‘PDP can’t defeat APC in Osun’
Legal luminary and All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain Mr Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), in this interview with BISI OLADELE, reflects on the recent Ekiti State governorship election and contends that the outcome of the Osun poll will be different.
What is your reaction to the outcome of the Ekiti State governorship poll?
Well, the Ekiti State election appears to all of us as the harbinger of the major elections in 2015, although we had the Anambra State election before it. But, the Ekiti election served as the opener and the Osun election is fast approaching. These two elections are key to what will happen in 2015 and this worries someone because there is probably something that happened that is not clear to everyone. That result, to people like us, who have had the opportunity to go to Ekiti from Ondo State, and are also neighbours to Ekiti, will agree that the result of the election is not a true reflection of the people’s wish. People have come up with several ideas as to what went right and what went wrong. But I think people are not deceived as to lose sight of the impact of what good governance has done to Ekiti State with Fayemi as the governor it does not follow reason. Or how logical is it that people will push aside achievements as Fayemi has made and vote against him in all local governments?
The APC has lost the governorship election in Ekiti. What does this portend for 2015?
Well, that was why I said the Ekiti election was a forerunner to the 2015 election for the APC. One can still live by and accommodate the Ondo State election. The ACN then, was not the party in power. It is still tolerable in spite of the fact that the voters’ register was injected with over 160,000 names. The incumbency, we can still say, is one of the major factors. But, here in Ekiti, it does not stand to reason, it is not logical. Those indigenes from Ekiti through the media have just woken up from a bad dream to say this is not possible. What does this now portend for the APC? Of course, it is a dangerous trend, which is why the Osun State election has become one to prove that the APC is still in total control of the Southwest, in spite of whatever has happened in Ondo and Ekiti.
What is the chance of the APC in the Osun governorship election?
Osun State is a different place, no doubt. The governor is a grassroots person. Luckily, that was what probably people did not realise when he started and he talked about “Walk to Live.” That is a mass mobilisation kind of event and this happened every month. I have attended a couple of them and you need to be there to see how people trooped out to follow him. So, in Osun’s case, you need to have attended the rallies. I was at the one in Ile-Ife to see the way people turned out. I am talking about the multitude. You would have seen that it is not one in which they are pretending, people are showing true love to their candidate. So, in Osun’s case it is neither like Ondo nor like Ekiti. Whether we like it or not, Rauf Aregbesola is enshrined in the minds of the people, not like Ekiti. He is a grassroots person, he has organised programmes which he uses to relate with the people and people still respond.
Many SSS men and other security forces have been deployed in Osun. What is the APC’s view on this?
The APC’s view on this has been clear and said over and over again; that the over-militarisation of a civil event like an election is not welcome by us. It is an attempt to subvert the will of the people and that was what was done in Ekiti. They carried the militarisation in Ekiti to an extent that the party itself is trying to take up a suit. You do not come in the wee hour of the election and arrest the opposition. You are scaring them and their leadership so that you can perpetrate all sorts of illegalities. This was what happened in the Ekiti State election. Do not bring soldiers. We do not need military men during elections. It is not a war situation. What do we need military men for during elections? If the Nigerian police cannot mobilise enough men and officers during election, then, there is a problem.
So, what will happen during the general elections? They will deploy the entire military force across the country, painting a bad picture for the general election? Our party has said: “No.” We tried in Lagos with some actions saying no to militarisation in election, before election or after election. It is unwarranted, it is dehumanising. Incidentally, when Rotimi Ameachi was harassed out of Ekiti, I was one of those that went to meet him. The soldiers were clear in their words that they had orders not to allow him interact with anyone. You restrict people’s movement. Is that normal? Is it constitutional? He did what he could do, explained himself that he knew the governor. But, he was denied entrance into Ekiti State. They did not allow the plane of Gov. Oshiomhole to take off from Edo State.
