By NBF News
Listen to article

Mr. 'Sina Kawonise, Ogun State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, is a major driver of the Otunba Gbenga Daniel political machine. He is like a television producer that never appears on the screen, the former Nigerian Tribune chief had a day with Vanguard last Friday during which he spoke the mind of Governor Daniel on the crisis in the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Excerpts:

What exactly is the problem with the Ogun State branch of the PDP?

Where is only one PDP in Ogun State.  But of course, we are not unaware of a few individuals who have bound themselves together to reap where they did not sow in a manner the way it was being done before the President Yar'Adua government of which the presidency of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is successor. Basically, the PDP we run in Ogun State is the one led by Chief Joju Fadairo and of which the Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel is the Leader.

What is the problem with the primaries that the whole process is generating discomfort at certain corners?

Primaries are conducted under the watch of the national headquarters of PDP. The party at the state level does not conduct primaries on its own; primaries are conducted directly by the National Headquarters supervised by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and security agencies and the media.  So in this instance, the primaries were conducted under the secretariat being run by Chief Joju Fadairo.

At the end of the day, the primaries were conducted in designated centres published by the National Headquarters of the party and then again officials of the party sent from the headquarters to conduct primaries at state level were well on ground where the gubernatorial and other candidates emerged on January 9, 2011. That is the position.

Then why did other party members hold parallel primaries? Were they not carried along in the whole process?

The National Headquarters of the party does not send officials to two places at the same time. The officials that came to conduct the primaries came to the designated centres identified by National Headquarters. But of course, we are also aware that some individuals went to the Library Complex of the former President (Chief Olusegun Obasanjo) to conduct their own primaries and of course what everybody asked was that, the parallel primaries they later went their to conduct; who authorised them? Who conducted them? And they even asked these questions among themselves and they were blamed for doing so.  So that certainly cannot stand as a primary of a democratic party like the PDP.

Now there is talk about political solution involving a trade off between Olurin/Isiaka and Iyabo/Lola. What is the position of the government of Daniel, who himself is Leader of the party in Ogun State?

There had been political solutions before the primary elections.  I am sure you were aware of the days of Rt. Hon. Dimeji Bankole, Speaker of the House of Representatives, who is now fully in the OGD structure in the state.  Now that elections have been conducted, won and lost, there cannot be any political solution to that. You cannot say that you are making political solution of say, okay, Lola Abiola-Edewor should now step down for Iyabo-Obasanjo who absented herself from the primaries and who confused those who wanted to come out for party activities.

Now, if anybody is talking of political solution, that's not for us.  What is right is what right.  Primaries have been conducted, they have been won and they have been lost. If anything is going to happen, it has to be with those elected. So there cannot be any political solution at this point.  I mean, who is going to drop for whom at this point?

There were opportunities for political solution in the past.  A few took advantage of it and of course some few others thought that it was by political brigandage that they could have their way.  But now, I am assuring you that the era of impunity has gone and it has gone for good.

Iyabo Obasanjo, after the court injunction, has come out to confirm she had a fight with Governor Daniel.  What is your view of the whole scenario?

Well, I don't want to pass any comment on why she is having the kind of position she is having toward the governor.  But what matters to me is that, it was this same governor that appointed her as commissioner through which she was encouraged to the political height she has been able to reach today.  And it was this same governor she claims to have a fight against that used his own political structure to grant her senatorial ticket unopposed.

If she now says that okay, Otunba Gbenga Daniel has offended her and the way to go about it is by being  mannerless in her behaviour, that is left to her.  You see, in an effort to achieve political goals, some people can tend to use all the means available to them to achieve their ambition and that is going to become a thing of the past. So, I can assure you that all that they are talking now, court injunction or no court injunction, it's just a temporary thing.

How prepared is your government to ensure free and fair elections in Ogun State come April, this year?

Well, governments don't fight election but political parties do.  In the election that is coming, of course, PDP is the only party to beat.  The governor, who is the Leader of the party is fully on ground to take the challenge that the opposition will pose.  We have done so many opinion and view sampling and so it is clear that PDP is very strong in Ogun State; PDP is making waves and PDP will lead the path to victory.

What are you doing to ensure that your supporters are not confused as to what path to take due to the current intra-party controversy?

As for our supporters, my word is to thank them for their steadfastness in the face of all manner of political issues.  They know who their leader is and they know that Otunba Gbenga Daniel is the leader that they can trust.  He is the one who has been there for them and he is one, of course, they continue to look forward to, to give them direction as to which political way to follow.

Of course, Ogun State people are wiser and my appeal to them particularly PDP members is that they should continue to be steadfast and that they should remain calm.  There is no shaking! There is no cause for alarm! By the grace of God, we would all get to the promised land.