It is unfortunate that we found ourselves in this situation. But, from the onset, let me add that the implication is that we have been taught a lesson on how to put our house in order. Really, the sack of the executive has served us right, because there are six positions that are zoned. The Presidency zoned to South-South, the Vice-Presidency zoned to North-West, the Senate Presidency zoned to North- Central, the Speaker of the House of Representatives zoned to the South-West, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) zoned to the South-East and the National Chairman of the PDP zoned to North-East. Of the six, we know that the zones had the positions that were zoned to them except South-West. Mind you, I’m trying to let you know how we find ourselves where we are. What happened that we in the South- West could not have our own position was unfortunate, because initially we thought it was a simple thing. At a meeting in Obasanjo’s house, we all decided and handed the Speakership position to Ajibola Muraina from Ibarapa and everybody agreed. Of course, that is the choice of South -West in the presence of the former President, OlusegunObasanjo, serving as the umpire as well as the witness to our unanimous decision to give the position of Speakership to Muraina. Unfortunately, at the sitting where the Speaker would emerge, some people came with a lie, which was very unfortunate. Some people said that the wife of the President wanted Mulikat. Of course, I asked the question that when did the wife of the President become a politician that she would be dabbling into our problem? And Obasanjo was of the same opinion. He asked the same question. It later turned out that some politicians, notably from Ogbomoso, decided against Muraina’s emergence. If we know by history what Ogbomoso used to be in Yoruba land, you will not be surprised that after collectively handing the Speakership to an Ibarapa man, MurainaAjibola, in Obasanjo’s house, some Ogbomoso people told us a lie that the wife of the President wanted Mulikat. That is where the problem of South -West began. If we were allowed to have Muraina as the Speaker, then other positions that are attached to this strong Speakership position would have come to the Yoruba. But, be that as it may be, once the North West has politically snatched the position of Speakership from the South-West, it would give them double advantage. They are having the number two position as well as number four, because, the Vice President is from North West. Now Speaker going again to the North-West, the marginalization started from there.
But the South-West was compensated with the position of National Secretary – are you saying it was not enough to balance the equation?
Is the South-West holding the position now? You see, the marginalization is real, everybody saw it and we all agreed that South West needed to be compensated. It was in the process of how to compensate the zone that the secretaryship position was zoned to the South-West only for it to develop a K-leg. As I said the other time that, by the recent event, we would learn how to put our house in order, were we not all aware that some people went to court and the court said that the congress from where Oyinlola emerged should not have been held? I believe in the rule of law. So, if there was a subsisting order by a court of competent jurisdiction in Nigeria, why did we go ahead to choose Oyinlola? Let me tell you, another problem the Oyinlola secretaryship had is that some Nigerians are getting tired of militarization of political positions. Oyinlola was former military governor and we could see the hand of another military man behind him. People are now beginning to ask question that when are we going to get off the hand of the military in partisan politics of Nigeria? We have a history where the military had ruled this country for over 30 years and some of us believe that they cannot be wished away just with a wave of the hand, that the military has shared a substantial proportion of our political history. But the people are saying we should start the process of demilitarization of our politics. Oyinlola is my very good boy. His senior brother, Samson Oyinlol, was my junior in the Soviet Union and Oyinlola, as a human being, is very humble. Anytime he meets me he prostrates, what else do you want in a man that is a former governor, both as a military man and as a civilian? It is really unfortunate that his emergence developed a K-leg. Since we all believe in the rule of law, there is nothing one can do, we have to obey the court and nobody will dare to disobey the court.
That is a problem that will solve itself with time.
A court judgement sacked Oyinlola as the National Secretary, but don’t you think that the manner of the execution of the judgement without waiting for his appeal was unlike PDP?
I don’t understand you. Are you saying we should continue to remain lawless? No! As I said earlier, this is not time to look for a scapegoat. Did you follow the trend? Some people, even from the home front of the secretary, they felt shortchanged, they felt that they were not carried along; they felt that they were not involved in the emergence of Prince OlagunsoyeOyinlola, whereas charity must begin at home. So they believed that Oyinlola was one of the ex-governors in the zone. Fortunately, he happens to be a very good boy to Obasanjo, the position he was given, nobody can say that the hand of Obasanjo was not visible inOyinlola’s emergence. If Oyinlola became the secretary and right from his zone, there were complaints and people went to court, is that the problem of Abuja or our own problem? What’s more, a judgement was given that the congress where he emerged was barred from holding by a court of competent jurisdiction in Nigeria. And not many people remember that and looking back, we all found that there was a court judgement which barred the congress and if all of us believe in the rule of law, why did we go ahead with the congress? We should hold ourselves responsible for whatever might have befallen us rather than blaming any body.
Some people had even argued that the position of the party Secretary zoned to the South-West was not enough compensation for the marginlization, do you subscribe to this?
