By Adeola Aderounmu.
Femi Pedro, the former Deputy Governor (DG) of Lagos from 2003 to 2007 has now pitched his tent with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). Declaring for the party he stated that his action was the latest in his quest for an enduring and robust platform to serve humanity and actualize his dreams as a change agent in the society. He also added that “politics is too important to be left to those who abhor service.” According to a Front Page online report on the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper of November 3rd 2007, Pedro stated that he is a student of reason and a product of destiny. For him he added: “life is not a happenstance, but a series of deliberate, systematic and bold moves tailored to a positive end by the Almighty who orders the footsteps of men”. Still in his own words, Pedro now believes that with his defection to the party, he has now constructed and found the new “expressway” to victory for PDP in Lagos State.
Femi Pedro made his name in the Banking Industry. Before he became the DG of Lagos State, he was the Chief Executive Officer of First Atlantic Bank, now First Inland Bank. He is a graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from University of Wisconsin-Superior (1976-1978) and a Master’s degree in Economics from Wichita State University (1979-1981). He has been described as an Economic Strategist and a Political Activist. His achievements in the Banking Industry speak volume. According to a Newswatch report of January 29 2007, Pedro was acclaimed as one of the pillars of ex-Governor Bola Tinubu’s administration. He was the chairman of the Lagos State internally-generated revenue team as well as the state Tenders Board. Having served the state effectively in his capacity as the number two citizen for about four years (then), Pedro thought that he was the better candidate to succeed Tinubu in the last gubernatorial elections in Lagos.
For reasons best known to Tinubu and the Action Congress (AC) Party, Pedro was not the anointed candidate to represent the party at the gubernatorial election despite his position as the DG, his popularity in governance, his loyalty and his acclaimed intelligence. Pedro felt embittered by what seems like a betrayal (a hallmark of Nigerian politics) and a long drawn cold battle ensued between him and Tinubu. On December 13 2006, Pedro dumped the AC to declare under the Labour Party, citing gross manipulation by Tinubu to favour a relative of his to become the Governor in 2007. When he joined the Labour Party, he said his decision was borne “out of the need to serve the masses”. According to him, “it was a divine choice”. He went further, “I have carefully studied the manifesto of the party and the principles behind its formation, and I have aligned myself with it. Labour Party is the masses’ party. It is the only party that can protect the right of the working class. It is the only party that can stop the country from retrogression. Labour Party is about taking care of the retirees, pensioners who have worked tirelessly to develop the country.” (Source: TheNews Dec 13 2006, Lead Stories by By Lanre Babalola, Akabude Uche-Peter & Ifeoluwa Ogunlana).
Femi Pedro contested the April 14 gubernatorial election and lost. He resigned his position as the DG of Lagos on May 8 2007, citing electoral malpractices in the gubernatorial elections as the reason for his resignation. A Guardian Newspaper report of May 10 2007 stated that his resignation came as a seven-man panel was raised by the State Chief Justice Augustine Alabi to investigate the impeachable offences leveled against him by 33 members of the House of Assembly on April 23. Indeed, one can see the stupidity of the Tinubu’s administration as it went over the limit on this case. The Lagos State House of Assembly members under Tinubu impeached Pedro 48 hours after his resignation thereby making a serious mockery of themselves. How foolish can people get sometimes? For real, the relationship between Tinubu and Pedro got worse following the pronouncement by Pedro that Tinubu wanted to kill him when the ex-governor accused him of betrayal as a result of criticism of the outcome of the April 14 governorship polls in which Babatunde Fashola of AC was declared the winner.
The recent defection of Femi Pedro may be a revelation of how desperate Nigerian politicians can get especially after tasting power. Pedro is a Nigerian and under the constitution has both freedom of expression and association, yet a closer look at his antecedents and new found love with the PDP-a well known den of killers, reveals a variant that deserves criticisms. What has happened to the divine choice that took him to the Labour Party? What can be more desirous than a divine choice? In the Newswatch report mentioned above, Pedro perhaps describing the PDP said it was one that produces “the government that is under the shackles of one godfather or group or the other”. In his opinion, the PDP (and other parties) “lack freshness and are filled with over-used politicians”. He admitted that the Labour Party has no groups and no godfather. To him, been in the Labour Party will give the people the real opportunity that will allow their votes to be counted and protected.
That Pedro has now decided to pitch his tent with over-used politicians whose style have reduced Nigeria to a laughingstock and more than 50% of the citizenry to almost penuried existence leaves a lot to one’s imagination. So, he has now decided to construct his own expressway that will allow him to be a product of a godfather (an over-used politician) so that he can divert our money to the godfather if he becomes the next desperate governor of Lagos. As a confession of his new found unholy flirting, Pedro said that his action was the latest in his quest for an enduring and robust platform to serve humanity and actualize his dreams as a change agent in the society. To serve humanity? Isn’t this a blatant deceit to acquire power by all means?
In his campaign before the Nationwide-rigged 2007 gubernatorial elections in which he lost, Pedro made promises of heaven and earth to Lagosians. Tinubu did the same but he left Lagos in the hands of robbers and area boys. His dream project-LASTMA ran out of gas and eventually became a tool of extortion. Under Tinubu, corpses are commonly left to rot on the streets of Lagos. Pedro is now telling us that “politics is too important to be left to those who abhor service and that since political power is needed to form government in order to implement good programmes, a robust platform is needed to organize change agents for this task”. In the same vein, he needs to be told that Politics is too important to also be left in the hands of men who are desperate and who will seek refuge with the likes of Ahmadu Ali who has been intimidating the members of the National House of Assembly. How can Pedro associate with Ali or his party that declared Adedibu as the commander of the PDP garrison in Oyo State. It was Ali who also blamed Ladoja for accepting (that is he was not elected) to be governor when he knew he would not follow Adedibu’s commands to empty Oyo state’s treasury. In January, these were the kinds of godfathers that Pedro lambasted as he sought to serve the masses on the platform of the Labour party. Who does Pedro want to serve under the PDP if he gets selected as the party is known to do? Pedro is a man with religious background; he must be told that he cannot serve God and Mammon!
Why has it become an impossibility for Pedro to pursue his quest without all these AD-AC-Labour-PDP gallivanting? Why does he need an expressway on the PDP kind of service lane? Is the expressway needed because INEC had zoned Lagos to AD/AC? For sure, the exigent call in Nigeria today is a shift of our politics towards ideology and free and fair elections. It seems like a tall dream but the masses are still earnestly hoping that their votes should be countable and meaningful as early as the next elections. It was the same hope that Pedro expressed on the platform of the Labour Party in January 2007. Such a hope fills our anxiety as we anticipate the realization of our re-enfranchisement as an essential tonic for our revitalization as a country. To now see a man of hitherto enviable character, humble background, noble achievements and a representation of our hopes dumping the Labour Party as a desperate means of becoming a governor under the platform of the PDP which is pivoted on dictatorial/autocratic principles is definitely a great loss to the much anticipated gains of electoral reform processes.
That is the way that I see it!