Viruses infected, destroyed PDP – Daniel

The former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Justus Olugbenga Daniel, recently said in an interview that the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Nigeria was destroyed by viruses.

He said this while answering questions on the last elections, how and why the PDP failed to return the former president Goodluck Jonathan as president and why President Buhari won.

“Probably as a result of his consistent participation in the election for almost a decade and half; Buhari had cultivated a cult followership, largely in the North and some other locations,” he said, “I am not particularly sure that if APC had fielded another person that is not Buhari, they would have won the election.”

He opined that the success of Buhari may not be unconnected with the fact that the North which feel cheated for not having a chance to serve out their term due to the agreed zoning arrangement of PDP.

In his words, “The North justifiably feels that since the untimely demise of former President Yar’Adua, they have not been able to have a shot at the presidency in line with the zoning principle of the PDP.

“You need to also balance that with the fact that the constitution also gave the incumbent the right to have a second term. I think that was what the party may be balancing. You must also remember that while the North was agitating, the South- South also maintained that they were the goose that was laying the golden egg.

“Their argument was that it wasn’t their fault that Yar’Adua died. If Obasanjo has had his eight years and we now have had a Jonathan, let him have his second term. Those were the competing issues that had to be weighed.”

He was, however, quick to state that whichever way one weighed it, there would still be perceived injustice.

Below are the exchanges;

But he (Buhari) had the followership in previous elections that he lost?

That’s correct but human beings being what we are, if you see somebody struggling and struggling and the polity is not seen to be improving, the tendency in human beings is that let this man who is struggling also try.

Over the years, he came out as somebody Nigerians felt had tried and you know our nature as a people.

There was the issue of one term tenure that Jonathan would return power to the North in 2015.

Let me be honest with you. Some of those things are contentious. Maybe, it happened or not, I am not privy to them. We heard rumours but I didn’t know about it. Only Jonathan, Obasanjo and the power blocs could answer that.

You were mentioned as having interest in the PDP chairmanship. The seat was zoned to the South but the South-West is making a serious case for it. What is the case of the South-West and do you have interest in becoming the chairman?

If you look at the history of the PDP since inception till date, the South-West is the only zone that has not been privileged to have the chairmanship of the party. That is not in doubt. Other zones have had it at one point or the other.

So, there is something in the claim of the South-West. The second thing is that when you look at the marginalisation that is going on in the South-South and South-East, the feeling there is that our brothers in the South-East feel marginalised as far as this country is concerned.

To that extent, now that the presidency has been zoned to the North, people from that angle feel they are ripe to become the Vice President.

That is the calculation. People from the South-East feel that if they were at the centre, this feeling of marginalisation can be symbolically addressed. So, when you look at it all, politicians from the South- East appear to be positioning for the vice presidency in case the presidency goes to the North to address the issues of marginalisation.

Whether I am interested? There is no doubt in my mind that what the party requires, since the party is out of power, is someone who has the capacity to organise the party and rebrand it. I have no doubt in my mind that I have the capacity to organise and reposition the party.

If the opportunity arises, one would see it as a national service and a chance to contribute to national development. I am not going to run away from that.

In that battle, you have people like Chief Bode George, Jimi Agbaje and former Governor Olusegun Mimiko to contend with….

There will be no battle. If we begin to look at this as individual ambition, we are going to fall into the abyss. But if we look at it as national service, we should remove ourselves from personal ambition.

By the grace of God, Chief Bode George was military governor in Ondo State about 32 years ago. He is very respected, strong and brilliant. I have no doubt in my mind that he is capable of running the party.

He has been the Deputy National Chairman of the party. I have also been a governor of a state, which is a microcosm of Nigeria, with all the power brokers there. I don’t think there is anything that cannot be done there.

I have ran elections successfully. I have ran governance successfully. I successfully coordinated the presidential campaign in the South-West in 2011.

I have a very large political network to open doors nationwide. But today, it is not a personal interest, so there will be no need for wars. What is important is for all of us to understand that we don’t have the Federal Government in our hands, no federal boards, little or no states to fund the party. It is time for activating struggle mode and using little resources to achieve much. That requires somebody who can manage men and materials.

I cannot be found wanting in that respect. There is something called managing wealth and managing poverty. It is difficult to manage poverty. When you look at some of my brothers, they have managed wealth. Ondo State was one of the richest states in the South West. They have managed wealth. I am not sure they have managed poverty.

There is no wealth to manage in PDP today. Now is the time to manage poverty with ideas, to create the capacity to manage men and women, not It is time for activating struggle mode and using little resources to achieve much The is the concluding part of an interview with former Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State with GEOFFREY EKENNA the time to give them monies to attend rallies. It has to be ideological.

