HOW I WON MY RETURN TICKET FOR KOGI – WEST
Palpable tension had enveloped Kogi West Senatorial District, during the week, following contradictory reports on the outcome of the senatorial primary conducted by the PDP in the zone that produced Senator Smart Adeyemi as the party candidate for the zone. While the party had submitted the name of Senator Adeyemi as its candidate to the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC], protesters who claimed to be from Kogi State besieged Wadata Plaza, the PDP National Secretariat, last Monday, seeking for redress.
But in this encounter with Daily Sun, at the party national secretariat, shortly after a meeting with a top official of the party Senator Adeyemi offered an insight into how he won the return ticket.
There are many conflicting stories, surrounding the Kogi-West senatorial primary of your party. What actually is the true story? How did you make it?
When you are passionate about the well being of your people, particularly the well being of the less privileged, you will always receive the mercy of God. And when you have the mercy of God, you will definitely triumph over the machinations of wicked people. That, you can get in the Bible: that those who help the poor, God will remember them in the day of trouble.
I will just tell you that I am not in doubt that I have not betrayed the mandate of the people. So, from the beginning, I knew I will win my election; that if I will have problem, the problem will not be because the people are not appreciative. It may be that the powers that be do not want me. But if I equally have the mercy of God, I will still triumph at the end of the day. That is what actually happened and I will give you a scenario.
There is a guideline for the conduct of primary election. A copy of the letter that I have here from the PDP and which I will read to you. This is a letter to the chairman of PDP in Kogi State. The letter states that 'for the avoidance of doubt, Section 28 (a) page 22 of the party guidelines for the conduct of primary election stipulates that 'in the conduct of primary for the party candidate for the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the primaries shall be held at the senatorial districts headquarters.'
Now, my opponents came here. They insisted that they would not want the primaries to be conducted in the senatorial district's headquarters. They wanted it in the state capital because to them, conducting it at the state capital will be more profitable to them.
Why? My main challenger or opponent happened to be the immediate past commissioner for local government and chieftaincy matters.
So, all the local government officials, not the masses, not the delegates, but the top officials of the local government are his subordinates. So, his thinking was when he comes to the state capital, they will use the influence of government machinery to compel them to mobilize their members to vote for him.
But maybe those who drafted the guidelines knew this when they said it must be at the senatorial headquarter. I came here and I met them a day before and they were asking and trying to persuade the national secretary to move the election to Lokoja. I just told the man that we can go to Lokoja. And he said, yes, we can go. By that time, their game plan didn't occur to me. Then suddenly, I said sir, let me see the guidelines. When I look at the guidelines and it stated that we should use the senatorial district. I said, ''no Oga, we have to go back to what the guidelines said''.
So, they left. When they got to Lokoja, they made announcement on the radio because the chairman of the party and three of the aspirants against me were all from the same local government. The chairman of the party told his people that he was going to make sure that they produce a senator. So, three aspirants from one local government and from same local government with the chairman of the party, Hassan Salawu they wanted to make sure that they produce a senator. He now said that the election should be taken to the state capital and I told them that I will not attend, if it is contrary to the provision of the guidelines.
Now, when I got to Lokoja. I now told them that we have to go to the senatorial district headquarter. So, when I left here, I said maybe members of the panel may go to Lokoja eventually so I left Abuja and I went to Lokoja.
When I got there, I discovered that they were scanty, but I saw the main opponents, so I just left them. They saw me there. Apparently, they thought that I believe in Lokoja as a venue. So I left for Kabba. When I got to Kabba, I saw the panel and they had already started screening for accreditation for people to start voting.
I quickly jumped into the queue and I participated. So I started talking to the delegates. They were asking for the reason why we were not in Kabba. I told them that, ''how would you conduct an election if we are not here''. Eventually, I was able to partake in the election and at the end of the day, it was discovered they didn't come. But yet, few people still voted for them and those people counted the votes only for them to start saying that they were not there and that the election was not free and fair, that the election was rigged.
If you want to be a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I believe you must be knowledgeable…. the first thing is for you to be knowledgeable of the guidelines of the election that will make you a Senator. It is like you want to participate in a sporting activity and you aren't bothered about rules governing the game. You know you can't win the game, so they didn't participate. The three of them sat down in the state capital, waiting because their belief is that the state government will insist that the election be held in Lokoja.
They now came here with a police report. The party looked at the police report, but said they would have to send their panel to go there. According to the party, if the panel discovered that it isn't going to be conducive for election, the panel would report back, or phone them on their findings and the party would now give further directives.
So, when the panel got to Kabba, they drove round the town, they didn't see any uprising-nobody disturbed them. They went to the venue. I must let you know that two weeks ago, when the election was aborted, it was in Kabba. They were all in the hall when it was first aborted-- that was two weeks ago, when we couldn't hold the election.
Why was it not held?
It was because they insisted that they wanted the list of delegates from the state to be used, which I objected, because the guidelines said, the delegates list must be supplied by the national secretariat; they didn't want it, because they had their own list which they wanted to use to rig. In some of the wards they submitted, I discovered that in one ward, it was only one family and I said, how can you use one family as ward executive.
So, I came here to the national secretariat and protested and they now said they are to use the national secretariat list. The PDP National Working Committe said they should use the national list; they didn't raise a voice. Now, when they got back, they now discovered that if they use the national secretariat list, the rigging they had planned would not work and they now schemed to move the election to Lokoja.
You know the way they conduct election in Lokoja? They will start around 5.30p.m; when it is late, they will switch off the light. That was what they wanted to do. But they know that wouldn't work in Kabba; the people wouldn't allow them to switch off the light and I have their support.
You see, when you care for your people, it is a security you can bank on. It is most reliable, unlike the man who carries security personnel with guns. The best security is the people. If you work for the people, they will protect your interest. If you work for the people, when your enemies want to attack you, the people would leak the secret.
These people know that the people are with me, because I have defended my people at the risk of my life; I have defended their needs, their aspirations. Very few senators would compete with the projects I have.
When I was coming to the Senate, I made up my mind that I was coming to serve, not to look for money. There is a difference between when you want to look for money and you want to create a legacy. An average person in my area today sees me as their advocate, so the people are with me.
My opponents didn't want to come home, they wanted the election in Lokoja, where the party and government machinery would be used. So, we had election and I had 886 votes; the man who came second had 247.
They came here to protest that the election wasn't free and fair.
How can it be free, when you refused to come? So, what are they talking about? I think that's just my story.
The INEC actually said January 15, 2011 was the final date for conduct of party primaries. Now, don't you think, the exercise that was conducted after that deadline might jeopardize your ambition?
Well, you know, before January 15, we were to have our primary. Mine wasn't a re-run. Mine was actually a postponement. Ordinarily, we shouldn't even have a re-run. You know why? Because the panel of the PDP disqualified the main opponent, Honourable Faniyi for opposing the party directive that the list from the party national secretariat should be used, which is even a breach of the constitution and respect for the leadership of the PDP.
But somehow, they were able to wriggle their way back that there must be a contest. The man who refused to allow the first contest. You know when you were set for an election, you had spent money and time and they called it off and they now ask you to come back. I don't pray you experience it: when you have gone round, met all the delegates, prepare for election and the minutes to start voting, somebody now came up with an issue, which made it impossible for you to contest and the person is confident that the powers that be in the state are supporting him; that they will provide the fund for him and they had assured him that the process would be manipulated in his favour. Yet, you were still able to come back for the election and people still voted for you and they wanted it elsewhere, so that they can rig.