Chief Joju Fadairo, former Peoples Democratic Party Chairman in Ogun State, spoke to Femi Ogbonnikan on the festering crisis rocking the national leadership of the PDP. Excerpts:
You were vocal between 2003 and 2011 when your party, PDP, was in power in Ogun State, but subsequently after your party lost out, you equally lost your voice. Was it an act of cowardice?
I am never afraid of opposition, number one. I can’t be intimidated by anybody, whatsoever, because I always stand on the path of truth. So, that one is not. What you mean by vocal is not correct, because I know some media people have been coming to me and I have been talking to some of them.
But if you don’t come to me and I have no reason to be calling you to come and interview me, what for? But if you have something to find out from me, like you are trying to do now, yes, I would be ready. I have never shied away from the press. That I am not vocal is not correct. And what do you mean by vocal? There are some frivolous injunctions at that time and people would be talking about court injunctions, contempt of court and things like that, and when things like that happen, you would have to let people know the situation of things.
As a matter of fact, I am no more the Chairman of the party. I am a former Chairman. I was there before. And then, I can’t be talking when the current person is there. If you want to talk about the party, but we are former chairmen and elders of the party, people can come and ask questions from us. Though I am vocal, until I drop dead, I will continue to be vocal.
Do you subscribe to the creation of Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) as it is in Ogun State?
Well, you see, the thing is not happening in Ogun State alone. The local governments, as you know, have problems. I know for sure, if there are resources, it brings the government nearer to the people. For that reason, I have no objection. But when you can’t fuel your car and you say, you want to drive it, I think, there is a problem there.
That is the only reason I think, may be, it is not ripe for now. But I am in support of it, provided there are funds to back it up. If there is no fund, it is useless. How can people be going to work and they don’t have pay? As a matter of fact, yes and no! Yes, in the sense, that it will bring government closer to the people, no, if you can’t fund it.
But does Ogun State have the financial muscle to run them?
I have answered you before. I told you that if they can’t pay, they don’t do it. I am not in government. If they think, they can pay, I think, it would be justified to establish it, but if they can’t pay, then it is not ripe for them to do so. I know they have issues with the local government itself, not to talk of LCDAs. So, the onus is on them, because if you want to show off, good, if they don’t want to show off, and they know there are no resources, don’t establish them. That is my take on that.
Apart from the internal crisis rocking your party, at the national level, how are you reconciling the various factions like OGD, Dimeji Bankole Movement, Kashamu and Ladi Adebutu to make the party united?
Tell me the factions that we have, because I may not know. Let me tell you pointblank, I do not and I will never belong to any faction. If you have been close to me, you would have known, even during my tenure, people would say there were crises, there were these and there were that. I don’t believe in that. I knew there were misunderstandings. If you don’t understand yourself, things like that are bound to happen. As for the factions you are talking about, to the best of my knowledge, I do not see OGD belonging to a faction. He is a leader. I have not seen that. I am a leader, by right too. By the time, we put the national body in place, they would see to all these issues and I am sure, they would be resolved amicably.
But your party is torn apart on account of irreconcilable differences. Do you foresee amicable settlement in sight, in spite of several court injections by the two feuding parties?
I don’t know what you mean by that. Ahmed Markafi is not a faction. Legally, Markafi is entitled to what he is doing. And politically too, he is entitled to what he is doing. Markafi has been installed, via a convention that was held in Port Harcourt. Amodu Sheriff is somebody who, I think, does not truly understand what he is doing or, he is a spoiler, because by the rule of the party, we normally zone positions.
He is from the North East. That means his position was vacant, because the vacuum he left and his tenure still lingers on. And courtesy demands that they should allow that zone to finish their tenure. This man just came to our party, and how many days ago? I used the word, ‘days ago’, because we have been in this party right from the formation, and to date, I have never waivered; I have never flirted with any other party. He just came and then, instead for him to read our constitution, to try and understand the position of things, he was just saying, “I am the chairman of this and that”.
His tenure has lapsed and all three court injections are frivolous. They have about six judges. Don’t ask me for their names. All of you know. They are the ones they purchased judgments from, and I mean that. They purchased judgments to destabilise our party, and it would not happen. Our party is going to be firm, it is going to unite. You see, the Port Harcourt Convention was confirmed by the court in Port Harcourt. After that one, they went and got some judgments again. All they need to do is to go Appeal Court. I am not a lawyer, it is only common sense.
The PDP national chairmanship position has been zoned to South-west, but Senator Markafi recently declared that the office had been thrown open, even to other aspirants from the Southern part of the Nigeria. What does this declaration signal?
Let me tell you, people are reading the letter upside down and if you do that, you can never comprehend the content of the letter. The man has never said what you are saying. And I would tell you what he said. The thing has been zoned to us. We are in a democracy. Even the Northern people, who zoned the office to us if they want to contest they can contest. That is all he said. And it had happened during Obasanjo’s regime.
The thing was zoned to the South and Rimi contested. That was exactly what he has said. He is not saying they are reversing the decision that it is in the South-west. The thing is in South-west. And it has even been zoned to the Southwest. They have three positions. Treasurer, this office has been zoned to Ondo and Ekiti States. Deputy National Publicity Secretary and that has been zoned to Oyo and Osun States. The other one which is the chairmanship has been zoned to Ogun and Lagos States.
Except people do not believe in orderliness, if you don’t, they can do whatever they like. Look at Dokpesi, for example, they have zoned Deputy National Chairmanship seat to his place and he does not even understand the situation. He thought it is a presidential election. You don’t go to states to canvass for votes and it is the delegates that are going to vote at the convention, not the electorate, not the generality of the people, because he does not have the experience, and that’s why he is roaming about the place. So, it is very, very clear that Markafi did not say what they claimed he said. He was only saying there was freedom.
