A former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ogun State and now member of the state’s caretaker committee, Chief Joju Fadairo has refuted claims that a former governor of the state, Chief Gbenga Daniel was endorsed by the state PDP for the party’s national chairmanship post. He spoke to Tobi Soniyi and Femi Ogbonnikan. Excerpts:
What is the state of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ogun State?
Well, PDP in Ogun State is doing very well now. We have a strong kind of grouse in the past but at the recent national convention, the two sides were dissolved. That is Sikirulai Ogundele – led exco and Bayo Dayo-led exco were dissolved at the national convention that was non-elective. So, after that, a caretaker committee was set up and the caretaker committee is doing very well, trying to bring people back into the party and then, trying to harmonise both parties and to ensure that the PDP get back to its feet.
The national chairmanship of the PDP has been zoned to the south. The south-west is favoured to produce the chairman because it is the zone that has never produced the chairman of the party.
My reaction is that it is a sort of good omen for the party, in the sense that, all the other geo-political zones have occupied this seat in the past. But it is only southwest that has never been the chairman of the party. South-south has been chairman for about two years in acting capacity and that was during Secondus. Now, it is left for us because the founding fathers of the party who understood the zoning system recently said it. Our former national chairman said, it is either they give the chairmanship to the south-west or there will be no more PDP, and that person was Amodu Sheriff Ali. You know, people because of their ambition, they can’t say the truth. And everybody knows, that it should go to the south-west. But I remember, there was a meeting recently which they held in Port Harcourt where Peter Odili mentioned that, it is for southwest and they all agreed at that time. But after that, they started saying south-south, and that I can’t understand.
We watched the video of your visit to the Abeokuta home of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, where ex-Gov Gbenga Daniel was also in attendance at a meeting held there last Friday. The impression we had was that you have endorsed the national chairmanship bid of Daniel?
That one, I would say the video or the picture you saw in the papers is a sort of deception. In Ogun State, that kind of politics, we call it ziggy. That is original ziggy.
What exactly happened?
That is what I am telling you now. I am a member of the PDP Caretaker Committee in Ogun state. The Caretaker Committee members were visiting people; the leaders of the party, trying to bring them back, trying to harmonise, trying to pay courtesy calls. And they know, I am close to uncle, I mean Obasanjo, and I call him uncle and they now said, I should make arrangements for a visit, so that they can see Obasanjo. And I went to Obasanjo on Thursday, October 12, 2017. We discussed and I said the caretaker committee members would want to see him and he said, “let them come now. I am a father of all, let them come”. I said, “which day”? He said, “tomorrow”. That was Friday, October 13. He said again, “tomorrow”. I said, what time sir? He said, “10:00am”. And I came back and I reported back to the committee members, that we would see Obasanjo by 10:00am on Friday. I think, I am not sure.
some of the people in the caretaker committee who are OGD’s men, went and told him, that we would be visiting Obasanjo the following day. By the time we got to Obasanjo’s home, that was around 10:05am or so, OGD was there with his own entourage, amongst who were Kayode Amusan, Ayo Oyekunle, Sokunbi and all of them were there. We met them there and we exchanged pleasantries. We greeted one another. At one stage, one of the details of Baba Obasanjo called me. He took me out of the crowd and we went somewhere. He asked “are you people together”? I said, “no”. He said because OGD and his entourage came much earlier. I gave him a detailed mission. I told him, “we (the caretaker committee) are here to ask for Baba Obasanjo’s blessing.” And when Baba came in, the boy came to me again, that was the same detail, he said, “I told Baba, so that he can know how to attend to you. I told him that two different groups (Daniel’s group and the caretaker committee) have come to see him”. And when Baba sat down, he greeted everybody and so on and so forth. And the Ogun State chairman of the caretaker committee, in the person of Akinrogun Tunde Odanye, got up and explained to Baba the kind of things we have been doing and how we have been trying to bring the two feuding parties together. That PDP in Ogun State is doing well now. He told Baba the stage we were, so that we can do congresses and things like that. And finally, he said, we needed Baba’s blessing. And Baba talked and said that, some people spoilt PDP but he believed we must have a vibrant opposition. He said: “I am father of all and I don’t belong to any party, anymore, either PDP or APC. I am no more in any party. I am father of all”.
