Chief Taiwo Kuye is a former member of the South-West Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Caretaker Committee. In this interview with ANAYO EZUGWU before last weekend’s state congress of the party, he speaks on the reconciliation of warring factions in Lagos PDP and the party’s chances of winning the 2023 governorship election in the state
Has the efforts of Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State to reconcile warring factions in Lagos PDP yielded any result?
Yes, it is yielding results because in the first place, Makinde has taken very bold steps to reconcile members of Lagos PDP and for anybody who is familiar with the party, it has always been like that every four years. Whether elective congresses or not, it has always been like that, so it has become part of our tradition to be in crisis. But now I think it has come to the end and there will be no more war.
Governor Makinde has shown concern as a leader; in fact he is a great leader. He did everything to make sure that Lagos State PDP works under one umbrella. We have held two separate meetings with the five apex leadership in the state, Chief Bode George, Dr. Remi Akintoye, Mrs. Aduke Maina, Dr. Abimbola Ogunkelu and Kofoworola Akerele-Bucknor. Those are the five apex leaders in Lagos PDP and we are the next set of leaders. So, we have held meetings with the governor, travelling from Ibadan to Lagos. So, you will see that the man is the true picture of a leader.
From the interactions you have had with these apex leaders, who also have their supporters, what exactly is the problem of Lagos PDP?
The problem is about the congress. You know that we had a congress that was aborted at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) and that was the third part of the congress, which was supposed to bring Lagos congress to an end. The first tier is the ward congress, the second is the local government and the third is the state.
But even the first tier of that congress, which is the ward, was a charade because I remembered vividly that there was a court judgement that sacked Engr. Deji Doherty precisely, on June 22, 2021, as the chairman of the party. The judgement also reinstated late Dr. Adegbola Dominic as the chairman of the party.
By then we were looking at the congresses in September 2021 and he was sacked in June 2021. Having been sacked by the judgement, he cannot perform as chairman of the party. But Doherty did not listen and he continued to occupy the office of the state chairman of the party.
He was working as chairman, linking with the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party at Wadata House. So, the people in Wadata choose to work with Doherty thereby defiling the court order. At a time the court summoned the then National Chairman, Uche Secondus, the national organizing secretary, the national secretary and the legal adviser of the party. having said this, when the congress was getting closer, we reported to the national secretariat through this court judgement that there was nothing wrong for the national secretariat to start dealing with Dominic, who was reinstated by the judgement but they refused.
So, we now reported back to the court and the court issued order 48 for Doherty to show course in court why he should not be sent to prison for defying the judgement. As we speak, all these orders are still substituting and for once Doherty did not appear in court and this judgement has never been appealed as we speak.
So, Governor Makinde appealed to all these members for us to set the judgement aside and allow him to come in for settlement but Doherty refused to appear at any of the settlement meetings called by the governor. When the caretaker committee came in because they would not allow any lacuna at the national secretariat, the first job the committee did was to move around and sensitize every member and the leadership to find out the cause of the problems in the party.
Some were agitating that by this judgement Doherty has no power to coordinate the congresses but he can participate as a member of the party but not as a chairman. It is against the basis of the judgement and that is why the argument is still on the ground today that those ward congresses held on September 25, 2021, is a charade. That, by extension, made us go back to the court and met with the judge that these people did not renege and that Doherty participated fully as the state chairman and coordinated as a state chairman.
What do you people want, is it cancellation of the ward and local government congresses or the conduct of another ward and local government congresses?
We want the state congress to be conducted because the ward congress whether good or bad is already in the system in Abuja and the local government congress whether good or bad is already in the system in Abuja. So, the next step is the state congress and you were all there when it was aborted. But what we recommended is that the party should set aside the ward congress results and let us embrace harmonization and consensus. That is where we are today and that is what the national and the South-West have recommended. We are still on the harmonization table and the super five leaders are working on their own, the caretaker committee is doing their own job and we leaders at the next level are doing our own, so that everything will come together before the ratification congress.
But some members are worried that the leaders that you mentioned would hijack the party if consensus is adopted at the congress?
As you all know, Governor Seyi Makinde is the leader of this party in the South-West and nobody can controvert that and let me tell you, nobody as a party man is bigger than the party itself. The party is one entity and it is an authority and the managers are the authorities representing the party. So, whatever they say is the final. As we speak, Makinde is the leader of the party and he met with these five leaders and they have decided on who takes the office of the chairman, who takes the office of the secretary, who takes office of the woman leader, the youth leader and the publicity secretary. So, that has been decided by Governor Makinde and the leaders. So, the other offices are the ones that would be micro zoned into the senatorial districts and then on the consensus basis. There is no outcry any longer and anybody that sits somewhere crying is crying on his head.
In all this arrangement where is the place of the new political movement that defected to the party from the All Progressives Congress (APC)?
Before anybody entered and I know you don’t want to be specific but you are talking about Ola jide Adediran (Jandor). He was even told by Chief Bode George that every movement concerning the congresses have been concluded and nobody is assuring him that he is going to be the governorship candidate of the party but he is blessed by coming into the party. And the man himself does not care and he said he knew all these that we have completed the congresses before he came in. but I’m sure by the time we get to the bridge, we are going to cross it. The national, the South-West and the governor, who is the leader of the party will sit down on modalities and how we are going to go into the governorship primary.
How true is the rumour that former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode will join the PDP ahead of the general election?
It is a rumour like you said and up till tomorrow it is a rumour but I cannot say it is an unfounded rumour because anything can happen in politics. But we still see it as a rumour. When Jandor was said to be coming in, it was a rumour but today it has become a reality. So, let us wait and see whether he is coming in or not.
Is Lagos PDP actually playing the role of opposition in the state with the kind of crisis the party is facing?
We are playing the role and you don’t know what brought Jandor to PDP. We have our workings as opposition and the All Progressives Congress (APC) is feeling it very seriously. Maybe, you don’t feel it but if you ask them, they will tell you. If you want to know more ask Joe Igbokwe, he will tell you.
The 2023 general election is around the corner; is it going to be the same old story for Lagos PDP?
We are not going to tell the same story in 2023. What I understand very well is that the 2023 game will start in another one or two months but nobody can say this is what is going to happen. At the national level, I’m quite sure that we are going to overrun APC at the same thing is going to happen in Lagos but we cannot conclude now. It is still too close to call but I’m sure that before we go into the party primaries, we will be able to say exactly very clear, which party is going to win the election. Regardless of who is coming to our party, we are on ground in Lagos. We have our people and Lagosians want us. I have said it severally that right from 1999, the ruling party has not successfully won any election clearly in Lagos. You journalists know this. So, let us wait and see what will happen.
But the ruling party is saying that PDP is not serious, and that a party without a state secretariat cannot challenge it in the Lagos State?
It is propaganda, and a secretariat is a matter of nothing. We have gotten another big secretariat. Why we lost that secretariat was the work of bad managers, who managed the party in the last eight years. Particularly, the recent manager, Deji Doherty, is the worst party manager and leader we have had in the history of Lagos PDP.
How would you assess the current APC administration in Lagos State?
I don’t want to assess them because their fate is in the hands of Lagosians, who today are suffering on a daily basis. So, they will be judged in the general elections in 2023, and without being told, they know that they are already a failure. So, don’t let me assess them because the public will assess them by their votes.