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Mr. Afolabi Yunus was Commissioner for Works in Kwara State between 2003 and 2007. In this interview with Akinbami Faloye, he dismissed the place of the new PDP in Kwara politics. Excerpts:
Having served as principal secretary to Alhaji Kawu Baraje, as acting PDP chairman, how do you see the current agitation by the new PDP?
I’m not one of the people supporting Baraje and Bukola Saraki in this their venture to divide PDP with their self-styled new PDP which has no place in Kwara State politics and Nigeria in general. As a result of that, I am not with him at all. We are not even happy that he can go to that length because we believed very well that having been given the opportunity to serve as National Secretary by Baba Saraki (may his gentle soul rest in peace), he had the opportunity of becoming the Acting National Chairman, he should remain loyal to the PDP and President Goodluck Jonathan.
But with all these, Kawu Baraje still went ahead to sabotage the government, considering that he was also given the position of the Chairmanship of the Board of Nigerian Railway Corporation. I believe it is in Baraje’s character to betray the hands that feed him. Available records show that Bukola Saraki was even against Baraje taking that position. But he went ahead and took that appointment and at the same time, he is now working against the same government that gave him that opportunity to serve.
Is there no element of truth in what they are fighting for?
There is no truth in what he is fighting for. He is only being selfish and arrogant. In fact, I want to say he is just being parochial. He is narrow-minded and that is why they are now just pursuing their own self-styled PDP. It is surprising to many people to hear Kawu Baraje calling himself the chairman of the new PDP. What sort of new PDP? The original PDP is the only future for Nigeria.
We don’t recognise any new PDP or the self-styled version of PDP that they want to bring into place. There is no place for new PDP in Kwara and I know that it has no place in Nigeria. So, for that reason, any reasonable person will not join them because we know they are just buying time. I want to even say that I know they have made up their mind about where they are going. Maybe they have another party in mind and they are just buying time with what they are doing. That is just my observation.
But the new PDP is in control of the government and the structure in Kwara?
The original PDP is still on the ground in Kwara State and PDP in Kwara State has no problem with anybody. People are still interested in PDP. The original PDP is on the ground in Kwara State and people are prepared to go with PDP. Those that call themselves the new PDP in Kwara State, we don’t know how they will define it. We don’t know what they will tell us, whether they are a faction of PDP and that they want to have a say in the PDP. No.
Are you saying that all loyalists of Dr. Saraki are back in PDP?
All loyalists of Baba Saraki are in PDP. As I’m talking to you, I’m a card carrying member of PDP and I have my membership card with me. So we are still card carrying members of PDP.
How do you see the fate of PDP in Kwara now with the Governor and his predecessor as champions of the new PDP?
We have PDP that has been there long before some of us joined and the party is still there intact. But I want to tell you that when you consider the list of PDP executives in Kwara State today, Bukola literally picked up the state chairman, the state woman leader, the state youth leader- all from one Ward. Why is this? Not even only that.
From Kwara Central, you’ll discover that majority of these executive posts were just picked from Kwara Central. He gave only the position of secretary to Kwara South. I am from Kwara North and we are being marginalised even more than that of the South because he gave Kwara South the state secretary and he ended up picking all other ones from Kwara Central.
Are you saying that when election comes, PDP members will not go with Bukola Saraki?
Right now, Bukola has come up with the idea of new PDP faction in Kwara State. But majority of the old PDP and many of us that later joined the PDP, we are not in support of the self-styled PDP that Bukola is bringing. We are prepared to go with the original PDP in Kwara State and that’s what is giving us hope now that when election comes, we believe strongly that it is we in the original PDP that is going to defeat the self-styled factional structure that he has introduced.
What if Bukola and Baraje changed their minds?
Supposing they can change their mind and realign, it would have been better. But I want to tell you that there is no going back in the agenda of these people. There is great awareness now on the side of the people and that is why they will be ashamed to come back because it is not in them. I want to say that they are prepared to go to another party which they are yet to announce and even they must have been discussing it with some of their followers.
They are just buying time by telling people that they are still in PDP. They are really not in PDP. Take it from me that all these G-7 Governors that are leading a rebellion right now are already in another party. They are just wasting time by telling people they are still in PDP.