Ismail Omipidan and Chima Amaechi
Former Ogun State Governor, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, speaks on the chances of All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Prince Dapo Abiodun in this Saturday’s election.
Is the division in Ogun State APC ahead of the governorship election not worrisome to you as a party leader?
Not so whatsoever. I am lucky and grateful that we have a national chairman who has the courage, determination; and he is incorruptible; that has been steering the ship of the APC. The progressives that brought in Amosun in 2011 is back as one family. He that has joined us is the one that is out. The APC is a happy family. That is why despite the resources available to him; we won the three senatorial seats and seven House of Representatives seats of nine.
This Saturday election results will even be bigger because the liability of the incumbent chief executive that robbed on us during the election is off. So, the boundary is clear. He is no more APC. He is APM. Going to the field will now really test the true family of the APC and those who came to join us; who created confusion; imaginable magnitude, not only in Ogun State, but in the whole of South West; unheard of in the history of progressives in Nigeria. He is out with his team. On Saturday, the verdict will be clear. By the grace of God, we will coast home to victory.
Why did you campaign for Governor Ibikunle Amosun, who is fighting your party, during the presidential and National Assembly elections?
My orientation and training under Awolowo, who I was very close to, is to support the party. I always tell the whole world that, of all the living progressives in this country, the only two people who can claim closer relationship to Awolowo than me are Alhaji Lateef Jakande and Chief Ayo Adebanjo and the two of them know that I was as close to Awolowo as they were, except that they were with him longer than me until Awolowo died. That training is that the party is always supreme. Under no circumstance must one deviate from the party. My advice to party members on the election day was that they must go all the way APC. They must toe the line of the party, in spite of the grievances, the annoyance against the person of Amosun. At that time, he remained in the APC, although he has started the anti-party activities. But, as he was still on the ballot of APC, we voted for APC. We were not voting for Amosun. We voted for the APC. And I have no regret.
Talking about the suspension of the governor, why did it take the party so long to wield the big stick?
Then, you are not tactical. We were going into the presidential election where every vote should count. My vote is equal to the vote of the mentally derailed person on the street. I am not in any way superior. So, we needed everybody’s vote. Then, it is not tactical to expose ourselves to the money bags of the PDP. We wanted the presidential election to be over, which is national. Now, the governorship and House of Assembly elections are localised. It is now Ogun State. The president has no business with what we do in Ogun State. He will not vote in Ogun State. We, the people of Ogun State, will decide what will happen in Ogun State on Saturday.
Amosun is a liability to us. He has left the party. So, the party now has a clean slate. The people now perceive us as true progressives. I can tell you, where I voted, in the Government Reservation Area, everybody is highly educated; professionals. Titi Oseni scored 106 votes to Amosun’s eight votes. It shows you the liability that he is. It was the party; my appeal to the party; that made people to vote for him out of pain. In retrospect, people now said they were happy for heeding my advice to vote for him. He has now gone full blast for the APM. So, the line is drawn.
The suspension has raised questions. Some people said that he should have been suspended at the ward, local government and state before taking it to national for ratification. What do you think?
You caught an armed robber. You see the gun. The goods he was carrying were video-taped. And you now say that you must prove beyond all reasonable doubts. Well, the law is an ass. But, the law is also sensible. In the first place, we had written as far back as last year to the national leadership. You may not know it. I had written to the caretaker committee. The caretaker committee in turn, with those of us at the state caucus, signed the document. We told the State Working Committee to complain about his anti-party activities. On December 31, last year, at the crossover, he said APC will lose Ogun State. It was front page of The Punch. Then, at another point, he said: ‘I will work against Dapo Abiodun.’ We attached that document too. We had to expose all these to the National Working Committee (NWC). The National Working Committee cannot wake up one morning and say they had suspended him. We had complained. His ward had complained. His local government had complained. The state caretaker committee complained. During the presidential rally, he provoked us by bringing APM banners, APM billboard, APM symbol. He is lucky that our people are decent and responsible. We supplied the tape where he said he will destroy APC in Ogun State. What further evidence do we need? To go to the press? If you are queried in The Sun, do you go to the press? If you queried at The Nation and The Nation finally sacks you, must The Nation produce the steps it has taken? There is modern-day technology showing the evidence we attached; on these anti-party activities; since October, since the primary.
