Chief Taiwo Kuye is a member of the South West Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Caretaker Committee. In this interview, he speaks on the outcome of last weekend’s Ekiti State governorship election, the forthcoming Osun guber poll and Ifeanyi Okowa’s emergence as the vice-presidential candidate of the party, among other issues. ANAYO EZUGWU reports
Looking at the Ekiti State governorship election in which your party came a distant third; what does that mean going into the 2023 general election?
The outcome has no implication for the 2023 general election because virtually 90 per cent of the membership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) saw the result coming. Even before the election, we knew and I knew personally that there is no PDP on the ground in the state. Yes, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted an election in the state but PDP did not really participate in the election because that was the picture there.
How do you mean?
Because we grossly lost that election; PDP was not prepared and we saw that loss coming. The handler of the PDP in the state, Ayo Fayose is a two-faced man. Number two, the candidate is relatively unknown to the Ekiti people, the preparations, the campaigns, the funding and everything showed that the party was not prepared. At every stage of preparations for that election, it was comatose.
Was that the reason why the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party and the presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, did not visit the state to campaign for the candidate?
That was not the reason. There was a mix-up as of Thursday last week. There was a problem sorting out at the Wadata Plaza in relation to the of picking vice presidential candidate of the party, the Broad of Trustees (BOT) was meeting and so many meetings were going on until the wee hours of Friday. So, it was not possible for anybody to attend the grand finale of the party’s campaign in Ekiti. If we had a strong party on the ground, whether Atiku and the NWC visited or not, we would have won the election. We have a state executive working committee and members of the zonal and national working committee in the state, those hands are capable of winning the state but we saw the loss coming. The loss of PDP in that election was already in the picture because the self-acclaimed godfather of Ekiti PDP, Ayo Fayose, did not even vote in the election. He was not even available on the day of the election. He didn’t vote and he was not even around. His polling unit was monitored from the beginning of the voting to the end, he was nowhere. So, the picture of losing that election was crystal clear right from the beginning.
Since the party knew that they would lose the election, what steps did it take to address the issue?
We know all their plans and what transpired at the special presidential convention of the party speaks volumes about Fayose. The narrative there is understandable to everybody because between Governor Nyesom Wike and Atiku during the convention. Imagine someone that bought the form for N40 million to contest for the presidency and he was the one that wrote and submitted the list of delegates from his state attending the convention but this man ended up not having any vote. Out of the 16 delegates he brought to the convention, he didn’t get even one vote. You know all these votes went somewhere. Intelligently and politically, you will know this. So, it is high time the party comes out with the true picture of where Fayose belongs. Oftentimes we have been saying that Fayose is an employee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and I stand to say this. What happened in the Ekiti governorship election can never happen in Lagos because in the worst scenario, we will share the votes? But I will tell you what will happen in Lagos State in 2023 because that scenario can never happen here. We have never had it so bad in Ekiti State in such a very vital gubernatorial election of that magnitude.
Osun State governorship election is coming up next month, how prepared is the PDP for the poll?
Take my word we are going to win the Osun governorship election. Osun as far as I’m concerned is a goner for APC because we are prepared. A lot of things have been injected into the state chapter of the party and we are more than prepared. Every faction has closed ranks in the state because Babayemi is seriously working for Adeleke, our candidate. For instance, over 2,000 members of the party wanted to decamp to APC about three weeks ago but it was this man that called them back. He told them to stay back and win the election first before continuing with their rift. So, there is focus in Osun and all hands are now on deck because everybody has come together to close ranks. So, definitely, it is a win-win for PDP in Osun State.
There are concerns that the performance of the PDP in some of these off-season elections might affect the party’s chances in 2023? No!
The Ekiti and Osun governorship elections are staggered elections and when you look at staggered elections, people put more energy unlike when we have general elections. So, more energy is being injected into staggered elections. Like in Osun, our energy surpasses that of the APC and we are going to win. I have told you repeatedly that as far as the Ekiti State governorship election is concerned, it is an empty state for PDP. So, for me, following results on social media was a waste of time because I saw it coming. More particularly, the general mismanagement of the affairs of the country by the APC government is going to affect that election. In Ekiti, APC made available money, vote-buying was on the spree and there was no challenge. Did you hear of any crisis in Ekiti? No, it was not contested but let APC try such in Osun State. It is going to be anything for anything and I promise you that PDP is going to win that election.
