Hon Oladele Bankole-Balogun was one time Federal Commissioner that represented Edo State at the Public Complaints Commission (PCC) and the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Akoko-Edo Federal Constituency in 2019. He is today an aspirant for the same ticket and in this interview spoke on his chances and what he will do differently if he gets the party’s nomination and wins the election:
What is your view on the coming PDP primary election?
The PDP has a track record of well organised primary election and elections generally, I have had the opportunity of being the PDP candidate on a number of occasions so I am firmly well qualified to speak on the PDP and its modus operandi and I don’t expect anything different this time.
Although you know that there has been some fractious behavior from a certain group of people who joined the party not long ago, that does not in any shape or form affect the constitutionality of the party and its procedure vis-à-vis this primary. Coming to me as a person, I am supremely confident but not over confident that I will win the day; one, I am very well known in this local government, two; people know that I have the capacity, three; of the three of us in the race, people know very clearly that I am head and shoulders above the others but no disrespect to them.
My loyalty to the party has been unquestionable for several years, I have been a committed and loyal party man and so I think all of these things stand me in good stead so when you consider the fact that PDP people and Akoko-Edo people in general are still very disappointed and unhappy that I was denied of a clear victory in 2015 and interestingly, the principal character in that tragedy for democracy against the PDP is now seeking the ticket as well so I think we are very well educated and enlightened in Akoko-Edo to know where we are.
It is rumoured that you are loyal to the Dan Orbih led faction of the PDP as against the governor, is this true?
This is a direct question and I am going to answer it as a lawyer and as an educated person and as a staunch PDP member. Now, who is Dan Orbih loyal to? I am sure if you are to answer that question you will say Dan Orbih is loyal to the party, the PDP. I am loyal to the PDP.
What makes you confident that you will win the PDP primary for the House of Representatives?
As I said, there are three of us, the other two gentlemen are relatively new to the party, so their contributions, their visibility, their activities within the party is not as documented as mine and then again when we start looking at following with all due respect I don’t think they have the kind of popular appeal and following that I have and then when you start going into other subjective issues like background, pedigree, life experiences, exposure, national network capability, ability to turn anything into gold, ability to able to stand up at the national stage and Akoko-Edo to have its rightful place at the comity of nationalities of Nigeria, there is no other person of the three of us that can do that job at this particular time except me.
What are you going to do differently if picked?
I have been on this road for a long time, I have been denied by evil forces and the haters of democracy and sadly they have had so much time to prove their mettle and they have consistently failed because you cannot give that which you do not have; if you do not have the exposure, if you do not have the network, if you do not have the background, if you do not have the ability, there is no way that you will be able to deliver on a grand scale. Why I feel that I am capable is that I have been raised for this: my background, my education, my network of friends, my network of business, my network of profession, my relationship with my community and the other ones that make Akoko-Edo, the fact that I have been doing massive healthcare programmes in Akoko-Edo for several years, the fact that I have been funding indigent students, the fact that I am helping people to own businesses, support businesses, the aged, all sorts of things put me in that position that I really know that if given that opportunity to serve at the national level, there are certain things we can do to palliate the already brutalized and almost bastardised our situation in Akoko-Edo.
Secondly, there are so many untapped resources in Akoko-Edo, resources of commercial quantity. We have to move governance and representation and the ability to lobby for the people away from keke napep and pepper grinding machines to having grand ideas of how we can comercialise our federal constituency. We haven’t had anyone shout for us at the national level for several years so this is the time now that a fearless, clear thinking, clearly minded person will be able to actualize that because I believe in myself and I believe that I can do it.
What is your advice to the delegates?
My advice to the delegates is that this is the crucial time for the party, we have been out of government for a long time but thank God it has happened like this because the good people of Akoko-Edo have realised and have missed PDP so much and they cannot wait to get rid of these people so it is the duty of the delegates to think with their heads and their hearts, to look at the three aspirants before them and choose based on criteria; who is that one person that is approachable, who is that one person that can speak in Abuja and the whole world will hear and understand, who is that person of the three that has demonstrated, that has the capability to do that, who of the three that has shown that he is a party man, it now very clear; one of them only joined the party recently, the other one has been more-or-less a nominal member of the party; one was a government official with absolutely nothing to show for it in the local government whereas as a federal commissioner for less than two years, the things I did still reverberate in the local government. I think the delegates have a once in a lifetime opportunity to do the right thing and I think they will do it