Former Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Hon. Kehinde Ayoola, in a recent interview, spoke on the recent political developments in Oyo State and the controversy over the governorship ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party. Ademola Adeyemo presents the excerpts:
What are the chances of the PDP in the 2015 governorship election in Oyo State amid internal crisis in the party?
The chances of the PDP are very bright going towards 2015 because the people of the state have seen the APC government in action in the last three and half years. They have seen their elitist and arrogant policies – policies that have impoverished the masses. People, who are in the informal sector, I’m talking about the hawkers, have been deprived of their means of livelihood. This government has not embarked on any poverty alleviation programme and the major issue in our society is poverty. If a government is able to address it, then it has found solutions to more than half of the problem in our society. The APC has not done that in the state and therefore, our people are looking with hope towards the PDP to provide that leadership. The hope is even more stoked by the fact that we have an array of capable hands in the PDP.
Don’t you think the large numbers of aspirants will do themselves in as they are locked in unhealthy battle?
It is not a problem. If it is, it is a good problem to have an embarrassment of riches of candidates, who can actually hold this office and do well with it. The issue of factions is more superficial than it is deep-rooted in our party. By the time we pick our governorship candidate, all the other groups will come together and work for him. Many people in our people worked against the party in 2011. They have seen the other side; that the grass is not always necessarily greener on the other side. So, they have learnt their lessons and they have now returned home. They are now back to the PDP because when you look at the synergy of these individuals and groups in Oyo State, the APC cannot withstand it when the push becomes the shove. So, we know that we have a party that is capable of winning the election in Oyo State and send the non-performing APC parking.
Some observers say your candidate, Mr. Seyi Makinde, should not have been part of the gang up to zone the governorship ticket to Ibadan?
Why? Is he not a native of Ibadan? If he didn’t come, he would have been accused of either being anti-Ibadan or a bastard of Ibadan because issues were raised that bothered on Ibadan’s interest in the unfolding political arrangement at the meeting. So, he did the right thing by attending the meeting. The sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, said that we should attend any meeting we are invited to. It is only what is against your interest which is said at the meeting that you should not go with. So, politics is about meetings to iron out interest and harmonise positions.
Don’t you think it is better to provide a level-playing ground for all the contestants?
I have told you about something that preceded it. There was a meeting held by Ogbomoso aspirants and leaders of the PDP in that zone, where they resolved that they would only back an Ogbomoso candidate. So, the Ibadan meeting was a reaction to the Ogbomosho meeting. It is like me refusing to attend a meeting called to discuss the interest of home town, Oyo, I would be a bastard to do that.
I want to, as a man, who God has given the privilege to occupy the number three seat of Oyo State, a man who has closely and participated in the politics of the state for the past 15 years fully back Seyi Makinde for the PDP ticket. He is young and that means he will be a bridge between the younger elements in the society and the older ones. The younger elements in the society, people between 18 and 45 years, have been totally marginalised from determining the affairs of our state and Nigeria over the years.
Two, he is educated in the sense that he understands what the issues are in our society today. He knows that our own oil in Oyo State is agriculture and that our wealth is locked up inside agriculture. So, he has brilliant ideas on how to unlock that wealth to the benefit of the masses, teeming youths, who constitute 70 per cent of our population, according to 2006 national census. Makinde is not a hungry man.
He is man that has been blessed with means to take care of his basic needs. He is not a man that does not have a second address. Some of the people angling to become governor today, ask them what is their job? What have they done before; what are they doing right now as a means of livelihood? The money Makinde is making is not out of a government contract or something he must have siphoned in an earlier political office. No! He is bringing the money from the sweat of his brawl.
What of the much talked political experience?
When people say he doesn’t have political experience, what they are saying is that he has never been a governor or senator before. Those, who have been governors and senators before that are running for this office now, can we ask them what is it they are bringing into it again? Is it an experience of mismanagement of resources? Is it an experience of not being spirited enough to do those things that would make people happy and live a comfortable life and not as sub-humans? Is it an experience of bringing their wives and girlfriends into government, where the mantra of money interest will hold sway?
Is it true that President Goodluck Jonathan has anointed an aspirant for 2015 race in Oyo State?
People have been fed for several months with the odious lie that the Presidency has ‘promised’ someone the PDP governorship ticket for Oyo State. The spin doctors first moved from “the state executive of the party is in our pockets” to “Jonathan is backing us”. Our people, especially unwary and innocent party members, have helped to circulate this lie for so long.
This is therefore the time to stop it. It is a lie. The PDP is a big ocean that invites all kinds of fishermen to fish in it. It is not a private fish pond kept at the exclusive pleasure of the owner.
The chief promoter of this lie has tried, as we are aware, to see the president several times but did not succeed. He has been using methods common with 419s including fear appeal to keep people in his grip. Our people must be told the truth. PDP gubernatorial ticket will be fought for and won at a Primary Election in which only Delegates will vote.
The truth is that those spawning these lies do not even have a fraction of the credibility they claim to have with the presidency as the highest institution in Nigeria. So also, their records with the people are at the lowest.
Your candidate, Seyi Makinde, promised to sink boreholes for the displaced traders at Aleshinloye. What happened?
Some thugs were sent from the office of Chairman of Ibadan South-west local government on Monday to stop Omi Tuntun engineers from drilling a borehole that Engineer Seyi Makinde had promised the traders whose stalls were razed by fire some weeks ago at Aleshinloye Market.
It was based on the ridiculous excuse that we did not take permission from the LG before drilling a borehole there.
This is a government that is not known for quick response in emergency cases. It took days before any semblance of reaction could come after the 2011 flooding. It took the humanitarian visit of Seyi Makinde to Apete community (where he released three buses to convey their children to school at Sango) before the Ajimobi government copied the same gesture.
Similarly, it took the visit of Seyi to the Ife Road plank market before Ajimobi would go there.
And of course, Seyi Makinde’s N1million plus the borehole was what spurred the governor to action on the Aleshinloye traders’ plight.
Now this good gesture has been stymied by people who see politics in everything.