Ayo Fadaka is the Director of Publicity, Ondo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In this interview with DAMISI OJO, he defends Governor Olusegun Mimiko’s policies. He also says the party will retain power in the next election.
As a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP),how did you receive the news that Dr Goodluck Jonathan has lost to President Muhammadu Buhari?
As we went into preparations for the election, I did realize absolutely that the contest was a close call and that any of the top two contending Parties was capable of swinging it, I know it was a possibility for Dr Goodluck Jonathan to lose the election and a possibility for Gen Buhari to win and this is because Jonathan already set a template for the conduct of free and fair elections and was not in any manner interfering with electoral proceedings. However I still hoped that somehow the PDP would had a marginal victory but in the end it was the APC that got it. It is however important to declare that it was a victory for democracy and the nation as we now have a credible electoral process, even I spite of the noticeable irregularities that characterized the conduct of the election in the North where millions of ineligible voters, children barely out of their diapers cast ballot for the APC. My only hope is that the process will be cleansed and that the Buhari administration will follow the template of the Jonathan Government of non interference in electoral process and allow elections to be sacrosanct, I just hope so, but I am however cautioned by the manner an acting INEC Chairman was appointed by Mr President when Jega stepped out. Java had earlier in the day had handed over to a National Commissioner who still had a longer tenure and hours later, Mr President reversed him and appointed that lady whose tenure as a Commissioner in INEC has since expired. That INEC issue remains the only matter in which Buhari has acted with dispatch till date.
How will you assess the Mimiko’s administration?
I am a member of the PDP and Mr Governor was in the Labour Party. You will recall that there existed a bitter rivalry between the PDP and Labour Party since it’s creation because it became the only foe of our Party and it succeeded in chasing us out of Government, therefore, it was normal for me and my Party to be totally and absolutely opposed to the Labour Party for this reason. However we are now members of the same Party and all old acrimonious have since given way to a new spirit of comradeship since we now share a common political destiny. As to the achievements of his Government, we all know that he has succeeded in introducing some dimensions to the provision of basic amenities and infrastructure in the State, the many markets he built came with a new vision, they are unique and if the truth must be said a beauty to behold, the mega schools continue to remain unique and it is copied by other States, Osun imitated it badly and just last week, Ebonyi State Government deployed its Education Commissioner and his team to come and under sturdy it. In the health sector, there are innovations too, the Mother and Child hospital scheme took the maternity concept to a higher realm with a view to guarantee the health of mother and child and probably eliminate child mortality and also ensure that our women too survive child birth. It is a unique program too as statistics have shown that women from neighboring States controlled by the APC have been crossing the border to take advantage of this initiative.
Another governorship election in Ondo State is knocking at the door and the PDP is fragmented. The APC is struggling to form the next government. What is your take on this development?
It is an absolute misnomer to think or even declare that the PDP in Ondo State is in disarray, it is not true in any manner and a mere wish and desire of our opponents which of course will continue to remain a pipe dream. The APC will always remain a mirage in this State as it’s new contra distinctions will constitute an albatross on its neck, APC will continue to remain a kite that will not fly in this State and this is even irrespective of the fact that it scored good votes during the national elections in March. The variable responsible for that fact is simply no longer there. Permit me to say that the number of votes the APC scored in Ondo State is not in any manner a reflection of its spread and potency here but because many of our people were sucked in by the “change” mantra that propelled Buhari to power and it is instructive for me to say that it is going to be a different ball game in the gubernatorial election as APC will again kiss the dust here!
With the exit of former PDP bigwigs like Olusola Oke, Victor Olabimtan, Femi Agagu, Benson Enikuomehin and others, do you envisage that the PDP will still retain power after the election?
Olusola Oke remains my good friend and so is Victor Olabintan and Femi Agagu, both of whom I consider as big brothers. I have said before that it was painful for the Party to loose these gentlemen to the APC, and this is because they were foundation members of the Party. But, believe me, we have since put their decampment behind us and we also continue to remain cocksure that they do not possess the capacity to injure the interest of PDP, the Yorubas say it is man that is behind the effigy known as Oro and that remains the only reason it can make any sound, the support base of these gentlemen that conferred on them the ability to effect serious political actions remains in PDP, so with due respect to all of them, they remain mere flag poles that will merely flutter in the air. I however want to reiterate my earlier call on them to return from their sojourn to this wonderland called APC, their kith and kin in PDP will forgive their miscalculation and reintegrate them. I remember that I also said that there remains another group that decamped alongside them, those ones have joined about six political parties since 1999, they cannot in any manner be regarded as any asset at all but mere Rolling Stones that gather no moss, like Obasanjo will say, “we dey kampe” Therefore I am confident that we will win the Governorship election in this State next year and this is grounded on the fact that we possess the political structures that will give us victory across the landscape of this State and APC is still wandering loquacious lye like the proverbial drummer boy, without a clue to what its’ strategies will be.
