…MY CHANCES ARE BRIGHT -OKE
Outgoing national legal adviser of the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olusola Oke, is an aspirant for the position of national secretary of the party. In this interactive session with journalists in Abuja, he spoke about his chances. Excerpts:
Experience as the Chief Law Officer of the PDP
It has been an exciting experience because of the challenges involved, especially during the nominations between January and April 2011. Within the four months it was not less than 156 cases that I had to personally supervised and handled. It was also exciting that one was able to co-ordinate the petitions that arose from the general elections. What I did was to decentralize the whole process by directing state legal advisers to constitute legal committees to handle election petitions in their respective states.
Apart from the experience which I gained from handling these cases and the exposure, I also got exposed to party management which I now appreciate the enormity of work, challenges involved in party administration. There are rules, traditions and conventions that govern party management. But in politics, there are intricacies involved. There are guidelines no doubt about that and there is constitution but beyond these, there are intricacies involved, the unseen rules that govern politics.
Aspiration to the office of the National Secretary
I now appreciated that party administration can be a carrier. Just like somebody will desire to be a minister, one can also desire to be a party administrator. For a stable democracy, a stable governance, there is need for stable party administration. Unless the party is stable, it can constitute avoidable distraction on whosesoever is governing the country.
Within the last four years, what we have have achieved substantially within the party was to bring the difference between party administration and governance. We allowed the President and the ministers to face the core responsibility of governance. We also took the heats, absorbed the heats from him in terms of party administration.
I had the opportunity of being in South Africa during the celebration the African National Congress' (ANC) centenary. You can always predict who will be the chairman of ANC in 10 years time because there is a line up. What has been wrong with our party was that there was always a clean sweep of national party officers such that there was no retention of instructional memory, there was no continuity. I have found out that unless there is continuity, unless there is retention, the party cannot grow.
So part of the reasons I am encouraged to run is that the reformation required can only be sustained if people who have participated in shaping, formulating policies, bringing up ideas are allowed to spend more time to ensure that these ideas come through. I have become an embodiment of what is required of the party, the changes that we need to preserve and sustained. I have become part of it and I think they have put me in a very good advantage position ahead of others.
Also, you know lawyers are professional secretaries, so this gives me added advantage. Beyond that, I am the only person contesting for this position that has a background in the National Assembly, a background in the executive and a background in party administration.
The leader of our party from the South-West is undoubtedly former President, the chairman of the Board of Trustees, [BoT] , of the party, Baba Olusegun Obasanjo. The good thing at this time is that Baba has already indicated that he is not going to anoint anybody. No doubt, our leaders in the South West would also want to reduce acrimony and rancor in the emergence of whosoever is going to be the secretary of the party from the South West. Since Obasanjo has opted to be neutral, therefore, there is nobody with the capacity to impose anybody.
If it is possible through dialogue, reduce the number or actually come out with an individual whom we think is best suitable for the job, which I think I am; we will exploit that option. But certainly, there will be no imposition in the South West. If it is not possible to get one, we will come to the convention. Within the party, we are not going to rule out dialogue, we are already talking. I am in touch with other aspirants, we are talking to ourselves on the need to maintain decorum.
Areas of priority
The first thing is to update documentation in the party. The amorphous membership of the party has been cause for concern. It is causing crisis, a situation where you do not have a valid membership register. The other one is to ensure that we put in place machinery to entrench internal democracy. Part of the reasons people are moving away from the PDP is the culture of imposition of candidates. I am going to work with others to ensure internal democracy in the PDP.
There is too much indiscipline within PDP and this is happening at every level. Then the culture of impunity when people who have violated the guidelines and constitution of the party get away with it. We are going to ensure that we have a functional disciplinary committee that will promptly attend to cases.
The other problem that is militating against the progress of the party is that there is no early warning signals for some of our disputes. Disputes get to crisis stage before people intervene and at that stage it would have escalated. I am going to ensure that we put in place machinery for early resolution of disputes before they escalate to an almost uncontrollable proportion.
The welfare of the staff, promotion of harmonious relationship between the executive and the legislative arms of government and ensure connectivity of both arms in the party, assessment of our elected members who are in government from the council chairman to the national level.
We will have audit reports on our governors so as to know those of them that are doing well and those that are not doing well. We will give them early warning signals on the need to improve. We are going to start doing post election appraisal. This is a time for reformation, overhauling the system and make the party functional because there is downward trend in the fortunes of the party. PDP is going to wear a new face, a new order, a new orientation, a new agenda in the months ahead. It is going to be a new era for our party. Nigerians should watch out.