Segun Showunmi, who has been having a running battle with Hon. Ladipo Adebutu on who becomes the authentic governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State, has warned Nigerians not to fall into tribal lines in the 2023 general elections. Showunmi insisted in this interview with OLADIPUPO AWOJOBI that the PDP would take over Ogun State through him in 2023 and move it forward. Excerpts:
Could you clear the air on the governorship candidature of the PDP in Ogun State?
We have been quite clear on this and I have been very upfront on this particular subject matter on who the candidate of the PDP is in Ogun State and the position is very much the same, but we are in court. I believe absolutely and truthfully that I, Segun Showunmi, would be the governorship candidate of the PDP in Ogun State. I’m quite persuaded without being arrogant about it; it’s a matter of time really. I believe that if you want to embark on a journey you have to have a pathway of how you intend or hope the journey would go and if anything happens along the way you need to plan how to remedy such. In this particular case, I am convinced beyond doubt that in a matter of time, the court order would come and it would be clear that whatever it is that the one that is claiming that his name is on the portal of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would find out that INEC’s portal is not the law. The law is the act of court when it is pronounced in a matter of time.
What is happening in the PDP in Ogun State shows that is no unity in the party; given that scenario, do you think your party still stands a chance of winning the governorship election in the state?
It’s almost a fairly settled opinion within Ogun that a lot of stakeholders want the PDP to be in charge of governance in the state. It is also pretty much well understood by the people that they want a certain kind of person. If you notice in the country at large, you will see that the people want a new deal, they don’t want it to be business as usual, people want something much more different in the democratic space. They want to hold people by their words based on what they say, and how they say it. It’s going to be an interesting race. I concede that the incumbent Governor of Ogun State is always a tough person to beat because of incumbency, but I think that once we settle the issue of candidacy, which is me, a lot of people waiting for that process would be energised, motivated and they would support the PDP. We have five months to go and anybody, who is a seri-ous minded person and mature enough, would have started settling his mind on who he wants to vote for and why. We can win, I can win and I believe that I will win.
What are those things that would work for you at the polls, you have not been a lawmaker neither have you held an elective office before?
I have had the rare opportunity to speak about issues than all of those that are contesting for the office in the state. I have been one person that comes up with ideas when issues come up. I have been very critical, but I don’t criticise without coming up with viewpoints and solutions. I have spent my own resources on advocacy and what have you. I am a known name and if you are asking if I have been a lawmaker or not, there is no big deal about being a lawmaker and you wonder what the lawmakers have been doing really. My approach is that I do not desire to represent the people I don’t know. I want to know their needs and nuances and I want to let them know that this is what I can do.
Could you clear the air on the insinuation that you were planted by the APC to divide the PDP in Ogun State?
That’s a wrong insinuation; nobody planted me to do that except that people just came up with this insinuation. People don’t understand that having the sheer courage and guts to stand up to those the people are running away from is the reason they are making these conjectures and I think the conjectures are misplaced. More than anybody else and most of them that are parading themselves in Ogun State, I am the only person that does not have a history of jumping from pillar to post and all that. But even if I want to go to the APC, I do not have to stay in the PDP to be in the APC.
If I want to be in the APC, all the key players there are known to me, they know me and I don’t play politics of bitterness. I can feel strongly about some issues, but when they look at it critically they will know that I am not coming from the position of hate, I am not coming from the place of pulling down, I am coming from the place of let us just make it better for all of us.
What is the point in having democracy when we are not making the kind of progress we need to make in the society? While we are still young and still have the energy, we owe it a duty to the society to push and make ourselves available for the society, but ultimately it is the people that would make a decision on who they want to lead them. Then, they would have to live with the consequences of what comes up afterwards. We have come up with very radical ideas that we think will help and we believe that the people and especially the stakeholders who are far more intelligent and educated would be able to tell the people that let’s give Segun Showunmi a chance to lead us. I am not working for anybody.
