Tunde Oladunjoye is the Publicity Secretary, APC Caretaker Committee in Ogun State. In this interview, he speaks on the recent defection of the three-time governorship candidate in the state, Gboyega Nasiru Isiaka, former deputy governor, Salmot Badru and other political bigwigs to APC. He also speaks on the return of the governorship candidate of Allied Peoples Movement (APM) in 2019 general elections, Abdul Kabir Adekunle Akinlade and his supporters to APC, among other sundry issues.
Governor Dapo Abiodun, during the formal defection of a three-time governorship candidate, Gboyega Nasir Isiaka, former deputy governor in the state, Salmot Badru and other political bigwigs to the APC, said anyone who wanted to come into the party should not come through the backdoor. What is the implication of the statement, particularly with the declaration of Abiodun Akinlade and other former APM members that they were back in the APC after the Supreme Court judgement?
Well, everybody experienced and knowledgeable enough should know that there are processes of joining the party. The party exists at the ward, so what ever you want to do as a member, you have to go back to your ward to join the party. That is why during election period, President Buhari will go and vote in Daura because his ward is in Daura. During Obasanjo’s time as president, he would go and vote in his ward, Ditto for former President Jonathan who would go and vote in his ward at Otuoke. So, the membership of the party emanates from ward and if they (Akinlade and his APM supporters) claimed that they have come back, we have asked them to go and join the party at the ward level. But up till now, we have not been informed that any of them has been seen or resumed meeting at their various wards.
In a political party, there is no carryover of membership. If you have been in APC for five years and you leave the party, when you return to the party, you will start afresh.
Political party arrangement and membership is like when Muslims line up to observe their prayers; there is what they call ‘Saafu’. There is no reservation of space; once you leave your space, you have forfeited the space.
We have thrown our doors open; we say we welcome all genuine members, all genuine people who want to join us, but we have not seen them. For those we have seen from the ADC, the PDP of Alhaja Salmot Badru, Gbenga Daniel, the Yewa Peoples Movement, we have welcomed and celebrated them because they came through the normal channel and they came through the open door. So, if they say they are in our party, we have not seen them and we don’t know them.
The governor is very clear that those who matter in politics in Ogun have joined the APC, so the question is who remains? And that is not to say that we don’t have one or two hangers-on trying to remain in other parties for whatever they will gain when the election comes.
But Akinlade claimed that they never left the party, but only used the APM platform to contest when his governorship ticket was snatched for the incumbent governor?
They are comedians! Even you that are interviewing me know that they left the party. If they didn’t, how did they become members and candidates of APM? They said they were cheated out, but the point is that they left APC. The claim that they were cheated is an assumption and is not correct and I don’t want to go back into the old long story because we have passed that stage. We have a new government, that is focused; we have a new government that you yourself can testify, as a journalist residing in Ogun State, that since the March 11 election, the state has been peaceful as against what we had between October 1, 2018 and March 9, 2019 when we had the governorship election. It has been peaceful, the governor has continued to run an inclusive government. And you will realize that in the history of this state, it has never happened that political opponents would be rushing to Iperu to congratulate Dapo Abiodun for his governorship election victory.
Prince Buruji Kashamu, Gbenga Daniel, Dr Ruben Abati, Rotimi Paseda, Gboyega Nasir Isiaka were among those that visited him to congratulate him and even Omawale Omoniyi that was in London also sent him a congratulatory message for his victory at the polls, it has never happened in the annals of our state.
Political watchers in the state are of the opinions that the return of Akinlade and lifting of suspension on former governor Ibikunle Amosun, will portend a serious challenge to Governor Abiodun in 2023. What is your take on this position?
God is in Charge of 2023. My principle is that I don’t talk about 2023 and I use to laugh when I see politicians in 2020 talking about 2023. Many of us don’t have the fear of God, nobody is sure of who will wake up tomorrow, it is only by God’s mercy. Nobody is sure of who is going to last till the end of the month or who is going to last till the end of the year and now talking of 2023. For me, I think it is very wrong for someone to start running around now because of 2023.
There is no doubt that I personally saw the coming back of Akinlade and co. To me, it is return of the biblical prodigal son, the only difference is that unlike the prodigal child that was humble, they have not been humble, they are out for mischief, they are out to heat up the polity.
But I am not moved, and I don’t think the governor should be moved, I don’t think our party should be moved. If Amosun as governor, with all his shenanigans and big pocket, with all the connections with security agencies and with all that they did for us when we were campaigning and they still lost the elections, what more could he do when he is outside government and when his popularity is dwindling? We are relying on the Almighty God, when we reach the bridge, we will cross it.
For us, we just want to do our job. Amosun has used his tenure, though some people are still hanging around him to deceive him, praise-sing him that he is this, he is that. And he should know that even the multitude of those hanging around him could not help APM win the last governorship election for him. My advice for him is that he should realise that he is no longer the governor of Ogun State; someone else is there now. And whether he likes the person there or not, whether he supports the person there or not, it is no longer his term and he has to be cautious and give regards to the person that is there now
What about the federal appointments being facilitated by the former governor for his loyalists?
On the issue of appointments, Mr. President owns the prerogative of giving federal appointments just like the governor owns the prerogative on state appointments. But the point is that we are in power in Ogun State and what we need is people, the people we are serving. Once the people we are serving like what the governor is doing, advise and encourage him, we don’t have to worry about any individual. This is because you would ask yourself that when this particular individual was at the saddle, what was he able to do? Was he able to stop our candidates? What people need to do is continue to have faith in this governor that I call an Omoluabi. No matter the shenanigans that the former governor puts up, Governor Abiodun will be focused on delivering on his electioneering promises.
And when you take a look at the recent statement credited to the failed governorship candidate of the defunct APM, that they just went into the APM as a platform to contest for election, it showed desperation.
It is clear to everybody now that you cannot enjoy the mercy of the party on one side by celebrating the lifting of suspension on Senator Ibikunle Amosun by the National Working Committee and be on another side saying you don’t recognise the Caretaker Committee set up by the same National Working Committee of the party.
Politicians and some stakeholders in the state were of the opinion that Governor Abiodun’s administration was slow both on the appointment of commissioners and in the delivery of good governance, do you share this view?
The governor was only taking his time; don’t forget we didn’t get any hand over note from Amosun; the meetings where they were supposed to meet to talk, to advise and receive handover note never took place. And when you are in such a situation, you can’t behave like a blind man. You have to investigate before you start running around.
He had to set up several committees; you have to look at the various sectors to look at how the state is standing. What is the issue of salary and a lot of other issues. You cannot just come into the office running and chasing shadows. Those who did it yesterday, where are they today? How did they end their tenure? But this governor is a business entrepreneur who takes his time to study things in order to make an informed decision. So, I don’t see him as being slow or that the government was shut down or he wasn’t doing anything or project were not going, even if it is to provide palliative works on roads; reconstructing our schools, providing furniture, healthcare and water. So, I don’t see that as being slow. It is even better to be slow and to achieve result at the end, than to be having a motion without movement.