Tread carefully and softly to avoid disaster, Alhaji Tella counsels Governor Adeleke
• Tinubu’s Candidacy Will Help Osun APC in 2023
• Atiku, Obi Pose No Threat To APC’s VictoryVeteran journalist, former Managing Director of Monitor Newspapers, former Senior Research Fellow, Department of Mass Communication, University of Ilorin and Chairman, Governing Board, Federal College of Education, Iwo, Alhaji Liadi Tella in this interview with SEYE OLUMIDE (Southwest Bureau Chief) warned Governor Ademola Nurudeen Adeleke of Osun State to beware of bad advisers. He also cautioned the new governor against any acts of vendetta against his predecessor(s), saying it is too early for him to start reversing projects and policies of former Governor Gboyega Oyetola when his (Adeleke) mandate is yet to be decided at the Election Petition Tribunal. Excerpts:
How do you see the various executive orders being dished out by Governor Ademola Adeleke reversing all the appointments made by immediate past governor, Alhaji Isiaka Adegboyega Oyetola after July 16, 2022, like the name of the state, removal of traditional rulers and others?
It is rather unfortunate! Under normal circumstances, one will expect that the new governor would not start with vendetta. He would have rather taken his time to study what is on ground before he starts issuing executive orders.
Interestingly, July 16, 2022 was the date of the governorship election where he emerged as the winner, though still being contested at the Election Petition Tribunal. But between July and November what did Adeleke expect? For government to stop running! The outgoing governor to stop taking decisions and he should not take responsibility and the state should be a vacuum? Where is that done anywhere in the world? The former governor remained the chief executive officer of the state until November 27 and any decision taken by him within that specified time was legal and sacrosanct in line with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is unfortunate those that might have advised the governor are sycophants.
What are the likely implications of Adeleke’s actions to the state?
Well he who issues executive orders within 24 or 48 hours is not in consonant with good governance. Absolutely not in consonant with good governance and I think he’s been trying to reverse himself. So, I would not like to dwell on it since he said he is not interested in removing any traditional ruler but that was contrary to the reversal of the appointments made by Oyetola. A mistake had been made and if he reverses himself then that’s honourable. Those given appointment by Oyetola, if Adeleke reversed it he would begin on a very wrong note because those who are already given employment will see his administration as an enemy and that means he is starting on a wrong foot.
What would be your advice to Governor Adeleke in that regard?
Well I am a journalist in politics and my level of partisan politics is not as deep as people are thinking. I was a media executive for about 25 to 30 years and this gives me the opportunity to interact with all in Nigeria, I mean all across the political divides. I have my network across the political parties, but I am a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) thorough and thorough. I was in Action Group, I was in Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Alliance for Democracy (AD) and I joined the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 2005 to pursue my community desire to have a Federal College of Education in Iwo. That was what took me to PDP otherwise in my school age, I was more of a social welfarist than a capitalist. But when it comes to politics, it is about interest so I went to pursue the interest of Iwo in PDP. But God did not answer me. In 2011, I contested election and lost to the tsunami of former Governor Rauf Aregbesola then. It was not that I didn’t win, but the election was manipulated and I refused to go to court. I considered it as a waste of money going to challenge the election result in court. So, to Adeleke, I would rather advise him to tread softly because nothing remains forever. Position is always ephemeral. If by design of God, he should lose at the election petition tribunal, he will become a mockery of himself. He should have waited for the judgement of the tribunal before he begins the mass sack and mass reversal.
The State of Osun was not introduced by Governor Oyetola, it was introduced by Aregbesola and so, it is an inheritance. Government goes and comes but the people remain. Government is a continuum. He was trying to reverse the name, State of Osun, actually I have my reservation about that name, but that doesn’t mean it should be made an issue. Then the reversal of the state anthem, my question is what is offensive about the anthem? Go and listen to it as a Yoruba man, the state anthem is a personification of Godliness and excellence. Why should it be dropped and for what reason? Most of these decisions are taken in bad fate. I know Adeleke’s senior brother, Deji. The life of late Chief MKO Abiola taught me a lesson. He said when your friend is in power you must learn to tell him ‘limited truth’ otherwise he will see you as an enemy.
