Agunloye: I did not betray Bola Ige
*The reason I dumped ACN
Dr Olu Agunloye was a minister under the Obasanjo administration, after a stint in the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC). He is one of the trusted friends of the late Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige.
Ahead of the 2011 polls, Agunloye was a leading senatorial candidate for Ondo North Senatorial District under the Labour Party. He left the party for the ACN after Senator Robert Ajayi Boroffice got the ticket. He has since returned to join hands with Governor Olusegun Mimiko for his second term ambition following his dissatisfaction with the ACN leaders in the manner they handled issues after they picked the party governorship candidate Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, in the run up to the October 20 Ondo State gubernatorial election. He speaks, in this interview, on the intrigues and politics that produced Akeredolu and why the ACN may not win the October 20 gubernatorial election in Ondo State.
On why he returned to the Labour Party he left about a year ago to now support Dr Olusegun Mimiko for his second term ambition.
I do not think it is correct to say that I was schemed out of the ACN. You will realize that the process of breaking the news of Akeredolu’s candidature started on June 10, 2012 even though, at that time, a lot of information had filtered out that it was Akeredolu that had been pre-selected since October 2011.
There were moves to cover this up but it became clear at the end. When you want to decide what happened in my case, I had the opportunity to explain to Asiwaju Tinubu himself that there were one and a half issues. The half of it is that after 14 months of strenuous efforts to build ACN and spending money to build network for the party, I did not get the ticket. So, naturally, it is painful.
Is that what eventually led to your exit?
The main issue is the process of handling the entire thing. You should understand that I did not storm out of the party. I spent six weeks criss-crossing Nigeria chasing after the proprietor of the party to find out what could happen to my followers, how I could be compensated and what would happen.
As at that time, you must understand that they did not have all these ways of explaining their choice of Akeredolu. At that time, we went round because we knew that the party’s structures had been weakened. The question was what to do about this and Akeredolu was one person that did not have any structure, network and even voter’s card at all in Ondo State.
He has never voted before in Ondo State and he is neither known well in any part of Ondo State. People remember him as a lawyer with white beard. On the political terrain, he is not even well known in Owo. So this shows that the proprietor of can had selected a very weak candidate which gives the impression that they were not really targeting winning election.
Did you seek redress following the alleged imposition of Akeredolu by the leaders of the party?
I went round, it was about four times to Tinubu in Lagos, and I went three times to Aregbesola in Oshogbo. In one of the invitations of Aregbesola to me, I was in Abuja; I had to come by taxi to Osogbo to make that appointment on a Sunday because there was no flight.
I also travelled from there to see the chairman of the party and again to Ekiti State all on this issue. The summary of it all was that he (Aregbesola) wanted to use the Omoluabi Platform. I said do I take the Omoluabi Platform because to me the platform that I set up is not what I can drive away from the party or sell to Oshiomhole in Edo State?
I remember vividly that Aregbesola told me he would work out some structure on how to operate it. The fact is that I could not operate Omoluwabi Platform as special adviser to Akeredolu or as personal assistant to Alasoadura. After two weeks, he could not come up with a structure and he called me back.
He called one man again, Dele Ogunsakin, who had a structure called Independent Campaign Group (ICG) which was used in Lagos State in 2003. He said the ICG would be used in Ondo State. I reminded Ogunsakin to take into consideration the difference between Ondo and Lagos State so that he did not bring Lagos formula hook, line and sinker to Ondo State.
Eight days after, the structure was not ready and Aregbesola called me to Lagos State again where we met with Asiwaju who said the same thing that they needed to use the Omoluwabi Platform. The only thing I would not do is to operate it for them and Aregbesola had suggested ICG.
Tinubu condemned ICG and explained how it would not work. Tinubu, Aregbesola and Akeredolu had met for several hours on the issue before I was invited to the meeting later that day. At the end of the day, Tinubu said I should go back to Ondo State and work with Akeredolu, Alasoadura and the party Chairman to work out a formula that will be okay. I came back to Ondo State and held a meeting with Akeredolu but Alasoadura was absent.