Well, truly we can’t compare the office of House of Representatives Speaker with that of party secretary, but, what could we have done in the circumstances we found ourselves in the zone? I was the one that asked for the zoning of the Secretaryship position of the party to the South-West. That was when I was told that asking for the zoning of the National Chairman of the party to the South West was not in order, because, then, they told me that we were having the chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT), that is Chief OlusegunObasanjo, who has brought that position a lot of recognition. So they told me that the South West could not have both the BOT Chairman and that of the party at the national level, therefore they zoned the secretary of the party to us in South West. Don’t forget that ab-initio, there are six most important positions that were zoned; one to each political zones in the country. Let me digress to thank Dr. Alex Ekwueme, who during the late General Sani Abacha Constitutional Conference proposed the division of the country into six zones. Though, in the constitution, there is nothing like zones, but it is so convenient that we must continue to be grateful to Ekwueme who brought about the idea of zoning.
Aside the issue of the South-West, the emerging signal from the National Secretariat of the party is that all is not well, where does this take the country?
Well, you should not take it seriously. We in the midst of everything know that we are a very large family. It is not easy to be the ruling party in a complicated society like Nigeria and don’t forget, in a big family, that we are, PDP controlling 26 state governments out of 36 and having the Federal Government. Whether we like it or not, all of us cannot think alike, we cannot think the same way. The family is too large, therefore, there are all traits of opinions on any issue concerning the government or concerning the party. So, the type of rancour and disagreement that goes on between us, it goes beyond sitting down to settle, because some of them believe that until you get to the law court, you cannot achieve peaceful solution to any problem. So, with large family, having six geo-political zones, and controlling the presidency of the country with 26 state governments, there is bound to be disagreement. And this disagreement, at times, can be taken to ridiculous extent and since we all believe in the rule of law and even if you are cheated on any issue, including issue of you and your wife, either of you can seek a divorce. So the law court is there.
Don’t you think that the zoning is what is giving the present administration of Goodluck Jonathan a hell of time?
I don’t believe it. Fortunately, you are talking with someone with double cap. One, I am a member and Secretary of Southern Forum of which late Ambassador Mathew Mbu was our chairman. We went round the whole of this country, asking for check and balances in control of power. There are six geo-political zones in Nigeria; we have in the South, three and in the North, three. The three in the South are South-West, South- South and of course South – East. We are lucky that over 80 per cent of the resources that this country depends upon today come from the South and specifically from the South-South. So the Southern Form founded by the government at that time went round the country to solicit support and acceptance of the presidency of the day and two, to ask for a South Southerner to be asked to lead this country, because South-South is the hen that is laying the golden eggs. If you look at the rulership of the country, let’s say from the independence period, you will realize that the rulership of the country has been a bit more to one side. So the problem of PDP is because of its largeness, the robustness of the PDP in the political affairs of the largest congregation of black people on earth, that is Nigeria is the problem. So whether we like it or not, there is bound to be disagreement, our ability to resolve the disagreement either locally or through the court is what makes us, as PDP, thick. We are getting thicker and thicker everyday. I have always been saying that a PDP Federal Government is tackling the power crisis in Nigeria. I have noticed that within the last few weeks, the amount of electricity being distributed by PHCN is becoming bigger and bigger. We are having supply, instead of eight hours, we are now having for 12 or 13 hours which is a very good improvement and we are saying let Jonathan presidency fix the power crisis in Nigeria, come 2015, regardless of what our brothers in the North are saying, since we are not breaking any law, Jonathan will ask for a second term ticket from his party and the party is likely to give it to him and he will go and face election of all the parties that have merged.
But, the way things are going, the PDP may be too weak to withstand serious opposition come 2015?
That’s media perception, but I’m telling you as an active participant that we are strong enough, we can face anything, either we resolve as brothers and sisters at home, in our traditional manner, the Igbos in their traditional manner, the Hausa in their traditional manner and the Yoruba in their traditional manner or we go to law court and get an acceptable judgment. After the law court you can go to Court of Appeal and if you are not satisfied and you are ready to wait for about 15 years, your case can go to the Supreme Court. Out of the Supreme Court, if you are not satisfied, you go to God to seek redress.
Are you saying the formation of All Progressives Congress (APC) cannot pose any serious threat to the PDP in 2015?
My take is that I am the one that originated their emergence. I gave the idea publicly in a newspaper interview that all other political parties are too small and their influences are not being felt by the ruling party. For democracy to survive, you must have a ruling party and you must have a government in waiting, an anticipated opposition government in waiting. In short you must have a strong political party to form what you call shadow government or shadow cabinet. So I have said that the PDP is so robust, so big that all other political parties should merge, so that we may feel their effect and I thank God they have done so and the problem that I predicted was in one of the dailies. I have always been saying that if all of them are put together, they are not up to one single political party. So, the opposition they have formed, I have solicited for it. We need a strong, good opposition to give PDP a run for its money, so their merger is what I have been canvassing for, that instead of them existing in small groups, they should come together and give PDP a run for its money. Now they have come together, I only pray that they will be able to resolve the problem of headship or leadership. The problem is their headache, they don’t need a PDP man to come and solve the problem for them. They have to look for the solution. Which of their leaders, Buhari is there, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is there, there is an Obi man in APGA. There are too small political parties there but they were swallowed. I repeat, let them resolve the leadership crisis which had been long predicted before the merger. Is it going to be Buhari of CPC and will Asiwaju Bola Tinubu be prepared to line up behind Buhari or will Buhari be prepared to line up behind Tnubu? They have the problem.