Senator Christopher Iyiola Omisore, former Deputy Governor of Osun State and past Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation is by far known in political circles than in any other sector. In this interview by REMI ADEFULU, the Ile Ife prince speaks on a variety of national issues, including the Buhari administration and his alleged link to the controversial death of former Justice Minister, Chief Bola Ige, among others.
You have been rather quiet, what is happening?
Well, I have not been quiet actually. The point is that in politics, in governance, at this level, you can’t just be talking for talking sake, and I discovered that over the last 16 years that I have been involved directly in government, I have stayed off my core area of discipline, which is academics or engineering. In the last two years, I have been very busy imparting knowledge, delivering lectures.
I have not been quiet. I have been busy professionally. I have been doing a lot on what I call ‘Omisore beyond politics’. I have been on many COREN assignments, NSE assignments. Politics has been seen as a profession for me, but it’s not. Politics is only a vocation. I am an outstanding successful professional engineer
But there is the opinion that you are quiet because PDP lost the last election, how true is this?
Like I said earlier on, I have been busy, very busy with my profession, my business. Yes, PDP lost the last election and the party needs time to get its acts together. My practice is very engaging and even busier than politics.
What is your assessment of the Buhari administration?
Like you know yourself, everybody in Nigeria knows APC has been on blame game and Nigerians have said they should stop blame game form of governance, which shows that APC has been a failure in the last two years in all ramifications.
How do you juxtapose this with the alleged treasury looting allegation against your party by APC?
Blame game means propaganda that lacks substance. There is no point deceiving yourself. When you inherit a government, you inherit it with assets and liabilities, so you can’t leave out assets and blame PDP for liabilities. They should just stop blame game and move the nation forward.
You were in the Senate in the recent past, what do you miss about that institution?
I was a Deputy Governor, I was Senator, and I have been in engineering practice before now. Basically, life is like an excursion you must be a pilgrim in life to be successful. Each time I pass through a phase in life, I thank God for my effort and move to the next level.
Are you not worried about recent events in the Senate?
The issue is that Nigerians should appreciate that the legislature is the only arm of government that makes democracy because each time there is military coup, you have only the Executive and Judiciary and because of the long absence of the legislature over the years, Nigerians are yet to appreciate the legislature. The Senate is a learning curve. It is a learning process, I am not surprised. I am not disappointed. I just feel that it is a way of growing.
Do you think the APC has been able to manage its numerical advantage in the National Assembly?
That is the mistake people are making, when you are in the National Assembly after your election, you become a statesman. You become a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, not Senator of APC or PDP. You have to look at Nigeria holistically and make laws in the interest of the country. Where party interest comes in conflict with national interest, of course, national interest will take precedence.
There is this belief that Iyiola Omisore is a rough politician, is this true?
When you say I am a rough politician, I don’t know what you mean. I have never been rough in my life, maybe that is the perception of my enemies. When you want to assess somebody, you need to look at his pedigree. Where he is coming from. You can’t count core professionals in the South-West without mentioning Iyiola Omisore, I must be among the first 10. We brought our experience, our wealth into politics. It’s just pure blackmail.
How would you assess the Aregbesola administration?
I am not the only one you have to ask about Aregbesola. You need to go round Osun State, where workers are being owed for 22 months, where there is no single project completed in almost seven and a half years. What else do you want me to say? It is not an opinion; Aregbesola has failed woefully in Osun. He is the worst governor in this country. Before he came in 2010, we were about sixth in WAEC and NECO, we are now about 31. I don’t want to talk about him anymore. He has become an embarrassment to us in this state.
How do you juxtapose Osun debt profile with its level of development?
I have said it before now, if there is development in a state, you can justify the debt profile. The money is just being stolen away. The money has been taken away to their landlords in Lagos. We are just unfortunate with Aregbesola. I have to look at somebody’s pedigree before complaining. The 2014 election was lost by APC. If you go to google you will see the actual result there. He came through Salamigate in his first term. Obasanjo condemned that recently, if not for Salami, he would not have been governor. He has never won any election in this state. He has no business here.
Is that why you still want to govern Osun State?
It’s a call to service, I have enough experience, enough contacts to serve this state from the knuckles of oppressors. It’s a call to service.
We learnt the Ooni of Ife is against your ambition, is that not a minus?
