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YES, WE WORKED AGAINST AKALA

By NBF News
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The former governor, while expelling certain members of the PEF from the party had predicated his action on alleged anti-party activities by the Senator Lekan Balogun faction.

But reacting to the allegation in this interview with Daily Sun, Senator Balogun admitted working against the second term ambition of the former governor and PDP governorship candidate, noting that his group worked to protect democracy.

'Yes, Akala belongs to my party but I didn't work for him because that would put our people at a disadvantage at the end of the day, when you put in power, a man who isn't good, who will not govern well.'

The factions in Oyo PDP has practically returned to the trenches: expulsion and counter expulsion. Where will all these take the party?

Let me make one correction before we go too far. We didn't expel Bayo Akala; we suspended him and recommended him to the PDP National Working Committee for expulsion.

The approach of expelling outright by those that met in Green Springs a week ago was constitutional and like I said, typical of them, they do all things in a lawless manner, even the convening of the meeting by an illegal executive clearly shows that they are lawless people. And they have been doing that for four years; we said there was no executive, they insisted that there was an executive as if there was no law in the land.

We went to court, the national leadership intervened and set up a lot of committees, each of them confirming our positions and submitting damning findings on the other side and made recommendations. The last of such committees, the Ike Nwachukwu, did make fantastic recommendations as to what can be done to placate the warring factions and ensure that there is internal democracy in the party.

These my lawless colleagues in the party were unrelenting; they carried on as if nothing was happening, as if there hasn't been any committee set up – that's typical of them and the party must demonstrate that it is a party and it is a collective property; it doesn't belong to anybody!

For Akala to get up and say, he is expelling me; for him to say, 'they aren't with us!' Who are the 'us'? The party is the property that we all own and in a democracy, the more the merrier. But they are saying, the fewer the better.

Well, I can understand their logic: the fewer the people within the party, the greater their proportional share of the benefit. But even after losing at the general elections in a disastrous manner, they are still saying the fewer the better. They are saying, we don't belong to PDP. But whose right is it in a democracy to decide which party I belong to? It is for me to say which party I belong to. Today they will allege that you are ACN, tomorrow you are ANPP.

But they actually made the allegation that your faction worked for the ACN in Oyo State; that was why you were expelled for anti-party activity?

I didn't work for the success of ACN, I worked against Akala's victory. Look, there is a difference. I am not ACN, there is a difference.

You worked against Akala? To the disadvantage of your party?

I worked for Mr. President's election for God's sake! Why are they not talking about that? Democracy doesn't deprive the man the right to say, 'this candidate is good, this guy isn't good.' Yes, Akala belongs to my party but I didn't work for him because that would put our people at a disadvantage at the end of the day, when you put in power, a man who isn't good, who will not govern well.

But that mindset actually undermined what could have been victory for your party.

You are sounding like an extreme right wing person. 'The party', 'the party', am I not part of the party? I have said this guy isn't good for democracy, he isn't good for the party and therefore, I will not put him in power. I have clarified this already. This guy was insulting me, he was insulting everybody and the party leadership said nothing about it, egging them on. Should I put up with that for another four years, in the name of the party? What about democracy?

At the recent PDP NEC meeting, President Jonathan in his remarks actually warned that those who worked to undermine the party would be thrown out; that if you are too big for PDP, leave the party. The Akala faction took the action to expel some of you, a week after the president's declaration .

Don't you think President Jonathan's admonition could have emboldened them to take the action they took?

Well, I wasn't there when he said that. It was at the party NEC meeting.

Well, if he said so, that's his opinion, but we also told him at the Lagos meeting that if the PDP fielded Akala that we wouldn't work for Akala; not the party. Akala isn't the party. We worked for President Jonathan in his own election and he won – landslide in Oyo State for God's sake. Is Akala the party, if Jonathan Goodluck isn't the party? I am sure the president wasn't talking about people like us.

We didn't act in a treacherous manner, we didn't act in a disloyal manner, we told him long before the election. We have suffered enough in the name of the party, for four years. I don't think we should put up with that for another four years in the name of the party, insult from charlatans. That's not democracy; Akala isn't the party. We worked against Akala but we didn't work against the party.

There was a five-man panel, led by Ambassador Ladan Shuni, which conducted the PDP primaries in Oyo State. The panel did observe that the congresses were marred by violence and parallel congresses were conducted. It recommended that fresh congresses be conducted outside the state or there should be harmonisation.

Why did the PDP NWC jettison that recommendation? Do you think the leadership that jettisoned the report of panel it sent to the state would listen to your recommendation that Akala be expelled from the party?

That's for them to decide. The Ladan Shuni Committee, I don't know why they rejected it; they didn't even call us to say they rejected Shuni's recommendations and in any case, it isn't the first time theyhad done that, in fact, they are part of the problem.

