Former House of Representatives member from Lagos State, Hon. Moshood Salvador, is at present vying for the chairmanship of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state. Salvador is said to enjoy the backing of top PDP heavyweights in the state like former Deputy National Chairman Chief Olabode George. In this interview with OKUNADE ADEKUNLE, the chairmanship aspirant speaks about the crisis in Lagos PDP, his chances in the race and how he will unite the party stalwarts and rebrand PDP towards 2019 if elected.
It seems the crisis in Lagos PDP is not yet over, what really is happening to Lagos PDP?
What is happening to Lagos PDP is what can happen to any political party in the country especially when a party loses an election. What you described as being serious to me is not a serious matter. When you see a party where stakeholders and the General Assembly are numerous in their large numbers saying the same thing and after leaving the place some group of people now sat down and say they did not agree with what the General Assembly said. Why can’t they come out and say they didn’t agree with them when they were having the meeting or were they sent away. That is to tell you that some members of the party that were sent by political opponents were at play. They are the one at play, please I don’t agree with anyone saying some persons are against our General Assembly’s position.
Are you saying it was all your members that agreed with the General Assembly’s position and that some of them are working for the opponents? Who are these opponents?
You were the one that said some of them have a counter opinion on the General Assembly’s position. Did the party leaders say anything to the detriment of the party? No. Did they say anything that is abusive of any other members? Outright No. What all of them at the General Assembly said was how they want the party to progress and get out of the weakness of the result of failure, restructure and repackage the party. That was all they were busy saying. Some people benefit and dwell in crisis. If there is no crisis they don’t enjoy it, they don’t believe it is a political party. In any political party, there must be a leader. If you don’t give respect to the leader, things won’t work well. We have a party where 90 percent of members give respect to the leader, so the few members who are grumbling have their own mission and determination to create crisis. Everybody that wants the progress of the party should even think well that we should all work together to restructure the party. Nobody is bigger than the party; if you are too big for the party, then leave the party.
Who are you referring to as the Leader of Lagos PDP?
Chief Olabode George, while Captain Olatunji Shelle (rtd.) is the Lagos State Chairman of the party.
The party is about to conduct its Congress, we learnt you are vying for the chairmanship?
From now, you can see that there are so many things that are happening and part of it is what is causing different grievances. I believe the party needs to be restructured and managed properly. When we talk of proper management of a political party, we are talking about managing everything that has to do with the progress of the party. I will try as much as possible to put my managerial experience and skills into the running of the party to have effective results.
How do you think your managerial experience and skills will help you in running the party with the kind of people that are in your party?
Have you forgotten that I was once a member of the House of Representatives and a candidate of PDP for Senate? Have you forgotten my political career in Nigeria not only in Lagos State? Have you forgotten that I was a delegate to the 2014 National Conference, have you forgotten that I was the candidate of the defunct NRC for House of Representatives in Mushin? Have you forgotten that I contested under the platform of Alliance for Democracy (AD) and also contested under PDP for Senate? Have you forgotten that I contested under zero party when you are now talking of political management of politicians or political management? We have to mix both public and private experiences together to move the party forward.
What effort have you put in place to clinch the chairmanship position?
Let me tell you that I am the financier of the party in Lagos. What the party is today I contributed immensely to it. Go and confirm from all our leaders. I am a neutral person; that is why my acceptability is very high, they know that I have my own frame of mind to accommodate people, deal with people and relate with people. Times without numbers those that are aggrieved with the party will come to my place and I will appeal to them, so don’t think they are against me. They are not even sure I am the one that will take over from Shelle. If they are sure that it is Salvador that they will make the chairman of the party, I will assure you that they will go and sleep.
What machinery do you have in place to capture the state from APC in 2019 if eventually you become PDP Chairman?
How can you say I should tell you the machinery I have in place? You want me to pure out my strategies, No. I cannot tell you now because my opponent would steal it. Let the party put up the structure first and I see the kind of people I want to work with and see the quality they are made of.
It seems Lagos PDP is losing grip of the grassroots, how do you react?
PDP still have the control of the grassroots. We have total control of the people that vote. It is the ruling APC that have lost the grip because they have disappointed the nation. Where is the N5, 000 promised the jobless? Where is the food for school children? Where is electricity, water, security? We never heard it in the history of Lagos that school girls were kidnapped. It is not right to say PDP is losing touch with the grassroots but it is the APC that is losing touch.
At the national level, some of your party members still don’t believe in the leadership of Ali Modu Sheriff, how do you see this?
I don’t want to be talking about what would move PDP back. I want to be discussing about what would move the party forward. Ali Modu Sheriff has emerged, whether they like it or not he is the National Chairman. If you are a lover of your party you will accept him. The party leadership has come out with its time-table for the convention, so Ali Modu Sheriff cannot rule beyond that date, except he wants to contest, so why should anybody in the party have it mind that he/she has to rock the boat of the party for good three months. It is absolute nonsense. PDP belongs to all of us not to one person, if the majority in the party give the direction of the party, as a right thinking person you have to follow the direction.
PDP has two states under its control in the South-west, Recently, the Department of State Service raided Ekiti House of Assembly and went away with five members, is the PDP not threatened in South-west?
There is an element of militarization in this current administration. If anybody stands up and say he or she is now at the federal level and he wants to destroy a state because the state does n’t belong to his party, then the person is not a democrat. There is no country without an opposition; if you cannot stand opposition then you are not a democrat. It is even shameful at this stage of the country. What they did is no threat to PDP because the act is bringing down the image of APC. It is disconnecting them from the grassroots but the masses will not talk because they don’t have power until Election Day. That is the day power comes to them. Ekiti State, which they are toying with doesn’t forget things easily like that. Even if they like they can pack all of them including the Governor.
Are you having the feeling that the current government has failed, do you believe so?
The current government has failed in their campaign promises. I was privileged to be interviewed on NTA on the occasion of the 100 days in office of this government where I told them that the electoral promises by the APC could not be fulfilled. You don’t need to ask me if I agree with what the masses are saying about the government. The four years is more or less three years because the first year will be the year you start your project. The first 100 days is the time you roll out your policies, first year is the year you execute the policies you have put in place in the past six months. After one year, you compare the successes of the policies to know which one does not yield results and how to make corrections. It is so bad that some of the achievements of the past administration, this present administration doesn’t even want to acknowledge it. In the next two years, the government should be able to consolidate on the effect of its policies.
Which area of the economy do you think the current administration should focus on?
For a fact, the government started badly by removing and pulling down some policies from CBN on the petroleum sector. Once you do that you are exposing the economy to terrible hardship. Importing such items like fuel and once it becomes scare the price goes up and once the price goes up, your naira gets devalued. Although, I am not in for economy discussion now, but the federal government should focus more on building the entire economic system, ranging from creation of enabling business environment, infrastructural development, security and job creation to diversification of the economy through the development of the agricultural sector.