What is the position of President Muhammadu Buhari on these anti-party activities?
I am disappointed with the way the media is over-playing Amosun’s visit to Aso Rock. Amosun is suffering from a serious complex. Serious complex, inferiority complex, if he has confidence in himself, he doesn’t need to be running in and out of the villa. He is a governor. All governors are given direct access. A serious governor, a busy governor will not be going for photo-shopping with the president every day. He has gone there 28 times, from his words. What result did it produce? The president came to Abeokuta and you are referring to the president’s remarks: ‘vote for me, exercise your right to vote at all elections.’ First, he canvassed for himself as president, as a politician, and a president who swore to protect the constitution of Nigeria. He spoke as president; that the constitution guarantees your rights, freedom of association, right to vote for who you like. So, he spoke as a politician and as a statesman. It doesn’t bother me at all. The president has no vote in Ogun State. He has no direct say in the outcome of the elections in Ogun State. You don’t go and sit at the villa. President’s vote is in Katsina. The president has spoken as a statesman that we should go and exercise our rights as provided in the constitution. Now, we will go and exercise that right. I don’t need to go to the villa to exercise my right. The vote in villa is at the villa. It is not in Ogun State.
What edge does your candidate has over and above other candidates?
If you watch the result of last national elections, we produced the senator for Ogun West, which includes Yewas, Aworis, Eguns and Anagos. If we can produce Tolu Odebiyi as senator for that district, that is a big victory. And if we can score 6,000 out of 9,000 votes, is that not an indication that we are firmly on ground, even in Akinlade’s local government? That was an election where he was going about with arms, SARs and police. The commissioner of police was closing his eyes to his misbehaviour. Illyiasu is not the Commissioner of Police to be in an enlightened state like Ogun. He should be kicked out of the place. He closed his eyes and one of his boys was killed on the way to Ilaro . They wanted to ambush results. If you are on ground, you will not go and ambush results. The edge that we have is that we won that senatorial district and one House of Representatives seat in the so-called Akinlade’s area. We produced the senator in the Central. We produced all the three House of Representatives members. With Kashamu Buruji in his own Ogun East, we came first. If you add all these together, we are home and dry by the grace of God.
Will there be realignment of forces in favour of Dapo Abiodun ahead of the election?
I will not disclose that to you. Because I can tell you our greatest foe, normally is the PDP. I will throw the question back to you. Is the PDP settled in Ogun State?
You disapprove of the commissioner of police in Ogun State. He will still be there this Saturday. How can you curtail his alleged perceived partiality? What exactly did the commissioner do?
First of all, why I am upset with him is that, as a citizen of Ogun State, I pay tax to Ogun State, millions of naira every year. Let the governor himself disclose. I am among the first 10 that pay the highest tax to Ogun State Government. I demand the right for protection from Illyiasu. And Illyiasu has failed woefully. If his Commander-In-Chief is stoned, bottled water is thrown at your Commander-In-Chief; with a lot of policemen surrounding the hoodlums on that day, and the commissioner of police claimed not to have been able to catch one, that does not need any further analysis to show that he is a total failure. God forbids, if anything had hit President Buhari that day and he collapsed in that stadium, what will those of us from Ogun State say? The police commissioner did not catch one. I went to the president a week after. I asked: what’s going on? If not for the eagle eye of the Presidential Guard, who were sharp enough; even the domestic staff of the president fell flat behind the president on that day. The police did not found one person. I told the president that his bill board was being destroyed. Mr. President told me that, if it had happened in the North, it would have led to a riot. Yet, they threw things at the president and he commissioner of police did not catch anybody. What can the CP do to us? We have told our people to be ready to face anybody. The law says you have the right to defend yourself. You don’t wait when you see somebody with a gun pointed at you. You wrestle with the one and you fall down and they say murder. You can’t commit murder. It is self-defense. We have resorted to self-defense. Let one million Illyiasu remain as commissioner. We will cast our votes in a peaceful manner. Those who are backing him will be disappointed in Ogun State on Saturday when we deliver the state to the APC and Mr. President who has won his election. We don’t need the police. Where you are majority, God is with you.