Oluwaseyi Makinde, an engineer, is the Group Managing Director of Makon Group Limited, which is an indigenous oil and gas company in Nigeria. He is a philanthropist and politician, who hail from Ibadan, Oyo State capital.
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In 2007 and 2011, he contested for the senate and lost and in 2015, he ran for governorship position on the platform of SDP, but he again lost.
He is today running for the governorship again on the platform of the PDP. He speaks on the exit of Senator Rashidi Ladoja, a former governor of Oyo State, from the PDP and the implication of his defection to the ADC, and the standing of PDP in the state ahead of 2019.
Are you confident that PDP will do well in 2019?
Yes. Everywhere you go, you only have two parties in Nigeria right now; it is either APC or PDP. We are confident about our chances in the coming election. If you look at the result of 2015 governorship election and move back like two months before the actual election like December 2014, certain individuals were in PDP at that time. I was in PDP. Former governor, Alao-Akala was in PDP. Senator Teslim Folarin was in PDP up until two months to the general election before I left for SDP. Otunba Akala left for Labour Party. If you go back and put what PDP with Senator Folarin had, what Labour Party had and what SDP had, add the three together, we were 10,000 votes short of votes of the APC. If you put that together it will give you exactly 317,000 votes, subtract the votes which the Accord had and there are a lot of people who on the eve of election voted for Accord, they were PDP members but some of the PDP leaders had preference for Senator Ladoja. So, if we just came together, I meant all of us in December 2014, that was enough to win election. Now, if you add some of the Accord people that are here now, I think we are the party to beat and besides also what I have been hearing from people is that they want a new lease of life, they want something new and fresh.
There is this belief that you tactically drove out Senator Rashidi Ladoja out of PDP. How did it play out?
I will say that I was disappointed that Baba left. You probably would have seen that I made a lot of efforts to reach out to Baba. There is no way a son can drive his father out of his abode. We have put the disappointment behind us and we are forging ahead.
If you look at the party structure, over 80 percent of the local government party chairmen are still with the party, and in numbers, at least 30 out of the 36 are still with the party. For the state executives, the same thing, close to 90 per cent of them are still with the party. Yes we had minor disagreement during the state congress but everybody, including the national leadership of the party came in here to appeal to Baba. They chartered a flight to come and meet him, they appealed to him.
I believe everyone tried their best but you can take a horse to the river, you cannot force the horse to drink from the river. I think we’ve tried our best and we would continue to reach out to Baba. If there is still opportunity to have a rethink, he is my father politically, he is also a ‘High Chief’ of Ibadan land. So, we cannot disrespect him. But having said that, we have to do what we have to do politically and that is what we are doing.
How will you respond to an allegation that you have been throwing money around to have your way?
People said I always throw money around to have my way, and I didn’t have my way in 2007. I contested for the senate and I lost. In 2011, I didn’t have my way. I tried to contest primary, I lost. I wasn’t the candidate of the party in 2015, the same thing happened, I didn’t have my way. So, I don’t understand their thought of me, having my way with money? I think, it is just a way to give a dog a bad name so that they can hang it. There is no fact in it at all.
Yes, I believe I have to give back to the society. I believe I have to help the needy.
It has been said that you inherited an empty party since the exit of Senator Rashidi Ladoja and some of his political associates from PDP. What is your position on this?
It is not an empty party because the executives at ward, local government and state levels are more or less intact. If you look at 2015 general elections results, you will notice that former governor, Ladoja, who was also a candidate in the election also lost. In 2011, he lost also. So, a tree doesn’t make a forest.
Regular people can come together and they beat the man that has mastered the game. This is what I have noticed as a trend. Politically, right now, a lot of ordinary folks are coming together to synergise. They are being motivated by the promise of the structure of leadership, good leadership for the party and for the state eventually.
So, more and more people are making a rethink and are coming back into the party. The door is open for a lot of people to come back and realise their ambitions within the structure of the party. So, if anyone is saying it is an empty party, he is far from the truth. You can do a check by yourself, I don’t want to mention names but you can fact-check.
An ex-governor of the state, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, was quoted to have said he rejected the PDP ticket being offered to him in order to woo him back to the party from the All Progressives Congress (APC). Was there any time that he was offered the party’s governorship ticket?
