In this interview with ABIODUN NEJO, Raphael Adeyanju, Publicity Secretary of the Ekiti State Peoples Democratic Party, says the PDP’s stakeholders in the state are only interested in returning the party to its members and strengthening it so that it can win future elections.
Your party lost the governorship election on June 18th. What was the cause and what was the reaction?
Yes, it was heartbreaking. We were unable to organise our home. Some people were dissatisfied with the primary results, and there was no proper reconciliation. There was no spirit of exchange. Many people were self-centered. They (Party members) wanted to be satisfied.
This is another opportunity to own a faster-loading website to expand your business and take it digitally online. Meet the best website designer/master coder for any kind of website. Contact them now it is affordable Chat now: 09077260922
Those who lost the primaries were bad losers, and those who won did not do enough to reconcile with the others.
So, how has it been with the party in the last two months?
Immediately after we lost the election, the state working committee met and some of us insisted that we wanted the party to be run as a party. We want to strengthen the party and we want to have a collective say in the party. We felt that the PDP was too much in the grip of our leader, which we felt was not good enough. We want to have a situation where the SWC will take charge. We stated that the PDP should have a substantive chairman elected by the people, accountable to the people, and capable of effectively managing the party, but some people disagreed and sabotaged the move. We proposed a meeting. The acting chairman was reluctant to call the meeting, so the state executive council called the meeting, but before we could meet and deliberate on how to fill that post, they went ahead to appoint somebody that they felt could serve as a puppet. That was how we got two chairmen.
So, while we were awaiting the national body’s pronouncement, the other group went to court to get an injunction to stop the headquarters from recognising any of the two.
People expect the PDP to put its house in order after the electoral loss. Why has it been difficult for your party to demonstrate leadership to show you can recover and win future polls?
The problem lies with the inability to admit mistakes. I give it to former governor Ayodele Fayose. He is very brave, bold, and smart, but we expect him to realise that he is also a human being and can make mistakes. When you make a mistake and people point it out to you, you should be able to admit it and probably apologise. The way we handled the governorship election was not proper. We had wanted to decentralise the authority to involve more people, but Fayose felt that we had challenged his authority by asking for a substantive chairman. That is very unfortunate. If he had submitted to the will of the people, this kind of crisis would have been avoided. If he had called us to review the situation together, we would have told him we wanted more people’s participation. He is a leader. He is intelligent, but he cannot be more intelligent than all the other people. He took it personally, as if we had challenged the authority of a sole administrator of a company. The PDP is not a company. We can always ask questions and ask for change, but some people will not want that change to materialise. I don’t know what some people want to achieve by holding on when they realise that their style is not working!
With the present situation, are you convinced that the Ekiti PDP is set to reposition itself?
We are set to reposition because there are people with genuine concern for the future of the party. They are in many groups. All we have to do is to come together for a focus. Individual efforts will not help us. The joy of it is that a factor unifying all the groups is the passion to install Atiku Abubakar as the nation’s president in 2023.
With that development, all members, even those who left the party (PDP) for the Social Democratic Party, are returning, and they are clamouring for Atiku. When you look at it, Atiku is now the major factor. Everywhere, it is the Atiku movement. Everybody is Atiku now, and Atiku is the symbol of the PDP. We are ready. We are determined to win the election for Atiku. We are determined to reposition the PDP.
A fortnight ago, the stakeholders rejected Fayose’s style of leadership. Why and what are the issues involved?
In the past, the slogan was “leader-general,” and we were always looking up to him (Fayose) for initiatives. He was the sole commander of the party, and the other leaders and elders played passive roles in whatever happened.
