Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Battle for Lagos - Obasanjo Is Joking - Ajomale, ACN Chairman

interview

Days after part of his residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State was recently engulfed in flames, a delegation of the Lagos State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP visited to empathise with former President Olusegun Obasanjo. But beneath the veneer of the consolation was Obasanjo's own admonition to the chieftains of the Lagos PDP to put their house in order, for according to him, winning Lagos State was doable.

But the condition, President Obasanjo said was for the different tendencies in the party to put aside their historic infighting and fight as a united team. In this interview, the The chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Mr Oladele Ajomale said Obasanjo was joking. Excerpt:

What is your reaction to President Olusegun Obasanjo's assertion that a united PDP could win Lagos State?

I have said it several times, that the former president is a joker for dreaming of getting Lagos from the ACN. When he was a sitting president, he tried twice to wrestle Lagos state from the ACN. It was an uphill task which was practically impossible.

He condescended so low as to go and campaign in a local government area in Lagos State just because he wanted to capture Lagos as he said then. It was a woeful disgrace. For now, being a non-sitting president, claiming to achieve what he was unable to achieve during his presidency, I think is tantamount to a dream that can never come true.

Do you have the perception that the government in Lagos is now unpopular because of the ban on commercial motorcyclists popularly known as okada...

(Cuts in) Let me tell you something about okada or no okada. There is no responsible government that will tolerate the carnage that was going on our roads for so long. They must protect lives and property and I think that is what the government is doing. You don't play politics with peoples' lives. There is no civilized country in the world that allows okada as a means of transportation. Can we say we are different? Are we not telling the world that we are crude in our system?

How do you intend to change the perception that there is no internal democracy in your party and that the ACN is a one man show.

I don't think so.

Why?

In our case, two systems are allowed. You can conduct your primaries by consensus and you can do open primaries. In some cases, when you do open primaries, you have maiming and death trailing the way because of our people who want to win at all costs. Can we afford to lose the lives of our members because we want to conduct elections? The leaders in each of the areas know the candidate that they feel can do the job well. It also has a cultural innovation, in that you allow the people in each community to decide who will be their representative.

It is allowed by law. So, that is the most internal democracy that I think we are practicing, allowing the people to choose who they want. They know themselves in that area. Which one is the best form democracy?

The one you allow the people to choose their representatives or the one hijacked by the money bags? Which one is more important? The system will use the two methods but many people will not know. That is the best form of internal democracy that I understand and where you allow the people in the community to decide who represents them and not money bag that throw their weight around who will not be answerable to the community. We are still going to use both methods. If the community decides that this is the man they want, we cannot over rule them.

The former governor of Lagos state, Bola Tinubu is from Lagos west, while incumbent, Mr Raji Fashola is from Lagos Central. Are we looking at a power shift in 2015?

For us, it is not a question of zoning; it is a question of getting the best material anywhere we can get it.

Not minding the zone?

Yes, not minding the zone. We want the best and only the best is good for Lagos. We want someone who will improve on the achievements done so far. I don't believe in zoning, I believe we must get the best material that can carry on with the legacies that has been established by the two giants (Tinubu and Fashola). The legacies they are leaving behind must be improved upon and not getting someone who will spoil it by zoning. We must get the best hand from anywhere in Lagos state.

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