The Ooni is not a politician. The Ooni is the Ooni of Ife. I am Senator Omisore, the Apesin of Ife. What has the Ooni got to do with it? Those talking are busy bodies, jobless people. They are trying to create a wedge between two people. Of course ,they have failed.
The controversy over the killing of Chief Bola keeps raging years after his death, did you kill him?
No. I even went to court. The rumour is the handiwork of people who are deliberately wicked. I went to court for years and I was discharged and acquitted. What else do you want me to do? I even sued Oyo State government for N2bn for malicious prosecution. What else?
Why then do you think the rumour linking you to his death remains strong?
I don’t know the people you are referring to. I won election even in Esa Oke (Ige’s home town) even when I was in detention. They are just propagandists who go round writing rubbish. I am Bashorun of Ijesaland. There is no iota of truth in that allegation, except people who want to blackmail.
How did you win that senatorial election from prison?
You need to go and ask the people. That is why they have to celebrate Omisore to win election from prison in the whole of Africa. That shows that my people are understanding. Luckily for me, I won in the entire Senatorial district.
But there is the feeling that PDP did the magic, how true?
I was in detention at that time. Remember that the PDP House of Reps candidate, Wole Oke, lost the two wards in Esa Oke, why didn’t he win with PDP ‘s might? People don’t have time to understand, they only talk.
They should go and study the nitty gritty of election winning. As at the time I won in Esa Oke, Oyinlola and Wole Oke lost in Esa Oke same day. Nigerians should do their homework. That was why they fell into the hands of change (APC), and they are regretting now.
The Ekitigate video is still there, what role did you play?
I was not even in Ekiti. It was just a voice over. I was not there at all. I don’t know what happened. People should just stop promoting rubbish.
You are getting older, do you still have the agility to rule Osun State?
Age comes with experience. Ajimobi will be 70 next year. That means he started from age 62. Buhari is 74. This is even the best time to deploy my experience to erase the non-performance of Aregbesola in the last eight years.
Don’t you think the Buhari/APC factor is still strong?
I don’t think so. They are failing. No power, no roads, nothing, all promises cancelled. Nigerians have moved forward. The level of poverty, the level of suffering will teach Nigerians to mature by force, because people have to eat and they don’t have food on the table. No light, no roads, everything is just failing. Look at the value of the naira too. Everything has gone up. Even Indomie has gone up. I leave people to their choice.
Do you have faith in the economic agenda of this government?
The government is trial by error government. Let’s see, how it goes. Their case is just like what they call Aja Inu Iwe (Paper tiger). It can’t bark, when you see a government talking agenda all the time, it’s a confused government. Nigeria cannot afford another four years of bad governance. I am being a statesman, I am not blaming anybody.
There is divided opinion over the anti-corruption campaign, what is your take?
The moment you change from PDP to APC, you are not corrupt anymore. Somebody was saying in the newspaper that he was forced to change from PDP to APC. If the likes of Wole Olanipekun, Cardinal Okogie are saying the same thing, I think President Buhari must look inward. He should make it non political and people will now believe in it.
You appear more at Afenifere meetings now, why?
I have always been active in Afenifere, even before the Alliance for Democracy, I have been an active member of the group, maybe you have not been following the activities of Afenifere properly.
What Agenda do you think the Yoruba nation should adopt for 2019?
Yoruba will follow the agenda that pays. We have the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria. We call it DAWN. Every Yoruba must key into that agenda. We are enlightened. We have everything to our advantage. We should focus on things that will profit us.
Do you think that DAWN can work in a zone where the APC and PDP are major opponents?
It is about the people. When you are passing through Lagos to Ibadan, do you see APC? Immediately you win election you become governor or senator, you work for your people. You adopt the agenda of your people.
What is your view on the 2019 election time table?
You know, it’s a proposal by INEC. Let’s see how it goes. The law allows INEC to vary their time table, if there are reasons for it. It shows that they are ready and planning for 2019.
As a son of the soil, what is your view on the recent Ile Ife crisis?
It’s very unfortunate that two sides in a community fought, only one side was arrested. I was watching somebody representing the IG on television, justifying the unjustifiable. The IG was saying he did not allow the CP to handle the matter in Osogbo, because he is a Yoruba man. What of the IG, is he not an Hausa man? I think the IG and government should come clear, be honest and fair to all concerned.