He went further to say, that he wanted Jonathan to go and he left. “That was why Buhari is there and it doesn’t mean this government is doing well in what it should do”. He added that when the time comes for him to talk he would talk. And when and if there was nothing to say, he would not say anything. He blessed us and advised us to continue to do what we were doing. When we were done and it was time to give a vote of thanks, suddenly Daniel stood up. He was on his own mission but he stood up and gave a vote of thanks. And all of us prostrated and greeted Baba and then, we left. We, members of the caretaker committee, were about to take our leave and on getting outside, not knowing that the Daniel’s entourage had camera and so forth but they started taking pictures because I sensed something like that. I didn’t partake but it was when they now said caretaker committee members should take pictures. If you have watched the picture clearly, I was at the back except they had taken our pictures when we didn’t know. I was at the back. If they had come out, telling us that they wanted to take our pictures only my face would have shown, and not my body. So, I was surprised when a lot of people started calling me, that I went to Baba in OGD’s entourage. And it was OGD who even made it seemed we went together but our committee members went there separately. It was not in the same mission. We were not in the same group. His own entourage apart and my own entourage apart. And there is no reason, absolutely no reason, for me to follow OGD to Baba on account of his own ambition because I am a die-hard Bode George boy. I have been with Bode George on this issue for a long time. And I would tell you this. That is the only reason I can’t follow any other candidate because in 2016, when they started this chairmanship of a thing last year, I have queued behind Bode George.
In 2014, in London, I took my wife to Bode George in his house and I told him and I tried to appease him that our party was not in good shape. My visit to him was borne out of my concern for the party because the great party had a lot of problems. The ethos, everything, is in shambles. So, I told him, that because of his own integrity, because of what he has been doing, as a seasoned administrator, I am throwing my weight behind him. He has been in this party business for about ten years or more before we were ousted. He was the one who was representing southwest as chairman. And during that time, the AD was in vogue. Nobody accepted us. He came and we went throughout the southwest in company of Bode George and we won back five states in the southwest. People are talking of Lagos state, that he didn’t make it, and he didn’t make it because of some problems that can only be solved with money and we did not have money. They used money, they used foul plays and they used so many things and that was why we could not get Lagos State. Did you know what happened to Funso Williams? He was a good candidate and he died. And that was the man they wanted to vote for at that time. So, the fact that he hasn’t won Lagos does not mean anything. He is doing very well. He was the one who went to Ife/Modakeke on an assignment to mediate because the people of Ife and Modakeke normally killed themselves. He was the one who went there and settled that problem. After that, the Ooni of Ife now gave him the title of ‘Atona Oodua’ which many, many years, they didn’t give it to anybody. Because of the importance of conflicts resolution he was able to broker in Ife/Modakeke, they now gave him that title. And it was this same man, when Chris Ngige was abducted, that rescued him. He has done so many things. Even when we had problems in the party, in the north-central, he was the one who resolved the issue. He was National Vice Chairman and consequently, he became the Deputy Vice Chairman, South and later also, he became Deputy Chairman of our party in the whole country. He has done so well. He was the one who was in Ondo State in those days, but the state that had split into two, and that was when there was crisis in Efon Alaye (now Ekiti state) during Omoboriowo/Ajasin imbroglio. And he was the one who settled and pacified those people whose properties were either vandalised or razed down during the political crisis in the old Ondo State.
He has done very well and he is a man to beat. His integrity is there. He has reputation. Whenever you have problems and you go to Bode George, he is a good listener. And by the time you come out, you will leave with a smile. Bode George is a man who has been there for a long time and whose antecedent can’t be beaten by any of the contestants. He is a man that is going to bring our party to power again. All I am praying for Bode George is, the Lord should give him wisdom, understanding, knowledge and courage to fight all these battles that we have found ourselves in. This position of the national chairmanship is not meant for people that are not experienced, people that would be learning on the job. No! He knows what to do and he is the one we need to be our next national chairman.
In essence, are you saying the Ogun State Caretaker Committee has not endorsed Otunba Gbenga Daniel?
The Ogun State Caretaker Committee has not endorsed Daniel. And I am even thinking, probably he went there for his own ambition or he wanted to go and talk to Baba because the national party with the reconciliation committee of which Gov Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State as the chairman, has been going round and making peace moves, in order to reconcile all the warring factions. Otunba Gbenga Daniel is a member and for some reasons, I don’t know if Gov Fayose has been leading the reconciliation committee or not. Though Fayose has not been attending the reconciliation meetings because he didn’t go to Ibadan with them. But he must have his own reasons. So, the caretaker committee members went separately to see Baba. So, myself and the other committee members were not in Daniel’s entourage. We even left Daniel there with his entourage. What transpired between him and Baba Obasanjo, after we left, we don’t even know. I don’t know why people would now be saying, I was part of his entourage, and I was not part of it and I can’t be part of it.
What is the chance of PDP in Ogun State, come 2019 general elections?
Our chances are very bright.
Can you convince us?
Well, you see, I can try to convince you but I would not do because I don’t want the opposition to know the technique or what we are going to do, to defeat them. But I have confidence and I am sure the people of Ogun State have tasted the thing. When you have a wife and you drive her away and you have another one, you would know which is better. They are now in peoples’ court. The people would judge but we are going to come back very strong soon, in this 2019. By the grace of God, in 2018, we are going to be back in Osun and Ekiti.
There is no reason, absolutely no reason, for me to follow OGD to Baba on account of his own ambition because I am a die-hard Bode George boy