The party’s acting chairman invited the treasurer, Ade Adetimehin and secretary, Gboyega Adedipe, to the meeting. We discussed that we needed to use the platform and we agreed to reconvene the following Monday with a draft structure. Before that meeting on Monday, Adedipe had sketched a couple of things and discussed them with me. Adetimehin also arranged a meeting with Governor Kayode Fayemi in Ado to discuss the matter.
I was very ready for the arrangement that would produce a workable structure for the party that would also ensure that my own followers would not be marginalized because it was clear to me having not got the ticket, my target for myself had failed. Now I did not want a situation whereby my supporters would get out of the system
without anything to show. We agreed at the meeting with Fayemi that we would take the draft plan to Oshogbo to finalize it with Aregbesola before we then take it to Tinubu.
On that Monday, I was one on one meeting with Akeredolu which was good because that was the first time we would sit together to speak on this same matter. He was worried about how this would work out but I assured him that after the general meeting with Alasoadura and others, things would be settled.
When I got to the party’s secretariat that Monday, I knew I must have joined the wrong meeting because I saw Alasoadura, Akeredolu, Chairman and two other people (Chairmen Ondo Southern and Northern Senatorial Districts). Baba Elemeje and Baba Akintimehin were in that meeting but one seat was vacant and that was the seat for the Central Senatorial District Chairman.
I thought that seat was my own and I sat down. I found out that other things were being discussed and they were not going to drive me out of the meeting. When I caught the idea of what was going on, I tried to participate but strategies and other things were going on which showed to be that work can actually go on without participation from me or my group. I also found out that two people each were selected per local government and I was not part of it.
I raised objection to the fact that they selected two people from my local government without my knowledge. They said I should allow one of my principal officers from Ondo North to select two persons from that council. Meanwhile somebody had leaked to me the information about the goings-on. What was actually going was to sideline me and the Omoluwabi Platform and a couple of people. They had many explanations to give which were not satisfactory.
On allegation that he was induced to return to Labour Party and that he was a mole in his former Party.
It is not good for me to treat that in isolation. I will treat it in batches. As part of the cries of the ACN, they had shown a lot of conflicts. One, for instance, the National Chairman of the party went ahead to say that I was a mole sent by Mimiko to ACN.
It is unfortunate that Akande could say such thing in his interview. It is a contradiction that the same people who said that I was a mole said I was induced with payment. The work I did in ACN is clear to be seen. Akande said many things that were contradictory.
Another contradiction in the ACN is the so-called betrayal of Bola Ige. I was shocked that that came from Akande. When I became Minister of Defence,
all the Alliance for Democracy (AD) governors came except Adefarati. So at what stage did I become a betrayal? For nine years, I funded Bola Ige Movement and mentored it before the governors took over at the tenth year. At that time, they did not say I was a betrayal.
Bisi Akande also forgot that by December 26, 2010 when I was in LP, there was an event for Bola Ige in Esa-Oke, the seats reserved for Bola Ige ‘s associates, only the two (Akande and I) of us there. Ten days after, I had problem in LP and I switched to ACN.
Therefore, at what stage did betrayal come in?. Bisi Akande and others are only contradicting themselves. It shows that ACN only has a political business model for Ondo State and once they put their minds on that, every other thing they do will not go right.
The election is few weeks away what are the chances of the Labour Party?
Let me be honest here. Some of the way we lost teams in the ACN will turn out to be victory for LP. As at middle of April, we held a meeting where we concluded among ourselves that the LP would win the election as at that time because the ACN was not ready for the election.
We then said to ourselves that we would need to work hard to take the advantage of what we had done in the ACN to win the election. April and May were gone, the integration of those that were brought to the party needed to be done, and ACN did not do it. They first asked Olaiya Oni to do it but these leaders sabotaged Olaiya Oni.