From Olayiwola Olanrewaju, Ilorin
Chief Gbenga Awoyale, is the president-General of Orisun Igbomina, a socio-cultural association for the people of Kwara South. A former leader of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), now a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), Awoyale, speaks on sundry issues of national importance as well as the outcome of the 2019 general elections.
How would you assess the outcome of the 2019 general elections?
Although, I am not in any way surprise with the outcome of the general elections because the situation has actually send signals to Nigerians even before we went to the poll. As per the presidential election, President Muhammadu Buhari won the heart of majority of Nigerians before the poll. He stood out tall as a discipline leader with zero tolerance for corruption and misappropriation of government funds. He faced reconstruction and rehabilitation of bad federal road such as; Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa road, Ilorin-Ajasse Ipo road, Lagos-Ibadan and approval of the second Niger bridge in the eastern part, improvement on the railway system, recognition of June 12 in honour of the acclaimed winner of the 1993 presidential election, Bashorun Moshood Abiola among other heart-warming policies capable of growing the nation’s economy. With the emergence of Senator Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila; as leaders of the National Assembly, there is no doubt that there would be harmonious working synergy with the executive arm and Mr. President will also find it easy to get some of his lofty programmes and policies done with.
That is national, but what of in Kwara?
When you look at the entire scenario, you will discover that the leadership style of Senator Bukola Saraki is nothing to write home about. People were already tired of him, so I am not surprised at the result. The local government election in the state was the starting point for the roadmap to the exit of Bukola Saraki in Kwara politics. The people demonstrated that the key of government house is in their hands and they are the ones to determine who occupies it. Therefore with the outcome of the last general elections in Kwara, it is crystal clear that government belongs to the people through the ballot box. And if you remember vividly, we had on several occasions tried our best to ensure that we guide the immediate past administration by bringing to their notice the plights of the people but since their interest was to build a political empire and not political institution where men and women of goodwill would contribute lofty ideas that will precipitate the desired growth and development of the state, they refused to listen. They showed high level of insensitivity to the demands of the good people of Kwara State. All they wanted was to be imposing governors on us in Kwara whose loyalty and accountability will be to the kingmakers/political godfathers alone at the detriment of the masses. The PDP was totally demystified without any stress and to the glory of God; no life was lost during the exercise. I hereby congratulate the people of Kwara State for the show of courage and liberation.
Is that why you were so silent for some times in the media especially on issues affecting Kwara State?
Ha! Thank you for that beautiful question. As beautiful as it is, it will also surprise you to hear that it is heart touching. I made series of interventions in making sure that the immediate past administration succeeds by challenging them on sundry issues of humanitarian concern, but they misinterpreted and misunderstood my moves and summoned the traditional ruler of my town, His Royal Majesty Kabiyesi Alaran of Arandun to Government House in Ilorin and begin to threaten him. They ordered him to go and talk to me to stop complaining about them. When the matter became obvious that they were humiliating him up to the point of asking him to sign an undertaking, I decided to stop my agitations. Some of the areas where I advised them on were on Sure-P programme, which worked in Ekiti, Osun and Niger states, but was a failure in Kwara State. Our people were set for liberation in 2015 but as God will have it, Saraki aligned his interest with that of Baba Buhari by joining the APC and he eventually escaped. But in the build up to the 2019 general elections, it was not business as usual, the people were prepared and he was totally sacked from political relevance at all levels. I want to say that the journey to 2019 victory started and took a very strong dimension in 2015 and eventually came to fruition in 2019 with the support of the entire masses.
Was there any move to settle with you then?
Yes, Senator Saraki made several attempts to settle with me. He sent emissaries to me and invited me. I turned down his invitations on several occasions and he later sent the chairman of Irepodun Local government to me because he was aware of my closeness to him then. When the chairman came to me, he pleaded with me that I should honour him by responding to Saraki’s invitation. On getting to him (Saraki), he explained to me at length and tried to convince me but I made him to understand that no going back because he cannot change. I told him that I had made up my mind for the collective interest of the people of the state whose mandate they are enjoying.
Did the former governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed make any peace move to you too?
Of course, he did. He sent the former Commissioner for Information and Communications, Alhaji Raheem Adedoyin. I told the former governor in clear terms that we may not win the election. I told him that with the style of their governance, they cannot end well.
There was alleged gang up against you by some indigene of Igbomina, what was the reason?
I don’t have any issue with any of them other than the fact that I supported Bukola Saraki to run for second term as the Kwara State Governor in 2007. They believed that it was the turn of Kwara South. I tried to explain to them that Lawal ruled under All Peoples Party, (APP) while Bukola Saraki came to power on the platform of PDP. I told them to allow him complete his second term. Saraki also promised to handover to an Igbomina after his tenure and to the glory of God, he brought Abdulfatah Ahmed who had served him as commissioner for eight years. Unfortunately, Saraki didn’t allow Ahmed to perform; he gave him close marking. Kwara people would have enjoyed Ahmed if not for Saraki’s factor.
How would you describe Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq?
His father is a renowned lawyer in Nigeria who enjoys respect and honour globally because of his uniqueness. The governor should know that his victory was destined by God as such he should learn from the mistakes of past government and warm himself into the heart of the innocent people of Kwara State. He should ensure that the spirit of inclusiveness is upheld always and give them sense of belonging. He should always patronise indigenous contractors in construction, rehabilitation and purchases in the state. That doesn’t mean that he should compromise quality, meritocracy should always be considered above mediocrity.