A former minister of sports and special duties and a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairmanship aspirant, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja, has kicked against calls by some stakeholders for a consensus candidate.
According to the former provost of the Federal College of Education, Special, Oyo, the PDP ought to have learnt enough lessons from the instability often associated with past party chairmen that emerged through consensus.
He said: “A chairman that emerges through a process that is not credible will continue the process of lack of credibility. All stakeholders in the party must be allowed to determine who their chairman will be”. The former minister added that starting from 1998, almost all past PDP chairmen that emerged through consensus arrangements or that were handpicked to occupy the position had their tenures truncated by the same forces that installed them.\’
The 66-year-old aspirant said he decided to join the race because he believed the PDP needed someone of his pedigree to rebrand the party ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Describing himself as the most acceptable among the aspirants for the position, Adedoja said he had so far covered more than 31 out of the 36 states in the federation and that he was well received by stakeholders everywhere he went.
Adedoja added that the PDP required a National Chairman with a thorough understanding of the political thinking of the Nigerian people. He stressed that modern day party administration is too dynamic to be left for fixated individuals.
The aspirant lamented the failure of majority of party men and women to pay annual dues, saying the trend has put a heavy financial burden on governors on the party’s platform. He said: “The PDP governors should be commended for their roles. It has been a big financial burden for them to keep bailing out the party, because members are not paying their dues. But rather than saying the governors are not doing the right thing with their considerable influence in the affairs of the PDP, I must commend them for coming to the aid of the party whenever the need arises.”
He observed that the upcoming national convention would certainly put the party to another test and that the lessons learnt during the recent 14-month leadership crisis that engulfed the party should guide the present leadership against the culture of impunity and imposition of candidates.
Adedoja is of the view that equity demands that the new National Chairman should emerge from the Southwest geopolitical zone, because the zone is the only one that is yet to produce a chairman since the party was formed in 1998.
He added: “However, the choice of Southwest should not be dictated. Let the other zones agree by delegates that the Southwest has not occupied that seat. The position of PDP today is beyond anointment.”
The PDP chieftain promised that if elected national chairman, he would work tirelessly to help the PDP to produce the next President in 2019. He said under his able leadership, the party will witness the enthronement of discipline and internal democracy. His words: “The PDP of today will bring us two things: the PDP of tomorrow and the new platform that will produce the President of Nigeria in 2019. This is because the party is desirous of doing the right thing and giving Nigerians and PDP members fresh ideas to make amends for what it had done in its 16 years in government. I believe I owe Nigeria and the PDP the opportunity of making myself available for the leadership of the party. I have offered myself to lead the party to that promised manifesto; to lead the party to that promised reinvigoration of the aspirations of Nigerians, in terms of their high expectations.”
He expressed the confidence that the PDP would unseat the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 presidential election, saying Nigerians are already yearning for the return of the party. He noted that it is just a little over two years that the APC assumed power at the centre, but that the people are already craving for the PDP to return to power.
He added: “There is a reason for it. Sometimes, a party will rule for many years, the people in that country may not even want that party to come back again. Sometimes, and depending on the country, they would let an opposition party to rule for another 16 years, so that they can compare the two. But Nigerians are now in a hurry for PDP to come back only after two years. What Nigerians expect now is to give the PDP another opportunity to come back in 2019. If, therefore, Nigerians expect the PDP to rule and rule better, the party platform in which the President of Nigeria will emerge must therefore be better, the process must be better and will involve a spectrum of members of the PDP.”
The aspirant insisted that the PDP made a lot of positive changes in the lives of Nigerians in the 16 years that the party held political power at the centre. In his own estimation, past PDP administrations made significant changes in sectors like the economy, education, health, infrastructure, agriculture, rural development, railway and other transportation sub sectors.
Urging the party leadership to be transparent in the conduct of the elective convention, Adedoja recalled that lack of transparency in the internal selection process was partly responsible for the heavy losses the party suffered in the 2015 general elections. His words: “There are two issues in governance: Implementation of programmes for the good of the people and the nation. The second one is the mode of your emergence as leaders. The major reason the PDP lost elections two years ago was not because it did not provide the dividends of democracy for Nigerians. The issue was the process involved in providing the kind of democracy that is accepted by Nigerians, especially the PDP members.”
Adedoja vowed to put an end to impunity and imposition of candidates during elections, stressing that he would ensure a clean break from the past. He said: “That’s how to demonstrate enough commitment toward bringing the party back to the people and upholding the party’s constitution and manifesto.”
Asked to rate his chances of winning the seat against other political heavyweights in the race for the party’s chairmanship, he said he remained the man to beat. Notable among those in the race are: a former Deputy National Chairman, Chief Olabode George; a former Education Minister, Prof Tunde Adeniran; and former Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State.