Otunba Femi Carrena, is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State and a chairmananship of the party in the state. In this interview with INIOBONG IWOK, Carena speaks about his chairmanship ambition, the state of the party in the state and the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Why are you in the chairmanship race of the PDP in Lagos State?
I decided to contest as the chairman of Lagos PDP because I realised that in Lagos which is my immediate constituency things are not moving well. So I cannot be operating at the national level when my house is on fire.
My leaders in the state, Bode George and Mrs Aduke Maina have factions and I don’t have faction, so I use my position as the head of the publicity of the caretaker committee in the state to unite the two leaders.
But moving forward I realise that there is no cordial relationship between the supporters of the two leaders; people have come to me and said, unite the people and rescue the party.
Some major stakeholders feel this is something I can do and 2019 is here, we want to reposition the party in Lagos State and put it in strong position.
If you say the APC is not delivering and have failed the people you must give them a strong alternative, otherwise a man who is down will be ready to go down because he is down already.
But the PDP must be ready to be well positioned to take over power and give the people a choice. I have attempted serving the people as a governor in 2007, I contested in that election alongside Babatunde Fashola,
but it did not work and I think about it, if politicking is all about serving the people I may as well go and serve as the chairman of my party, because I am passionate about my people in Lagos State.
But PDP in Lagos has always been factionalised, what is the assurance that the crisis would not relapse?
Let me correct an impression at the beginning of this interview, I said the party was factionalised between two leaders, Bode George, who Salvador was representing and in his camp and Mrs Aduke Maina’s camp whose Segun Adewale was;
but I said the two leaders have come together and are now united as one. When I am elected as the chairman of the party in the Lagos State, there would be no parallel executive and faction,
there would not be any one saying I don’t agree with the result, there would be peace I can assure you, there would be harmony. I can assure you that Lagosian would benefit from my chairmanship because am passionate is about my state.
How confident are you considering there are several other aspirants?
There could be more than ten aspirants in the race, but I am confident I am going to win. You have to have confidence and believe in yourself and in what you are going to do.
There is no aspirant that can downplay me, when I had contested for the position of governor eleven years ago, why would I be scared of the position of a chairman? Experience is on my side and everybody knows what I can do, the party faithful know this.
What would be your priority if elected?
My immediate focus if elected would be on true reconciliation, that is what we need even in Nigeria and within the party.
I would tour the state and meet with leaders even at the ward level and re-assure them that the period of crisis is over, the dark period is over, that we are back , I would try and unite everyone.
We have a big job to do in the PDP because if APC have been in power in Lagos State and they are not delivering, Nigerians always think of what they can eat, now our people are suffering and we have to be well positioned as a party to gain power and change things.
I can assure you that as the chairman of the party in Lagos State the people would feel my impact.
But PDP performed badly in the last LG polls?
One of the things the National Assembly is trying to do is give INEC the power to conduct local government elections so that all these malpractices will end.
What do you expect when the state conducts election, they would win everything, they say ‘he who pays the piper dictates the tune’.
If a transparent election is conducted in the state our party would win, and we won several positions in the last general election. The local government election is not an election that you can use to judge the performance of the PDP.
But a lot of these people who won positions under the PDP have decamped to the APC?
It is not a minus to the party; it is a disloyalty by the people that decamped.
Disloyalty because Nigerians voted for them on a platform and for a reason, I don’t know what they have given to them, but it is a slap on their constituencies, a slap on those who voted them into office.
A lot of people think there should be a consensus arrangement among the chairmanship aspirants from the South West, at the level of National chairmanship, to avoid problems after elections at in the congress, what do you think?
I agree consensus would reduce cost and stress and it gives you formidable power to face the opposition.
I must agree that the South West is the most endowed region, why are the chairmanship aspirants not stepping down after all the effort?
It takes a lot to step down, and it is not common here, but I think it is a cultural thing. If they step down it may affect their family and friends, I think it is more of a cultural thing.
Personally, I believe all of them are qualified, I am not speaking for them, but when you look at a person like Bode George, Professor Adeniran, they have seen it all, I think it is more cultural.
How true is the rumour that the chairmanship slot was zoned to the South and not solely South West?
It is not a party, you must understand that PDP leads others follow, the kind of campaign we are seeing for this chairmanship position have not been seen before.
The chairmanship was zoned to the South, the leaders of the party are expected to sit down and harmonise, which region in the South it would go.
The South East have been there, the South South have been there as acting Chairman, it is only the South West that have not held that office of chairman, though Bode George only was there as deputy so they believe they should be given a chance.
Nigerians wanted change and they got what they bargained for.
How do you assess the Buhari regime so far?
The people know he has disappointed them. The euphoria that greeted his resumption of office is no more.
They promised heaven on earth, the dollar would be one naira, we would give free food, have they implemented them now?
Are they experienced? Nigerians have to realise that they have to ask questions, the change mantra was fake and Nigerians are poorer now, we have seen people dying everyday, poverty is increasing and nothing is working. Look at the dollar how much did we meet it?
What is your view of the anti graft war?
The first mistake they did was that they want to fight corruption when the people in their party are corrupt, what is the assurance it would succeed? When you know the problem of the country is corruption, but they have failed so far.
What is happening is that when you decamp to the APC your corruption charges would be dropped, you are no more corrupt, that is what is happening and everybody is watching including the international community.
But there are talks of the President re-contesting in 2019, what is your view?
Buhari is welcome to the race, but I would say let him do himself a favour and go and relax and enjoy his retirement.
He is old enough to be my father; his party should also do him a favour and allow him to rest. I expect them to present someone younger with the same Buhari mindset if they are sincere, but they are not sincere.
How do you react to the fact that your party is still being blamed for the failure of this administration?
When you assume office you hit the ground running with your plans, but this was not the case with Buahri, for more than six months he did not appoint ministers, so those time were wasted and the result was the crisis we had, the recession.
And you can see he has failed, when a government is in power for more than two years and still blaming the previous administration it shows ineptitude and that you have no clue.
Am not saying some PDP people did not steal but if you are still blaming us at this point it means you have no clue. Are we responsible for the fall in the naira?
Buhari was not prepared for governance and he shot himself on the foot by refusing to appoint ministers on time.
We have a big job to do in the PDP because if APC have been in power in Lagos State and they are not delivering, Nigerians always think of what they can eat, now our people are suffering and we have to be well positioned as a party to gain power and change things. I can assure you that as the chairman of the party in Lagos State the people would feel my impact.