We aren’t scared of our victory being challenged by APC – Osun PDP Chairman
• Says Adeleke Has No Godfather, Won’t Be Controlled In Office
Dr. Adekunle Akindele is the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Osun State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In this interview with SEYE OLUMIDE and TIMOTHY AGBOR, he bares his mind on what the party did differently to win the July 16 governorship election, why the governor-elect, Senator Ademola Adeleke won’t run a proxy government as largely speculated in some quarters and how the Osun election is an evidence of the party’s rebound nationally ahead of the 2023 elections.
How do you view the victory of the PDP in the just-concluded election?
IT is splendid, and we are elated and very happy about the outcome. We thank God for the success; it was a keenly contested election and the party was actually well prepared for it. When I came in officially on April 9, 2022, the first thing I told all our members and stakeholders was that I was here to deliver distinguished Senator Ademola Adeleke and also win the gubernatorial election for our party. That became a reality on July 16, 2022. We didn’t waste time; we set out our agenda, mapped out our strategies and hit the ground running. We campaigned vigorously and were able to move to all the nooks and crannies of the state, interacting with our people, listening to their pains, and selling our candidate and our manifestos. From indications at every point we got to, we discovered that our candidate is well accepted and loved by the people. They were eager to vote for him.
So, it wasn’t a difficult job selling Senator Adeleke to the people?
Yes, because of his antecedents. He is somebody that keeps to his promises. All that he said he wanted to do for his people during his campaign for the Senatorial bye-election, he did and they attested to it. He promised 250 million worth of scholarships, he did it. He promised to give a generator to the abattoir for preserving their meat in Iwo, he did it. He bought transformers and he did a lot more for people. They have known him as a man of integrity and his words, so it was much easy for us to sell him to the electorate. You could see the frenzy when we held our mega rally; the whole city was locked down.
What were some of the worries of the people you discovered during the campaigns and perhaps deficiencies of the outgoing government?
There is a disconnect between the outgoing government and the people. You could see that there was a high level of decadence regarding the provision of basic necessities. For instance, the primary healthcare that is the closest to the grassroots was neglected despite the humongous amount of money that was released to them – about $ 20 million when Professor Isaac Adewole, the former Minister of Health was in government. They were not functioning; no personnel and equipment. Then, pensioners were not paid and most of the schools built during Olagunsoye Oyinlola’s government were in a very terrible state. Most of the pupils in the hinterland have their classes under the tree (we have the pictures).
What are some of Senator Adeleke’s campaign promises?
His manifestos centre essentially on welfare – prompt payment of salary, infrastructural development because all the roads are bad, bringing in direct investment into the state, working on the airport that has been abandoned and agriculture. He talked about security, enhancing the potential of the Nigerian Police and other security agencies in the state by providing tools that will make their work more effective. As soon as we are sworn in by November 27, you will begin to see the dividends of our winning the election.
Some have expressed fear that Adeleke may run a proxy government for those who supported him to get into office. How do you react to this?
Senator Adeleke is an independent-minded person; I don’t think anybody can control him in office. He has his mindset and all he wanted to do for the state, I don’t think he will do it through anybody. He is not like someone that has a godfather. He is not like someone whose part of him is in Osun and the other is in a state in the Southwest. He is somebody that cannot be controlled.
There were internal crises in the PDP prior to the elections. How were you able to overcome these?
To an extent, when we came on board, those interests and contending factors were there, but it was a case of continuous engagement of the interest groups and we were able to handle some of them. To a reasonable extent, we were able to bring them on board such that we were able to prosecute the election as a united group. You know, you can’t go to an election or war with a divided house.
It is very unfortunate that despite all the efforts made by the party and other stakeholders, Prince Dotun Babayemi insisted on going ahead with his case in court. But thank God for the Court of Appeal sitting in Akure struck out his case a couple of days ago. We will continue to engage him and others, and talk to them about the need to put those things behind us and let us move on. We must think about the electorate and all they have gone through in the last 12 years. We have to do so much to alleviate their suffering.
