Tunde Omolehin, Sokoto
Emmanuel Funsho-Otu is a chieftain of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and immediate past chairman, Kabba/Bunu L Council of Kogi State. He is aspiring to go to the state House of Assembly in 2019. He speaks on the chances of the party and other issues of interest.
PDP lost in 2015. Can you recall some of the factors that worked against your party?
PDP lost especially in Kogi State in the last election due to many factors. But, the noticeable one was the faulty leadership of the party. The then governor and executive leaders of the party were over confident and as such believed they are in control of the party and the electorate. The most significant was the issue of dissolution of elected council chairmen. The governor then, Alhaji Idris Wada and some leaders were not comfortable with the council chairmen at that time, and instead of them to dialogue, they resulted to using judiciary to dissolve the elected chairmen which I was among. We went to court and eventually won the case. So the house was divided before the election.
Secondly, the issue of workers’ salaries was another factor. That really worked against the PDP-led government in the state. Although, that was when we were moving into economic recession, the implementation of new minimum wage had commenced and the available resources could not cater for
the salaries in the state. So, the civil servants were not happy with the then government. There were many other factors like religious sentiment, especially during presidential election. The way and manner the then governor handled the presidential election was glaring that he worked against former President, Goodluck Jonathan, which later backfired. Nobody expected that Jonathan will lose in Kogi State. Though our elections in Kogi was six month after the presidential election but because APC had already captured the central government, everybody want to belong to the centre. So these are the key factors why we lost in the state.
Has your party realised these mistakes?
Yes, I believe we have learnt a lot. One thing is, when you realise that you have a problem and you look for the solution, you are good to go. I think PDP had identified these problems and have tried to resolve them. I think from what is happening in Kogi state today, if PDP fields popular candidates in the next general election, and allow them to emerge through transparent primary, we will win. Kogi is a PDP state and I can assure that with free and fair election, we will win the state in landslide. Electorates have tasted the two parties and have known that the difference is very clear.
We are hoping that if we put more efforts, we will make it. One of our major problems in Kogi State is power shift. But what is happening in Kogi State now shows that God owns power. He takes it to the present region through His divine power. Unfortunately, the present governor has not performed to people’s expectation. As a young man, he could not prove himself. The people are not happy. If he had done well, it would have been difficult to get the power back. But with what is happening now, the governorship election is going to favour PDP. Although we have been yearning for power shift, I believe the party will also do the right thing.
You intend to seek election into the state House of Assembly in 2019. What qualifies you to seek the mandate?
I am relying on my previous achievements through the office I held as a council chairman. I never disappointed my people throughout those periods. The last position I held was the chairman of Kabba council. Although, it was during economic recession, my little achievements speak for it. The allocation was very poor but I made sure that whatever little I received, the first thing I do was to pay salary every month. There was no month that I did not pay salary. As soon as the allocation comes, I will call a meeting; discuss critical issues that include workers salary. Not only that, I also did some projects. I keep saying that Kabba has about 70,000 populations and the allocation that comes to the council is for everyone including those that are not government workers. So fractional part of the money is for workers and I must do some little projects. During the period, I gave some village electricity. I did some borehole projects. I think more than 20 boreholes across the council. I also worked on the security across the entire town that links Kabba town which is the headquarters. I started the construction of police station ‘B’ division and it is waiting for commissioning now. In Odolu area of the council, the community building that is waiting for commissioning, I built it. I also built many police posts, at least with the increase in number of police personnel in Kabba town. There is this market called Sango market which used to be so dirty during dry season. I ensured it was relocated. We relocated that market to at least about four kilometres outside Kabba town, a new and modernise one with modern abattoir. In fact, it is first of its kind in Kogi State, because health is wealth and I was not ready to compromise the health of my people.
At this junction, I want to thank the people and the government of Kogi State, the former site has been taking over by the government, they want to turn it to an international market. They are doing construction there now, as I am talking to you. It is now beautiful than even the central market in Kabba, so people are happy about it. Not only that there is one roundabout opposite former National bank, there used to be accident at the spot often. But I negotiated with the state government and constructed
a pedestrian bridge there. I have a mission to build a garden and children amusement park, unfortunately my administration was truncated with dissolution. I bought disposal van for waste disposing; I also bought about 300 buckets to be placed at special locations to enable the evacuation on specific days.