For the governorship, it was Fayose that nominated Bisi Kolawole, and we supported him. He also wanted to nominate the deputy governorship candidate, but most party leaders disagreed. He felt bitter and started having issues with everybody, including the governorship candidate. We only managed the crisis. What we are saying is that the party is not about anybody but all of us. The way we conducted the governorship campaign with the overbearing presence of Fayose did not help us. Fayose campaigned as if he was the candidate. The real candidate was not speaking. Ekiti people are intelligent. They love Fayose because he performed when he was in office, but they don’t want you to impose a weakling. I am not saying Bisi Kolawole is a weakling, but the system did not project him as somebody who was in charge. The system projected him as somebody who would be a puppet. It would have helped the party if the system had allowed Kolawole, the candidate, to present himself as a very bold person, but that did not happen.
Again, the campaign committees set up did not work. It was Fayose who dominated the arena. If the committees had been allowed to work, there would have been initiatives and suggestions that would have helped the party. These are the things we are out to correct to strengthen the party and return it to winning ways.
Do you think stakeholders’ adoption of collegiate leadership is feasible? Who and what will be involved?
It can work if they want it to work. Fayose is a leader. Senator Biodun Olujimi is a leader. Dr Sikiru Lawal is a leader. Prof Kolapo Olusola-Ekiti is a leader. We have former chairmen. The BOT (Board of Trustees) members (past and present), etc. If these people come together, whatever they come up with will move the party forward, but the whole power revolves around Fayose. So, they are not happy because they are having little or no input. They want to be involved. We tried his one-man leadership style, but it did not work. We cannot continue. Let the leaders come together, agree and disagree among themselves, not that only one person will be talking. When you challenge him, you are in trouble. That is what we are saying.
Again, a leader should not make certain utterances. For instance, Fayose, who is being seen as the party leader, went to the public and announced that it was not the turn of the North to produce the presidential candidate when the party had already got a candidate who happened to be from the North. Does it mean that Fayose is going to conduct another primary, or is he telling the world that Ekiti people will not vote for the candidate? Fayose’s statement projects the Ekiti PDP in a bad light. Was he saying we are not with the PDP? If we did not challenge him on that, it would have created a terrible image for the Ekiti PDP. We have to tell him that he is not the party and cannot speak on behalf of the party. If we had had collegiate leadership, the leaders would have sat and decided the party’s position.
Looking at Fayose’s feats, defeating two incumbents, do you see any headway for the Ekiti PDP without him in the saddle?
He is an individual. He is a leader. He could not do it alone without the support of others. It is the people that promote leaders. Fayose cannot just go out and win elections without others. He won elections because he motivated others, encouraged them, and gained their trust. But there will be a problem when you take the trust for granted. With or without Fayose, the party will move on. We are all human beings. We are mortals. Although we need him around, we need his support, his encouragement, and for him to continue to serve the party as a leader. We are not doing away with Fayose. We are only trying to save him from himself. A good leader must be ready to be checked, corrected.
There is an open-secret that all of you stakeholders are beneficiaries of Fayose’s goodness and that some of you worked against the interest of the party during the June 18 election. What is your take on that?
Fayose helped some people to attain certain positions but some people also helped him to attain the position he has attained. I was already a councillor before Fayose came to the Ekiti PDP. He met me in the PDP.
Twice, I supported him to become governor. If he supported me to become anything, it was to pay back what I did for him. It is like that for so many other people. Fayose could not have made anybody a supervisor or anything without being a governor and you cannot become a governor without the people’s support. We only asked for mutual respect.
And that the majority of us betrayed the party during the governorship was not true. I read where the acting chairman alleged that some people collected money. I don’t know the amount of money he is talking about. No party leader was given election money. It was only Fayose that knew how he disbursed the money and to whom. The majority of the people he gave money to were the party candidates for the 2023 election in the state. The candidates handled the money with the belief that anybody who is a candidate will manage it well because the candidate knows that the outcome of the governorship may have an effect on his election. I am the leader in the Ekiti West Council area, where I come from. I do not know how the money was disbursed, likewise others. I am not even sure the party treasurer knows how the election money was disbursed. Telling lies that those who got the money did not spend it is a self-indictment.