But when you look at it, I think that some of our elders, who have bestrode the whole place like a colossus over the decades should start appreciating that they were relatively younger people when they started.

They need to start appreciating that there are younger people that need to be allowed to take over. If there is anything I am proud of, of what I did in Ogun State, it is the number of younger people that I empowered, that I helped to rediscover themselves, their capacities and innate abilities.

I have done quite a number of things as a young man. My advice to the party is that the transition should be as seamless as possible.

Were you worried when former President Olusegun Obasanjo tore his PDP card? Was that not the destruction of the brand PDP?

Yes, I was worried! I was concerned and I was unhappy because whether you like it or not, Obasanjo was the symbol of that party. He ran that party for a whole of eight years. He made a name for himself and is still making names for himself worldwide.

He is one of the power blocs I spoke about….

Whether you like him or not, you cannot remove Obasanjo’s name from this country. You can call him super power bloc if you like.

When somebody like that, tears his card, as a brand Ambassador, it is bad omen. I think that it is something quite unfortunate that happened. My own idea is that it is something that happened spontaneously. If it was something that people had inkling would happen, everything humanly possible would have been done to prevent it.

But the signs were there?

I don’t want to talk about the various individuals and viruses that inflicted the party. I think moving forward, what we can do is still to go back to Baba and beg him that you cannot throw away the baby with the bath water.

Regrettably, he cannot be an APC president. Anytime, we write his history, it would still be that he was a PDP president. So, there is no way that can be removed. So, we must plead with Baba that new wine is here and let’s take a second look at it. I am sure that Baba may not be completely against that idea.

I interviewed you three days after you were first sworn in, in 2003 as the governor of Ogun State. You were such a big brand. In your first term, you were the toast of the town. But by your second term, you practically fought everybody, including Obasanjo and all key people in the state. It was as if you became a Lion. What went wrong with the OGD brand?

Absolutely nothing! People have asked me this question in different ways. Some said I performed in my first term and did not do well in the second term. Let me say that there was no time we did not have our eyes on the ball.

We knew it was a tenured position and we knew that time was ticking. So, while those things that appear to be crises were going on, the work did not stop.

I have done an analysis of what we did in the first and second terms and I discovered that what we did in the second term was more than what we did in the first term, so much so that even in the last week of my administration, we were busy commissioning projects- bridges, power houses and even the multi storey OPIC plaza, the tallest in the old Western region after Cocoa House. But you must appreciate that in our environment, particularly in Ogun State, the rate of work was unprecedented, with a sense of humility.

People took it for granted. Those things that we did in the first term, people took for granted that, that is the way it was supposed to be. Secondly, I remember that I spoke with a friend who was running a big news magazine at that time, asking him why I have not appeared on their cover. The answer he gave me I cannot forget till today.

He said that I should not pray that they put me on the cover, that they don’t put good news there. He told me to be doing my job. Just recently, I spoke with a friend, who is a friend of the current administration. He said there is an open confession there that they simulated open lies to take over power from the PDP in Ogun State.

Don’t also play down the effect of propaganda for a performing administration. I have always spoken of our people being easily sucked in. We lack capacity to ask logical questions and logical reasoning. We believe in whispers.

That is why propaganda thrives. I didn’t go to work with propaganda. I didn’t go there to pretend that I was working. There were stories of people killed. Where were their bodies? None! There was violence. Where were you injured? None! After everything, it was about people saying I did not carry them along in this or that.

Do you have any regrets six and half years after?

No! At the beginning, I felt I was unfairly treated. This is the house I have been living for 25 years. I left from here and came back here.

Nothing has changed since then. There is nothing I was looking for that wasn’t here then before I went in. I think we changed Ogun State from a civil service state to an industrial hub. The person there now is claiming the glory but intelligent people know that somebody laid the foundation. To that extent, there are no regrets.

But our people should ask logical question. I don’t want to judge the present administration. Everybody has his own style, his own way of doing things. The only worry I have is that from the foundations we laid, Ogun State should by now be inching towards the first state in the country in terms of everything.

The Dangote refinery that is now in Lagos was to be in Ogun State. We had done everything. Why did it leave? It has the capacity to employ about 20, 000 graduates. It is the biggest investment in the world today going on. How did we lose it to Lagos? It is not that it is cheaper in Lagos. It is much more expensive.

The deep sea port, which is not being pursued, is the cheapest on the West Coast of Africa from our research. The depth they were looking for is not in Lagos where they are now. Ogun State would have been much bigger and better than it is today. A man can only do his best and leave the rest to God. I am a contented man.

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