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LAWAL: It’s No Time For Licking Wounds

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LawalMr. Sola Lawal, the Ogun state All Progressives Congress (APC) publicity secretary was one of the foot soldiers of former Ogun State governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba, until the emergence of Ibikunle Amosun, with whom he now pitches his tent. He told KAMAL TAYO OROPO that Social Democratic Party (SDP) could not fly in Ogun State because majority of the former governor’s followers remained in the APC.

I’m sure you are happy with the outcome of the last elections, where your party posted a resounding victory, especially against the breakaway Osoba-led faction, now the Social Democratic Party.What went wrong with the Osoba group?

THANK you. But I remember in a previous interview , I told you that Chief Osoba remains the leader of our own party, and whereever he is, outside our party, will be no place for him, because the people who actually made him (Osoba) are in the APC.

So, where he presently is, is not is political abode; he’s like a fish out of the water. Can you really hit the nail on its head? I’m telling you the stark reality. Listen to me, the matter is very straightforward and clear. When Chief Osoba was the governor of Ogun State, he had about 16 executive cabinet members.

Of all these 16 cabinet members, of which I was one, there is no single one with him in the so-called SDP, outside former deputy governor Segun Adesegun and Senator Gbenga Kaka. Also, during his time as the governor, there were 20 council chairmen, none of those council chairmen are with him today in the SDP.

Now, if you look at it holistically, as at 1999 when Osoba was the governor of Ogun State, as an elected governor, we were all in the Alliance for Democracy (AD).

Now, tell me how many of those people are with him today? How many of these people were known faces and names in the AD? Of course, except Kaka and Adesegun.

In other words, over 95 percent of people surrounding him today, that he called his followers, his own people, are people that were not with him when we were forming the progressive movement in Ogun State, which means they are new comers; and I have always said this when opportunity like this comes.

The most astonishing thing about the current situation, as it were today with Chief Osoba, is that he does not know the people around him, he hardly knows them.

The only people he knows out of the crowd, are possibly Adesegun and Kaka. Otherwise, everyone else, outside these two, are people he got to know just four years ago, when they were elected.

Are you saying these people are of little known political strength? Is it not obvious now, going by the outcome of the elections? They are not grassroots people. But most importantly, Chief Osoba does not know them and on the other hand as well, they do not know him.

Each time I have any reason to comment on this matter, I always want to stress that, ‘look, because they don’t know Chief Osoba, they wouldn’t know what kind of advice they would give to him.’

You need to know your boss, for you to know the kind of advice you give to him. Sometimes, you would need to fight your boss, because you know him.

Sometimes, you have to confront your boss, because you know him. But when you are working with total strangers; complete strangers, they not so useful to you in practical terms.

It seems strange, that you don’t think much, politically, of persons who are senators and members of House of Representatives. Is it because they lost out in the last election? That’s not necessarily the case.

But the truth is that they were not strong political names n Ogun State. Take for example, Gbenga Obadara never came into politics until four years ago. I know him; he is my friend.

The same is true in the case of Akin Odunsi. He too never got involved in politics until four years ago. Of course, the third senator, Kaka, is different, he has always been there. But then, out of the nine members of the House of Representatives, seven were with Chief Osoba, and two with us.

But those seven with him were not politicians that can even control their wards; because they also got into active politics just four years ago –– who will they know? Those are the issues now, it is not surprising that they lost so woefully.

It is not about wishful thinking. These are the realities on the ground. I have always maintained that we are the ones that made Chief Osoba. I kept saying that Osoba is our leader and he will not leave us, I was emphasising that he dared not leave us, and I was hammering on the fact that he would remain our leader. I doubt if Chief Osoba wanted to move.

I feel he was pressurised. Maybe, old age. But I’m sure Chief does not know the people he’s working with in the SDP, and they don’t know him either, they were kind of strange bedfellows, politically speaking.

But the kind of personalities in the SDP cannot be said to lack experience and wherewithal. How did they lose so hard? That’s exactly the point. People get carried away with political offices. ‘Oh, a whole senator. Oh, honourable.

House of Reps member!’ Let me confess this to you, even people in our camp were scared and were afraid. Because of the hype inspired by popularity associated with political offices, people were afraid we would be disgraced.

People would ask us , how is it possible to beat Osoba with all the senators and house of reps members with him. People feared we would lose to them. They were so shocked when the results started coming in.

Even the former national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Chief Bisi Akande, was worried. I had to sit him down and analyse the situation to him, just the way I have been doing to you, for him to be relieved. Don’t forget that in 1999, it was not politics of money, we fought election on the basis of our being progressives.

So, the outcome of this 2015 election shouldn’t surprise anybody. We were not surprised at the outcome of the election; it only took people like you by surprise. We knew, because we were on the ground. You used to be close to Chief Osoba, but now on the other side, are you still an Osoba person? Up till tomorrow, I am still an Osoba man. Elections are gone. The candidates have emerged. What is the next option for him now? If you are managing his politics, what would you be saying to him? If I ever sit down with him, I will tell it him straight:

‘oga, it’s no time to lick wounds, the side that won in Ogun State is also your side, so you are still at home.’ But some people think it is now deeper than that and beyond Ogun politics.

They point to the Lagos (Bourdillion factor). Also, the governor Amosun is believed to be a rugged politician who does not take prisoners. Is there really a role for Osoba in the scheme of things in Ogun? By ‘Lagos factor’, I’m sure you were referring to Asiwaju. Well, if that’s the case, Asiwaju has no business fencing Osoba from the party in Ogun State; he has no business doing so.

Don’t forget that Chief Osoba and Asiwaju, along with the former national chairman, Chief Akande, are colleagues, they would always sit down and iron out their differences; if there is any.

But for governor Amosun, I don’t know where you got those insinuations from, but I can tell you the governor is a reasonable man, who does not forget favours.

He is gentleman and not some brutal dictator. What happens with those who went with Chief Osoba into the SDP? Of course, they are not politically dead in Ogun state, no one is. But they are the ones to decide what they want to do.

Political party is an association of free joiners and free association; nobody stops anybody from being a member of a political party. What they can stop you from being is holding official position.

The law does not allow anybody to stop you from being a member of a party. People can prevent you from holding sensitive position; and a lot of that depends on you and the way you play your politics.


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