Hon Kamal Owolabi Olorunoje
Vice Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos State, Hon Kamal Owolabi Olorunoje, spoke with Anayo Okolie, on the readiness of the party to wrest power from ruling Action Congress of Nigeria in 2015 as well as other happenings in the party. Excerpts:
Your party, the People Democratic Party is keen about the 2015 governorship election. How feasible is it?
Yes, we have been keen about winning Lagos State from inception. From 1998, when we had the first candidate, Chief Dapo Saromi but because of the trend of the Yoruba people seeking and the Afenifere group saying they were for Abiola, the Alliance for Democracy then won election and formed the government in the state. There was never a time that PDP wasn’t keen about winning Lagos Sate.
In 2003, when Funso Williams ran election, we were also keen but we also knew what happened. We had mole in the party. We also had the same in 2007 and 2011. But talking about PDP winning an election in Lagos State, I don’t think there is any election that PDP will love to win than Lagos State. So, we are more than prepared for 2015 and we would not allow any distraction that would stop us from winning the election.
What do you think has been PDP’s problem over the years?
For example, let’s start from 2007, after the death of Funso Williams, some of our aspirants were invited by the police as suspects and after their release, there was the Alagbon 14 who were together and they all supported and picked among themselves, Senator Obanikoro in the 2007 with the exception of one of them who was also a Senator and a former Minister from the East senatorial district who then did not cooperate.
Rather than be with the party and plan how to win, he took aligned with the other side and allowed his supporters to decamp to the then AC and they were given appointments as commissioners and special advisers to the governor. That was one of the reasons we could not pull as much weight because we had people who were unstable and were not interested in the party’s success because of their personal agenda and these are the kind of people that are still parading themselves as members of the PDP.
Today, this same person is at it again with a lot of antics. Unfortunately for him, Lagos is one place don’t attempt certain games. For instance, this is not a place you weep up religious bigotry. It will fail ab initio. I was elected on the platform of NRC to the Lagos State House of Assembly when the likes of Alhaji Jakande and all the Muslims endorsed the candidacy of Sir Michael Otedola who was a Christian.
In Lagos, people go for the best, the marketable and not on the basis of religion. This Senator is now going about talking about bringing a Christian candidate for the party and that it has to be somebody from the business community as if those in the arena are angels. After all, our recent experiences have shown that the business community is more corrupt than the public sector and indeed, the corruption in the public sector is orchestrated by them. So, what’s the fuss about?
Talk about people with streak of resounding records and resume, we have more than enough in our party. There are people like Otunba Femi Pedro who was a banker and former deputy governor. There is a Deji Doherty who is a successful business man. We have Tokumbo Kamson who is now by God’s grace an Ambassador in Trinidad and Tobago and many people like that. And if we want to get a candidate that would win an election, we must not be sentimental on it and we should put aside our personal interest. We also have somebody who is a household name on the turf.
From the market women to artisans, motor park people and students, he is a familiar name. I am talking about Senator Musiliu Obanikoro. He has been a local government chairman, commissioner, senator and a diplomat. He has also contributed immensely to the politics and development of the party by making his son the elected chairman of Ikoyi/Obalande Local Council Development Area. He is experienced, savvy and economically on the mark. So, why are people trying to destroy this party? But the moles I am talking about negotiated with ACN in 2007 and are coming back to destroy the party. We will fight it.
Is it true that some people in your party plan to bring in Mr. Jimi Agbaje to fly the party’s flag in 2015?
I understand that they are trying to bring in Jimi Agbaje which is a welcome idea. Jimi Agbaje will be welcomed to the party but if his plan is to come and grab the party’s ticket, then, PDP is not the party for him. From all the people I mentioned, he is certainly not in the first seven to get the ticket. Listen, there is nothing like consensual rape. Rape is rape and what they are trying to do is rape the party because whether you forcefully rape somebody or you did it otherwise, for as long as it is not with her consent, rape is a rape.
You cannot just bring in somebody to come and take the party’s ticket. By the grace of God, I am the Vice Chairman of the Lagos Central PDP and I know that within my senatorial district, I have respectable people, men of honours that can become the candidate of this party, some of whom I mentioned earlkier. I don’t know how they are going to come in or what they are going to tell the PDP people. What we are keen about is presenting the best that will care for the masses, create people-oriented programmes and improve our education system.
When I was growing up, public schools were one of the best schools but now we hardly have a good public school. The incentives are not there for teachers. PDP manifesto will be a more progressive manifesto to the people and I can tell you, rather than destroy, we will build and create opportunities. Today, people have been going through hard times, there have not been a single house developed for the low income people in this state in the last 16 years to pay their rent.
This is a state that has not even bothered to pay new minimum wage but look at what LASU fee is about now. Are they telling us that if you are a low income earner, your children’s education should be limited? So, these are some of the things we are going to change if we are there and if you bring people who are not in touch with reality, all they will think about is business instead of you and me and the market people. So, I don’t know why this senator is doing this if not trying to repeat what he did in 2007 and 2011 which denied us winning the elections and I doubt if he is even a member of this party.
But despite the efforts being made by PDP, it’s yet to command as much popularity. Do you agree?
When people talk about rating or that we don’t command respect, it is because of the in-fighting but our house is in a very good order now. Before, we used to have factions. But we all have one goal now which is winning Lagos except for those people we talked about. So, commanding the respect you are talking about is no longer an issue. We now command greater respect otherwise we could not have won Ikoyi/Obalande election and all those places that the tribunals had announced the PDP as winner.
What Justice Adeyinka did in announcing those results was just like what Pilate did to Jesus but the resurrection of Justice is now being done by the tribunal and the appellate court. That pronouncement has given Justice Adeyinka a second retirement because he is not honest like Pilate. The resurrection of Justice will be the command of the PDP because when we start running the LCDAs and the local governments, people will see the difference and that much will tell the people that what is constant is change and we are ready for the change.
Can you assess the administration of Governor Fashola?
Fashola meant well for Lagosians but there are some programmes that in a third world, you do with alternatives because it is a system where you don’t have social security for the people or where you get student loan and all that. On health, they said it is free and yet you cannot get free drugs at the General Hospitals. They will send you to a private pharmacy within the hospital. And if you don’t deposit, you will not be treated. That is telling you no free health for you. So, it is a failure.
On education and transportation is another failure. We all know the results. But I am talking about alternatives. Look at all the markets that are being demolished, a lot people have become redundant. You don’t want street trading and you keep taking away their livelihood. What is the alternative? Jakande wanted to cancel afternoon section of school, he built more schools. There was this spare parts seller’s place in Jankara on the Lagos Island, when Jakande wanted to destroy the place he created the Owode Owoniri for them and that became the market placetoday.
Tell me an alternative place that had been created for every action taken by Fashola? All they will just say is that if you are not happy with Lagos, leave. The constitution says if you live in a state for 10 years, you can even contest an election in that place which makes you a resident, a citizen and you are not an alien in your country. But this government is alienating even the Nigerians within Lagos.