But some people believe that the party would have won the Ekiti election if it had given Segun Oni the governorship ticket…
Can you please add Segun Oni’s figure with that of the PDP and see whether it is up to the figure scored by the APC. Everything put together, APC would still have won because we were not prepared. It has never happened in any election in Ekiti State that PDP came a distant third. They sold out.
Who sold out?
The master minder of that action sold out and I repeat, Ayo Fayose did not vote in that election. He was not even available to talk more about voting.
Your party has announced Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as its vice-presidential candidate for the 2023 election, what is your assessment of the Atiku and Okowa ticket?
It is the best for us. I don’t want to talk about Wike because he is my friend and a real party man. When you want to talk about a political juggernaut and a real party man, talk about Wike. The choice of Okowa is a family and internal affair and every issue arising from that selection would be settled at the appropriate time. You know that Atiku won the presidential elections in 2019 but the mandate vote was stolen. That will not happen again in 2023. Look at the time results of the Ekiti election was released unlike in the past when six to seven days after, we would be waiting for results from some states. But that one is not going to happen again because the process of voting, calculating results and transmitting immediately have made everything easy. This new process saves INEC the political challenges it experienced in the past. So, just vote, calculate and send your results. Okowa is the best for us and if I go further, I would be exposing our strategy for the election but simply put, that the pair is the best for PDP. On the issue of Wike, normally, if you are the one, you would be aggrieved but I told you earlier that it is a family affair. Wike is aggrieved but I know he would be the last person to leave PDP. Even if you cut his neck, he is going to be the last person to leave PDP. And it is also untrue that Okowa paid Ayu to get the slot because only Ayu cannot make him a vice presidential candidate.
How are you sure that PDP would win the South- East and South-South considering the rising profile of Peter Obi and the Labour Party?
If I start my analysis of Peter Obi, we will not leave this place because even in the region he comes from, he will not get 25 per cent of votes cast from the whole of the South-East talk more of winning the North and other parts of the South. Obi is a player, so let him continue with the ball. At the appropriate time, he will quit the field.
Will Okowa guarantee PDP’s victory in South- South and South-East?
Okowa alone cannot guarantee victory. You are going deep strategically into the strategy of PDP but I will not tell you that because we have not started the campaign.
What are the chances of PDP in the South-West with Bola Tinubu as the presidential candidate of the APC?
You make me laugh, so with Asiwaju as the presidential candidate of APC, PDP would lose the region? You start from Lagos because Lagos is going to be 50/50 between APC and PDP, I can promise you. Lagos where he claims to come from is going to be 50/50 in every election in 2023. In the governorship, we are poised to win. In the presidential election, it is going to be 50/50 if not more in favour of the PDP.
What is actually giving you the confidence that PDP would win Lagos in 2023.considering the crisis in the state chapter of the party?
We have settled all issues long ago and we have been working closely as a family. Normally, in most cases, it is not crisis that determines the outcome of an election. Look at 2019, Atiku alone won five northern states for us even when we had only one before the election. Compare that to now that APC popularity is sinking on a daily basis, you will see what to expect in the 2023 elections. And INEC is more independent now than before. I’m sure of that and I can see it from most of the re-run elections and off-season elections, particularly the Ekiti governorship election.
It is election plus determination because if we are determined that we will face this election, we will do so. If you want to kill us we will be ready for you to come and kill us. So, if the determination is there, we will go all out. Forget about the Tinubu factor, I have told you that the outcome is going to be 50/50 in the presidential election in Lagos. On the governorship, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is going to be unseated because Lagos is boiling, people are suffering and businesses in the state are suffering. So, what more is left? They cannot account for anything. We have packages for them and I just want you to follow us as the election proceeds. By the time campaign would start in October, you should follow up and see what is going to happen.
What do you make of the Muslim-Muslim ticket that Tinubu and APC are said to be planning to present?
I support that ticket as it is the best for us but the result will come in 2023. It is a shame to Nigerians that APC is determined to offer a Muslim-Muslim ticket to us when presently we are crying, shouting and groaning in the hands of Boko Haram and ISWAP. How can a sensible political party come up to say it is going to present a Muslim-Muslim ticket? God forbid?