In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES’ Ben Ezeamalu, the immediate past chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos State, Moshood Salvador, speaks about his decision to leave the party, his frustration with the leadership, and his plans for the future. Excerpts.
PREMIUM TIMES: Your decision to dump the PDP came as a shock to many political observers because in the past you had condemnged the decision of some your members who were elected in the party and dumped the party for APC. You even threatened to recall some of them. Now that you yourself decided to dump the party for APC, what really informed your decision?
Moshood Salvador: Thank you very much. If you heard the introductory part of my statement day before yesterday while I was making statement of leaving the party, I said I am not happy to leave the job I started with a determination of putting an end to APC government in Lagos State. But when it now comes to issues of life, it is only a living person that can do politics. It is only a living person that can help his people. If you are dead you are dead. Look at Funsho Williams, as much as he loves his people in Lagos State, can he be able to show the love? That is why I have to leave the environment that is too hostile to my attitude of progress, to my preparation for victory, to my hard work, to put PDP on top. It means I am not appreciated. I have to go to where my services, my gestures, my abilities will be appreciated and that is why have to leave. You are not unaware of the travail I went through when they cooked me up for murder case before the judicial system asked me to go that I don’t have any case to answer, it is of no significant reasonable thing for them to bring me there. From that day, till the day I exit from PDP, national chairman never called to say ‘sorry Salvador, we heard what happened, we are with you, we feel for you.’ National chairman never did.
PT: (Cuts in) But did the other party leaders call?
Salvador: The other party leaders, Lagos leaders were there, members were crying, doing all these and that. I appreciate them and that is why I cannot abandon them and say I am no more doing politics; if this the type of love they show for somebody that is putting his life and everything in it. I pump in minimum of N4 million to this party every month, the money my children suppose to enjoy but once I put it there, I believe the children of the poor people will benefit if we are able to win. I have the programme of free food for Lagos which anybody that want to become my governor I have to sell that idea to the person because it is my life to be giving out to the public. And that’s why I usually do it during Ramadan, which some of you have witnessed. The last Ramadan, Zakkat I did was for over 5,000 people, that carried cloth, everything, that is my life. I even have it in my plan to introduce it to anybody that wants to be my governor.
PT: These members that associated with you in your time of struggle, did you carry them along? Did they endorse your decision to dump the party? Will it be right to say you only have a grudge with the national chairman of the party?
Salvador: No, it’s not that I have grudge with the national chairman of the party, I was just disappointed with what he did. The main reason is that I cannot dwell in an environment where anybody that can cook up a story for you to go to prison, when they meet you in the dark they can kill you, so why are you waiting there? That is just it. And why I mentioned that of the chairman is that they are supposed to show some sympathy if they appreciate you. Just to call and say ‘Salvador, sorry o. We heard everything and we thank God court has exonerated you and this and that.’ That’s all. It’s not for them to come, but just to show some element of love, as I am showing to my members. And about my supporters, I am not even the one that is insisting, they are the ones insisting that we don’t have to wait. Even members of exco of PDP, more than 40 per cent of them are going with me, they even signed. They collected about 15,000 people in the party that are ready but the crowd you will see there, my supporters you will see there, they will be more than 50,000, come there, I am not…it has not happened now. Let the day come, if you don’t see such crowd, then you come back to me and say ‘Salvador, this is…’ Let me tell you, I give my time and life to the people. I love my people so much and that is why… the people outside there, the OPC of Lagos State, they want to associate with me, they said they have to leave to go and join APC along with me. Their coordinator is outside there. I said if that should be the case, go and get yourselves organised and come for the material. You can see the tailors we are organising there, they are to sew clothes for people that don’t even have money to sew, people that have money to sew will be given, those that don’t have money we will sew it for them and give them, that is my life for the people.
PT: You said people are against you moving PDP forward in Lagos State and that the allegation against you was cooked up by some people. Do you have evidence against these people you allege?
Salvador: There is no doubt we have two groups in PDP, Bode George and people that are in support of Salvador. As long as you can see people that were not… I was in Epe in the morning, in Ibeju-Lekki in the afternoon, these set of people form Bode George group came to Ibeju Lekki to disorganise that one but they were unable to because we have OP MESA there, we have military there organised by the local government. I am not the one organising security. That programme put me as a visitor to visit the local government to see how far you have gone. The level of your mobilisation, this and that. Immediately we finish that, they will then start that of the ward so that that mobilisation will not be exposed to APC, it will just meet them unaware. That was the work I was doing. But as long as you can see that some of his people were the one… that were not even there, they did not even come for the ceremony, they were the ones shouting ‘Yes, we saw somebody, we heard somebody’s voice.’ How can that happen when immediately the chairman of the party at that local government threw the table up, the Civil Defence whisked me away. I was even at home when I was hearing that somebody died, not even there. So that is why the police have done their investigation, there are videos that show everything, I don’t know where they got all these stories and for them to put up such story, one needs to be very careful, they can kill you because of that.