The planes of Rabiu Kwakanso and others from Kano State were not allowed to land. The plane of others from Ondo could not take off from Akure back to Ekiti because the airport was closed by the military. You cannot adopt this method and still say that the election was free and fair. It was not. So, these are the examples of unfairness that happened in Ekiti State and we are saying it loud and clear that they should not repeat it in Osun State. But it appears that they are determined to go ahead to militarise the process, prior to the election and during the election. What I am sure of is that they will be biting more than what they can chew in Osun because people are wiser. They had it in Ekiti, but the Osun people are wiser, they will react to it. Of course, any chaos will disrupt the election, so it will be wise enough if they allow the police to man the civil event.
What is your reaction to the militarisation of elections?
I have said it over and over again that we should now back up our complaints with action. I think our party should start with civil disobedience, if we say no election should hold, especially now that we have military men around. It is not wrong at all. All we have to do is mobilise the people for a peaceful protest. We are not going to burn houses or cause any chaos. We just need to sit down, stage a protest before the election. That is a way to say that this cannot continue. I will advise my party not to take things lightly because you might be here for good, but the military is not here for good. They are not there for good because what has happened in Ekiti State is a signal to us, where Daramola and others were taken from their houses and arrested. We do not want a repetition of that in Osun State. The time has come for us to back our words and complaint with action. The election must not hold, unless the military is taken out of the picture. For someone like me, I believe we do not need the military there for anything. I believe anything the military wishes to do, the police can serve that purpose.
Controversy has trailed the achievements of Governor Aregebesola. Is this not a minus as the state goes to poll?
I think the APC is going to win the election in Osun State. I have no doubt. I travel there often and I can see the things on ground there already. You know, some matters are based on fallacy and rumour by the PDP candidate and other parties. Let’s ask ourselves, which government is not owing? Even, the Federal Government and the American government is in debt. They are still paying the money. There is no country in the world today that is not in debt, probably not China and that is because of their approach. But there is no country that is not in debt. Even in Nigeria, there is no state that is not in debt. Even Lagos State is in debt. Borrow money to do good things for your state. You have men and material, you have the capability to build. So, there are one or two things you can borrow money and do and people now come up and say he borrowed money for some things. He borrowed money for necessary things and people can say this is what the money was used for. The great schools he built, the Opon Imo device, the uniforms he introduced, the greatest of them is feeding in the schools. It is a known fact that there are several children who attend school today who their parent cannot afford proteinous food for them. This is what is being done in the primary and secondary schools in Osun State. It is a great thing that is being done. It allows the mental development of the children. If he is borrowing money to feed the children so that at the end of the day, he can have good brains who will excel in their primary, secondary and tertiary schools and come out and make the state proud; they will be able to come and bail the state out. It is just pure politics that people are shouting about his borrowing. Which state does not borrow money?
Which of his achievements do you consider the greatest?
The roads. This just did not happen overnight. It must have come from years of researching and travelling. For you to construct the roads, the drains, he has shown that he was truly the Commissioner for Works in Lagos for good eight years. And he has made significant impact on roads. You need to see the good road network here and there. Not just any road, but also the interior ones that can be seen by the people here and there. Those who go to the farm use the roads to go to their farms and also to transport their crops here and there to sell. It becomes easier for them. They do not take short cuts that are stressful and take their time again, and they transport their goods in less than two to three hours. So, it saves them time. It is a great achievement. He has done a lot also in the area of farming. Before, there were some farmers who just get their land, plough the land, plant and leave. But now, there are mechanized ways of farming. Most of them have harvested a lot. Aregbesola also engaged thousands of youths. People were complaining. They would have been on the road, but now, a lot of them have turned the money they are being paid round and use it to earn more income. There are lots of them who have testified that with the money they were being paid, they have become employers of labour. Some have become self employed. So, when you employ thousands of people, as he has done, it is commendable. Whether anybody likes it or not, the Opon Imo too is a big project. so, apart from feeding and the welfare among countless things he has done, I think Rauf Aregbesola has shown that he is a visionary leader. The vision he has for Osun must be allowed to blossom. I call on the people of Osun not let anybody cut short that vision because the State of Osun is marching forward with him as the governor. In less than four years, Osun will be another Eldorado.
