Eminent academic, Mr. Sina Kawonise is the governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Ogun State. After winning his party’s nomination, the party substituted his name with another person but he went to court to challenge the decision. Just two days to the Presidential election, the courts cleared him for the contest. In this interview, he said the development would not affect his chances in the election even as he described the victory of the APC at the presidential election in the state as a fluke. Excerpts:
The last Presidential and National Assembly elections in Ogun State, were a two-horse race between the PDP and the APC. Your party, Labour, was nowhere. What happened?
A pattern emerged from that election. In 2011, we voted three times, the presidential elections, the national assembly elections and the governorship/ house of assembly elections.
In 2015, the Presidential elections and the National Assembly elections were lumped together in a day and that introduced the distortions that we had. Those who wanted to vote Buhari voted APC all through.
Indeed, if you saw the single ballot paper that we were given, they wrote federal constituency, in very tiny fonts. People don’t know federal constituency, they know House of Representatives. Those who wanted to vote labour had extra work to do to find it. I myself had to put on my glasses to see it. So, those who wanted to vote Buhari voted APC all through. Those who wanted to vote Jonathan voted PDP all through unlike what happened in 2011. What I’m saying is that any party that didn’t have a presidential candidate scored nothing in the national assembly elections because it was a two horse race. It was that distortion. If the Presidential election had been separated from the national assembly election as it happened in 2011, the result would have been different. That’s number one.
Number two, the ruling on my case came last week Thursday, few days to the Presidential and national assembly elections. The governorship candidate of any party is the alter ego and the symbol of that party and when I was at that time not in the race, it affected our chances. Not that even if I was there, there was probably it would have made impact because we didn’t have a presidential candidate. I will give you an example because I’m trying to be fair and objective in everything that I do.
Everyone in Ogun State knows that in Ogun West Senatorial district, it is SDP that is in control and would have won. They have a very popular candidate. SDP is not popular in Ogun State, its not on the ground but it has that singular popular candidate for the senate – Biyi Otegbeye, they call him BOT because he was everywhere.
Everybody knew that if you are contesting against BOT in Ogun West, you are just wasting your time. But this Buhari aura just truncated his plans.
The conclusion I draw from there is that those who won on the platform of APC did not win on their own merit or on the strength of their popularity or recognition but romped unto victory on the roller coaster of the Buhari aura. So, that is what happened.
But beyond that, if you look at 2011, President Jonathan won with even wider margin in the south west than what Buhari won now in south west, except for Osun where ACN won. It was not even Buhari who won there. So, what happened?
When that result came out, the PDP rolled out the drums thinking that because our people had voted overwhelmingly for President Jonathan of PDP, they would definitely vote for PDP in the governorship election but the people voted ACN. They voted PDP in the Presidential election and voted ACN in the governorship election.
And that is exactly what is going to happen again. We were on the queue there. I did not allow myself to enjoy any privilege, I took my time and I heard what the people were saying and it was corroborated everywhere. As they were voting and saying ‘Sai Buhari’, they were cursing Amosun that this does not translate into anything for him.
The same thing in Oyo, it is generally believed that the party that is going to form the next government in that state is Accord Party yet it could not win any seat there. So, it’s a distortion, it’s not a true reflection of what is actually on the ground especially for the parties without presidential candidates. So we have a simple antecedence in what happened in 2011 to rely on. So, this governorship election coming up on Saturday, you will see that our people will definitely come up. APC is not there, PDP is equally not there.
For third force parties like Labour and SDP, what happened there is not a reflection of what is actually on the ground, but the PDP showed their own maximum strength because they fielded their presidential candidate, so what they have is their true strength on the field. The same with the APC which also fielded a presidential candidate.
Now, to buttress my point, the governorship candidate of PDP, Gboyega Nasir Isiaka (GNI) is from Ogun West and he could not deliver even a federal constituency seat for the party not to talk of senatorial seat. The two seats they won only in Ogun East was by virtue of Alhaji Adebutu who overwhelmed the place. So, the little gain they have there is not going to translate to political gain for GNI. So, if I were GNI, I will just align with Labour Party and we will find something for them for they are clearly out of the race as the APC swept federal constituencies in Yewa, his stronghold.
Won’t it translate to bandwagon for APC?
No, we cant go APC. In fact there is a snide campaign going on now that people should not be in opposition, but they’ve forgotten the history of south west. If only they knew the historical development of southe west that we’ve always been in opposition to the federal government. Consider 2007 when PDP was like an octopus and Labour Party was just there but it defeated the PDP then in Ondo State.