analysisBy Bashir Adefaka
Wednesday May 28 was a day members of People's Democratic Party, PDP, in Lagos State addressed the problem that has cost them four elections in the Centre of Excellence.
Whereas the Leader, Chief Olabode Ibiyinka George; and the Honourable Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, could not personally make the historic event, held under the theme, "2014 Democracy Day Colloquium", at the Ekiti Hall of the Lagos Airport Hotel, the presence of another state party leader and a former Minister of Communications, Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju, made the day. Olanrewaju, at the event meant to be a platform for dialogue on governance in Lagos State, was Colloquium Chairman.
The General was however not alone. The Afenifere Publicity Secretary, Comrade Yinka Odumakin, special guest speaker, addressed the audience on the topic, "Fifteen years of democracy in Lagos State; what level of dividends?" And there was, of course, the state chairman of the party, retired Navy Captain Tunji Shelle.
Also present were Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Relations, Dr. Olusanya Awosan; members of civil society groups, religious organizations and ethnic nationalities living in Lagos State.
Welcoming the participants, Shelle said the colloquium was organized to enable PDP members, representatives of the civil society groups, and other non-PDP members discuss Lagos State and democracy in the last fifteen years.
Olanrewaju spoke on "Selfless leadership and its relevances in party politics: Lagos PDP as a focus".
He started: "This topic presents a big challenge to the leaders of our party - PDP- particularly at this crucial period when 2015 elections are so close in time and space. In this political dispensation, party systems become the organizational model for acquisition of power not only for parties but also their leaders.
What offers the best hope of success for any party other than strong leadership and responsible followers? The late Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of Britain, said, in politics, leadership must be earned and not donated."
Leadership, Olanrewaju, who was a member of the Provisional Ruling Council under the Abacha regime, said, is about who shows commitment, respect and admiration.
He traced the reason PDP failed in Lagos State in past elections to "a deliberate elitist conspiracy".
He however acknowledged that peace and promise of internal democracy has returned to the Lagos State chapter of the PDP but that the party "must stop behaving like a permanent opposition and see itself as a potential government in the making come 2015 elections in the country and in Lagos State in particular," he said adding: "Lagos State is the largest economy of the nation, but structurally it is a high cost economy with very serious implications."
Lagos and 2015 elections
Olanrewaju went on: "The general elections are about seven months away. The PDP must go into the elections as a unified body with common aims and visions and must fight the elections on a promising outcome. We cannot continue to do things in the same way as we have been doing in the past and get a different result.
Whoever will emerge as our gubernatorial candidate and others must do their best to rebuild Lagos as a free and prosperous state (not as a state that belongs to the cabals) relieving the business organizations, middle and poor classes of people of tax burden and harassment. We have many areas we can use to win the 2015 elections, but much as victory is beaconing to us, we are running away from the victory.
"Our chosen candidate must create conditions in which the value of the money you earn and the money you save or spend can be protected. The party must move the state to the centre ground of politics away from the far-right disposition as it is.
The entire Ibile Divisions should be the focus of our vision, assimilation and development, not just developing one part of Lagos State and leaving the rest undeveloped. Our party must engage with all the classes of people in Lagos with particular attention to the low income earners.
Recent opinion poll indicates that we have about sixty percent of uncommitted voters in the state. We have to get these uncommitted voters on our side. If we work very hard, victory will be on our side.
Speaking on the governorship material Lagos PDP needs, the former minister said,
"We need a morally convinced politician who has the intellect, the integrity and humility that can foster good relationship and command respect among people of diverse opinions and backgrounds. That candidate must have the drive to achieve the challenging task in 2015.
In PDP, the door is opened for genuine indigenes from the state to contest the next election. We will create a society that would be more tolerant, more just, more inclusive, more compassionate and more caring.
"There is no doubt that the present Lagos State administration has showcased many areas of achievements mainly on infrastructures and visible security arrangements but, obviously there are deliberate oversights such as provision of affordable houses for low income earners which form over seventy percent of the population in the state.
We are yet to see low income housing as promised years ago under the previous administrator, Alhaji Ahmed Bola Tinubu. We are yet to see that promise fulfilled because he could not do it the Jakande way; he could not do it the Otedola way.
Jakande, Otedola and even Group Captain Gbolahan Mudashiru did it and Lagos did not go bankrupt. That is what the American governments always do to cover up the shortfalls of capitalism so that the common man can survive. The other face of capitalism is cabalism that his only for the elites.
"Lagos is already a privatized estate. How are we going to get out of this? It is to ensure that governance gets back to the people".
Odumakin on democracy
After taking the microphone from Olanrewaju, Odumakin, currently a member of the National Conference in Abuja, said, against the mega city status of Lagos State, the last time he had potable water in his house was 2004.
"The last time I had pipe-borne water in my house was in 2004 and a bad experience. It was the day I had human finger from my tap in Lagos. I do not see a mega city without pipe-borne water. Dubai is a desert. It rains two or three times maximum in a year, yet there is water everywhere for people to drink," Odumakin said, adding: "Lagos has not received dividends of democracy in the last 15 years because there was so much of leakage in the governing system.
"What we have in Lagos is a privatized democracy. I do not believe that they are unbeatable but beat them with the right formulae. And for them to be beaten, we need a vibrant opposition.