The crisis rocking the Ogun State chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has again polarised the party ahead of the 2023 general election. In this interview with AZEEZ OLORUNLOMERU, a factional governorship candidate of the party in the state, Segun Showunmi, explains his stand on the crisis and why he would emerge the next governor of the state, among other issues.
What are your party’s chances in the 2023 gubernatorial election in Ogun State considering the ongoing internal wrangling?
Well, all things considered, elections are emotive for people who think that you would do an election without doing the appropriate calculation. I come from Ogun Central, where you have the largest voting public, and I have been standing right and standing appropriately. My kids and I are well known. I have enough followers there and I have been one person who has committed to the state in the past while these other people have been jumping from pillar to post, and even undermining the party.
Are you not afraid that the party will lose if it goes to the polls in this crisis?
I know that all political parties have challenges they have to deal with. I am quite aware that our rivals, the All Progressives Congress (APC) too, are dealing with in-house challenges.
I know they have a sitting government, which is a fact that people will be a bit afraid or worried about. But I also know that when we discuss the issues around this government, at the end of the day, we can compete with them. So, Showunmi cannot be underrated.
What is the state of the crisis in Ogun PDP at the moment?
The Court of Appeal in Abuja granted my prayers at the lower court on the jurisdiction of the matter that I brought before it.
What were your prayers?
What I asked the court was that: is it right, justifiable, ideal, or fair that an executive that’s going to preside over the production of the ad-hoc delegates to participate in the purchase of the form for one of the contestants?
I went to court after I had exhausted all the avenues of writing letters and pleading with them. To the glory of God, the uprightness of the judiciary and the court of law, I got the judgment.
They can no longer add any new thing to my suit in the state, and therefore, it will be interesting to see how they want to wriggle out of it. I believe in the maxim that you cannot build something on nothing; that stands absolutely as one of the foundations of the law. Therefore, I am the governorship candidate of the PDP in Ogun State.
Did the court declare you the governorship candidate of the party?
I’m giving you a background and I’m making you understand what it takes. I don’t want to speak about the case. What is important is that we are only depending on the jurisdiction, and as soon as that jurisdiction has fallen, I do not see how they can build something on nothing.
Can someone emerge as a governorship candidate without going through the party primaries?
Of course, I went through a party primary, but primaries are premium. I think, all in all, we are good to go, and I believe that no person of good conscience will allow anybody to profit from their criminality. They can’t sit down somewhere, doctor the list of the delegates and do whatever they want in a country that has laws and they will expect me not to approach the court. We have done that, and we are happy. We are looking forward to having the case.
You alleged that the list was doctored. Who doctored it?
What is important is that if we look at the case that Jimi Lawal has filed before the court, it will give you a clearer understanding of the mess they made that they are calling a primary.
Have you not breached your party’s constitution by dragging it to court?
They can’t do whatever they want. The Electoral Act does not give them imaginary powers to do and undo, and it does not protect a political party from stepping away from its own constitution nor does it allow its officers to violate their oath of office.
Having followed all the necessary protocols of informing them, telling them this is the matter, before taking the case to court, I have no other explanation than to say I’m particularly happy that the judiciary is not bad, as people like to rumour.
All of these years, since the day I joined this party around 1998, I’ve remained in the party. Nothing has moved me. Those who are trying to throw that illegality before me, I can show you how they go from one journey to another, claiming that they are looking for what is not lost. The rule is very clear. If there is an issue, you write to them. All of them were copied. The party chairman was copied, and the national leaders, including the office of the national secretary, were copied. When they did not act, I enrolled it in court in my own copy. A political party is a creation of the law and it will never be allowed to do things violating the law.
How many factions does the PDP have in Ogun state?
I know of one. I’m not a factional person, but one who is following the process of the party. As far as I’m concerned, the chairman of the party is Sikirulah Ogundele. There are groups, but none of them, in my opinion, has been relegated to the level of a faction. If you like, what you can say is that members of the same party are having serious issues. I remember clearly that I bought my form from the party, and I’m sure that my brother, Jimi Lawal also bought his form from the party. I truly believe that Hon. Ladi Adebutu-backed executive went to purchase the form for him.
There are groups within the party. I can only speak for the party. I don’t engage in any form of factionalisation. There are group interests in the party, but there are also individual interests, and one party member’s interest does not supersede all the party members’ interests. So, Adebutu’s interest and mine must be equal before the party.
What is your view on the adoption of Adekunle Akinlade as the deputy governorship candidate of the PDP in Ogun?
When did he even come to our party? When did he join us? When did the PDP become a party where when they want to run for elections, they have to be looking for the leg of Peter and the hand of Paul? Is there no one in the PDP that would have energised that ticket?
Adebutu produced nine House of Reps candidates. He alone wants to produce the three senators. He alone wants to produce the governor. He alone even went as far as to look for an arrangement that you had created for the party in the state when you were doing business for APM (Allied Peoples Movement) and brought their candidate to be the deputy governorship candidate. Did you discuss it with us? Are you the only one that is in the party?
Are we not members of the party just like you? Did you do everything by yourself? Are you the only one that is supporting the party?
So, I think that when you are talking about consideration of settlement, it is fair enough to ask, if they want 100 per cent. Why should I give them even one per cent? I am sure that I will defeat them.
Do you think you can win the election?
If anybody can win, I am sure I can. I may not know what the outcome of the election will be when we have not really done it.
If the court judgment does not favour you, will you support the party’s candidate?
It would not go otherwise; it can never go otherwise. They didn’t file any defence at the lower court and they cannot add any new thing to it now.
But the court asked the lower court to rehear it.
I am trying to educate you. They (Adebutu and others) did not file any defence at the lower court. I do not want to go into details of their case. They simply went to court and left the issues unattended to, even by their own defence, assuming that I don’t know what their reason was. But I know that they went on only a jurisdiction issue, not that they were told to defend the case. They are trying to see how they can build something on nothing. The evidence is overwhelming.