By Dayo JohnsonÂ & Dapo AkinrefonÂ
ALHAJI Ali Olanusi is a formerÂ chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Ondo State, and currently the deputy governor of Ondo state. In this interview Olanusi declares that Labour Party remains unbeatable in the state. He also states that the state government does not intend to probe the Agagu administration except the need arises. He bares his mind on other national sundry issues. Excerpts:
IN terms of developmental projects, the expectations of the people are so high that they want things done in a hurry, do you think you have met these expectations of the people in the last one year?
I agree with you that the expectation are so high, though, as high as it is, we have to start from a foundation. Ondo state was created in 1976 among other states like Ogun and Oyo in the southwest. Rome was not built in a day, it is not easy to get these development you are expecting over night. We have started, not that we are planning, but it will take time before you see the results.
One of our aims and objectives is to build up Akure township to a standard that can be compared with other states in the country. We have started and awarded major roads there and work is going on. What do you expect our opponents to say, if they say that we are performing, then, they have no basis for contesting with us in the forthcoming election. We want to bring Akure to the standard worth of a state capital and that is why we have awarded two major roads, the third has been advertised and work going seriously.
There are allegations that this administration has abandoned the projects embarked upon by the previous administration?
Those who are saying that have nothing to say. The construction of roads constructed by the Agagu led administration between Fiwasaye Mobil to the Expressway is ongoing. What they failed to do then, we have done, so, when they say we have abandoned these projects, I donâ€™t know what they mean. It is not true that we abandoned those projects that will enhance development in Ondo State.
It is all ruse. We all know what happened to the Owena multipurpose dam, about N14billion was awarded, a job which is to be done by the Federal government. The contract was 500 per cent higher than what the Federal government intended to spend on the project. So, these are the type of things they go about saying because they have nothing to say. They have discovered that the masses are still happy with us.
You were once the state chairman of PDP in this state, what led to your leaving the party for the Labour party?
When we formed the PDP in Ondo State, I was one of the foundation member.Â My beliefÂ like many others was that we want to run a transparent party. A party that would not be turned to a one man party, a party that members would be able to contribute their own views on issues. I had gone to Abuja with my secretary to go and present the case as it was then.
It was my ambition then that, after leaving the chairmanship of the party, that I wanted to go to the Senate. Agagu decided to use his political appointees that we appointed together, against me during the primaries. And when there was an opportunity to leave the party, I left. Not that alone.
In our constitution, before you contest elections, you have to resign from office.Â After I lost to Agaguâ€™s candidate, members of the party, who knew my worth, went to meet him and appealed that I should be given back my position as chairman of the party, until there was another convention. He said no.
Meanwhile, the people had once told me that our umbrella was torn. It was then I knew, with the way things were going, that our party stood no chance in the elections.
When I saw the handwriting on the wall, I approached Agagu with other executives of the party; after reading our letter, he returned and asked us to go. He said the letter was a representation of our mind and not that of the electorate who voted for the party. It was some months after that myself and the secretary had to travel to Abuja and meet with former president Obasanjo. Obasanjo asked us to meet him at his Otta farm.
Myself, the secretary, the governor, Chief Bode George and Chief Omilani were invited for the meeting at Otta. I repeated what I told the governor that the political appointees of the governor, who were also present at the meeting, were not the people grumbling, but that it was the masses, the electorate that voted for us, were the people grumbling. Obasanjo, in his way settling things asked us to go home and put things behind and move the party and government forward .
Obasanjo then promised to come and see things himself, to know if we had come to exaggerate or underrate what the government was doing then. When Obasanjo was to come, Agagu knew there was nothing to point to, which made him to approach Obasanjo to give him additional six weeks, which was graciously granted.
Eventually Obasanjo came, he didnâ€™t see anything tangible with the huge amount of money coming to Ondo State. It was there he said that Agagu was a repairer.
For your information, Iâ€™m not the only one that left the PDP within the executives. All the party members know that Iâ€™m transparent, it is on record that I didnâ€™t collect any money from members who wanted to contest elections. If he had allowed me to go the Senate and bow out after this, I would have remained in the PDP.
Donâ€™t you think you would have lost out even if you were allowed to go to the Senate?
No. There would have been not crisis. During my tenure as chairman of the party, Ondo state was one of the few states where there was no internal crisis in the PDP. I knew how I handled them. Probably, Labour party would have not come to life. Dr Mimiko had wanted to take part in the primaries and I told him he dare not and if he did, he will lose because most of the delegates that will take part in the primaries are political appointees.
Having being part of the previous government, are there plans to probe the activities of the Agagu administration?
If we had wanted to probe, we would have started that. Unless there are facts and figures later discovered, we will not go to that extent.Â But as of now, we have not started probing.
Recently, deputy governors under the aegis of the Deputy Governorsâ€™ Forum paid a solidarity visit to the Kaduna State governor. What informed the forum?
In politics, if there is anything an average politician will require, itâ€™s recognition, associating with each other. First, the governors have gone to felicitate with the president, who was once deputy governor before he became governor and eventually became Vice President and now president. Some members arranged it, I was only invited to visit but I do not know exactly what informed those initiated it, but I attended. I was invited to visit a colleague, who was once a deputy governor.
Some few weeks ago, the former president came to Akure for a rally and he promised that the PDP would reclaim all states in the southwest.
Being a Yoruba man, it is not customary for the Yoruba race, to condemn, on the pages of newspapers, elders. I am a free born of Yoruba race and Iâ€™m very proud of that race. For me to go on the pages of newspapers, then, it means Iâ€™m bastardizing the tradition and respect for Yoruba race.
He was not the only one that made the remarks, even the former governor of this state said the same.
Unless there is quarrel within the party and the government, no party can defeat Labour Party in Ondo State. What will be the basis for the quarrel.Â We are delivering and we are not as arrogant as the previous government. People have access to us unlike the previous administration,. and with the trend of events, I donâ€™t see any political party that can outwit Labour Party.
There are moves by opposition political parties to form an alliance which will give birth to a mega party, that will outwit the PDP, is your party going to join this mega party?
In Ondo State, Iâ€™m only aware that a coalition of political parties recently, came together to team up with Labour. In Ondo State, that is not applicable. I donâ€™t think there is any alliance. As of now, I donâ€™t think our party is fielding any candidate for president, but if we do, eventually, we will vote for our candidate.