We need to strengthen PDP in the South-West — Daniel


A former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, speaks with OLUSOLA FABIYI on his desire to be the next national chairman of the PDP

About two aspirants have called for the resignation of the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of the party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi. Do you agree with them?

I have said that this is completely an in-house competition and campaign. My position is very simple: that we should not necessarily get excited because it is still the same family. Mistakes could be made, but there is a mechanism to address that. I am sure if people have complaints, they would be addressed. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t have any issue with anybody.

The party also alleged that some of its members are planning a parallel convention just as they did during the botched Port Harcourt national convention.

Well, I guess and hope that the era of impunity and people taking laws into their hands have finally gone in the party. I’m not aware of any parallel convention and I’m sure any attempt to do so should attract sanctions. The party is ours and the issue of people taking laws into their hands should not be encouraged. There should be no need for any parallel convention because we are going to have a good national convention on December 9 and a better candidate, who will lead the party, will emerge.

Is there anything that could make you reject the outcome of the convention?

I’m not a negative person. When I have a job to do, I put all my efforts into it. I have done that in this particular instance and I’m not envisaging any situation that may arise that will make me have such thinking. I don’t see any need for that.

Some people are also saying the national chairman should come from the South-West. Do you share that belief?

Absolutely, I believe in that. For once, the South-Wet deserves support from the party because of the state of the party in the zone, considering the fact that nobody from the zone has led the party before. In order to further develop the potential of the party against the next election, a position like that should be reserved for the South-West, especially when the ticket for the Presidency has been zoned to the North. I know that the party is strong in the South-South and the South-East. So, where the party needs to be worked on is the South-West and when the position of the national chairman is zoned to the area, it will enhance its fortunes nationally.

If the zone is serious about having the position, why then are six out of the eight aspirants from the place? Why can’t some step down to enhance the chances of the zone?

People of the South-West are highly educated and very sophisticated. You can see from the calibre of the candidates that the South-West must be taken very seriously. I don’t see that (number of aspirants from the zone) as an issue. I see it as an asset, that in the history of the party, so many people want to lead it. I do belief honestly that we still have (barely) two weeks; that is enough time in politics.

Are you saying there could still be consensus?

Yes, the idea of having a consensus candidate is still possible.

Consensus among the contestants from the South-West or generally?

Let us see how it goes. It is an internal matter and we are talking to ourselves.

Some say it is wrong to encourage a zoning arrangement because of the implication such action could have on the presidential ticket. Do you agree?

I have never emphasised zoning as far as my campaign is concerned. That really has not been the focus I raised. What I said is that it makes sense because it will put the party in a position of strength if we can make the chairman to emerge from the South-West.

Is there a way the party can force all the aspirants to abide by the peace accord signed by all the chairmanship aspirants?

That people have voluntarily subscribed to it is commendable and I’m sure people who have signed the document are gentlemen who will not sign what they do not believe in. I have signed and am adhering to the accord.

Why do you want to lead the party at this crucial time?

I guess, as a governor under the party for eight years, I have a moral duty to make sure that there is a need to further develop the party. I’m forever a PDP person and the tag of the PDP is on my head. I remain the only PDP governor to have ruled Ogun State. So, whether I like it or not, anywhere I go, it is our party.

It must have pained you that you were unable to hand over to a PDP governor after eight years of your stewardship.

The way politics is, certain things will happen anyway and our prayer is that whenever something happens, it will not have a fatal effect on us. I guess, the party, the followers and even the general public and members of the party in Ogun State have learnt some lessons and they are wiser now. I’m sure that if they want to take a decision today, they will take a decision we will not regret.

What is your advice to fellow contestants, irrespective of the outcome of the convention?

My position has always remained very simple and very straightforward. There will always be the morning after December 9 when all of us will sit down as disciplined members of the party to take the party forward. Somebody will emerge and we are praying that the person will have the capacity to take the party forward. It is my hope that when that person emerges (and I pray that I will be the person), every other person will come around and we will sit together because nobody can do it alone.

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