Is it true that you were one of the forces that stood behind Governor Idris Wada in the build up to the governorship primaries in Kogi?
That is true; I supported the governor on principles and antecedents. Considering the options available to the PDP, he (Wada) remains the best option. There appeared to be stiff oppositions and then a sudden U-turn in the support for Governor Wada’s aspiration prior to the governorship primaries, which we learnt led to the postponement of the exercise at a point.
What really happened?
I wouldn’t say there was a noticeable turnaround against Wada; after all, we had only two main aspirants. If the situation was totally bad, you would have had an avalanche of aspirants as it happened in the APC. We had only two and the other aspirant who is popularly known as Echocho, may be, had the zeal to carry the media along with him, so there was a lot of hype about his aspiration.
My understanding on why the national leadership of the PDP postponed the primary was to see if an understanding could be reached amongst the aspirants. The intention was to see if there could be an agreement for one aspirant to step down for the other. Eventually, it was not so, the aspirants agreed that they will all stand for the election and that was what happened. The postponement was to buy time for more negotiation which did not happen. But as for opposition, yes, the governor had some opposition but at the end, wisdom prevailed and I think the right thing was done and we were all happy about it.
But why did the PDP delay the negotiation until the eleventh hour?
That question should be directed to the National Working Committee of the party. I agree with you that PDP had enough time; they didn’t do what they ought to do and were doing it at the eleventh hour. But sometimes, it is better late than never and I think that was what happened. It is good they exploited all avenues of negotiation.
You were said to be a money bag and have spent a lot of money in supporting Wada, what do you really want to achieve?
That is not true. I don’t have money to bankroll the governor. I only have goodwill, the zeal and principle that the right thing should be done. I stand for justice and it is not the question of having money to bankroll the governor. But if I have the money, obviously I will support in kind and also physically. I will put my energy in his campaign and whatever I can do for the success of the PDP.
Critics said the PDP-led government has not performed enough in terms of development in the state, what is your take on this?
As a PDP member, I will work for the victory of the PDP. As regards the performance of the governor, if the truth is to be said outside politics, I’m sure the greatest critics would applaud the performance of the governor, bearing in mind the resources available to him. Don’t forget that the governor got into office with some liabilities from the previous government, and government as continuous entity, he had to oblige to some of these baggage. The governor had done very well within the available resources. He was able to pay salaries unlike in some states. He owes salaries of not more than a month, whereas in some states, you find out that nine months, six months, people have no salaries. And I think he should be commended. He has managed the resources available to him well and he should be praised.
You know, there have been dwindling resources accruing to the state and having paid some obligations, you find that money available for him to carry out development projects will not be there, and that is what is happening. But you see that bye and large, there are projects that are being carried out. And I will say that you press men under-report the activities of the governor, or may be, there is no synergy between you and the media outfit of the governor. If you look around in the state, there are roads being constructed, buildings going on and other things which are worth reporting. We have brought this to his notice and I’m sure things are being done to showcase some of these things. He is a silent achiever, but in politics, there is nothing like silent achiever, you need to blow your trumpet for people to know. The era of allowing people to blow your trumpet is over.
By and large, the governor has done well within the available resources. May be one thing you don’t know is that the governor is paying pension and gratuities as far back as 1999 which was left by previous administrations. I think he’s paid up to around 2004 or 2005 and he hopes to pay more. These are baggage of other people who didn’t think the civil servants matter.
What do you think are the selling propositions of the PDP to win the November 21 governorship election in the state?
We are credible. We are not carrying any fraud cases. Our candidate is transparent; he is not a guest to EFCC, ICPC or Code of Conduct Bureau. And if you look at the two candidates, you will know who is back to rescue or back to loot. We believe that our own candidate is very honest, transparent and prudent. We have had a taste of the APC candidate and we know that Kogi State is still battling to get some of our funds that are supposed to have been missing. That is not the case with Wada. So, we are bringing to bear to people of Kogi, honesty, transparency, prudence, humility and above all the fear of God. We cannot entrust our destiny to somebody outside Kogi.
Whatever it is, as the saying goes: the devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know. We know Wada, we know his capability. We know what he can do but we don’t know what somebody who is outside the state can do.
What is your take on the agitation for power shift by people from Kogi West and Central?
I think it is an issue for the parties. If both parties agreed and are working towards that, then it is a good omen. One of the reasons why I’m supporting Wada to do his second term is that I believe he is the right person that will ensure there is power shift. Echocho is a good person, he is capable and competent but I’m not sure he can guarantee power shift in the next four years because he would want to do his eight years. So, Wada is better placed to ensure power shift than any other person. The candidate of the APC, I’m sure is just paying lip service on power shift because we have heard about his plans to perpetuate somebody in office by the time he leaves. But, when the time comes, we will say it loud and clear.
What is the PDP doing to reconcile all aggrieved parties in the fallout of the governorship primary?
I think that process is on; Wada is already taking foremost position to reconcile all parties involved. And at the local government level, we are trying to reconcile all party members as well. But one important thing is that as a democrat, nothing stops you from expressing your wish and desire. But having done that, and it passes through due credible process, you must come to terms with the results. So, we are hoping that Echocho and his supporters will turn around and support the PDP candidate. And I think that is what politics is all about. You don’t move about like prostitutes – if you lose here, you move to another party and if you lose out there, you come back, that is not what politics is all about.
As democrats, we must be part and parcel of the democratic process and adhere to the tenets of democracy. And yes, nobody wants to lose but losing is still part of the game. Now that Wada has won, all PDP supporters should queue behind him. The issue of going to other parties means that you did not bring yourself to terms with the democratic process. In democracy, you must be ready to win and also ready to lose.