Erstwhile deputy governor of Osun State and subsequently, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Iyiola Omisore is in the front of the campaign by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to unseat the incumbent All Progressives Congress, APC administration in Osun State. In this interview, Senator Omisore reviews the situation in the state and gives reasons why the PDP would do better in the state.
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Are you satisfied with the election time-table rolled out by INEC for the gubernatorial election?
INEC is an independent body, so the issue of satisfaction does not arise at all. There is no provision in the Electoral Act that says that every party must be satisfied. What is required is that INEC must do a good job for Nigerians to show neutrality, to exhibit independence and confidence in the populace. So, it is for us as political parties or aspirants to comply and find a way of working within the tenets of the INEC time-table.
Are you satisfied with the independence of INEC in Osun State?
We have a peculiar problem of the REC in Osun State, one Ambassador Akeju. His issue has been on the burner for quite a while now. Before the 2011 elections, PDP went to court to stop him from conducting the elections, we got a court order restraining him from conducting and parading himself as the REC for Osun State, but they went ahead and rigged the election massively for ACN at that time. INEC in their own wisdom went to the Court of Appeal to challenge that order.
Challenging the order
They lost at that instance and we went back to court to enforce our rights because the Supreme Court had said that anybody that has a judgment must have the right to benefit from it, and in our attempt to do so, between INEC, Akeju and ACN, they decided to frustrate that.
At a point, the REC went on air challenging whoever linked him with Bola Tinubu and in the second week, we came out with his direct links with Bola Tinubu as his former employee.
In one of Bola Tinubu’s companies and particularly where he went to represent Tinubu at public functions. We attached it to court papers and it was on that strength that the court said that he cannot conduct the election. Till today, headily, he is still there. So, we believe that our main problem in Osun State now is Akeju. With Akeju we cannot have a free and fair election. With Akeju, we wont operate with INEC. With Akeju, PDP will not submit to any form of screening. The saving grace for free and fair election in Osun State is to remove Akeju.
If he is not removed, what would you do?
The option we have is to stop him. There must be a level playing ground. You cannot have a supposed umpire to be a partisan person. It is against the Electoral Act. Even by the laws that set up INEC, he is unqualified to be an umpire.
What is your assessment of affairs in the State of Osun?
As we are in Osun State today, it is very unfortunate that we have the kind of leadership we have under Gov Rauf Aregbesola. Ordinarily, one would have thought that because he came through the courts and on the mercy of the judgment of Justice Salami, and with Aregbesola’s antecedents and with his profile and with what he has done before, I wouldn’t have expected anything better from him.
Because at the time he got the first judgment, he was standing trial for a criminal offence in an Abuja Federal High Court for forging a police report to the court. You see, his case was to be heard on a Monday, but with the connivance of Justice (name withheld) he was inaugurated and sworn in on Saturday. So, by the time the case came up on Monday, he already had immunity. So, we didn’t expect much from him anyway.
When you go and see what is happening on ground, there is so much of noise. I think the only thing he adopted is propaganda. He wants to build schools, he wants to build roads, but up till today, he has been able to build only five schools.
But your PDP administration didn’t build any?
They built many, many schools! Today, you have a class of 70 to 90 pupils in a class. You have students studying under trees, carrying their blackboards, carrying their chairs to schools. Distance between homes and schools are now farther, so you are now increasing the number of dropouts, number of touts and all that.
The next thing for him is the issue of noise making on road construction. Today, the only roads that he is doing are federal roads where he would be refunded and at very ridiculous and embarrassing rates. For instance, the Osogbo – Ijabe road was originally awarded by the Federal Ministry of Works in 2010 for N9.78 billion. The same road, the same design, the same specifications has now been jacked to N19.8 billion.
The idea of Aregbesola is not to develop, but where to get bulk money.
But the feeling out there is that you are bad losers, that the PDP administration did not do anything?
All the roads that they are doing today were started by Oyinlola. Oyinlola did the maximum in Osun State, he wasn’t inflicting pains on the people, no houses were demolished and done without noise-making.
The Sapara – Oshogbo road was done by the Oyinlola government and several road networks within the cities were done by Oyinlola.
What are your thoughts on the school re-classification programme?
Very, very embarrassing. It is suicidal. He has made us to lose dignity and all because he wanted to have common uniform for them.
