BY OLA AJAYI
Former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo State is a strong pillar of the Peoples Democratic Party in Oyo State and beyond. Though he lost his re-election quest he was not disgraced as Oyo State became the only state in the Southwest region to return a PDP senator and members of the House of Representatives in 2011.
In this interview in Ibadan, he addresses issues on the PDP structure in Oyo, his political future and his position in Oyo politics. Excerpts:
IT seems as if the PDP is waking up after the crisis instigated by the controversies around Bamanga Tukur.
Yes, the new national chairman of the PDP is an experienced man who will take the party to the next level. It is just like a footballer who is put on a reserve bench watching others play. When he is eventually brought on to the pitch, he would play like a coach. The man has been brought in to do damage control which I believe he is going to do effectively. He has started. He knows what to do.He knows how to tackle it. PDP will be there. What is happening now is normal especially when elections are drawing near. It is not new to people like us.
Do you have confidence in his ability to bring back those who have left the party?
Oh yes. It may not be all them. He would bring back some of them.
Most of those who have defected are not those who can contest election constitutionally with the exception of my brother in Kwara. Those who have defected would come back.
Why were you not at the Oyo PDP stakeholders’ meeting hosted by former Minister of Justice, Chief Richard Akinjide(SAN). Did you have any reservation against the meeting?
No, I don’t have anything against the meeting. It is only that I enjoy participatory leadership where everybody would be involved in moving the party forward. So, if you feel some people who were expected to be there were not there, so be it.
Some of your loyalists like Dr. Saka Balogun were there. Did you send him to represent you?
No, I can’t send an adult to that kind of meeting. He is an adult, he knows what to do.
Does that mean you were not represented at the meeting?
I did not need to be represented there. I just said I believe in participatory leadership. everybody is free to do what they like. I am not a dictator.
Another meeting has been fixed for that same venue. Will you be there.
At Chief Akinjide’s residence.
I don’t know. If I am around, may be.
Do you belong to Chief Bode George’s faction in the party.
I don’t belong to any faction. I don’t encourage factions. I am in PDP and I am not in any faction. What do you mean by a faction? I am a PDP man. Chief Bode George has not got any faction. Chief Bode George is above that kind of thing. Anybody who tells you that is a mischief maker. There is nothing like that. I know Chief Bode George and Chief Akinjide are above that kind of thing.
But there is a group that is loyal to Buruji Kashamu.
(Cuts in….) what do you mean a group is loyal to Kashamu. You can’t be loyal to an individual but should be loyal to your party. I am loyal to PDP and that is all. I can’t be loyal to an individual. I will never be above the PDP. What you should have done is that you should have interviewed some state chairmen and let them say they are loyal to Kashamu. Loyalty should go to PDP. That is what I said. So, what do you mean some people are loyal to Kashamu. What makes somebody a politician? It is just joining a political party. It is how useful you are to that system. Would Kashamu go to Ekiti and vote there or would he come to Oyo and vote here?
Many people assume that the structure of the PDP in this state has been given to Teslim Folarin
You don’t know what you are saying. You are being mischievous. If you are not being mischievous, am I not here in Oyo State? If I leave the PDP today, would anybody remain in the party? Why are you deceiving yourselves? We know who is who in Oyo State. If they asked you to ask that question, it is wrong.
But, it is the reality on ground
(Cuts in…) what is the reality on ground? Am I out of the state? Where did you see everybody that you did not see me.
But, recently, Dr. Saka Balogun said the names of people you sent to Abuja were removed.
I am not complaining. Did you hear me complain? Dr. Balogun is older than I in every respect. So, he knows what he is saying. He was talking in his own capacity like Dr. Saka Balogun which he is entitled to. He is an elder and one of the leaders of this party. You people (media) cause problems when there is no problem. We know ourselves and our limits. If some of us are not talking on pages of newspapers because of our experience, age and position, it is not that we are stupid. But, we don’t just want things to deteriorate. If you give big head to someone who has a small body, you would just make him collapse.
Can you confirm whether you would be contesting the 2015 gubernatorial election as we have seen posters to that effect. If yes, on what platform?
Where do you want me to start from. Posters are beyond me. If you love me, you know what you want me to do. You can as well put posters. It is my admirers who pasted those posters. I have not been in Ibadan for quite sometime. I was in Abuja, so there is no way I could have done it.
But there is one thing about the posters, they are not printed in the same colour. That means they emanated from different groups. When the time comes, we shall sit down and discuss it. We are yet to sit down and agree on it. I want to follow due process. When we get to the bridge, we shall cross it.
Some people are looking at you as the leader of the PDP in this state….
