Mr. Segun Adewale is the factional chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State. In this interview, he speaks on the leadership tussle rocking the state chapter of the party and the way out of the crisis. WALE ELEGBEDE reports
The Lagos State chapter of the PDP has been enmeshed in leadership crisis just after the 2019 elections and you are one of the actors in the crisis. Why are you desperate to become chairman of the party?
First of all, I am not in this struggle because I want to become the state chairman at all cost. I am here because of our loyal and hardworking party faithful, who have remained steadfast, but get disappointed every election cycle due to heinous activities of some people parading themselves as leaders. I emerged as the state chairman during the reign of the then National Chairman of the party in 2016, to oversee the affairs of the party for four years, which should ordinarily terminate in 2021. I stepped aside when there were some issues within the party, which does not amount to my resignation as chairman.
Chief Bode George against section 46-48 of the party’s constitution unilaterally picked an Acting Chairman, Dr. Adegbola Dominic. Our constitution recognises State Executive Committee or Congress as the only means of filling a vacant position or electing state officers, not by fiat as carried out by Chief Bode George and his cohorts. Adegbola Dominic upon his resumption, instead of working to unite the party, began to appoint new chairmen in all the local government areas as against the authentic chairmen recognised by the party. The same Adegbola and his master, Chief Bode George, were the people who led our members to Labour Party during the council election and scored zero.
After the last elections, at Chief Bode George’s residence, he was video and audio taped, telling their faction that they instructed their people to work against PDP because election fund was not handed over to them. Recall that in 2015, I won seven out of 10 local government areas in Lagos West. That propped up the victory for House of Assembly and House of Representatives candidates. Today, we cannot say the same because of the kind of leadership we have in the state. This is the reason we have to think deeply if we should move away from this set of leadership or should remain the same.
There is this belief that you are now a member of Action Democratic Party (ADP) and no longer a PDP member having gone to Ekiti State to contest the last governorship poll in the state on the platform of ADP. What is your reaction to the claim?
I didn’t go to ADP to contest on the party’s platform. I went to Ekiti State to contest on the platform of the PDP. I paid for the gubernatorial form to contest, but the then governor, Ayo Fayose, insisted that I can’t contest because I am not a PDP member in Ekiti State. So, in Ekiti, they didn’t allow me, they insisted I am a PDP member in Lagos. I knew I can’t defeat Eleka because Governor Fayose was the one sponsoring him, even Prince Adeyeye that has structures too couldn’t do that. But I decided, just let me contest, so it would be on record that I contested for this position and lost in the primaries and in four or eight years’ time, one can then build on that, but they refused.
That was why I said okay, let me use another platform. Some parties now adopted me and I chose ADP because it was new. I did not decamp, if I did, you would have seen pictures of me and my people moving to ADP. I did not. So, immediately after the primaries for the 2019 polls, I went back to my town, got people together, gave them money to go and prepare for the presidential election. I have the pictures too where the leaders were present then, those people that followed me to ADP for the election, I had to bring them back again to PDP.
But we didn’t see much of your efforts for Lagos PDP during the last elections?
Yes, and that is one of the reasons why I am trying to let the world to know that there is no need for anybody to be in PDP in Lagos until Chief Bode George is pushed aside or retired forcefully. If that is not done, we are just wasting our time. That is why if I had gotten involved in the last elections, I knew PDP cannot win the last election, I knew even Agbaje himself is not even ready. That was what I saw in advance and didn’t get involved. If I had got myself involved and there was fracas in Lagos State, people would be saying that it was Segun Adewale, who caused the defeat of 2019.
That was why I decided not to do anything at all. I saw the defeat coming and that the last election was going to be worse than what we have been having before and that was what happened. Some party leaders decided to work against the party’s interest, so how can I be part of that PDP?
How best can this issue be addressed?
The issue can be addressed if we have a proper congress. Since inception, PDP has never had a proper congress here, that is why Lagos is the only state where PDP has never won a governorship election because there has never been any congress, that will allow the right candidate, the right personnel, the right functionaries to emerge and run the party. Until there is a change of leadership, nobody should even bother, it is a waste of time.
There are reports that you have taken over the Lagos PDP secretariat…
Yes, I have taken over the secretariat and I am the chairman and I would make sure I give you the copies of my letter from Senator Ali Modu Sheriff. Sheriff was removed by the court, agreed, but I was not removed by any court. No court said I should vacate the office. The same paper that is binding on Ogun State chapter and the rest of South-West states applies to Lagos, but I just allowed peace to reign in Lagos after almost two years of fighting. They asked me to step aside for Hon. Moshood Salvador, my chairmanship would expire in 2021, I obeyed the leadership because I wanted peace in Lagos. If I didn’t allow peace to reign, they would have blamed me for Agbaje loss.
I am the authentic chairman until the court says otherwise. The PDP is saying that people should not go to court and that is why I have been taking my time. What can I do and how do I do it because Chief Bode George brought Salvador, who later left for APC? I came back again and people started begging me that election was two months, so we should allow peace to reign. Salvador gave the chairmanship to another elderly person, Dr Adegbola Dominic, who came and fictionalised the party by creating additional chairmen in each local government and ward in addition to the one that Abuja created. So, we now have two or three chairmen in each local government. But, luckily for us, Dominic’s tenure is 90 days, which expired on December 21, 2018. So I am the chairman now until the national leadership of the party tells me otherwise or a court of law says so.
Given your claim that PDP is factionalised, why do you still show so much interest to lead the party?
I have much interest in the party because it remains the only party that people can use to challenge the political hegemony of Bola Tinubu, There is no other party. People are used to PDP. The two political parties in Lagos that are viable are APC and PDP. I have tried it using another party, which is ADP, people did not understand. So, I am going back to ensure that for the first time, PDP can be able to count themselves. It is a shame that we can’t even count ourselves, we can’t count our monies, we can’t count our votes.
Those are the three things and you know why? This is because we have about 20,000 polling units, PDP does not have enough members to put there. And there are so many people willing to do that but we can’t fill up the 20,000 polling units, that is how we keep on losing. So, those are the three things I want to tidy up, try and get people, who have left the party like Babatunde Gbadamosi and Salis to come back. All these people should come back and build the party. If you can’t get the governorship, go to Senate. We need them, you need to have a platform that is solid and they know I can do it. So, that is the reason why I am fighting more enemies in the PDP than in the APC.
You said that your task is to reposition PDP, but some people may want to know what your political ambition come 2023?
I have none for 2023, but I will contest governorship position in 2027, anywhere either in Lagos or Ekiti.
Because we have to reposition the party and get the right people in order to use it as a springboard come 2027 because those in control of party affairs would not let go easily.