Hon. (Engr.) Olayinka Olushola-Obimakinde, MSNE, ANSE, NICE is President/Chief Executive Officer, Sykaphia Group of Companies. He is also President/National Coordinator, Grassroots Empowerment International (GEI).
In this exclusive interview with The Dream Daily Newspaper, Engr. Olushola-Obimakinde, who is also a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the most populated local government in Nigeria – Alimosho Local Government, Lagos State – lauds the National Caretaker Committee (NCC) of the PDP led by Sen. Ahmed Makarfi, and offers his views on the way forward for the PDP and Nigeria, following the party’s recent victory at the Supreme Court.
Que: Congratulations on your party’s recent victory at the Supreme Court. What lessons should the leaders and members of the PDP nationwide and globally draw from that legal battle?
Thank you for identifying with our recent victory at the Supreme Court where God restored the PDP to its glory. All schemes against the PDP have been destroyed. Most importantly I glorify God Almighty for not allowing the efforts of true, committed and loyal leaders, elders and members of PDP all over the country who stood their ground through the travail of the party, led by our National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, to end in vain.
As a leader and a grassroots politician based in Alimosho, local government, the most populated local government in Nigeria, I believe what we went through as a party in the last two years under the clueless and confused party called APC, should not be seen as just a dark phase but an opportunity for PDP as a party to look back into where we missed it, how we missed sticking to the democratic principles upon which the PDP was founded.
The PDP which our founding fathers established was meant to be a people and grassroots-oriented party, an organization that puts the party above any individual, organisations or groups irrespective of their contributions to the advancement of the party, I therefore believe that having been delivered by divine hand from the courts imbroglio the party was enmeshed in, we must as a party draw some good lessons from that experience.
Some of the lessons I believe we can draw out of that ugly experience should include the realisation that surrogate leadership must be abolished in the party. The resurgent PDP must also entrench internal democracy as a matter of urgency at all level of the party’s structure forthwith. Party members should be allowed to elect their own leaders from the grassroots to our apex organs at the national level in free, fair democratic contests. I believe leadership procured via pecuniary inducements like money can only last but a while. Leadership should be earned through impact and deep passion for service to the people in a democracy.
The PDP must also wake up to the realisation that party politics is not about personal enrichment or personal aggrandizement at the expense of the people, A true leader lives a sacrificial life for the people he claims to lead. Let’s leave it at this for now.
Que: What is the Grassroots Empowerment International (GEI) about?
Grassroots Empowerment International (GEI) was born out of a vision to see the grassroots people take their rightful position in the grand scheme of democratic politics in Nigeria.
As a non-governmental organisation our core objective is to create a platform that would give the grassroots who have been largely repressed and suppressed, a voice in the political terrain. Democracy is the “government of the people, by the people and for the people.” Governing a people should include the people’s opinion at all levels of governance. Any political system that does not allow the people to choose their own leaders is not truly democratic.
In summary GEI is a grassroots platform set up for the voice of the voiceless at the grassroots to be heard resoundingly across Nigeria.
Que: You appear to support the presidential ambition of a founding father of the PDP and former Jigawa State Governor, Dr. Sule Lamido. Why should the PDP give its presidential ticket to Sule Lamido and why should the Nigerian electorate vote for Sule Lamido as President in 2019?
Dr. Sule Lamido has set a high standard of excellence in public and private service. I’m of the well-considered conviction that Dr. Lamido is eminently qualified to lead Nigeria as President, come 2019. His wealth of experience in politics and public service is immense.
With his personal examples, his passion, his accomplishments and his leadership style, Dr. Lamido has proved over the years to be a true leader and a nationalist. Dr. Lamido is a product of the same school of political ideology which produced Nigeria’s deeply loved and admired leaders like Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Malam Aminu Kano. These leaders believed in a Nigeria whose basis for co-existence as one nation united under God is based on equality, fairness and justice. Dr Sule Lamido continues to navigate his political odyssey on these fine, time-tested fundamentals, which account for his successful political career thus far.
Dr. Lamido became a member of the Federal House of Representatives at the age of 31. He was chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) of the Babangida era in Kano State. He was a staunch supporter of the SDP presidential candidate, Chief MKO Abiola of blessed memory for the June 12 1993 Presidential Election, which Chief Abiola clearly won but which the military annulled. His political experience includes service in both the legislature and executive arms of government as well as party leadership cum organization.
