Why Oyo PDP Stakeholders Are Not Happy With Makinde-Babalola (Jogor)
Engineer Femi Babalola (aka Jogor) is one of the leaders of the Oyo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He spoke at the sideline of a stakeholders’ meeting, held last Thursday in Ibadan, where it was declared that the party has been factionalised into two. Newscoven.ng reports:
With the meeting of the stakeholders and leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). It appears your party in Oyo State has been factionalised and the battle lines have been drawn.
The party is not factionalised in Oyo State.
But it was said at the meeting that party is now divided into two…
I am not sure I heard that. I made a statement at the meeting and I am sure that you did not hear that. The party is not factionalised and that is why we called it a stakeholders’ meeting. We didn’t say PDP A or PDP B.
What exactly is the situation?
The situation is that we are concerned that the coldness in the party is going to another level; there has been no action taking place within the party. But we want to give members of the party the assurances and the confidence that all is well within the party. This is because nature abhors vacuum.
So, if the party members, particularly our members outside Ibadan, noticed that things are not happening within the party, they will start feeling that, ‘oh, what is going on here?’ We have to quickly convene a meeting where we would give them the confidence and the assurance and they would go back home and tell their people that all is well within our party.
What brought about the lull, in the first instance?
We discovered that our executive (in the Oyo PDP) has been inactive, for whatever reasons. But the Constitution of the PDP allows for stakeholders and leaders, you know when there is a vacuum, to play some roles and that is the role we are playing today.
You mentioned stakeholders and leaders, but it is quite obvious that some other stakeholders and leaders were not at the meeting…
Yes. It could be that they have some other functions or that they are unavoidably absent for one reason or the other. But to me, the membership or the attendant at the meeting today represents the PDP stakeholders in Oyo State.
What do you want to achieve with the meeting?
I just said it: giving our members confidence. This is because they noticed that the Oyo PDP executive has been inactive.
What are the other strategies you want to put in place?
This is one of them because the constitution of the party allows for roles for stakeholders and elders. This is one of the roles.
You said there is a lull in the activities of the party…
Yes, the executive is no longer active maybe because they feel that their tenure is grinding to the end. It is normal in life. You see, you bring vigour and energy to anything when you start freshly.
The PDP is the ruling party in the state, could it be that the meeting was held because of the grievances expressed by some members of the party?
Yes it is. The grievances, at the end of the day, if you listen very well at the meeting and analyse the grievances, you will trace them back to that lull in the activities of the party. You see, when the dissemination of information is weak or faulty within the party, it leads to rumour mongering and that is what has been happening. This is because members of the party don’t even know what is going on in the party and so they are coming up with different ideas.
One of the leaders at the meeting said PDP will still be in power in the state in 2023 but under another person. Is that not a way of rejecting the incumbent, Governor Seyi Makinde?
It is a democratic setting. He may not support the sitting governor but there is nothing obvious to show that the party is divided. The fact that we are in the same party does not mean that I should support the governor. The person who spoke may have his own candidate and that is why we have something called primaries. If there is no need for primaries, then there would be no need for different ideas.
You supported Governor Makinde in the course of the election in 2019. At what point did you decide to stay off the government of the day in the state?
I did not only support him, I also withdrew from the primary. I am not in government. If the governor says, ‘Engineer Babalola, I have a role for you’, for crying out loud, I will answer him. If the governor does not call me or give me any assignment, I will stay in my office. I am too busy to be loitering around.
What is the relationship between you and the governor?
It is cordial. If he calls me, I will pick his call.
Did you call him?
I have not had any reason to call him. I don’t have any reason to call him. If he calls me, I will pick it.
How do you react to the general accusation that the governor has, more or less, alienated himself from the mainstream of the party in the state?
It is obvious that the leaders of the party are not happy with the governor and they may have 1000 and one different reasons for their not been happy with him. You may need to meet these leaders and stakeholders one after the other and ask them why they are not happy with the governor.
Are you satisfied with conducts of the governor so far?
His conduct in what?
In term of his relationship with the party…
He does not have much role to play in the party. He is the governor of the state. The party has a chairman.
But he is the leader of the party, by virtue of his position as the governor…
He is not the leader of the party. This is a misconception; it is not written in our constitution. I mean it will be difficult for anybody to say that he is not a leader. The governor is a leader; I am a leader in the party. So, he is a leader, but not the party leader. The Constitution has no room for that.
From your own assessment, has he done enough to endear himself to the generality of the party members in the state?
To the generality of the party, in terms of party management, he does not have any role to play when it comes to that. He is not the chairman of the party. His role is interventionist. If he feels that the party is not being run properly; if he feels that some people are aggrieved that he needs to talk to; if he feels that some people are not happy with the way the party is being run, he can intervene.
Goverment is different from the party. So, if you ask that, do you think that people are not happy that he is not involving them in the way he runs his government, that is another question.
But what is your position on the call on him to extend largesse to members of the party?
You don’t have to be a governor before you can do that. We all do it from time to time; all the party leaders do it. You don’t have to be a governor before you can extend largesse to party members.
The stakeholders, in the course of the meeting, said GSM has alienated party members. What is your interpretation of such a claim, given that GSM is synonymous with the governor?
I heard that. Maybe his political vehicle is what is being referred to as GSM. It has alienated the mainstream members of the Oyo PDP.
And yes, if the people feel that way and they are voicing it out, we are lucky. This is because the terrible one is when people don’t voice out their anger. So, we are lucky that the people felt that way and they are voicing it out.
Did you feel that way too?
I just said it that he does not have any role to play in the party. He does not have any constitutional role to play in the party. But in government, yes, if there are people that are expecting patronages and they are not getting it, they have reasons to be aggrieved.
Did you think the governor is not doing enough in that regard?
Of course, yes. They do expect from the governor. From the little I have heard, there are some members of the party that are expecting appointments; that are expecting patronages; that are expecting recognition. They are not happy that the governor is not doing that for them, for whatever reasons.
What will be your reaction if Governor Makinde dumps your party and moves into another party to contest in 2023?
I will not be surprised because there is what is called blood flowing in you. There are some of us that are in the PDP and will be there forever. I joined the party in 1998. He came to join us; he left and he came back. So, if he leaves, again, tomorrow, I would not be surprised. But there are some people that, if they leave the party tomorrow, I will be surprised.
Where do you think this would take the party to in 2023?
I think it is good for us if people are venting their angers at this point in time and before the elections. This is because the most terrible thing is for people to pent up their angers and they don’t talk until you go into an election. You will entrust them with responsibilities and they will disappoint you. You will not know.
So, I will just advise whoever that is not happy with the party and the party hierarchy to create time to talk to members of the party. The party is quite different from government. They are two different things.
Look, let me say it here that there are some people that are just interested in the party. They don’t even want to know anything about government; they just want to write policies for their party. There are some people that just want to run their party and they want to see that the party is well run. They are not bothered about what happens in government.
Some of you willingly extend goodwill and philanthropic gestures to party members across board will know this. Don’t you think that if Governor Makinde has been that nice, he would have reduced the pressure which people like you are having?
I agree with you because we see party members as members of our families. So, if their needs are things we can address, we would address them. It is unfortunate that they have not been recognised. But the little which we can do, we will continue to do it.
But the governor had publicly declared that there are still more spaces to be filled and many appointments to be made. Don’t you think he may be genuinely interested in doing this?
You see, I am not bothered about what the governor says because that is government. I don’t want to discuss government, but if he gives them, fine.
Did you regret the role the party played in the coalition that brought the governor to office?
No! I don’t have any regrets because in life, I was thought and brought up to believe that every action of man is an experience that will be useful in future.