PT: What really led to the face-off between you and Bode George because I know that you and Bode George were very good political allies. What went wrong?
Salvador: Yes, we accepted him as a leader but he will not allow anybody to grow. One, he insisted that I should not inaugurate the exco given to me by the national and I told him ‘No, Oga, I have to inaugurate this exco because they are the ones to do the mobilisation for me. We need mobilisation drive seriously.’ He said ‘No, Obasanjo has discussed with him that there can’t be both PDP and APC.’ I said ‘No, leave Obasanjo alone.’ He just believe in what Baba said and I asked him to let me do my administration. He insisted that they should be doing exco meeting, CWC meeting in his house in Lugard and I said ‘No, I have my secretariat, all these things should be done at the secretariat.’ He has his own set of people that he calls caucus, but the constitution has defined who should be members of the caucus and 75 per cent of these people cannot enter his house because he is at loggerheads with most of them. For example, all our House of Reps, he doesn’t want to see them, they don’t greet him, they don’t near him and they are members of the caucus. Former senators, former House of Reps, they don’t see him, eye to eye. So it is not possible to do it and he will not agree with me. Everyone has no idea except Chief Olabode George. If you keep saying ‘Oga, this thing is not right.’ He will not agree with you. I cannot allow anybody to put my name on the line for doing what is not right. That is just what started the disagreement. He has his own elders’ committee, I have my own elders’ committee as constituted by the constitution. They brought a list from Abuja, he asked me to manipulate it, change it, ‘Shebi you belong to my group.’ If I change it they will not say it’s Bode George that changed it they will say it’s Salvador that changed it. Once you say no to wrong thing, he believes you are not loyal and that was the beginning of the crisis. And I tried as much as possible to manage it, with media, without complaining, without talking about it to anybody but Chief Bode George is so… the power means so much to him. Period.
PT: It is interesting that you raised these issues between you and Chief Bode George, because he also accused you of failing to honour an agreement reached on executive offices after the Supreme Court affirmed Makarfi as national chairman, that is the 65 per cent to Makarfi and 35 per cent to Ali Modu Sheriff…
Salvador: (Cuts in) To God who made me, I swear in the name of Almighty Allah, I was not part of the congress, it’s the list congress gave to me, I’m not the one that organise congress, it is national that organise congresses. The result of congresses was what was given to me, I am also a product of congress. So it is not that will honour 65/35 or 35/65, not me at all, it is that same list the south-west chairman brought, it is that same list I pasted at the secretariat and he persistently refused to agree with what national asked us to do. That he is the one that can say ‘No no no, throw it away, let us do our own, they cannot come and dictate what we want.’ No. The constitution of the party has given power to the congress to organise the exco for us and whatever they do, they submit to national and national give to me to work with. The exact thing I was working with. It is not me at all, I repeat, it is not me, I never took part in the congresses or organise any congress, do anything. It is national that organise congress not me. And if there is anything that is different from what national brought for me, they can come and show it to the public, they can publish it or go to national and confirm from them. I didn’t touch anything, I didn’t manipulate anything, they asked me to manipulate but I said no. So it is not possible for me, it is national and till today national refused him to change anything.
PT: Have you inaugurated these people?
Salvador: I inaugurated my exco long ago, since January 2018. It was the LGA chairmen that went to their local government to inaugurate the exco at the local government level. All information Bode George was giving were lies, not true, I repeat, not true. What we were doing local government by local government was local government visitation and mobilisation to see what you have done, I was not inaugurating exco, it is not my responsibility to inaugurate local government exco. It’s not true.
PT: How comfortable are you now working with APC or being in APC because this is a party you have criticised in the past, and these are people you never saw anything good in them?
Salvador: Anything I complained about, it is an opportunity for me to put it right there. Anything I complained about, this is an opportunity for me to go and say, ‘You know I complained about this, put it right, do it this way.’ Because the overall interest is all about the people.
PT: And do you think the party has the environment to allow you to do these things?
Salvador: My friend, at the earlier stage my decision was to quit politics. When you are in an environment where there is no love, the decision is for you to quit that environment. But if I quit on my own and say ‘Moshood, go and sit down with your business.’ That is the advice given to me by my family, by my friends, by my children. But what about these my followers? Abandoning them for sufferness. So it’s even better I hand them over to where they can get jobs, appointments, and have living. If that is taken care of, I think that’s better for them. They can then continue with their political career at any level.