This is democracy. If we say it is going to A and somebody in A B C wants to come out, they can come out. But at the convention ground, they would find out about their own follies.
As the party’s convention approaches, who do you think is ideal for the office of the national chairman?
If you ask me one million times, it is Chief Olabode Ibiyinka George. You see, the man is eminently qualified to be chairman of our party. He has the experience. He is a man of integrity. He is somebody who would listen and then ensure that he puts smile on your face. If you go to him and tell him, your problems, he is a good listener and he would listen. By the time you leave him, he would have solved the problem. If it is not solved, you would be relieved.
By the time they elect Bode George, I will be a happy man because he has the experience. Militarily, he has the experience. Politically, he has the experience. Don’t forget that the man is a season administrator. The man was in charge, as a Military Governor of Ondo State and he is a man who managed an area which had been split into two and you would know that Ondo State that he ruled was at that time, one entity. But now they had divided it into two. They have Ekiti and Ondo.
He has done that. And he is a person that resolves conflicts. And I will give you just two examples. One, Bode George was the chairman who waded into the crisis in Ife and Modakeke and the matter was resolved. Up till today, and it never rears its ugly head again. Ife and Modakeke people are now living together in peace. And when Chris Ngige was abducted, he was the chairman of the committee, who went there and resolved the impasse and made sure that Ngige came out alive. So, he was the one who settled that matter. He has the experience. He was formerly vice chairman of our party, South-west.
After that, when you have the chairman and you have the Deputy, and one Deputy National Chairman in all the zones, he became the Deputy National Chairman, South-west. After that, he was Director General of Musa Yar’Adua Campaign Organisation. Apart from all these, he has installed many governors. He has installed many legislators. So, this man is eminently qualified. He is an electrical engineer. He had attended many courses while in the military. This man is somebody that you can’t waive off.
These inexperienced people that are jostling for the chairmanship seat have never known anything about party positions. I know that if they are to come and face the crowd, to come and debate, to come and talk, without mincing words, Bode George would emerge number one, and he is still number one. You mention the other people that are in the race! Do you want to tell me about Agbaje? Agbaje just came to our party only two years ago, in 2014, and they brought him to come and beg Bode George, and Obanikoro was angry with Bode George for putting him (Agbaje) there because he was not reliable.
But he left all that and he went ahead to install this man to be our candidate. Now, tell me, what experience does he have that will match Bode George? He does not have it. Prof Tunde Adeniran is my very good friend, and he has been telling people, but he has never told me. But he knows me, once I make up my mind I am not going to waiver. Ordinarily, as a friend, I would wish him well, but I can’t see him scale through in this one, because as a friend, my vote is not going to go for him, but it is going for Bode George. And I would canvass to several people to vote for Bode George.
Then Bode George that we are talking about is a man that people like. South-west people like him, and at the South-west of a thing, he is the favoured candidate. In their own wisdom, the leaders of our party, when we were in Akure to zone the position, and in their own wisdom, they said let us have committees, because they know that Bode George is eminently qualified, and they never wanted the other people to be spoilers.
They said the committees should look into the matter of the people who want to contest from our zone. And some of them knew, and didn’t even come to the meeting, where the elders were and they isolated themselves. Some of them went about to campaign. How do you do things like that? Charity begins at home (Ile ni won ti nko eso r’ode). Whatever you want to do, you must have the support of your people first. But these people do not care about having the support of their people. Bode George is my man.
He is somebody that we have asked to contest the national chairmanship position. He did not even say he wanted to come and do it. We went to him. We persuaded him, and he agreed. And apart from that, I won’t mention names – people from South-south, people from the North – have been calling him, when they didn’t see him coming out. They were asking him to come out as they are ready to work for him. One elderly person, who is very, very strong in our party said, “Tell Bode George, I am his campaigner”. You can see what all these meant. Bode George, by the grace of God would emerge victoriously.
There are wanton attacks and destructions of oil pipelines and installations in the Niger Delta region by Niger Delta Avengers and other militant groups, what is your take on this?
Let me be frank with you. As a man of God, as a Christian, I detest Boko Haram. I detest the Avengers, because they are all evil. The Avengers, I don’t know. They said, there are some allowances they were paying them before and I learnt that the government has stopped it. I can’t confirm that, but I learnt they stopped it. You see, the resources are coming from them. You are paying Boko Haram people and you left the producers of your wealth, they are bound to react, but their reaction is devilish.
I detest it, and I condemn it in its entity. But they were forced to do what they are doing. You have Garri and soup, and you are eating. I usually give you ten cups of Garri and two pots of soup and I withdrew the two pots of soup and gave you one cup of Garri, definitely if you can’t give me, your heart will not be praying for me, anyway. So, I believe those people were forced to do what they are doing.
Although I condemn their action in its entity because it is not good, what the government has done for them too is not good. God who is the final arbiter will judge everybody. And you will see that since they started, things have been much more difficult. It has been difficult because I think the government that is there has no vision, not to talk of mission. So, that is why we are having all these problems, but you will know, that it is terrible.
By the time they elect Bode George, I will be a happy man because he has the experience. Militarily, he has the experience. Politically, he has the experience. Don’t forget that the man is a season administrator. The man was in charge, as a Military Governor of Ondo State and he is a man who managed an area which had been split into two and you would know that Ondo State that he ruled was at that time, one entity. But now they had divided it into two. They have Ekiti and Ondo