What do you mean by some people? When you came in here, you saw many people here. By the grace of God, I was once a governor of this state. There is no way they would talk about this state without my name being mentioned. You cannot take that from me. Not that some people are saying I am the leader. I am the leader of the party in this state.
But you still romance with Senator Rashidi Ladoja who is the leader of Accord. There was a time that a committee was set up by the two of you?
Do you want to say that because I am a PDP man, I should not relate with my former boss? PDP is how many years old now and since when have I been in good relationship with Senator Ladoja.
Would you support another candidate if PDP presents another gubernatorial candidate?
You heard what the national chairman of the party said that internal democracy would be observed. If you heard that why then are you asking me hypothetical questions?
So, if the primary comes up today, you are sure of securing the ticket of the party.
I am a politician. I don’t have to tell you my tactics. If I tell you, it means I am selling away my joker.
Are you aware of a poster in Ibadan that contains your picture and that of Ladoja with the inscription two wrongs don’t make a right?
That poster is insulting to the two of us. You don’t need to put our pictures. That is very wrong and that is part of what we are trying to correct. Address issues, don’t attack personality. It is only because of my position. I don’t want to be seen as causing the breach of peace in Oyo State. If not, why should somebody put our pictures with such inscription? I didn’t use my posters to abuse anybody.
But, there is counter one that says, two good heads are better than one.
Those people who counter it don’t know how to go about it and I am not ready to incite anyone. They thought they should respond and that it what they did. I did not send anybody to defend me because that has become personal. They should have allowed us to see what steps we should take. We should play politics without bitterness.
Look at the people that did my poster, they sent the message out. “Ajumobi o kan taanu, eni Olorun ba ran si ni ni s’eni loore” meaning (coming from the same parental background does not qualify one getting favour but help comes from someone who is God sent). Nobody abused anybody. It is food for thought. People have been pondering over it.
But, somebody bears that name
Uuuuhhhn. No. that is not the name o. Those who call him that name do not know what they are saying. Those who printed the posters are speaking to Yoruba for Yoruba people to understand and we have understood.
Towards the end of last year, you went to Oyo town to see the Alaafin of Oyo. Were you able to meet him?
That is a forgone issue. I have over-flogged it. Don’t let us go back to it. Papa belongs to all of us. Nobody can have monopoly of him. He is not papa of Oyo alone, he is our father.
In the spirit of reconciliation, how do you think factions in the PDP can be brought together to make the party more formidable.
When the time comes, we will all come together, we will reconcile those who are reconcilable, and those who feel they are bigger than the PDP would be allowed to go.
You say it with emphasis that PDP will win the governorship election in this state. How do you think this is possible bearing in mind that when you were the governor, it was this same party that defeated you in the 2011 elections?
If it were possible for those who voted me in 2007 to get me there, it is also possible for them to get them out in 2015. Don’t forget the fact that the stronger our democracy, the more educated are the electorate. It is not yet time for campaign.
In the state, APC is ruling..
Cuts in…..People are even confused about the name. How many times they have changed names now.
They were AD, AC, ACN and APC. Can you remember? And some people just joined them saying they are ANPP, CPC and so on.
What do you think the ruling party is not doing right now that can be corrected?
You want me to tell them? No, leave them, let them continue to fumble. We don’t want to tell them. We have not started campaigning. Let them blow the whistle.
How do you think violence can be avoided in the 2015 elections?
If you allow violence as a leader, I don’t know who you want to govern. We shall continue to talk to our people to be peaceful. It is in peaceful atmosphere that we can get things which are wrong corrected.
We learnt that a senatorial ticket has been reserved for you in Accord. Is it true?
People say it in Yoruba that, I don’t want is superior to I gave you. If they are not so mischievous, why should they reserve ticket for me? I have said it several times that I don’t belong to Accord and I can never become an Accord member. Can’t people just take simple no?. I can never go to Accord.
What party can you go to?
I will not go to any party. I am a loyal member to PDP. Irrespective of what happens, PDP remains my party. It is the party that made me what I am today. Why then would I abandon it? I can never do that. If PDP made somebody like me, it would not like losing somebody like me.
People say that your aides like Prince Dotun Oyelade have moved over to Accord to prepare the ground for you?
They are not my aides.
You mean now?
Even before. They were not my aides.
Even Prince Oyelade?
Dotun has never been my political associate. He only worked for me as a professional journalist.
Can we refer to those in Accord now as your lost political children?
They were never my political children. They were employed by me and they have gone there for another employment. Don’t you know that in every government, there are those we call technocrats who are always looking for money. They have applied to that place and they have employed them.
Like prodigal son, if they come back for re-employment. Would you consider them?
I would consider their applications based on merit.