Mr Kennedy Peretei is the Publicity Secretary of the Ondo State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party and a member of the State Working Committee of the party in the state. In this interview with PETER DADA, speaks on the recent crisis in the state chapter of the party
Recently, the members of the SWC suspended the state chairman of the party, Mr Fatai Adams, what exactly was his offence that led to his suspension?
We don’t intend to make it public because he will appear before the disciplinary committee, suffice to say that, his activities in the party have given us reasons to worry, especially for a party that will face an election in a couple of days, because the bye-election in Akoko North-East/ North-West Federal Constituency is scheduled for February 3rd which is less than one month from now. So we needed to put our house in order and then we needed to do what we did to put our party in order and to make the party move forward.
That is why I asked what exactly was his offence.
He was working with our opponents, in the last election, the candidate of the PDP was more or less sponsored by the APC because in the process money exchanged hands. The chairman was part of the arrangement of the primary process, so we have to quickly nip it in the bud. In the National Assembly election, the House of Representatives position for Akoko North-East/North-West, our candidate for that election was said to be funded by our opponents. It is very complicated.
But do you have concrete evidence against him in this regard?
Yes, there is evidence to that effect. A committee was set up by the working committee, a 10-man committee was set up to ensure that we don’t have primary, and the chairman was part of that arrangement because he is from that federal consistency. The committee brought a report that they rated all the aspirants from one to seven and the working committee said, since they’ve rated them, we should pick the first person in the rating, I don’t think that should cause any crisis, but the chairman said no.
But the National Working Committee of the party disagreed with you on that matter when the National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, stated that your action was null and void.
I immediately replied to Ologunagba stating that our constitution gives the working committee the power to do what we did and I relied on section 57 (3) stating the functions of the executive committee and the working committee at any level of the party. The ward level does not have a working committee, outside of the ward level, every other level has a working committee, the working committee at these levels of the party may, after preliminary hearings suspend a member from the party not exceeding one month. What he (Ologunagba ) said are his personal opinions not the provision of our constitution. It is between us and the Constitution.
What is the duration of the suspension now?
The chairman remains suspended until the SEC (State Executive Committee) approves or disapproves, if the SEC says what we did was not right then we reverse and if the SEC endorses it, he remains suspended.
In a specific term, what are the functions of the SWC and the SEC?
The working committee at every level takes responsibility for the day-to-day activities of the party, they can make decisions and come to the SEC for approval or confirmation, that is the order, the National Working Committee can make a decision and the NEC can spend a week or more to endorse or disapprove the decision because they cannot wait for SEC to converge, so we have their mandate to act on their behalf, so whatever we do is subject to their approval or their disapproval. So that is why I said the chairman remains suspended until the outcome of the disciplinary committee reports on whether he is guilty as charged or he is discharged and acquainted.
Supposing he is guilty what will now be the penalty?
If he is guilty he could proceed from suspension to expulsion and they can also give him other punitive measures. That is based on the recommendations of the disciplinary committee.
But the SEC had met and ratified the action of the SWC, so where do you go from there?
Yes, the SEC of the party has validated the suspension of the state chairman. They have affirmed what the SWC did. This is by our constitution. As I told you earlier, the SWC is to see to the day-to-day running of the party, in other words, the SWC runs the party on behalf of the SEC, So whatever action the SWC takes overtime must be submitted to the SEC for approval, which is what we did at the SEC meeting. Again because the constitution has envisaged that the chairman may not attend the meeting, it provides for the deputy to step in immediately in acting capacity that is what has been done by the SWC.
As you talked about a bye-election in a couple of days, don’t you think this development may affect your party’s chances?
The chairman’s suspension does not affect anything in the party, he is the chairman of the working committee, the SEC is made up of about 49 persons so he is one man out of 49 persons, which doesn’t stop or affect anything.
We learnt that the PDP is puting its house in order, is this not a setback for you people?
In fact, this is part of the measure to sanitise the system. I can tell you, if you see the kind of jubilation among the PDP members across the state when they heard the pronouncement that the chairman has been suspended, you will agree with me that we are putting the house in order and if you ask the people they will tell you what has happened will brighten the chance of the PDP in Ondo State.
But we learnt that you people were working together before, at what point did he derail?
This is politics and anybody can derail at any time.
So what is the way forward now?
Part of the way forward is what we have done. The party is moving forward, the SEC met to approve the action of the SWC and later the disciplinary committee will come up with a recommendation, and then go for election.
So how is the preparation of the party ahead of the forthcoming bye-election, considering the recent happening?
We are very much preparing, like I said, it doesn’t affect anything, he is the chairman of the SWC, and he is one out of 10 people. I told you the SEC is made up of 49 people, so he is one man out of 49 persons, and how does that affect the preparation of the party?
What are the elders of the party doing on this matter?
The chairman of the elders forum and many other well-wishers are already intervening.
Ologunagba is an indigene of the state and also leader of the party at the national level, how has he been contributing to the state chapter of the PDP since he became a national officer?
He is in the best position to answer that one
What has been his impact on the party at the state level?
We are embarrassed by his statement, if he didn’t know what was going on here he should have asked us and we will brief him but he didn’t do that. Although we are not having issues with him, we are just trying to sort out our matter. But to say we don’t have the right, no, we have the right, we are backed by the constitution of the party.