So, people around Adeleke now would be telling him limited truth or they may not even tell him the truth at all. They would look at his body language before making suggestions to him. They will figure out what his thoughts are to give him or tell him what he has in his mind or what he wants to hear. That is the mistake of most presidents and governors not only in Nigeria but also across the globe. There are some people who are presently arresting his (Adeleke) attention. They did it to former Governors Bisi Akande, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Aregbesola, Oyetola and they are coming to do it to Adeleke too. If the incumbent governor is not very careful, he will just end up in disaster. I don’t pray for his disaster. As a Muslim, God gives power and He also takes. For now, I think Adeleke should be more calculative and careful. He is too much in a haste and he may commit blunders.
Look at all Governor Nyesom Wike is doing in Rivers State. He has written his name down as one of the most honest governors in the history of Nigeria. Look at the amount of money Wike said President Muhammadu Buhari gave to most of them in the Niger Delta and look at what Wike is doing with the money. What happened to the other governors in Niger Delta? They received that huge amount of money and they kept quiet what happened to other governors all over Nigeria, particularly the Southwest governors?
If you go to the north, you will see infrastructure, but unfortunately, we Yoruba people used to see the northerners as nincompoops, as uneducated but far from the truth. They are one of the most intelligent creatures of Allah. Go and see what Jigawa and Kano are in terms of roads and infrastructure. Go to Kaduna and Maiduguri and other northern states, you will see a lot of infrastructural developments. Come to Southwest most of our roads are in a very bad shape. Whether PDP or APC controlled states, most of our roads are in a very bad shape. They complained of no money, but one day a whistle blower would emerge among the governors in the Southwest and disclose the amount of money they had received from the Federating account the way Wike has done in the Niger Delta.
For me, Adeleke is welcome, I have nothing against him, I served under his brother, the late Isiaka Adeleke and I always tell him (Adeleke) the truth. Even Deji, his junior brother, I always tell him to tell his senior brother Isiaka the truth. And he used to listen to me. He knows that I will not come to him unless it is critical. See Oyetola that just left, he used to be my junior in secondary school. I always avail him the truth whether he would like to hear or not because I know God will hold me accountable one day. I don’t belong to the group of hustlers. I am not a consultant but a journalist and we don’t know about contracts. So, those who want to eat from Adeleke should be very careful. This governor has to be very careful. He has been bad mouthed sufficiently well about his level of education that he never worked under a company for a month since he left secondary school. He never headed a corporation and he has never served as a chief executive officer of any company, but God in His mercy made him governor can I quarrel again at that? I am a thorough Oyetola person.
What is your take on the speculation that what Adeleke is doing now is actually the suggestion made to him by some APC members who were out to destroy whatever legacy Oyetola has or might have built?
That’s is neither here nor there. Those are just unfounded speculations, which has always been the bane of Osun politics. Politicians in Osun lie and blackmail a lot. They play treachery a lot and if Adeleke subscribe to blackmail, treachery and stigmatization, he will not find time to govern. Oyetola has left a legacy, he didn’t owe one single month salary and he paid salaries as at when due all through his four years. The question is where did he find the money? Some state governors in Southwest have been defaulting in payment of salaries up to six and seven months now. Some 12 and half years ago when I was in the PDP, we assigned a team of prayer warriors to pray for us to take back the state of Osun from Aregbesola in 2014, but at the end of the day, one of the prayer warriors rose up to say gentlemen don’t let me lie to you, this progressive government in power now would be there for the minimum of 12 years and there was nothing we can do about that and we said what. The person told us not to waste our time.
When I settled with Aregbesola at the foot of Kaaba in Saudi Arabia during Ramadan because I descended on him not in a small dimension. I used my media network to criticize his government a lot but we settled at the foot of Kaaba. But when we resolved, I said the past has gone forever and we became friends again. I am still Aregbesola’s friend despite my support for Oyetola.
Don’t you consider your comments on the scorecard of the Southwest governors as a strong indictment that may have implication on Tinubu’s presidential ambition in 2023?
