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So Far, Ajimobi Has Failed Oyo People ––Accord Party Boss
Oyo State chairman of the Accord Party, Mr Bashiru Lawal, in this interview with Dare Adekanmbi, speaks on the widely reported likely return of Senator Rashidi Ladoja to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), among other issues. Excerpts:
All appears set for the return of your party’ s governorship candidate in the 2011 poll in Oyo State, Chief Rashidi Ladoja, to the Peoples Democratic Party which he dumped in the buildup to the last general election. How far is this true?
That is not true. As of today, Ladoja is in Accord Party and still an Accord Party leader. It is true that PDP leaders are making frantic efforts to bring him to the their party. It is true he met with President Goodluck Jonathan but he never told the president that he was going back to the PDP. It is also true he met with former President Olusegun Obasanjo two weeks ago in Abuja and he was appealing to him to come back to the PDP. But he never told Obasanjo ‘Yes.’ It is equally true other leaders in the state have been coming to his house in Ibadan to convince him to come back to the party, but he has not told anyone of them he is coming back.
Yes, it is true they are discussing. But when you are discussing, it does not mean the discussion will end up in the affirmative. It can end up on a negative note. People should wait for Ladoja himself to talk.
But do you see the possibility of him going back to the PDP in the nearest future?
His going back to the PDP has to be committed to prayers. Ladoja and Alhaji Yekeen Adeojo are founding members of PDP. This is the scenario: Ladoja and others built a house called Oyo PDP and those in the party now, like Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, Senator Hosea Agboola, and even our Baba, Senator Lekan Balogun and a host of others, were more or less like tenants in the PDP. But today, these people are more or less some of the leaders of the party. Miraculously, the tenants became powerful and ejected the landlord. And through God’s wisdom, the ejected landlord, Ladoja, was able to build a new house called the Accord Party. The former house, PDP, is now crumbling and the powerful tenants are now calling the ejected landlord to come and help them rebuild the house and abandon his new house. If he says he is abandoning his new house for the crumbling former house, and in the future the tenants become powerful again and ejected him, will God be so merciful to him to build a new house? If I am in a position to advise him, I will say he should stay in his new house, and that anybody who wants him should join him there.
But he was quoted in the papers as having said the upgrading of the ministerial position given to the state from second to first-class status is one of the conditions the PDP must meet before he joins the party.
That is one of the conditions. He has not yet given them all the conditions. Let’s agree he told the president that Oyo State had been relegated to the minister of state status. Has the president corrected that one? This is a basic condition which is within the power of the president to correct. But he has not corrected them. And you think Ladoja is so foolish to just jump into that place? He needs time to think over things and cannot just be bombarded with things as they are doing now. When you see a group coming to him today and another tomorrow, you will know there is something fishy. The president and Chief Obasanjo have spoken to him; I would have expected that they allow him some time because it is not easy to forget the past.
Some people are saying Chief Ladoja is still interested in taking another shot at the governorship seat in the state. Is that true?
In politics, people are free to make assumptions. All those appealing to him have not said he should come and be governor; they have only said he should come and be their leader. And you know, if you are to be a leader, you cannot say you want to be governor. So, you can see the contradiction. I don’t think Ladoja has told anyone he wants to be governor again. People are just making assumptions. I think we should leave everything to God to give us good health and make us witness 2015.
Could he have made up his mind before then?
I cannot answer that question. Let God decide first. We are now at the crossroads. You know, for example, in the 2011 election, there were some of his followers who felt he should not contest. And some of us felt he should contest. Those who felt he should not contest left him. So, in 2015, some of us may say Oga, come and contest” and others might say “no”. We cannot be unanimous. This may break the bond.
