The outgoing National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, speaks on some challenges the party is contending with, in this interview with BEN OGBEMUDIA
The current NWC will leave, what have been the challenges?
My tenure was a challenging experience that came with a lot of responsibilities. Although every support I required to represent PDP and the people of Nigeria was given to me.
My approach was that of constructive engagement as I treated everyone equally and dealt with the issues on their merit. When I came into office on December 9, 2017, the party was not prepared for an opposition role but between the 2017 to 2019 elections, we were able to hold a presidential primary via a national convention that prepared us for the new role.
The PDP was considered as a dead party by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the leadership was so much weak, our leaders were harassed, intimidated to a point people couldn’t identify or associate themselves as members of the party.
In our history, it was difficult to criticise President Muhammadu Buhari because of the party he was identified with, the ruling APC, and the generality of the masses who saw him as the man who has come to rescue the nation.
Tell us about the last PDP convention and why your party claimed it won the presidential election in 2019?
When PDP conducted its national convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigerians commended the party and saw that we are ready to come back.
The convention was a means for us to come back to life and the party ensured there was a transparent process leading to the election. We won the election in 2019 because the people discovered that the APC had no plan.
Nigerians knew the APC was taking the country on a journey of nowhere and that was why they largely voted for the PDP to bring it back to power.
It’s been a tough time but with the support of the members of the party, my professional colleagues, we have been able to revive the party for Nigerians to see we have plans, focus and this has driven the interest of Nigerians in our party.
What is your view was responsible for the recent crisis in the NWC?
There was a political contestation that I witnessed that disintegrated because of the forthcoming 2023 elections. People should understand that the PDP is a large political party that will make it difficult for any individual who wants to push the party in a direction. Rather, what should happen at a party is the collegiate system.
The Peoples Democratic Party is the most structured political party that has the functionality, it has a constitution that can regulate the activities of the members.
What about the alleged missing party funds?
My respectable leader was talking about every administration that succeeded him will be looked into, so, on account of that, I leave it at that since the incoming chairman has declared openly that the books of the outgoing administration will be examined. I would suggest we wait for the outcome.
The outgoing Auditor also raised alarm on misappropriation of funds?
The outgoing auditor made a declaration that certain things were wrong in the auditing process and still denied the allegation openly before the media. Under the Secondus administration, there was no money raised or spent without budgeting and final approval of the party. Every organ of the party came out to publicly declare that they were not aware of such development.
How will you rate the NWC in the last four years?
For the last four years, I had the privilege of being the Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party and never responded to such issues on conjecture because the party believes in a practical approach to problem-solving. This has helped to put the party together.
Has your party taken a decision on where the presidential ticket will go?
As of December 3, 2021, there was no meeting or decision either formal or informal where the party had a discussion on presidential candidates or where the ticket would go.
What is your comment on the Edo State PDP crisis?
You must understand that politics is a process and we had a Congress in Edo State before the governorship election and because we are determined as a party, the generality of the leaders of the party advised the state working committee to allow Obaseki to join the party.
We have a Congress and there will be no need to dissolve the executives based on the general opinion of the members of the congress. We also had a congress in Ekiti State and elected people who are overseeing the affairs of Ekiti people.
What lessons did you learn as National Publicity Secretary of the PDP?
Part of the lessons I have taken from the PDP is the belief by politicians that they will make it at all cost to win an election even when it is clear they can’t and when they can’t win and don’t have the support, they then devise a strategy to remain relevant. The constitution has a solution to every problem and it is only right that we resort to the constitution to practice constitutionalism and solve our issues.
What challenges did you face?
Every day was a challenge because the Peoples Democratic Party runs like a day. It is very difficult to spot the heaviest challenge that the party faced. It faced different challenges and was able to overcome them.
What message do you have for the coming executives?
If the incoming executives follow the constitution, they will have a better system but if they try to subvert it, they will have a crisis again. The constitution is written by the party to guide its own activities.