The name Mabel Oboh brings to mind the 2020 governorship election in Edo State. But now, she was one of the screened and cleared candidates contesting in last Saturday’s Lagos State Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, elective congress. She was hoping to become the Assistant Publicity Secretary. It would be surprising and disappointing to many that know her pedigree that she was going for that seemingly lowly position.
But, in this interview, she speaks of service and not office, and narrates what actually happened at the Tafawa Balewa Square venue of the cancelled congress.
What do you think were your chances of winning the Assistant Publicity Secretary seat?
I would have won hands down! Only a very few can challenge my expertise when it comes to media know-how. My over 30 years experience as a broadcaster, journalist and in other aspects of the media profession and still waxing strong, made me a very strong candidate.
Short of my media expertise, I’m also a UK-trained criminologist, which a lot of people don’t know about. That aspect of my qualifications makes me more versatile as a politician. Moreover, I am a humble person with no airs about me. Importantly, I am not afraid to broach the unknown.
More so, I have served under various charities/committees around the world. Internationally, I have also worked for the British Embassy in Poland in the visa and consular section/commercial registry, to name a few. These were positions that demanded high trust and accountability.
But in the political space…
I have other things going for me politically. I was the African Democratic Congress, ADC, Lagos State Publicity Secretary and also worked directly with the National Chairman, Ralph Okey Nwosu.
As the Publicity Secretary, it was clear for all to see how I was able to project the image of the party before leaving for PDP.
Although, I am relatively new in politics, I have achieved a lot in a short time due to my wide exposure. I came 4th as a guber candidate in Edo 2020. And I am proud that my votes were organic.
Do you think you are overqualified for the position of Assistant Publicity Secretary?
I don’t believe in being overqualified to do any job. My mission is always to serve in any capacity possible. I believe that is one of the problems we have in this country — we are too status conscious.
I am more interested in getting the job done. The currency I spend really, when it comes to doing my work, is efficiency. I allow my work to speak for itself. I’m certain that I have a lot to offer PDP when it comes to image building and more.
I believe in team work, hence would have been of great value to who would have emerged as the Publicity Secretary and the rest of the team.
Besides, I am in charge of publicity for the South-West Region Secretary, Chief Rahman Owokoniran. Invariably, I’m already contributing to building the image of PDP.
I believe that PDP is the right party to move Nigeria forward and I am proud to be part of it.
But the party couldn’t hold the Lagos State congress…
What happened at the Congress was a huge disgrace. It was obvious that some elements had come to rig the election.
To begin with, getting the contestants into the venue was almost impossible due to the unruly illegal crowd that came to the venue suddenly. People were almost squashed to death.
The party’s security tried their best to control the crowd. But eventually they became overwhelmed by the crowd that forced the gates open, giving access to all manners of people, which should not have been the case.
You were there; what happened?
As we all know, accredited voters, contestants and Congress officials, INEC official, approved press officials are the ones allowed into the venue. But the venue was infiltrated by non-delegates, so there would have been obvious over-voting, and we all know what that would have meant.
The crowd was way over 4,000 people. Fights broke out, with women and men throwing punches at each other for whatever reasons most of us could not fathom. It looked like a pre-arranged thing.
Another unusual thing that happened was that there were various unity lists of contestants with each of them omitting thr names of some contestants that were duly cleared and issued screening certificates.
There was tension everywhere. It was really like a time bomb. So the trigger was the gunshots that started raining down everywhere. It was really a blessing that the Congress was cancelled based on the circumstances.
However, it was a huge shame that the Congress was not successful after all the preparations. The people behind what happened at the congress are all enemies of the progress of the party and Nigeria. It was a shameless act.
Who do you blame for this embarrassment?
Nigerians, I’ve noticed, are very quick to blame those at the top when things are not going well. But it is high time the ordinary citizens start looking inward and make up their minds if we all desire a nation called Nigeria that we can all be proud of.
If yes, they should stop our unpatriotic leaders from using them to achieve their selfish desires. Nigeria belongs to us all and it will take every one of us from top to bottom to play our part if Nigeria is ever to heal again.
Lagos being seminal to the country’s political space, what does this portend for PDP in 2023?
It’s just a little setback. But one thing for sure, there is no stopping PDP. Lagos PDP will eventually get it right and we will take over Lagos come 2023.
It’s a shame that some people are bent on destroying the party. The attitude of ‘if I can’t have it, nobody can’ is part of what has been affecting this country. Such people should be weeded out of the party.
We are going to get our acts together. For one, there were lots of good candidates. The beauty of it all was that a lot of competent young people and women came out for key positions.
That is the reason why I said that all enemies of progress in Lagos PDP must be weeded out.