What has been the problem with Ogun State that it has been the way it is despite its closeness to Lagos State?
The thing is that Lagos State has enjoyed the unusual investment of the entire country as the former capital; they have the airport, the seaport and structures created by the federal government. They also have some strategic administrative decisions pushed by the past leaders of that state. They have followed that line for some time now. But Ogun State is better run as a whole and better administered than Lagos.
Lagos State does not start and end on the Lekki corridor, there is still all of the Amuwo Odofin, Ojodu Abiodun and others that lie prostrate unattended to. The transportation system in Lagos State is still in a mess, the traffic management and articulation of roads is still bad, they still don’t have water to drink in Lagos State. Also, they still live relatively in an unplanned urban mess, where things are just running very fast and everybody is just surviving the best way they know. You can’t compare that to Ogun State, where you have clear democratic devolution of senatorial districts and towns. In terms of companies and industries, we have more of them in Ogun State than Lagos State. Ogun has been quite lucky, may be it has not grown in frenzy like Lagos.
But you have to talk about how much investment and money the state has compared to Lagos. But I dare to tell you that I can see Ogun State becoming a bigger economy than Lagos in a very short period. Two projects more than others excite me most. People have said that I am not critical of the government of Dapo Abiodun, one of the reasons is that I have always held the view that Ogun needs an airport, one reason for this is that Ogun must be able to market itself to the world without the inconvenience of Lagos traffic and we need an airport to do that.
I think that now that the airport will come up, Ogun will grow fast. I also know that Ogun will have a deep sea port that will make it to have its own port and this would help. Ogun has started paying attention to roads, including the Agbara-Atan Road that would lead us to the economic hub of the state, and this is also good. I think that our own efforts on housing projects though they are expensive, would help the state.
So don’t compare us to a state that has been the capital of Nigeria, and that has enjoyed much investment. But in terms of money that has come to us and what we have done with the money, with profound respect, we have done much. More people come to Ogun than they have been in the past. I am very happy to have played some roles in the state, but I pray that we will get to power to do more creative things. They are two different states and our closeness to Lagos State should have some advantages. If I become the Governor of the state, I would place much emphasis on the border towns so that they would not be so different from themselves.
You are a Yoruba man and your party, the PDP, has chosen a Northerner as its standard bearer, whereas the APC chose a Yoruba man, what is your take, will you support power shift or it should still stay in the North?
I am a little bit uncomfortable in the build up to the 2023 General Elections, not because I have issues with any of the candidates, but for the fact that the election would assume a tribal dimension, which would not be helpful. I want the Nigerian people to look at the candidates for who they are. Let’s start with the candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Let us listen to him, hear him out and what he has been able to do and what he can do. They should weigh Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on his journey, how he has been going about his business, what he has done, his town hall meetings and the things he has put out there.
I want the Nigerian people to look at Peter Obi, his gut, the hope he is giving to them, some of the things he has done and make their decisions. I don’t want it to assume a tribal dimension. It takes time to make a nation one, and if you make an election tribal you will be stuck in it for a long time because actions have consequences. I am a PDP man and people know where I am.
Let us try as much as possible not to make this campaign a tribal one because for the first time we have a Northerner, a South easterner and a South westerner on the ballot and it gives me a lot of nervousness just to see if we can scale that. We should be talking about what they are saying and who can we take a risk on. I pity the circumstances the PDP has found itself, but I know the heart of Atiku Abubakar, I know his intentions and I know that this is a Nigerian people can take a risk on and I have a feeling that Nigerians would be pleasantly happy with what he can do.
I have known Peter Obi for long though I am not in the Labour Party and I campaigned for him in 2019 to be the vice president of the country under the PDP. How I wish he was still in the PDP. I respect him and the courage he is putting into it. I know what Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu can do; I am not particularly impressed about the way his party has managed the country for some time. We are the most beautiful, most populous, most energetic country and as a nationalist myself, I don’t want us to fall into tribal lines.