Doherty ignoring court ruling, still parading self as Lagos PDP chair –Adegbola
A reinstated Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos State, Dr Dominic Adegbola, in this interview with TOBI AWORINDE, accuses his rival, Dr Adedeji Doherty, of wrongfully clinging to the chairmanship seat, in spite of a Lagos High Court ruling reportedly sacking him
You were recently reinstated as the chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, according to a court judgment. Were you ever concerned about the ruling going the other way?
I always knew that if justice was done, it could never have gone any other way and the judge stated this clearly. It was a declarative judgment. There was actually no vacancy. In the first instance, when the kangaroo (primary) election was being cooked up, we went to court and the court stopped it and granted an injunction that the election should not be held but they went ahead to hold the election. We filed for contempt and the National Chairman (of the PDP) and others were invited to the court to explain why they should not be jailed for disobeying the court order. The judge was lenient and let them go but the fact remains that they disobeyed the court order and that election was not supposed to be held in the first place.
We continued the argument as to the merits and demerits of the substantive case. Then after about 20 months, the court came to a judgment after it had considered all the factors that, truly, the election shouldn’t have been held because there was no vacancy. All the constitutional processes to elect a new chairman were not followed, apart from the fact that there was no reason to elect a chairman in the first place. Even if there was, they didn’t follow the process.
There were no ward elections to elect candidates who would participate at the congress. There was no congress to elect local government delegates who are necessary members of that congress. That is a congress of about 250 wards in Lagos State and five delegates each, including the chairmen and secretaries of those wards. We are talking about 1,500 delegates, apart from other state local government executives who should be at a state congress if it is duly conducted.
But there were about 40 people who held a congress that should involve almost 2,000 people. Forty people gathered in some hotel, said they had held a congress, and elected a chairman. The election should not have taken place at all and even at that, they went ahead to hold a kangaroo election.
Senator Kofo Bucknor-akerele, who is one of the members of the Board of Trustees of the PDP in lagos State, said she got a phone call the night before the socalled election and somebody was informing her that she was a delegate to the election. She asked, ‘What election? Where is the election taking place?’ The person said they didn’t know. It is unfortunate that such things are still happening in our party.
As a matter of fact, we need to look deeply into the conduct of leaders in this party. Some people should not be leaders; if they are taking such decisions and doing illegal things with such impunity and you want the party to progress, it can never progress in such circumstances. It’s not possible. So, it’s a good thing that the judge was fair and delivered justice. I am happy about that but I didn’t expect anything less from the judge.
The court gave a stern warning regarding compliance with the judgment. Have all parties complied?
Again, we are law-abiding. The judge has given her ruling and said nobody should impede the execution of this judgment and she would wield the big stick against anybody who does that. So far, I am still hearing Adedeji Doherty saying he is still the chairman. Even the National Secretary of our party wrote a letter to the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission. He said because they have appealed, the judgment, Doherty should still be recognised as the chairman of the party, simply because they have appealed, which sounds uninformed to me. Fortunately, the chairman of Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission is a retired chief judge, she is a legal person and knows what the law says. She just dismissed that letter and is still dealing with me as the chairman of the party. But for the National Secretary of our party to write that kind of letter disobeying the court orders, we are suing him for contempt of court. let him go there and defend himself. We are not the law, we didn’t make the law and the person who pronounced the judgment is there. I’m sure they will deal with him according to the law.
We don’t want to make trouble with anybody, we want our party to progress. But that kind of action by the National Secretary can only draw us back. It is capable of inflaming the tension of the crisis in the party because even those who know the right thing will feel that they have the backing of the National Secretary, so they will go along with him. We don’t want that. We have gone back to the court to ask the court to deal with the situation. We are still discussing; hopefully, the National Secretary will realise his mistake and withdraw the letter. If he doesn’t, the court will take its decision.
That doesn’t stop us from going on with our duties because we have elections on our hands and we want to make the best of it. We have a good chance of winning this time round because of the bad governance of the All Progressives Congress. But because of the confusion and crisis we have in the PDP, we may not do as well as we want to. Notwithstanding, we will do what we can to get the best out of whatever we have.
Chief Bode George is a prominent figure in the Lagos State PDP. What role has he played in conflict resolution?
Bode George is the leader of the party in lagos State and he has been doing his best to keep the party together to make the party grow. He sees everybody as his child or a member of his party and tries to hold everybody together. But there is no doubt that in a political setting like this, where people are competing and contesting for various positions, there will be conflicts. When he takes his position, some people will be happy and some will be unhappy, and that is to be expected. That is what is happening in lagos State. Some people become so bitter that they feel Bode George is a bad person. That is also to be expected. By and large, I think he is doing well. The party is still together, in spite of the crisis. The APC has worse crisis than we have but the fact that the APC has a crisis does not mean that we should have a crisis.
In fairness to Chief Bode George, he cannot be perfect; he’s a human being. But if you’re not pleased with what he does as a member of the party, you’re supposed to come out and say, ‘I’m not pleased with what oga has done. We have to do it differently.’ And then, we will all put our heads together, vote, or do whatever we have to do to ensure that the right thing is done. He is a leader but he is just a member of the party. He is just one person. If Chief Bode George does anything that is contrary to the rules of the party, he should be dealt with according to the law. But we must defer to him and give him the respect of a leader and he in turn will give us the respect accorded to members.