in Lagos is complaining. Everybody is saying please come and assist us. We could win elections in Lagos State because it could have been the easiest state for us to win because of the fact that it is a state that comprises of every ethnic group in Nigeria but we have not been able to win because of bad leadership. That is as far as Lagos State is concerned.
How can that be corrected?
The only way you can correct that is to sensitize the people, review their leadership strategy and structure. Strategize it by reviewing the structure of the leadership which can only be done by the Lagos State PDP. We hope and pray that the scale on their eyes will be removed in the name of God so that they can come together and get a leadership that will be acceptable to all of them. All other states are in order.
There cannot but be one problem or the other in a party like the PDP that is democratic in nature. We are not the kind of party that has somebody commanding us from the top; everything you have to do in the PDP has to be discussed and accepted before it is implemented.
You talked about the absence of leadership in Lagos PDP, but Chief George has always been seen as the leader, how do you reconcile that?
You see it is a system that is wrong, it is system that is autocratic and that is why we are having problems.
What is responsible for the rift between you and Chief Bode George?
Bode is a drowning man and he is just looking for anybody either to save him from getting drowned or drown with him. That is why he is mentioning all kinds of names, in one form or the other. Bode’s grouse against us is he is saying that because we are caretaker committee, we cannot contest. Let him supply to us the context of the law or rule of law or any instrument whatsoever that says we cannot contest.
Prophet of doom
I have better cause now to sympathise with him and what Bode requires not to drown completely is prayer and I will continue to pray for him.
Do you think the PDP stands a chance to win elections in Osun and Ekiti states in 2014 with the coming on board of the All Progressives Congress?
The APC is not a party even though they have now been registered as one political party. They are a conglomeration of distinct political parties with distinct ideologies and principles, they will continue to exist within that party as individual parties and I am not a prophet of doom but one thing I want you to understand is that by the time they want to start their nominations in Ekiti and Osun states, it is then you will see that they are all kinds of people who just want to oppose the PDP which has 23 states.
You can see that it is only 10 governors that came together to form the APC. At the end of the day, alignment has never worked in Nigeria. The time has come to reveal the lies and get our people out of oppression. All these statements will be justified because the APC is not a threat to us.