BY DAPO AKINREFON
Major Raphael Towobola (rtd) is the Secretary of the Osun State chapter of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. In this interview, he says the All Progressives Congress, APC, is known for violence. Excerpts:
Your party has been accused of planning to cause chaos ahead of the forthcoming governorship elections. Why should your party be linked with chaos?
From my experience and from what I know of the APC, they always accuse the opposition party of planning to do what they (APC) want to do. That is how they have been, that is their strategy. So, if the APC in Osun says that we want to cause mayhem, that is what they want to do.
The APC are equally chided Vice President Namadi Sambo for saying that elections in Ekiti and Osun a war that must be won?
The Vice President is an elder statesman. For somebody who is the second in command to the commander-in chief and who knows the state of security of this country, he will not make any careless statement. In addition to his position, you must understand that he is a highly literate person.
By virtue of that, I want to tell you that he was making a metaphorical statement which is meant to sensitize his party members to the political battle ahead and not a violent battle. People should not misinterpret or misconstrue such statement because it is purely a metaphor. He was deliberately misinterpreted.
But following the VP’s statement, a former governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Tinubu, threatened that rigging the Ekiti and Osun elections will be resisted. He declared it will be ‘rig and roast’. How do you see the remarks?
I have every respect for all elder statesmen in Nigeria and so, I am not going to talk to any individual with any disparaging adjective. The same way our Vice President is literate, I also expect that Asiwaju Tinubu should also be literate. Tinubu should be able to read a metaphor when he sees one. For him to translate the metaphor by the Vice President on electoral war to mean rigging is sad. It is ill-conceived and ill-intended.
The statement like I said remains a metaphor. It does not mean one wants to rig. For Tinubu to now say ‘rig and roast’, will mean an incitement to violence. We must be careful when we make such statements. When Tinubu made his ‘rig and roast’ statement, the office of the Vice President was quick to come out to correct the misperception of the Vice President’s statement.
On his part, Tinubu did not correct the misinterpretation of his statement. That means he stands on his statement of violent reaction. Elders statesmen should not make such statements.
I am not being partial as a PDP member but I am telling you from an intellectual point of view. Anybody will know that the Vice President’s statement is a metaphor and should be taken as it is.
What informed your party’s decision to call for the redeployment of the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Osun?
I was at the forum called by the INEC National Chairman where we raised the issue. Some years back, Akeju represented Bola Tinubu at the launching of a book in Lagos at the NIIA. It was reported that Akeju read Bola Tinubu’s speech and that is a clear indication that he is on Bola Tinubu’s pay roll because that has not been disputed.
For that reason alone, we hold that he cannot be an impartial arbitrar in a contest that involves the PDP and APC, with Tinubu being an APC chieftain. Let me give you further reasons: a brother of ours here, Mr Olaoba Efuntayo, was nominated as Executive Secretary of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission by President Jonathan. A petition was written by the APC that Efuntayo is a known PDP member, the President withdrew his name.
Akeju should be redeployed. What beats my thinking is that APC is defending him, which is a confirmation of the fact that there is a working arrangement between them. With Akeju there, the election may not be free and fair.
What measure is your party taking to ensure that aggrieved members are pacified to ensure your party emerges victorious at the polls on August 9?
I think Alhaji Gani Olaoluwa, the party Chairman is better placed to answer that question because I am also an aggrieved member.
It is an internal issue but since you asked what happened, I will tell you.