There are various petitions on alleged misappropriation of funds by Governor Mimiko, which has prompted the invasion of the state by officials of the anti-graft agencies. Could you defence these allegations?
The fact that EFCC and other allied agencies are paying routine visits to this State based on the fact that some people wrote petitions to them does not in any manner indicate that the contents of those petitions upon which those petitions were predicated are facts that are sacrosanct, thus the essence of those visits as you say is to determine the truth in those petitions and if so far nobody has been arraigned in court and convicted on the strength of any of these petitions, it means there are no cogent facts in them, therefore flimsy. However if you know anyone that has been investigated on the basis of this petition, you may seek their opinions.
The APC is waxing stronger. With the Party already forming government at the centre, can the PDP make any headway?
APC waxing stronger in this State? I don’t know the indices on which your assumption is predicated, maybe you take the decampment of notable former members of our Party like Oke, Olabintan and Femi Agagu as one of such indices, then I will quickly ask you that what effect did they have on the House of Assembly elections in their respective Constituencies, save for Olabintan in any case. Or you probably take the radio program that Enikuomehin and his gang do weekly on Adaba FM as another indices, then you have already missed the very serious points that determine the strength of a Party. I maintain and seriously too that the APC has not grown to a level that it will seriously challenge the PDP in Ondo State to a duel. People must also realize that the profile of the APC that gave it the Presidency is crumbling very fast as it is obvious that the Buhari Presidency cannot fulfill its electoral promises, today everybody is poking fun at Mr President who is now commonly referred to as”Baba Go Slow” please be assured that before the gubernatorial election in this State, The precarious balance that currently obtains in the APC would have tripped and it’s crisis must have escalated beyond comprehension.
People are complaining the harsh policies of the state government. Will that not count against the PDP during next year’s election?
We have to understand the underlying factors responsible for the actions of Government on Okada riders, however before I delve into that, it is important to underscore the fact that Governments of Lagos and Edo States have previously ban or restrict the operations of Okada in their respective States for reasons it considers in the interest of their States and heaven did not fall, those States are controlled by the APC, hence I cannot understand the need for hypocrisy of the APC in this State over the same issue that they have executed and perfected where they reign. Now it is important to examine the reasons for the actions taken on the Okada guys, Government notes that people simply drive ride their Okadas across the State borders to operate here without license and also use the same Okadas to commit crime.
There are reported cases of kidnap occasioned by the use of unregistered Okada and several robbery issues, Government therefore reasoned that in the interest of the security of the people of the State, all Okadas must obtain license which is just legal and there arose a bedlam. I think all right thinking people must ordinarily support the Government position because why must a set of people refuse to obey the law and some people are supporting them, what kind of leadership are they trying to provide?
On the issue of emission testing, I must say it is a new development and it is not an action restricted to Ondo as Edo State is implementing it in a more stringent manner and again that is an APC State, while people pay N1,000 here for emission testing, in Edo, they pay N3,000. I understand the policy is a national program and other States will soon begin implementation. Some have opined that Government is using it to raise money but that is not true. As for Kaadi Igbeaayo, Government says that from its statistics, people not resident in the State are taking advantage of its programs for the people of the State and this is because this APC States that border us do not provide welfarist programs for its citizens. It is on record that hordes of people from Osun and Edo have benefitted from the Abiye program of Ondo State Government. Even people come from Lagos to take advantage too, therefore Government is insisting that if anyone desire to take advantage of its programs, it must show evidence that he or she is resident here and thus the Kaadi Igbeayo is therefore important for you to possess.
What is your assessment of APC and Buhari’s administration so far?
The Buhari government can be likened to a kite that is consistently refusing to fly. As far as I am concerned, it continues to fail to justify its mandate, one will expect that a man who has doggedly pursued the ambition to become President for many years would have hit the ground running, but what do we have? A President under whose guidance Boko Haram that have been chased by the administration of Goodluck Jonathan without our borders now operate blatantly not only within our borders, but in our cities! When ex President Jonathan was visiting the neighboring countries to set up an alliance against Boko Haram, the APC criticized him endlessly, calling him “clueless” but what has Buhari done? exactly the same thing.
The Buhari government has consistently fail to make petrol available to Nigerians, it continues to display its lack luster and incompetence in this regard, where is the “change” they so flippantly promise to make happen?
The only visible agenda it seems to have now is the corruption battle and we wait to see how it will be implemented, we want to see who will be tried for corruption and who the sacred cows will be, we are waiting and watching!
Finally I must say that governments are propelled by policies it propounds and as we speak, Buhari’s government has not propounded any policy to guide its actions, so we only have a vacuous government in place now, God will save Nigeria.
BY DAMISI OJO, NATION