I understand he may be approaching the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal struck out his suit challenging Adeleke’s emergence as the party’s governorship candidate. We will still continue to talk to the people because there is no smoke without fire. At this point, there could be some extraneous forces urging him to go on. If you recollect, there was a communique put up in the press that leaders of Babayemi’s group signed that he should go to court and withdraw the case. I think that’s in the right direction. We will continue to let him see why it will not augur well for the party if anything untoward happens.
When will a congress hold to elect new leaders for Osun PDP?
It has been a herculean task leading to the election. I think we are going to take one or two days off to re-energise ourselves and hopefully, within a month or thereabout, we should be able to have our Congress and put in place the State Working Committee executive.
Some said Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State and some other PDP governors didn’t support Senator Adeleke during the election…
That’s not true. Governor Makinde and others have been supportive all through. Everybody can’t be here at the same time but the majority of them, especially those involved in the National Campaign Council were present. Makinde is the only PDP governor we have in the Southwest, he is our leader and he was actually happy with the outcome of the election, especially when we just lost the Ekiti election to APC.
What do you think went wrong in Ekiti State and what made the difference in Osun?
It borders on internal wrangling and possibly the leadership of Ekiti didn’t explore all the mechanisms put in place to resolve almost all the problems. It was very obvious that they actually went into the election with a divided house and you know it could be a distraction for the party itself. You know a lot goes into preparation for elections; training your agents and ensuring that they perform effectively at their polling units, consultations across the board, campaigns and the like. You will be surprised that Ekiti didn’t even have a mega rally; it’s a pointer that all wasn’t well. So, we leveraged that. We learnt from that and we were able to, within a short while, fix those things and the result is what you could see.
The PDP must be excited that it has gained an additional state in the Southwest…
Yes, it is actually exciting and we are happy. It is indeed a pointer to the fact that the people are tired of the APC at all levels, including the federal level. It is a very strong signal that people are anxiously waiting for the PDP to take the reins of power even at the national level.
How did you handle the denial to use the Freedom Park and stadium for your mega rally?
In my entire life as a politician, I have never seen a government as intolerant as Governor Oyetola’s government. Since the creation of the state in 1991, this is the first time that a party is denied the opportunity to use a viable venue for its mega rally. I want to let you know that we actually applied for three venues – the Freedom Park, the Stadium and Government College, and we were denied the right to use the locations. It is baffling that we were denied the use of infrastructure put in place with taxpayers’ money.
There is this feeling that the governor-elect is on the groovy side, dancing and all. Do you think that will affect his approach to governance?
You see, everyone has his style, attributes and vocations, so to say. You are a journalist, but you might as well be a footballer or singer. That would not necessarily affect the discharge of your duties. Me, I am a medical doctor, but I play football and tennis. They do not distract from my commitment to my core profession for the past 20 or 25 years. I don’t think such things will affect the discharge of his duties. Remember that he was a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and while there he fulfilled all his campaign promises. He provided scholarships worth N450 million to indigent students and provided transformers to many communities.
At the international level, Arnold Schwarzenegger was an actor of no mean repute, but he rose to become the governor of California, and so is the current president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenzkyy who was a comedian, yet there is no record of failure on their part when they assumed office. So dancing and so much will not pose any inhibition to the fulfilment of his promises to the electorate.
Osun APC and its candidate, Governor Gboyega Oyetola are moving to challenge the victory of Senator Adeleke, are you jittery?
We are not because it’s obvious that everybody that had to do with the election – the INEC, security agencies, and domestic and international observers certified that it was a free, fair and transparent election. And once that’s in place, there is really nothing to worry about. It’s a distraction and I call them bad losers. If the President of a country, President Muhammadu Buhari has taken his time to congratulate our governor-elect, I don’t know why Governor Oyetola shouldn’t have done that by now. We are not scared at all because it was an election that was keenly contested and it was upright and transparent.
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