The issue of him going also has another dimension. The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) leaders too have been to his house to woo him to join them. Governor Abiola Ajimobi was in his house, accompanied by his Chief of Staff, Dr Adeolu Akande and his Special Adviser on Political Matters, Alhaji Fatai Ibikunle. I don’t know why the press is not blowing that. He told them ‘No.’ Don’t forget most of these people are not telling him to join them because they love him or the masses; it is for personal interest. Some of them have a governorship ambition and they feel they can use his name to achieve it. Some want to be senators. I think if you want to use somebody’s name to achieve something, you are to go to the person and not the other way round.
What is your take on the nine-month ACN administration in the state?
The governor has performed below standard. May be he is still ‘clearing the mess’ Adebayo Alao-Akala left in office because he said he met a lot of mess. It is just like when you put athletes on the field and you tell them to run a1,500-metre race, all of them won’t run the race at an equal pace, which is why some will be first and others last. So, maybe Ajimobi wants to take a year or more to ‘clear the mess.’ If you put another person in the position, that one may spend three or two months to ‘clear the mess.’ If I am to assess him, I will compare him to my leader, Ladoja. If you look at what Ladoja did while in office in nine months, as Ajimobi has been in office, if I rate Ladoja 60 per cent, I will score Ajimobi 20 per cent. He said he has signed a contract for an overhead bridge at the Mokola Roundabout area, but have you seen the contractor on site? He claimed he has employed 20,000 youths, but I have not seen anyone of them.
The beneficiaries are being camped at Iseyin for an induction course that will get them intimated with the details of what they will do when they are deployed.
If that is the case, do you know how long the jingle has been running on the radio? Well, we have seen Keke Ajumose, which are the 1,000 tricycles that he bought. Any serious local government chairman would have done that successfully within three months in office because that is just like buying and selling. Assuming I become the governor today and it is part of my programme to buy tricycles, I will just place an order for them and within a month, I will be supplied and will pay. So, if after eight months, he has succeeded in buying 1,000 Tricycles- let’s assume he bought each of them N500, 000. That is N500million, for a state government, it is no achievement at all.
When, Alao-Akala was in office, do you know the number of cars and buses he bought? He bought hundreds of cars and buses. Compare that to 1,000 Keke Ajumose. So if you say 1,000 Keke Ajumose is an achievement, then you will have to multiply that by five as Akala’s achievement in the transport sector. Can Ajimobi tell us where he has built a classroom block? To build a block of three classrooms, you need just about N5million. When you look at what is happening in the state, you will say there is no governor in this state at all. As a former council chairman, I constructed 33 blocks of three classrooms within three months.
But some members of your party are in his cabinet. Don’t you think they are also responsible for the low score card?
The governor is the driver and it is whatever he wants that his cabinet members will do. If they are not performing, he can tell them, ‘Eh! Mr Man, please pack your bag and go.’
How prepared is your party for the local government election whenever it will hold?
We are fully prepared. Although we have heard the ACN members claiming they will write the results without counting the people’s vote. That is very unfortunate for a party that claims to have champions of democracy. Bola Tinubu will shout democracy, democracy everywhere. But see the type of scam they did in Lagos State as local government elections. The foundation of democracy is one man, one vote. But did the people’s votes count in Lagos? ACN has no moral justification to champion democracy in this country any more.
Let Ajimobi try the Lagos fraud of an election here in Oyo and see what will happen. Apart from the commotion that it will generate in the state House of Assembly, the issue of fragile stability of his government won’t make him do it. There is no ACN in Oyo; it is a government of owo olowo, ese elese that we have here. Do you want me to convince you? ACN has two senators who moved from the PDP. It is the same in House of Representatives- Honourable Kamil from Oyo was a PDP member. Even Ajimobi himself, is All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) in ACN clothes. He contested the 2007 governorship election with the party and through God and the assistance of Ladoja, he came to limelight. And when you look at his cabinet, you will see Accord even gave him two commissioners, and PDP also has members there: Adeojo Kafayat, Yunus Akintunde, Sumbo Owolabi, Deolu, the Chief of Staff is PDP, and others too.