By Chukwudi Nweje

Abdul-Azeez Adediran, popularly known as Jandor was the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State in the 2023 elections. In this interview, he speaks on the crisis rocking the party in the state and why President Bola Tinubu should address the economic challenges Nigerians are facing, among other issues.

Do you think that it is realistic for a former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Olabode George, to stop being a member of the party because he didn’t work for you during the election?

First, let me say that I did not expel anybody because I do not have the power to do so. But I would rather say that they expelled themselves when they declared for another party during the 2023 electioneering process and this is not just a mere allegation. They were on national television, declaring for another party for the presidential and governorship elections.

If you have a supposed leader of a political party who has gone on national television to say don’t vote for my party or don’t vote for the candidate of my party irrespective of whatever it is, it shows that the leader has gone to the other party. If the party they supported had won, would they have been part of the government today? That is what we are speaking to.

I don’t have the power to expel them and I never said I expelled them but they expelled themselves. And we are saying that because you have declared for another party, which you did openly, then you don’t have any say anymore or if you want to rejoin PDP, we do it in politics; you can go back to your ward and rejoin through your ward. But on your own, you came on national television, hosted another candidate in your house, declared support for him and asked every other person to support that candidate, who is not a candidate of the party where you are supposedly the leader.

It shows you took that decision, we didn’t take it for you. So, for me, what I said is that it was time we look for like minds within the PDP and see how we can press a reset button. You said something about Chief Olabode George being a founding father of the party and being in the party long before I joined politics. I agree with you, but just put yourself in the position of a chairman of a company, who appointed a managing director and for over 20 years the managing director has not been able to bring a single profit.

I joined PDP just last year. Where I voted; the PDP has never won that polling unit before. It was when I joined PDP that the party won in my polling booth for the first time in the presidential and governorship elections. Chief Olabode George hasn’t won his polling unit in the past 20 years. I voted where my aunt who was a former deputy governor also voted and in the same village, where someone who is the chairman of the local government also voted, and we won for the very first time in that polling unit. It speaks to something.

What will happen if the party at the national level say let’s have a new face to take the leadership of the party; it might not necessarily be me. When I joined the party, I was just a member but by virtue of my position in flying the flag of the party, of course, I’m also a leader in that party. I also saw a rider in that report saying Forum asked the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to probe Jandor. The NWC cannot even do that because they did not even give me any money for the election.

You said President Bola Tinubu should press a reset button. Can you elaborate on that statement and your assessment of the President’s administration in the last nine months?

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What I’m saying is that if you are elected a governor or a president of a country, nobody expects you to know everything. That is why you have the power to identify what resources to deploy where and this is why I said with what has happened in the last nine months, I think the President needs to seek help. The President needs to press a reset button. What do I mean by that? You will see that in the process of controlling the foreign exchange, I have never seen where the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) issues policies every day and in the end, nothing happens.

We have had a situation whereby they said all the 43 items on the restriction list should be lifted; Business Travel Allowance (BTA) would not be accessed again. We have seen policy about cryptocurrency; we have gone on the streets to run after Bureau De Change operators, still we don’t have results. It shows that something is wrong, perhaps, with the person driving that aspect of our economy.

What should the president do?

So, it is about time Mr. President looks outward for help. I will use an example of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, when he came in as president in 1999. He went out to bring the likes of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nasir el-Rufai and Oby Ezekwesili. These people worked with him; we got it right with our foreign affairs, our economy and we had debt relief here and there.

Of course, Mr. President has tried for his kinsmen. They have been together for over 20 years and he has put them in positions of authority, but it is not working. Maybe, he needs to step out of that nuclear family and look for who can help the government. For me, I’m not playing politics and I don’t think we should be playing politics because if he crashes, he will crash on all of us. At this time we are speaking governance.

What is going on in this country is affecting all of us not just a few people and this is the time we need to see how we can proffer solutions or advice. The President is living his dream and Nigerians also want to live their dream of having a good government and enjoying good governance. I also spoke on the high cost of living and how they are approaching it. I think they are going about it in the wrong way.

When we talk about the high cost of living, we know why we have that because when he took power in May 2023, before then, we had our petrol being sold at N256, today it is over N660 going to N700 and the national minimum wage has remained the same since that time. This is why the people cannot afford what is out there.

It is not that there is shortage of food; there is no shortage of food because there is foodstuff in the market but they are too expensive for people to buy because the purchasing power of the people has been reduced with the reality we are facing.

So, I think Mr. President needs to press a reset button and that reset button is to say let’s start again. There is nothing wrong in failing but you have to fail forward.