The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos State during the last election, Olajide Adediran, popularly known as Jandor, shares with AYOOLA OLASUPO his thoughts on some issues that played out during the election and governance in the state
Many people expressed surprise that you decided to challenge the outcome of the election despite coming third, are you confident of winning?
Of course, our case is rooted in both the fact and the law. The good thing about it is that there have been several authorities on the majority of our grounds for seeking redress. Every political party needs to know that an election is a process and not an event. The process that leads to one also leads to another in completing the process. A political party must be seen to have carried out the dictates of the Electoral Act and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, including the party’s own guidelines. Anything short of that will definitely affect the next process, which means you can’t build something on nothing. So, what we have presented before the tribunal is the issue of invalid sponsorship of the candidates of both the Labour Party and All Progressives Congress as supported by several sections of the Electoral Act and our prayer is also supported by a section of the Electoral Act. For a lot of people, what they see is that maybe somebody came first and two other persons came second and third but the law doesn’t deal with emotions. It is clearly stated in the law that if you have gone on the wrong side, there will be a penalty. We have started our case and they would also open their defence. It’s a process.
Many people held the opinion that if you had formed an alliance with the governorship candidate of the Labour Party, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, both of you could have stood a better chance against the incumbent, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, did you at any time consider the alliance?
Yes, there was a call during that election that we should form an alliance. For me, I really did not have any issue with us forming an alliance and I said it then. What I said was that in forming an alliance, we would have to find a way of putting our best foot forward, and if you take the candidacy of the Labour Party candidate side by side with ours, we said his candidacy had issues. His sponsorship was an issue whereas there was no issue with mine. That is why Labour Party’s petition against the APC is querying the qualification of Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat as candidates, while the APC, in responding to LP’s petition, is also querying the sponsorship of Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour and the party, that they do not even have any cause to challenge them because he (Rhodes-Vivour) was not qualified to contest. Our petition queried the qualification of both the LP and APC candidates because it’s one petition and we have about six respondents in it. All of them are mentioned in our petition as respondents and what has played out so far has vindicated us. It is only the PDP candidate they have nothing against.
Some people felt you could have done better if you chose Rhodes-Vivour as your running mate from the outset and if that happened, he wouldn’t have become your major contender, what do you say to such people who feel otherwise about your choice of Funke Akindele as your running mate?
I have no regrets whatsoever. I keep asking, why is everybody picking on Funke as my running mate? It is because she is a popular person. Who does GRV have as a running mate? If not that Dr Obafemi Hamzat has been a deputy governor for one term in Lagos State, if you go outside Lagos and ask someone the name of the deputy governor in the state, many people don’t know him. We have done something that has never been done in the history of this country politically by picking a running mate that is as popular as the main ticket. In other states, almost all the time they just pick somebody as a running mate and people don’t even know whether they are adding value or not but because Funke Akindele is somebody who is very popular, that is why they think they can easily throw themselves at us. I don’t have any regrets whatsoever.
Many people seem to have moved on after the elections, do you think you still have the support and solidarity of those who supported and voted for you?
Everybody knew what happened during the election. They knew that they harassed people and allegedly went to write the results somewhere and that was why they wrote 64,000 for the work we did. We were surprised. They compromised everything and decided to put such results out but again they thought they were burying us. They never knew we had something against them that would make us resurrect and that is what we are doing now. We know the judiciary really wants to make a statement and really want to do the needful.
What do you think made you lose that election?
We didn’t lose the election, and that is why we are still here. That is why we did not even challenge INEC for that election. We are focused on the qualification of the candidates from the two parties. We are not concerned about figures declared because the figures given to them will end up being wasted votes the moment the disqualification is pronounced and then the highest number of votes will be our votes.
During the campaigns, former governor Babatunde Fashola called you a cameraman who lacked the experience to lead Lagos, and some of your supporters were enraged by that comment, have you forgiven him for that comment?
