BusinessDay

2023: PDP better positioned now than before to win Lagos – Aivoji, Lagos PDP chair

Philip Aivoji, a former commissioner for commerce, industry and tourism in Lagos State, is the newly elected chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state. In this exclusive interview with INIOBONG IWOK, he speaks on what he is doing to reposition the party ahead of the 2023 general election and how he is resolving the lingering internal crisis which has plagued the chapter in recent times, among other national issues. Excerpts:

What is your immediate priority after assuming office?

It is to unite the party, which I have already started. All the LGA chairmen in different caucus are all working together as a team. The exco, composed of the LGA chairmen and state executives members, are all working as a team.

The leaders, we have consulted every one of them, we are together. But politics is about conflict resolution and problem solving and that is what I have been asked to come and serve as a state chairman. There is no way there would not be a problem, but we must find a way of resolving the problem. Number one problem, which is disunity, is that if they allow us to do congress there would be unity in the party. It is to train the party managers to understand what they are out to do. To be focused and understand that we are out to win elections, and in order to win elections we must do the right thing.

Like the congress that is coming now, we must make sure we follow party constitution and guidelines because when you short-change some aspirants it would affect the party negatively.

That is why I have been saying whoever emerges, must be someone who gets the votes. If you cut corners it would backfire.

The message has gone round and we also have a problem with the secretariat; we have gotten a new one now. Next week will be for the convention. After getting all the candidates we would now plan on how to win the election. There is no magic about it, we just have to go to the grass root and campaign to win next year’s election.

We would let them know our programs and intended policies. Our plan is to win, I don’t like cheating, and you cannot rig a party that is majority. So, we are going to work and get the people on our side, by the grace of God PDP would take over Lagos State.

There is a rumour that some people are not happy with the process that brought you into office and that the internal crisis is still there. What do you say about that?

I don’t envisage any internal crisis in Lagos PDP for now, if we follow the rules and constitution, we would do a free and fair primaries by the grace of God, especially since I would be given the opportunity to take charge.

Yes, we have some forces; even some aspirants are playing smart. They go to the nation to get support from some governors; they are just trying to play smart.

Some of the aspirants that are taking such a move they are not used to PDP, PDP is an organised party; such is not done, except the state allows it to happen.

That is why we have some problems, because some of the aspirants, especially the one that came recently would still believe in bulldozing his way and one leader would endorse him. PDP doesn’t do such, from the ward to LG, they would converge, and that is what we are going to do in the governorship election.

My prayer is that the national body would give the support so we do what is right, because I am under authority, if I follow the rules there would be peace after the state congress.

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But there is still the Bode George and Deji Doherty division which may threaten your chances in the 2023 general election, if not resolved. What is your take?

As far as I am concerned, the main players that supervised the party at the local level, the LG chairmen, are together. If the managers are together, the leaders are just there to manage us.

Virtually all the leaders are often consulted before any decision is taken. I don’t take decisions alone, I consult them and they give me their views and I would bring it to the executive and we would pass it. This is a new beginning because of my experience, because of my exposure. I know the right thing to do. That is why I am praying that God would give me wisdom. I am out to win the election. I don’t have any other priority. So, I told you the LG men are together, whether you came in through Bode George or Doherty camp. In every political contest there must be camps, and immediately that process is over you collapse the structure. So, you would not find anywhere where the freedom group is meeting and I am there. I have been carrying all other aspirants who contested with me in decision making in the party, some of them are working with me to build the party.

So, you are saying there would be a level playing field for all the aspirants in the primaries?

Yes, when I was contesting for the state chairman, even though Doherty had a soft spot for me, Ade Dosunmu also had a soft spot for me, but I made them realise that my chairmanship is not to favour any person. There are so many individuals who also supported me, like; Tolagbe Animashaun, we are working closely, especially someone like Abimbola Ogunkelu and other leaders. So, we don’t see any problem. The little we need to do is to formalise the secretariat. Very soon I would call a general assembly. You saw all the BOT members from different camps converging when Atiku came to see the leaders and delegates recently.

Look at the NEC it is the same thing. In every contest some aspirants may be overzealous to outsmart others; the constitution is on ground to check those excesses. That is why I stand our ground to say the executive would be fair and transparent in leading people.

What strategy are you bringing to win the state?

Firstly, is to have free and fair primaries in all the LGA’s in the state. There should be no imposition, whoever emerges as the candidate should be what the people want. I don’t know all the leaders, or know what they have agreed; I cannot sit here and tell you this person would emerge in another local government. I can only know what is happening in my LGA, which is Badagry.

Let the aspirants do their work and solicit for votes. Don’t see it as a do-or-die, that you must get the ticket this year. That is what I have been preaching. We would just work hard and endear PDP to Lagosians, when we do that other things would follow.

Do you have confidence INEC can conduct a free and fair poll next year?

It takes two to tango, INEC is doing their work, but they should not allow politicians to derail them. This is the time for PDP to win Lagos and I have the confidence that no matter what people do, those who have worked hard are for the glory of God, because even if they say electronic transmission of results, somebody would be in charge.

Several heavyweight politicians are vying for the PDP’s presidential ticket, how do you assess the chances of your party in the presidential election?

There is none of the presidential aspirants that would get the ticket and not win; any one of them that emerges would fix this country. Go and check the antecedent of the aspirants any one of them would win.

Do you believe PDP can solve Nigeria’s numerous problems?

It is very clear, APC is not doing what we want, they disappointed the people; Nigeria is now the poverty capital of the world, look at the country, no industry is working, the little we had left. That is the solution to the high unemployment in Nigeria. Government can’t employ everybody, we need companies and we must make sure that we are producing, rather than just consuming the nation. And if you check all the aspirants’ manifesto you would know that they have the capacity to take this country to the promised land.

What is your view on the spate of insecurity across Nigeria?

It is very bad at the moment, but I know when the PDP takes over the country, all these will be over. We will know the genesis of the problem, APC government brought them to remove Goodluck Jonathan and when they saw that Jonathan did not resist them, that is where we are now.

The solution is to vote APC out and you see that the security situation now would change; things would go back to normal. Killing is going on every day; see how the military is performing. Although, there are bad eggs who are giving information out and I am sure when there is a change of government all these would be over, everybody would sit right.

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