Well, what I heard in the news was that I visited him to convince him to come back to the party. He became a governor under the banner of PDP. So, PDP assumes the party is his natural habitat and this is also the type of visit that you see on a daily basis within the political environment. We visit ourselves, other parties visited me, but I didn’t go to the press to say they offered me anything. You just keep pushing on because at the end of the day, it’s about service to the people and I will rather address issues that have to do with how we want to serve the people, how we want to turn things around, how we make a good model out of our state? Yes, I visited him, we had discussions and what was reported in the press was far from the truth.
During the PDP crisis, did you personally visit Senator Ladoja in his residence?
I visited him personally and I prostrated with my chest torching the ground for him and I’ve heard from other people who visited him that he showed them where I prostrated. I should prostrate for my father not the other way round. So, there is nothing wrong in that.
You contested for the senate in 2007, and ran for governorship in 2015, but you lost. This is 2019, what have you learnt from those failures and have the lessons prepared you for the next election?
Well, we need to move one step higher. In 2007, it was my first outing and I had Baba Adedibu of blessed memory to contend with. Certain people came to me at that time, and told me that they were sure that my parents were not alive. If my parents were to be alive, they would have advised me not to contest against Baba Adedibu’s interest.
I am a fearless individual. I believe you have to do what you ought to do. So, in 2011, I thought I was on my way to defeating the incumbent senator then. But the party hierarchy thought otherwise. In all of these, I remembered that I kept on meeting people.
During the senatorial contest in 2007, I met quite a lot of people, I was in PDP then. I moved into ANPP then in 2011. We are back in PDP, the realignment and all sorts of things. So, in terms of one’s network, I think between 2007 and now it’s a lot wider. Also in terms of organisation, there is a great deal of difference between contesting for senatorial seat and contesting for governorship seat. You may think senatorial seat is just one-third of the state. The difference in how you organise yourselves and campaign structure is multiplied by 20.
In terms of coverage, it was a big learning point for us. Also, it was a big learning point for me personally. After the first election in 2015, we were called together to try and negotiate for common candidates to face APC. Then, I assumed that the only way we could defeat APC would be if Senator Ladoja and Otunba Akala had worked together. But it failed. They did not work together.
But this time again, Alao-Akala, Ladoja and you are still in different parties. Do you envisage the possibilities of a repeat of what happened in 2015?
It’s a little bit different now. I am back in PDP and most of the folks that were with Senator Folarin are still with us, where their major votes came from. If you go and look at the 2015 results again, SDP defeated PDP in Ibadanland and that is Senator Folarin’s catchment area. The votes for PDP came from Oke Ogun, which has Senator Hosea Agboola and he is still in PDP. Also, it won Ibarapa with Muraina Ajibola. He is still in PDP. The only person that contributed votes then that is not with us right now is Odebunmi from Ogo Oluwa/Surulere. But Senator Adeseun is there right now. He is still in PDP. I really believe that the mathematics is coming together and it’s really in our favour. So, we don’t have anything to freight about.
People believe that it would have been better for you to remain in SDP than crisis ridden PDP, what do you think?
There is a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed between the PDP and other political parties at the national level; watch out in Oyo State, this will be implemented. We will domesticate that MoU.
So, don’t let us fret yet. We may have one candidate for SDP, PDP and other parties. The only one I don’t know about is ADC because like I said, we must avoid disaster at all cost. We play politics differently. We have reasons why we are into politics individually. Also, we have various ways of tackling issues or dealing with issues. But I can give you the assurance that I have the physical and the mental toughness to face the challenges of contesting for an election and winning it and running this state efficiently, I have done it in the business world, I can do it in the political set up too.
People believe that the crisis in PDP in Oyo State revolves around you, and you know what Ladoja wanted. You said he didn’t want the governorship ticket, why didn’t you allow him to have his way?
On the issue of my name being all over the place, I think it was just a ploy to give me a bad name so I could be hanged. If Baba said he wasn’t going to contest, then what does he want to do with all the executives? Some people came to me and told me that Baba is holding this thing for me in trust and I told them let me hold some of this myself. I don’t think that is about opposition.