Tinubu is running on his personal pedigree and achievements plus the party. The governors in Yoruba states, I said they have not come out to show the light, but if they can do that, it will the beginning of a new democracy in Nigeria. I am not convicting them of any evil deed, but look at what Lagos is doing now, it is an exemplary. What Oyetola did in Osun is exemplary. Osun is one of the poorest states in Nigeria, but Oyetola was able to do what he did. For me, Oyo is a medium level revenue and is from that Federal Allocation the governor is doing what he did. The question is whether Oyo is generating enough revenue? Internal Generated Revenue (IGR) is the driver of provision of infrastructure globally. Are people of Oyo paying grand rents. In Yoruba land, we want everything free. We even want electricity free, but where is that done all over the world. My own position is that let the Yoruba governors take example from Wike for their receipt of what they are going to do.
You contested on the platform of PDP to represent Iwo Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives in 2011, but lost that election that took place five months after Aregbesola had taken over power on the platform of ACN as governor. Now that Adeleke of PDP has taken over four months to the next general elections, do you see APC in Osun State making any significant impact in the forthcoming elections?
I think all things being equal, let’s wait and see how the tribunal will conclude the ongoing case. The outcome of the ongoing tribunal case will definitely determine the equation. If the tribunal conclude the proceedings and gives judgement from the election petition filed by Oyetola before the 2023 general elections, then there will be a big challenge for APC because the sitting governor would like to use the power of incumbency the way Aregbesola did in the 2011 election. But the difference now is that in 2011, the level of political awareness is not as high as it is today. If perhaps the people elected during the primaries to run elections for APC are the popular choice, it would have been very good.
But now the two political parties, PDP and APC in Osun are swimming in disputes among their members. But there are traditional areas that are progressives strongholds like Osun west. The 2023 election is going to be a big fight between the two major parties but what will help APC in Osun is the candidacy of Tinubu.
How will Tinubu’s candidacy help APC in Osun?
The Yoruba will want to vote their own, who was with them at the grassroots to become the president. For instance, former President Olusegun Obasanjo was the candidate of the north in 1999, but this time around, we want a candidate of the Yoruba, which happens to be Tinubu.
Then the war declared on Tinubu by the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and Christian Association of Nigerian (CAN) over the choice of a Muslim-Muslim ticket has inadvertently opened the consciousness of more Muslims. Majority of the Yoruba are Muslims except in Ekiti and Ondo states. That consciousness that has inadvertently opened the minds of Muslims will help Tinubu a lot in the Southwest and Osun is not exempted. I see the candidacy of Tinubu helping APC a lot in all the National Assembly elections in Osun next year.
The chances of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar defeating Tinubu in the north is equally narrow! Why? Majority of northern population are Muslims. The north foisted Obasanjo, who is a Christian on us in 1999. They also supported former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011. So, the war PFN and CAN had declared on Tinubu/Shettima is going to work to the advantage of APC. It is a very serious battle we are going to face in 2023. But by my own calculation as a journalist, I see Tinubu emerging as president of Nigeria. Even Atiku won’t pose any serious challenge to Tinubu as some people are imagining now.
Where then do you place this Obidient Movement and the fact that Atiku is from the north and also a Fulani man?
(Cuts in)Which Obidient? Then does Atiku have the capacity to do that and where is the level of sympathy for Atiku and Obi in the north?
Atiku doesn’t have sympathy in northwest and northeast? He may have sympathy in Middle Belt but even at that this will be the seventh time Atiku will be contesting the presidency in Nigeria and he has lost woefully on two or three occasions he appeared on the ballot and the others he lost at the primaries level. That’s is how desperate he is about becoming the President of Nigeria and moreover he has tasted different political parties from PDP to ACN to APC name the party. As a matter of fact, he joined the APC movement to install Buhari. He is a man without principle.
If you say Atiku is desperate, what of Tinubu, considering his state of health, age and other factors?
What is his age? I am asking you as a journalist. These are just mere propaganda against Tinubu. I know Tinubu too deeply. The senior sister of his wife is the best friend of my wife. Secondly, I am older than Tinubu and I am not 75 years yet. But I am older than Tinubu by a minimum of four years. Tinubu marked 70th birthday last March. Even at 70, look at the way he has been crisscrossing Nigeria in the last three months, can someone in bad health do that? Go to his house in Abuja, he used to stay attending to people from around 9 am and he does not go to bed till around 2am the following morning. Can someone with bad health undergo such a rigour?
Then for Obi, I don’t really see him in this election because Charles Soludo, the governor of Anambra State has nailed Obi’s coffin.