BY DAPO AKINREFON
Mr Saka Lawal, the Deputy Governorship candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Ondo State, in this interview, he explains why he left the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN for the PDP and the party’s chances in the October 20 elections. Excerpts:
What is your assessment of the political landscape in Ondo state?
The temperature of the people is very high. There is apprehension and frustration. The expectations of people from government have not been met. There is unemployment and poverty, the magnitude of which has not been seen before.
Lawal: PDP is the face of hope in Ondo
A government with such a loud voice in the media but without anything to show for three and a half years. No single road can be pointed at as a completed project. Only one three ward maternity hospital in three years. And yet over N600b has accrued to the state since February 2009. It’s a terrible experience for the people.
But how do you view INEC’s readiness for this election?
First, we believe INEC must do all within its power to make this election free and fair and so far we have no reason to complain.
If INEC can deliver on all measures it has promised so far, then I will say we are ready for credible elections. Secondly, the electorate must also do all within their powers to make their votes count by voting according to their conscience.
The security agencies must be alive to their responsibilities and must show impartiality and forthrightness.
Now I know this last count has always been the albatross of Nigerian elections. I also know that this is the absolute hope of our opponent!
believe in the President Jonathan’s deliberate efforts to make elections count in this country. Even if that is all he achieved in his tenure, Nigeria will never forget him. Ondo state is known to be very volatile and this is on account of the political sophistication of the people.
The President must take particular interest in the elections as it counts either way for him in the international community.
You know the greatest coup against bad governance is on the thumb of the people while the greatest coup against the people by the army or police is compromising the electoral process. We pray that will never happen.
But how is your party coping with the perception problem generally attached to PDP?
The PDP has no perception problem in Ondo state. In fact it has perception advantage! See, you don’t go the market to announce to the people about a falling rain.
Everyone in the market sees the rain, they know the intensity and they know its capability. One who is a hero is the one who is providing shade and succour to the people.
The point is PDP and Chief Olusola Oke is the face of the opposition and hope in Ondo state, and there no one who can prove it better than me. I was in Labour Party from the beginning and I served for 22 months in that government and now I am deputy governorship candidate of the PDP.
Let me tell you, the PDP is reaping the fruits of its diligence to the people in the past. So far, we have received not less than 1 million people into the party.
I mean I have toured all the 18 local governments and all the 203 wards of the state with my boss and leader, Chief Olusola Oke, candidate of our party. We were never selling the party.
Honestly, we were just keying into people’s frustration and desperation to get out of servitude.
But Governor Mimiko described the PDP as a finished party and your ticket with Chief Oke as clueless and hopeless…
The bible describes the devil as the father of perdition. The current tenants of the Government House know that the game is over. You see, let me tell you their game.
They seize the public by the juggler by suggesting some nationalistic sentiment whereas it is a strategy of deceiving and enslaving the people.
They tell the people they are fighting for their rights but in the end they rape the people and enslave them. The People are no fools, the people know which party gave them 1,200km of roads. They know who gave them 400 blocks of six classrooms,. The teachers know who gave them the best training facilities and promotion without tears.
They know who gave them Olokola free trade zone capable of employing over two hundred thousand children of this state, the Ondo state University of technology. The know Ikale, Ilaje and Ijaw people know who gave them the Alape bridge, the Aboto bridge, the igbokoda – Ayetoro seaside road which was the first time man would ever drive a vehicle to those sides. They know who gave their children bursaries without tears.
They know who established the popular Sunshine honey factory, the Sericulture project, the Cassava Processing industry capable of processing over 400 tonnes of cassava daily.
Even the governor knows this and he is pulling up a strong face. The game is up, the plane has overshot the tarmac, the end has come for grandstanding, ineptitude and window-dressing.
What are the Promises of your party to the people of Ondo state?
Integrity. We will never lie to them. Two, we will continue all the life changing projects of our party’s last administration.
Truth is there is no good way of doing a bad thing so we will show a great deal of modesty and fairness. The major problem we have in that state is unemployment. And the best to tackle this is to industrialise and encourage commerce.
We will deliberately embark on encouragement of small scale industries through aggressive skill acquisition programmes for our people. We will develop the Olokola free trade zone and take the enormous opportunity it provides. Our state has the longest creek and a potential for a deep seaport which when completed will make Lagos ports a child’s play. Now think of the manpower that the Lagos port sucks in daily and the revenue accruing each day.
We will continue without looking back on our educational policy that develops the physical environment of the schools as well as effective training and motivation for the teachers. We will never seek cheap popularity by concentrating on and painting only the major roads in the state capital, Chief Olusola Oke will do nothing less than 3,000km of road within our tenure.
We will deal in functional health and not television maternal care show. We will make hospitals and maternal health centres available at each ward and local government respectively. Agagu started it by establishing basic health centres in all the 203 wards in the state. We are not going to grandstand or play to the gallery. We are serious minded people who intend to take Ondo state seriously.
With the obvious bickering and disenchantment among PDP members, can you post a good standing in this election?
There is absolutely no bickering within the PDP system that i know.
The ingredients for this are just not there. Yes there have been fifth columnists, who like Judas Iscariot, have made themselves available for the panicky incumbent to destabilise the party. Because of their perpetually precarious economic situation they have decided to take the perilous job of going into the lair to count the teeth of a hungry Lion. Yes, some of these elements want to stay within the party and work against it.
But with a man like Chief Olusola Oke who radiates confidence, love and promise for our party system, I think bickering is past tense. Let me tell you in plain terms what I see every day in this party. I see the urge to serve, eyes on change and muscles already working an Ondo state that works.
Everywhere in the world, democracy works when there are options and options have always been the harbinger of the best decisions. Our party have an internal system that fosters unity. Those who seek to harvest discord and bickering in PDP are already biting their fingers. I am telling you.
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