It wasn’t an insult. He didn’t insult me actually, and I responded, only that I didn’t abuse him in my response. I just expressed worry that he gave in to pressure to call me what I am not, even though there is nothing wrong with being a cameraman. But for me, I think he should rather be proud that somebody who was following him everywhere, even if that person is a cleaner, that such a person has grown to a point where they can say they want to run for that office. That should give any leader some joy; that he was able to inspire somebody who looked up to him for eight years and believed in himself that he could also aspire to that office. I don’t think such a disparaging word should come from him but I have said in my response to him that he will always be my boss. I can’t rule out the fact that under his tutelage I was able to understand the nitty-gritty of governance and I was able to learn from his failure as a politician, not as an administrator, because he didn’t fail as an administrator. That prepared me to be able to fight and challenge the polity and do what I’m doing today. I have learnt a lot of things from him and I appreciate a lot of things from him too. I will say he gave in to pressure to have come out and say such at that time. However, I have nothing against him. It was politics. He’s my boss anytime, and anywhere I see him I will always prostrate to greet him.
There was an attack on your campaign team at Ikoga Junction area of Badagry sometime in October last year and you accused the APC of carrying out the attack. Despite the heat generated by the attack we learnt you didn’t file a formal complaint with the police, why was that?
We were also attacked in Oworonshoki and Surulere and we did file reports. In fact, I was speaking with the Commissioner of Police and the Director of the Department of State Services directly on the phone. During that time, we were fighting with the governing party and you know how it is. They deployed all they could to stop us but we refused to take issues with them because we were focused. We have done the needful and we do not have any problems.
You were the star witness during the hearing of your petition at the tribunal, why did you take up that task by yourself and didn’t allow other witnesses to do that on your behalf?
I’m not just a witness, I’m the first petitioner in the case. I think I understand my case a little bit and I think I will be doing myself a lot of disservice if I don’t put myself forward. I am sure they never saw it coming, but we were able to put out the fact. We are waiting for the outcome. The other witnesses that came after me also did wonderfully well because we understand the case and the law. I think the judiciary needs to do the needful on this so that political parties will know that the process that will lead to the emergence of candidates in an election has to be done in strict adherence to the Electoral Act and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
What will you do if the case is not eventually decided in your favour?
An election, like I said, is not an event and a lot of people thought the declaration of results and swearing in of the supposed winner ended the entire process. After the tribunal and Court of Appeal have given their judgment, until the Supreme Court makes the final pronouncement, we can’t say the process is closed. So, we are waiting patiently and we believe this will end in our favour.
If Sanwo-Olu’s election is affirmed at the tribunal and the higher courts, will you try again in 2027 or you might take a break?
The process is not concluded yet, so we can’t be speaking about what will come next. It is only God who knows what is next for everybody, but I’m not ready to chicken out. Like I said, we have to see this process through to the end before we can know who the true winner of the election is. When the Supreme Court makes its pronouncement, everybody would have to accept fate.
Many people hold the belief that it’s almost impossible to defeat the APC in Lagos, especially in the governorship election, and this past election seems to have reaffirmed that. What do you think?
I don’t agree with that. You see, there is no champion forever. We can only have a current champion and you can’t say you are going to be there every day. When God is not ready, He is not ready and when He is ready there is nothing we can do. And because He’s got the power over everything, we believe He can use it to change the will of the people. Today, Lagos is the fourth worst city to live in out of about 173 other cities. Perhaps, it is a deliberate policy of the current administration to make everybody poor or poorer so that when they come with grains everybody will rush and they can do whatever they like. But there is always a terminal point and when it is time it will happen. I believe in the process.
There have been reports that some PDP chieftains left the party and worked against you during the elections, could you tell us about this and have you reconciled with them now?
The party leaders didn’t work against me. I think the ones that did, did so against themselves, because they had been in the party for over two decades before I came on board. I have seen other party faithful who put in hard work, campaigning everywhere, even to where those ruling have never been to in the history of this state. We went there and toured everywhere. They thought it was all about me, but it was not. Before joining the PDP I have been who I am and we are still hopeful because we are still in court and we can still put all of them to shame, so, no tension.
Ethnicity took centre stage during the governorship election, do you think people have healed and have moved on from that episode?
Unfortunately, it’s still the same people that divided us. They deliberately do that so that they can continue to have a divide-and-rule approach. If you say healing, I don’t know whether what is going on as of today with the state government demolishing people’s stores and all of that under whatever guise. I think it’s unfortunate because even if they say they have any developmental plans for that place, the timing is very wrong, based on what happened in the last election. When I looked at it, the question I ask myself is why would any government want to go to one of its main commercial centres and demolish properties to displace people there? I think every government looks for prosperity and people will bring investment into the economy, but it’s like it is the other way round here, which is getting people worried. That can discourage people from coming into the state to invest in such an environment because someone who understands economics very well won’t do such.