‘Be wary of defectors’ strength, let’s close ranks to defeat Makinde’
Dr AbdulAzeez Olatunde is the immediate past Publicity Secretary of Oyo State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview with SEYE OLUMIDE, he stressed the need for party faithful to rally support for governorship candidate, Senator Teslim Folarin to ensure that Governor Seyi Makinde does not return for second term in 2023. He also urged Folarin to assure members he would run an inclusive government in the interest of the masses.
Some aggrieved members of Oyo APC led by Mr. Bayo Adelabu, candidate of the party in the 2019 governorship election have defected to Accord Party. Does this pose any threat to the chances of your party winning the governorship next year?
I am not supposed to glamourise the defection of Bayo Adelabu and other members of APC to the Accord Party, but in war you don’t underestimate your opponent. I’ve had experience in Oyo politics. For instance in 2007, the late Senator Abiola Ajimobi contested the governorship on the platform of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). Many politicians have used different Third Force parties to contest Oyo governorship election but they failed. To me, they failed because of who they are and not because Third Force parties cannot win in the state. Politics is about the people involved. Ajimobi told us then that he would succeed and he did. Everybody knew that Ajomibi won but he was robbed by the powers-that-be. Former Governor Ajimobi would have been the governor of Oyo State since 2007.
Out of the 33 local councils, Ajimobi had won convincingly in 29. It was from the two local councils that the fraud against Ajimobi was perpetrated and they just brought all manner of figures. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government in power then manipulated the figures and rigged Ajimobi out. Ajimobi would have created that Third Force magic in Oyo State in 2007. So don’t underestimate Adelabu’s defection to the Accord Party.
We need to first look at the type of people with him in the Accord Party. They are mostly former APC members and because I had been in that same shoe in 2007, Yoruba people say the enemy within is the most dangerous. They are former members of APC, so we should not underestimate them. You will be shocked that a lot of those that are even in APC now may be playing double games to simply weaken our ranks. But I believe we will find a way out before the election is held in about seven months.
Are you not afraid that if APC fails to put its house in order Governor Seyi Makinde would win a second term on a platter of gold?
I keep saying it and you should write it down, I swear to God that Governor Makinde has not done anything to warrant a second term. And he hasn’t got the people that will do the magic for him, otherwise why is he giving last minute appointments? It was just because he wanted to bring people in. Few days ago, he appointed Demola Ojo. The bitter truth is that who are those in Oyo that are proud of Makinde today? Let us be realistic, how would you score Makinde in the area of security? In education, Makinde came to power on May 29 and said his government has produced textbooks for students, which Ajimobi produced. When you talk of Makinde, then it’s all about mismanagement.
His government is synonymous with loans; no administration in Oyo State has ever collected such loans Makinde had incurred in the last three and a half years. This man has borrowed money that would be difficult for Oyo to pay back in the next 50 years.
He collected money and told us that he wanted to do Akufo Farm settlement. For almost four years now, he has not done anything. The only thing is that he has been building outlets for transport union members. He built a bus terminal at Challenge. But what about the one built at Odo, has it been utilised? He built another terminal at Iwo Road but what about the one built at Temidire, just 50 meters away from Iwo, which has never been never used. You built it at Ojo, is there any need for that? Everything about the incumbent administration is misplaced priority.
Tell me two or three things this administration has done right in the last three and a half years? He will tell you they are paying salary.
Why has it been difficult for Oyo APC to support Teslim Folarin, its gubernatorial candidate for 2023?
The fact is Folarin didn’t drop from heaven and whoever is aggrieved, this is July and the governorship election will take place in March 2023, about seven months away. I appeal to everybody to reason and place Oyo state above their personal grouse. If you know what it means to have a governor, then all the aggrieved will change their stance. For instance, when we go to Abuja for meetings, we are always taunted for not having a governor in Oyo state and that is despite having three senators, nine members of House of Representatives among other federal cabinet appointees.
So, the aggrieved should be ready to forgo the past and allow us to work as a team. I will also appeal to Folarin to heed the advice of the National Leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, that he should be going round to beg the aggrieved people.
The candidate must do everything within his power to convince the aggrieved that his government would be for everybody. I think the candidate should be able to assure our members that he will operate an open door policy. If need be he (Folarin) should also write an undertaking that if he fails, they can take him up. I say this because Tinubu is going to win the presidential election by the grace of God and it is not going to be good if we fail to have the governor of APC in Oyo State.
The danger in it is that if Makinde wins a second term, God forbid, can you imagine what will happen to the state in another four years? Because of the love of Oyo State, I want those that are aggrieved, including those that have defected to the Accord Party, to let us work together. Since Folarin has emerged as the candidate, let’s work for him and the party. We will lose more if we fail to unseat the incumbent governor next year. A lot of people may be saying Folarin didn’t emerge through the right process but nobody would have emerged without any acrimony. When Ajimobi emerged in 2010 at Olubadan Stadium, hell was let loose. But when we appealed to people and convinced them about the reason we needed to win the state, they agreed. The aggrieved should consider the interest of the citizens. We fought like this in 2019 and allowed the present administration to defeat us. Are we not all paying for it now?
What is the guarantee that the aggrieved would shift grounds considering the fact that some of them told Senator Femi Lanlehin, who is heading the reconciliation committee that he has no moral right to beg them?
It was Lanlehin they gave the assignment to but if need be, those of us that were not appointed can assist him because of the interest of Oyo state. It was true when Lanlehin left in 2014, a lot of our people begged him to return but he refused. Again, in 2018 and 2019, they repeated the plea, yet he refused. But we can join him in the reconciliation move.
Do you think it will be necessary for Southwest elders of APC like Chief Bisi Akande, Chief Segun Osoba and others to intervene?
There may be a need for that but the most important thing is for the candidate himself to stand up to the task and ensure he appeals to the aggrieved. If those eminent elders would have to step in, they would have to invite some of the aggrieved. But what matters, is that Folarin must be ready to give and take. One of the fears is that Folarin will only patronise his cronies if he wins power. The candidate should go to the elders and beg them to come and intervene.