Of course. They are making money on uniform per child. The uniform is supplied at N2,400 per uniform which is being sold in the market at N400. So, on that alone someone must have stolen about N12 billion. That was what led to the school reclassification programme so that there will be enough money to steal.
It is very unfortunate. I have never seen a government of this nature that is being driven by what you want to eat. That has been the focus of development. Anywhere they cannot locate money to steal, they remove their eyes from that area.
Will you uphold the renaming of the state as the State of Osun?
I wont because it is not necessary. What is important to Osun is what will benefit the people of Osun State. How are you going to alleviate their poverty? How are you going to create wealth? All those are unnecessary issues.
But when someone is half baked, half educated, it is always a problem.
Why do you say so? He is an engineer
I do not know, maybe he is an engineer with Vanguard. We have asked him to know his registration number. Every engineer in Nigeria has a number and that number goes with each person to the grave. We have challenged him a couple of times to show his certificate of COREN, his name is not there. I am a member, I am a fellow, I am a council member, his name does not show anywhere in our register. He is a technician. He is what we call Refrigeration Technician.
At that level of lack of education, he wants to play to the gallery, he wants to cover up his ills. There is nothing bad in State of Osun because every state is federated, but it doesn’t have to get to that semantic level, condemning letter headed papers, bringing out new logo instead of doing things that ought to be done. As it is today, there has not been addition of one pint of water in my state and the basis of life is water.
What will be the focus of your administration if successful at the polls?
My focus would be gainful employment, dignified jobs, not O-YES or O-No, not impoverishing or degrading student graduates under the guise of employment. Of course, education would be restored to dignity, give missions their schools back if they are interested and we will encourage the private sector to come and invest in the state too.
We will improve the health sector. As we speak now, there has not been any improvement in primary or secondary health institutions. As a PDP government, Osun State came fourth respectively in both UME and WAEC. Now, we are between 32 and 34 as we speak today and the number of school enrolment has dropped drastically because of the long distance to trek.
Religion is becoming an issue in Osun State today. How would you as governor calm frayed nerves?
Aregbesola created issue out of religion. So by the time he is leaving, he will just leave with his issue. Osun State people are matured, they are tolerant with one another. So, the problem of religion being an issue is a temporary thing, it came with Aregbesola and it will go with him.
How prepared are you to win the PDP ticket?
I am by God’s grace prepared.
Some of your rivals have claimed better qualification than you?
That is a matter of opinion. I was deputy governor of the state for four years, I was a senator for eight years, so what credentials can anybody have again?
I don’t want to condemn any aspirant, you can only say what you are now, you cant say what you don’t have. Basically, there are some parameters you have to look for people to judge on who is better. You cannot be more catholic than the pope.
Engr. Rauf Aregbesola was able to outsmart a sitting PDP government. With him now having the advantage of incumbency, the feeling is that he is unmovable?
Only God is unmovable and power belongs to God totally. You cannot say that you are God, more so, Aregbesola has never won election before. He came through the controversial Salami judgment where Salami cancelled 11 local governments and gave judgment to Aregbesola against the provisions of the Electoral Act, which says substantial compliance. He cancelled about half of the votes and declared him winner.
So, Aregbesola does not know the terrain, he does not know how to win elections, he keeps on struggling and struggling and struggling and causing confusion here and there, carrying people from Lagos and trying to forge electoral register.
You can imagine what is happening in Osun State today, we are under billboard siege. Last count was 2,940 bill boards in my state. It has become an embarrassment to us. The state is being defaced by billboards. That is a sitting government, panicking. Of course, he will leave because he is a stranger in the land. He will leave that seat by the grace of God. He is going to be removed peacefully because the indigenes of Osun State are fed up with Aregbesola. He is only relying on imported people from Lagos.
Seeking power wrongly
Everything about him is imported from Lagos. We want a governor of our own, we don’t want Ajele not somebody who has to report to somebody else. God will give us Senator Omisore as governor of Osun State, he will not fight with muslims, he will not fight with Christians, he will not fight with anybody.
This is a governor that will be walking on the street in the afternoon distributing corn meals, doing rituals in broad daylight in Osun State. He sought power wrongly and that is why he is messing up everywhere.
He is trying to provoke us, he is trying to provoke PDP, doing all sorts of billboards, but we have ignored him because he is a drowning man who wants to cling to anything to survive. We will not fight anybody and we are going to change government in Osun State peacefully. I have told my party members and supporters that they should be peaceful that Aregbesola is on his way out.