Tajudeen Oladipo's committee recommended harmonisation, Alex Ekwueme's committee recommended something similar – virtually everybody said there must be harmonisation, there must be peace in the party.

Can the NWC in a responsible manner jettison reconciliation in the party because that's what they are doing. I am not aware they tried to restore peace. But let me just remind everybody that this party belongs to all of us and there are options in a democracy: we can go to court, even against the national leadership.

No one can appropriate the party and say whatever he says is final unless you are saying it within the confines of the constitution of the party and the constitution of the country. Somebody said you must reconcile the warring factions and you said, no they can go to hell.

It amazes me how our leaders do their reasoning. If you are emboldening Akala and we are proving that what he did was wrong, was unconstitutional, was unlawful and we are challenging that in a court of law.

So, we don't believe that they were right in expelling us. We weren't involved in anti-party activity, we weren't Akala's property, the party doesn't belong to one man. For the sake of democracy, we said this man isn't good for democracy, his lawlessness isn't good for democracy and for a democratic party and that's why we were not comfortable working with him. To oppose one particular candidate isn't anti-party.

You mentioned the Ike Nwachukwu Committee in passing. It recommended an implementation committee to be administered by members of the factions – a harmonisation of sort. The Akala group wasn't comfortable with that, but you keep referring to it. Isn't the General Nwachukwu committee recommendations belated?

So, it isn't part of history? Why is it belated? It is convenient for them to say that. It isn't belated, the principle is still the same, the facts are still the same. Not individuals, not personalities anymore but the principles are still there. The other faction, not voted to run the party has been there for four years, exclusively.

If it wasn't convenient for them to reckon with General Nwachukwu report when they were in office, do you think they will subscribe to it now that they are out of office?

Are we looking for their convenience? Is the party an institution for one man convenience? They don't even understand the meaning of a political party. It is the coming together of a number of people with common goal, everybody's interest being taken care of in an aggregate manner - not for one man's whims and caprices. Is it one-man party? Is it in tune with the party's constitution? Of course not. That's why we have suspended him and recommended him for expulsion. In any case, he hasn't been working with us; his suspension only confirms the status-quo in the party in the state.

I thought after the election, everybody would sit down and say, what went wrong, what did we get wrong and where do we go from here? That's what I had expected, not the charade that took place at Green Spring.

That's why we recommended him for expulsion because his influence on the party is negative.

What if the PDP NWC fail to uphold his suspension?
It isn't a matter of upholding. It is matter of, does it make sense to law, to democracy and to the party constitution? It isn't a matter of individual whims and caprices. A man like that can wake up and proclaim President Goodluck's expulsion from the party.

The crisis that generates factions in PDP isn't peculiar to Oyo PDP but in states where PDP is in government. You expect that normatively, party secretariat and government in power should be mutually exclusive.

But what you see is situation where governors want to appropriate the party structure – that has been the genesis of the crises in the party, across states. How can this be redressed?

The party must stand by rules that encourages the growth of internal democracy. If they cannot, then forget it! You can fool people, some of the time; fool some people, all the time, but you cannot fool everybody, all the time. People are learning, people are growing mentally in terms of democratic culture, everybody is growing. So, what people took last year, they won't take this year; what they take this year, they might not take next year.

The truth of the matter is that we must grow democracy within the party to show Nigerians that you actually meant well. Some of the parties that call themselves democratic are neither people-oriented nor democratic. Something is wrong fundamentally and there must be change of attitude, particularly at the party leadership. But with these charades, you cannot build democratic party; it isn't possible. It just means by 2015 that looks very far away, PDP will go into extinction.

Particularly in the South West
It is an indictment of the leadership in south west, but I don't want to go into that, because you will be talking outside of Oyo and across south west. But the loss of 2011 election is an indictment of the leadership of the party in South- West. They have to show remorse, bend their heads and say, we are sorry for what went wrong, otherwise the party will be dead in south -west and the spill over effect, it may be dead eventually in the whole country .

On a final note-- what is your position on the proposed six year single tenure for President and governors and the altercations it has generated?

I don't know why we are making that an issue now. There are myriads of problems facing the country . Ordinarily, it would go a long way to douse tension arising from second term aspiration, because that's the crux of most of the problems in the parties. People do shoddy jobs in their first tenure, hoping that they will be able to correct wrong impressions when they get second term. So, they become desperate to do a second term.

If you now say, single term there will be less desperation for second term and greater compulsion to perform in the single term you are going to do and do it well. From that point of view, you might think if he meant well and there is no hidden agenda, why not?

May be we should have four years single term and let the man who is to mastermind the process not be a beneficiary, if there is a way of checking that. Let him work for history, let him work for posterity.

But how do you convince Nigerians that you have no hidden agenda? He may not have but only time will tell . But he has better not have.