Dr. Sule Lamido a member of the G-18, the platform of eminent northern politicians opposed to the self-succession plan of a military ruler in the past.
Dr. Sule Lamido was also a member of the G-34 group of eminent Nigerians who established the PDP and are today honoured as our great party’s founding fathers.
Dr. Lamido was governor in Jigawa State between 2007 and 2015. His exemplary leadership as governor demonstrated the Talakawa focus of his political pupilage which demands that governance can and should have a human face, governance should be beyond self or personal aggrandizement or old score settlement or opportunities for embezzlement or enrichment of cronies at the expense of the people.
As governor, Dr. Lamido showed that governance should be a means to human capital development through people-oriented government policies aimed at eradicating poverty and lack among the people.
Que: Why did the PDP suffered such a huge electoral setback, including losing the Presidency, in 2015 and how can the PDP regain the trust of the Nigerian voters again as your party prepare for the 2019 General Elections?
I think the major reasons the PDP faltered in 2015 would include the lack of internal democratic practice in the party towards the polls. A reign of surrogate leadership hijacked the party and derailed us from the path of our founding principles. This problem became a virus that ate up the party structure, and eroded party loyalty or commitment to PDP in many members. Instead of the party getting loyalty from members, political godfathers became power centres who demanded personal loyalty and were propitiated accordingly by party faithful. Therefore, there was divided loyalty, which made the party vulnerable.
Also, I would contend that many of the registered groups that were supposed to work for the party’s victory, worked at cross purposes. It appeared to me at the time that many of these groups were more out for big slices of the campaign funds than the grassroots hard work of the campaign itself. The rest, as they say, is history.
Que: What will the PDP do differently now vis-à-vis what your party did in the past which the APC apparently exploited successfully in 2015, and why should Nigerians trust the PDP with power again?
One of the ways the PDP can regain the trust of the Nigerian voters particularly the grassroots is to revamp the structure of the party from top to bottom, across the country.
However, since our victory at the Supreme Court, the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee has redoubled its efforts in that direction. Once the re-organisation of the party is completed, especially if internal democracy is restored into the party, the PDP is good to go, and the Nigerian People will again recognise in us the PDP that worked so hard to bring peace and prosperity to Nigerians in several spheres of their lives.
The PDP has been looking inwards since the 2015 General Election. We have found that the vision of the party was circumvented by certain individuals in whom the party reposed huge trust and confidence, which they apparently betrayed.
As we went through the recently resolved legal crisis, the PDP has developed a more attentive listening ear to the voice of the Nigerian People, especially at the grassroots. The PDP will accommodate these grassroots views in governance more than ever before. The party is re-engineering itself and will ensure that no party appointee in government takes advantage of such appointment to feather their own nest at the expense of the Nigerian People. The PDP shall keep closer tab on our elected officials and appointees in government, more than ever before, thereby ensuring that the interest of the electorate who put us in power is jealously protected.
Que: What is your view on the on-going agitation for restructuring and devolution of power across Nigeria today?
I believe that the agitation for restructuring or devolution of power should be examined critically, especially as the APC government promised this to the Nigerian People in 2015 and is the first point on their party’s manifesto. However, with their pronouncements on restructuring Nigerians can see that they have been lied to, that APC is full of deceit and that the APC government will not fulfill their campaign promise on devolution of power. It is ‘another promise canceled’ (APC).
Nevertheless, as a PDP leader I can assure you that we shall listen to the people and give due consideration to these agitations.
Que: How would you assess the performance of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) since May 29, 2015?
The APC-led government has abundantly showed the Nigerian People their inability to deliver on their electoral promises. That fact is patently clear to all open-minded Nigerians. Their failed economic policies have impoverished the masses who are in no mood for APC excuses, lies, propaganda and deceit anymore. It is clear that the APC has lost the plot, if they ever had any before now. Even their own national executives have come out to say that the APC is dead under their chairman. The Nigerian voter needs no more than this evidence to flush the APC out at the 2019 General Elections. The PDP is back and the Nigerian People are voting PDP in 2019. PDP is the way forward for Nigeria and the Nigerian People in 2019.