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Those who have left PDP in Lagos will come back if we put our house in order – Adegbesan

SACHO appoints Olugbenga Adegbesan as new executive director

Adegboyega Adegbesan is a chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State and chairman of the party’s chairmen’s forum at the local government level. In this exclusive interview with INIOBONG IWOK, he spoke on the reconciliation efforts in the party in the state after the 2023 general election, among several other issues. Excerpts:

Some Lagos PDP leaders last week held a reconciliatory meeting to reposition the party. Could you throw more light on the meeting?

After the 2023 general election a lot of members were not happy with the state of affairs in the party, when we did a critical analysis of what led to that performance in the elections, we realised that the major problem had to do with disunity within the party among our members.

We realised one of the ways we can move forward is by trying to reconcile the leaders.

Also, we had an opportunity to see Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State recently when the vice chairman of the Southwest was buried. We had a one-on-one discussion with him.

In fact, he did not want to see us, because of the performance of the party in the last general election in Lagos and the infighting in the party. But Makinde was told that it was the local government chairmen that wanted to see him. So, for that reason he came to see us.

He told us that he does not need much from Lagos, but that we should go back and reconcile, that the issue of money is not even the issue, but what is important is time people had waited in the past.

We came back and consulted, went round all the leaders and told them this is the situation of things, and most of them were favorably disposed for reconciliation and we had to move with that and initiate the reconciliation meeting.

What was the reaction of party members across the state?

There have been commendations across the state, party members are happy about it. But you cannot rule out those that do not want unity; we have party members that feed on the crisis in our party, you still have those who think that these leaders can’t come together, but now they have come, we have all seen.

But some leaders were not there, does that mean that the reconciliation is no inclusive?

We have been in PDP for almost twenty years now, when you have this kind of situation, I have told you that some people may not naturally be disposed to reconciliation initially.

Also, because of the fuel scarcity some people could not come here; another of our notable leader; Bucknor Akerele, had a bad day and could not make it.

We know some people did not come, but since we have to start the process, others would join, those who still have doubt would join later I can say that. We would still reach out to more leaders, once people see Abimbola Ogunkelu, Bode George they would come on board to join the process. Some of our problems are caused by external people who are fuelling this crisis.

What strategy do you have to get back aggrieved leaders?

The state chairman wants to key into what is happening at the national level; at the national level disciplinary committee, a reconciliation committee has been set up for the party.

We have set up a disciplinary committee, it is the only reconciliation committee that remains, and definitely some people are still hungry with what happened in the past.

Some people bought forms at the end of the day they did not allow free and fair primary to take place. For instance, for the gubernatorial election about four people bought forms for N25m, Engineer Doherty bought form; Rhodes Vivour bought form; Davoka bought, Ade Dosunmu bought form, definitely they would not be happy, and obviously such people you would have to reach out to them.

People react to situations differently, some who cannot hold the pain left the party and others who have remained, we have to reach out to them and find a way of reconciling them with the party.

Some candidates in the 2023 election went to court recently, accusing some leaders of anti-party activities. Did your group reach out to them?

No, definitely the committee would reach out to everybody, whether Aeroland or another person, it still boils down to the presidential election that we lost; if we had won, I’m sure all these things would not arise.

People react to situations differently, we would reach them and work for everybody, so that we can all come and work to displace the APC in the 2027 general election.

Some people said the reconciliation meeting was against Jandor; did your group reach out to him?

If you look at the kind of people that were at that meeting that day, invitations were sent to virtually all the leaders including him, we LGAs’ chairmen and the committee were the ones that sent the invitations out. Another thing that was responsible was people did not come out due to the fuel scarcity and the change in date from 9th of May and later changed to 1st may. Everybody would be reached out to whether Jandor, other gubernatorial candidates and even Assembly members. Even House of Representatives candidates, even in my local government, about two different candidates went to court up to the federal court of Appeal.

We need to reconcile now that we have started at this stage, I believe we would go a long way. Before 2027 we would have reconciled most of our leaders. For me now that the party has started, progress would be made.

Are you satisfied that the party’s NEC refused to sanction Nyesom Wike and his group over anti-party activities?

Nobody wants the party to go under, there are lots of factions; a political party is made up of factions and if you remember what happened and what led to all that happened, you would realise that many people made mistakes, even the presidential candidate of the party for the choice of running mate and the issue of the former national chairman resigning.

Wike and his group also made mistakes, but we have learned from that, there was a crisis in the APC too before the 2023 general election, but president Bola Tinubu managed the situation.

He was able to reconcile and they went into that election with unity of purpose.

We have learned from that, the NEC meeting they had was filled with tension, but people went to the meeting with wisdom and this time around everybody has learned one or two lessons and that would form the basis for the future of the party.

What is the position of Lagos PDP over the decision of Aeroland and his group to take some leaders to court over anti-party activities?

All those things are just in social media, we have never seen anything, paper from the court.

Nobody has been served, have they filed the case? Have they allocated it to a judge? Maybe, they have withdrawn it, because the national body directed that anybody that has a case in court should withdraw it.

For anti-party activities, we have to know that the majority of our members and supporters are non-indigenes, they decided to work for Peter Obi in the last election and the outcome did not favour the PDP; that is why some of those candidates are saying that our members worked against them.

It is Peter Obi’s factor, if you do statistical analysis of PDP’s members in Lagos, our stronghold is mainly in where non-indigenes are many; Oshodi, Ejigbo, Surulere, Ijesha, etc. These people made up their mind to work for the Labour Party, it is not true that they did anti-party, it is who they want.

What strategy would the PDP adopt to attract young people and those who have defected from the party?

The thing is that once people outside see that there is unity in the party we can move up and we can attract people with our program and policies.

But a party in which there is a crisis would not be attractive to people outside, some of our members that left we can reach out to them.

A lot of them that left are just figurehead where they are, they don’t have much influence compared to when they were here in PDP. Some of them are ready to come back if we put our house in order.