Chief Francis Fadahunsi, a retired Assistant Comptroller General of Customs, speaks with TUNDE OYEKOLA on the crisis that recently rocked the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), the chances of the party in the Osun governorship election in August, how to end corruption, and other issues. Excerpts:
How would you rate the PDP in Osun State now, especially with the governorship election coming soon? Has the crisis in the state chapter of the party been resolved?
The PDP in Osun State has been stable. There is no crisis in the party. What brought about what you referred to as crisis was caused by the inordinate ambition of some members. Some of them who have been in the party since 1998 are nursing ambition of holding elective offices and when they felt that this cannot be realised in the PDP, some interest groups decided to move to other political parties, some moved to the All Progressives Congress (APC) while others joined Labour party. It is a good thing for people to nurse ambition, but they should have exercise patience because PDP is a large party that can accommodate large number of opinions. They should have waited and fought within the party, but they succeeded in bastardising the party. Now, the party is waxing stronger. PDP is the most stable party in Osun; it has stable structure.
The governorship election will hold in Osun in August this year and there is the speculation that the choice of flag bearer in the PDP will worsen the crisis in the party. What is your opinion on this?
As I told you, there is no crisis in the party and there is no governorship candidate yet. What we have at the moment are governorship aspirants.
What the aspirants have done, as of now,is declaration of interest. They all have to subject themselves to screening and go for the primary election, which will hold in early April. Though, it will better if all the three aspirants can meet and agree on consensus candidate. But in case they cannot agree, they will go for the primary election which will be decided by the delegates. I will advise all the aspirants to come together and work in unity immediately the primary election is over.If they team up, they will succeed flushing out the APC government from the state.
There is the belief that the incumbent governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, has worked so hard that he will win his second term easily. Don’t you think that the PDP willbe wasting its time by fielding a candidate against contesting him?
You are saying that Aregbesola has won the heart of the people. That is a wrong assertion. I’m not saying that he has not worked but at what cost? Let him tell the people how much debt he inherited from the Olagunsoye Oyinlola administration and the debt profile of the state as of today.
Aregbesola has borrowed so much money and has put the state into debt. He inherited a debt of N18 billion from Oyinlola but he has borrowed over N200Billion. Let him (Aregbesola) come out with the debt profile of the state. Let him tell the people of Osun what he has done with the money. Besides, let him tell us his achievements in education, how many schools has he rehabilitated and how many has he shut down? On health, how many hospitals has he built and equipped? On roads, how many roads has he constructed and how many has he tarred and which major towns have benefitted from the road projects? In agriculture, let him tell us how many cocoa plantations he has established. How many workers has he employed and does he pay the salaries of workers as and when due? These are the questions Aregbesola must answer.
The situation of things in Osunnow does not give the APC an edge over the PDP. If Aregbesola has borrowed the money, what has he spent it on? Even the schools he has built do not conform with our education system. Don’t let us deceive ourselves, the people in my village and other rural areas have not benefitted from what he claimed he has done. So, don’t let us deceive ourselves, he is yet to satisfy the aspirations of ordinary men and women in Osun.
The PDP at the national level has still not resolved its crisis even as 2015 elections draw nearer. Don’t you think the crisis will affect its fortune next year?
Don’t forget that the PDP is a national party and it is the largest party in black Africa. It is not possible for a party as big as PDP not to experience crisis. The recent crisis was caused by individual ambition which supersedes the interest of the party. Some governors, who are about to complete their second term,want to get automatic tickets to the Senate. As the president is powerful at the national level, the governors are also powerful at the state level because they dictate what happens in their respective states.
Although, the APC had succeeded in perforating the umbrella, it will soon suffer its own crisis because those who defected from the umbrella because of inordinate ambition are now in the vehicle of APC. So, we should adopt the wait and see attitude because the house of APC will soon be on fire, especially in Kwara, Adamawa and Sokoto states.
As to whether the decamping of some members will affect the chances of PDP in the 2015 election, I don’t think such a thing will happen because there is the principle of balancing. As they have gained from us, we have also profited from the crisis in their party.
There is this contention that the North wants the presidency in 2015. But President Goodluck Jonathan wants to seek a second term ticket in the PDP. Conflicting interest in PDP
My advice is that the Northern leaders should wait and allow Jonathan to spend another four years, after which it will come to their turn. Any attempt to bring the Presidency to the North now may be dangerous for our democracy.
President Jonathan has just appointed two ministers from the South-West as well as the appointment of Chief of Staff from South-West zone. Do you think these appointments can enhance the fortune of the party in the zone?
The appointment of MusiliuObanikoro from Lagos and JeliliAdesiyan from Osun is a good development. Obanikoro is a well-bred politician and Adesiyanhas been a grassroots politician. So, let us see what the duo will do. The new Chief of Staff, Arowogbofa is from Ondo state. I want to thank the President for all the appointments and I hope the people of the South-West will use the opportunity to the advantage of our people and the party. To me, the appointments are good for the party in the South-West.
You contested the Osun East senatorial primary election in the PDP in 2011. Are you still in the race?
It is God who put people in position. I still have interest in the senatorial election in my constituency but that will be next year. As of now, all our attention is focused on the August 2014 governorship election which we are going to win.
There was the allegation that the Nigeria customs service could not achieve much because of corruption, do you agree with this?
Corruption in customs? I will not agree that there is corruption in the Nigeria Customs Service and I don’t think such allegation exists. If it does, those who made the frivolous allegation are enemies of Nigeria. Customs service has been making money for the country and we have not heard that some billions of naira have disappeared. The government should beam its searchlight on some key agencies such as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Pension Board, the Economic and Finacial Crime Commission (EFCC), ministries and other government agencies. For example, what happens in the petroleum subsidy? Where is the money recovered by EFCC from ex-rulers? The EFCC has been policing some people but who checks the EFCC? There is no organ designated by the government to monitor the EFCC. Though the National Assembly has been trying by probing some government parastatals, through its committees, the problem with the National Assembly is the dearth of professionals.