The APC has lost Ekiti and Adamawa states. Now, they want to impeach the Nasarawa State governor. Will this not affect the party in next year’s elections?
It will certainly affect the election. It all depends on what happens in the state. Take Adamawa, for instance. That is not to say that the APC will not win in that state. Assuming they have managed to remove Nyako, we have people like Atiku there, who should be able to work towards producing the next governor. Until we see the final result, we cannot say the APC does not have a chance. With the calibre of people in Adamawa APC and also Atiku, if they put in their best, I think the APC will emerge as the winner in the next election. I want to believe Ekiti is temporary. The APC will come back, we are in the tribunal and we have our facts. I do not think we have lost those two states. I think we can salvage the elections, salvage through the court process. At the end of the day, we will have the states back. As for Nasarawa, I am sure that, reason will prevail. I am sure that if they set up a panel they will find him not guilty and we will still have Nasarawa. And in 2015, if election is held in February, he is going to come back.
What about Governor Oshiomhole of Edo State?
They here are only jokers in Edo. The people who are in the minority came up and said they wanted to impeach the governor when all they relied on was federal might. I know it is impossible because Oshiomole is a grassroots man and he can mobilize very well. That is what he has been doing all his life. I do not think they have a chance. If they go beyond a particular limit, then he will be able to mobilize people. I assure you of one thing, assuming the Federal Government is able to carry out those things, that is not a sign that they will win the 2015 elections.
The 2015 presidential election is a different thing entirely. There are many things to put into consideration. The Federal Government cannot put the military in one place. It is an election throughout the whole country. The military and the police will spread out and at this time, I think the people will stand by their votes. I have always said it over and over again, if there is an infringement on your right, you do not have to first go to the court. You must stand your ground and seek redress there and then proceed for the action.
There is no amount of court order that will put an end to impunity and it has become a cankerworm that has gone deep into us. It is only in Nigeria that people will do wrong and beat their chest and say: “Yes, we have done it.” And nothing will happen to them. Ideally, in a sane society, you must search your conscience for the wrong you have committed against the people; you must feel bad against it. So, if they fail to feel bad about it, it is the duty of the people to call their bluff. Nigerians must be ready to call the bluff of anyone who believes impunity should be the order of the day. Do not wait for the court to tell you what to do, if your vote and your voting right is tampered with, call off their bluff there and then.
What you have been saying all along is that PDP is not likely to win the 2015 presidential election. Why do you think so?
I mean it, PDP cannot win because I do not think that people will want to continue with the lack-luster presidency. They are not people who will want to have a clueless presidency. You see, has it ever happened in the history of this society where we have this level of insecurity and the president has no clue to it? Nigerians are no fools, the suffering in this country today in the area of energy and light, that we have spent lot money to purchase darkness, is much. And you expect the person to rule? Nigerians are tired of PDP rule; 15 to 16 years and nothing to show for it. I know the PDP cannot win. The only thing they can do is to want to rig the election and I think Nigerians will call off their bluff. Nigerians must be prepared to do it, whatever it takes; we must be prepared to do it, to call off their bluff.
What is your sincere advice to all voters in Osun State across all political parties?
My sincere advice is: “please come out to vote according to your conscience. You can see the good works. Nigerians have a way of perpetrating negative things. I know another lexicon has come into our own dictionary now called ‘stomach infrastructure.’ Do not let that influence whatever you want to do. Think about it, look at what has been done in the last four years, look at what was done seven years before then, compare it, then make a choice. I can only advise you, the choice is yours. I call on people in the various political parties to consider the assessment, look at what has been done in those seven years and past four years, be honest and vote for Rauf Aregbesola.
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