Kola Ologbondiyan, National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, speaks on the forthcoming governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa
What is your reaction to latest developments in the ruling APC especially in Kogi state where the State House of Assembly just impeached the Deputy Governor?
Except Nigerians stand by constitutional democracy, the APC has already turned our democracy upside down. They promised change in 2015, but all we have seen are negative changes. We have not made any development towards the growth of democracy in Nigeria since APC came on board. Examples abound to buttress this assertion. In 2014, under the government of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), 20 PDP members in the Nassarawa state House of Assembly gave a notice of impeachment against Governor Tanko Al-Makura. A panel was set up to investigate the allegations leveled against him. The panel however returned a no-guilt verdict and the PDP lawmakers back off on the impeachment move. But under APC government, what did we find in Kogi state? The panel that was set up cleared the deputy governor, Simon Achuba of any wrongdoing yet, the Kogi state House of Assembly still went ahead to impeach him. The development in Kogi is an abuse of democratic process. When the panel that was set up by the Chief Judge of the state gave a no-guilt verdict, the constitution has said when there is a no-guilt verdict; no further proceedings shall take place. But in Kogi, without recourse to the law, they abandoned the report of the panel and impeached the deputy governor. The National Chairman of their party (Adams Oshiomhole) went to Edo, his home state but thugs chased him around like a common tout. It took the intervention of the police to rescue him. Are they growing democracy? Look at the elections we have held and look at the roles APC played in upturning the will of the people. We are appealing to Nigerians to stand on the side of constitutional democracy and that is the only way we can preserve the rules, social justice and all the tenets of democracy, which the PDP has enshrined and will continue to uphold.
Your party lost the Ekiti and Osun to APC. Are you not worried that the same may happen in Kogi and Bayelsa?
It will be difficult to have a repeat of what happened in Osun and Ekiti in Kogi and Bayelsa states because the APC as a party has lost a great number of followership both in Kogi and Bayelsa. The two states are traditional strongholds of PDP. What happened in Kogi in 2015 was that some PDP members who were not happy with certain developments in the party, voted for the APC. But they voted for the late Prince Abubakar Audu who died shortly before the election was concluded. They never voted for Yahaya Bello. As soon as Audu died and Yahaya Bello inherited his votes, his style of administration, policies and governance has completely alienate him from the people. Maybe it is because he never campaigned in 2015 and had no covenant with the people. His style of governance is absolute misgovernance and misrule and as such, in Kogi state, the people are fed up with him and on a one man; one vote basis, Yahaya Bello cannot have 20 percent of votes come November 16. It is empirical and it can be confirmed. Is it teachers and civil servants who are being owed for months that will ask him to continue in office for another four years? We challenge INEC to allow for a free and fair election in Kogi.
What about Bayelsa state?
Bayelsa is the traditional home of the PDP and the people of the state are ready to continue the development strides of Governor Seriake Dickson. As such, it is very impossible for APC to come and win in the state. Whichever way one look at it, either in Kogi or Bayelsa, the people are standing firm with their party, the PDP and they will be vigilant and resist and attempt by anyone or group to manipulate the elections.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai said they are coming to nail the coffin and bury PDP in Kogi state. What is your reaction on that?
Governor el-Rufai must have realised that whatever his party, the APC, perpetuated in Kaduna State in the 2019 general elections can no longer be replayed, not even in Kaduna State or any other state of the federation, not to talk of Kogi State, with its long-standing history of tough resistance to forceful occupation and control. Governor el-Rufai, therefore, should not bother to lead a failed team of an expansionist force into a lost battle. He should rather use the opportunity to counsel Governor Yahaya Bello to accept his rejection by the people of Kogi State and be ready to face the burden of a crushing defeat on November 16.