SECRETARY of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State, Prince Yemi Afolayan, is amused whenever opposition parties boast that they can stop the PDP in Kwara. In this interview, the former chairman of Irepodun Local Council, speaks on the politics of the state, the forthcoming rerun election in Offa Local Council and other sundry issues. Excerpts:
BY DEMOLA AKINYEMI
Some opposition parties have merged to form the All Progressives Congress (APC) and vowed to defeat the ruling PDP and the Saraki dynasty at the polls, what is your reaction to this?
It is a welcome development as far as politics is concerned. Fusing together of opposition parties under the umbrella of APC is a welcome development because it is going to make politics dynamic. But the coming together of all these opposition parties does not even make any difference to us in Kwara because we have seen them come together for a long time and they have never been able to make any appreciable impact on our people.
Kwara State is very unique. It is true we had ACN, CPC and what have you before. CPC never had any showing. I don’t even know where their state headquarters is. Talking about ACN, they tried in the last election. ACN has a misadventure in Kwara.
APC has already lost the election we have not started because the few of them that are there, infighting is already tearing them apart. Even for 2015 that is still far away they are already fighting over who should be governor, is it Lai Mohammed or Belgore?
And I can tell you before the registration of APC, ACN had no executive, it has always been caretaker. So, APC, ACN, CPC, and what have you, are not on ground in Kwara. They only exist on the pages of newspapers. So, tomorrow you hear the National Publicity Secretary is talking in Osogbo, today the National Publicity Secretary from Kwara is talking in Lagos, you hear him talking about somebody somewhere but we are here live and direct with our people; our people know us, we know them, we know what they want and we are giving them what they want.
So, as far as we are concerned, there are lots of people who say things they have never seen, but here in Kwara, it is different and it is good because the government of Kwara State under the leadership of Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed is doing wonderfully well. He is building on the legacy left behind by his predecessor, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who governed this state for eight years and gave us unprecedented development.
But the opposition doesn’t seem to appreciate this…
How do you expect the opposition to appreciate it? One interesting thing about the opposition in Kwara is this, imagine this scenario: recently, we were in the House of Assembly when the Assembly organised a public hearing on the amendment to Electoral Law and one of the stalwarts of ACN, a former member of the House of Assembly stood up to oppose it. He knows what public hearing is but he got up to oppose what they were doing just for the sake of opposing.
So, for opposition in Kwara, it is not that they don’t appreciate it; they are only talking for talking sake because they have to say something so that their master in Lagos can give them peanuts; they need some money, they need some financial assistance and unless they do some sort of criticisms on the pages of newspapers, those people would not believe they are working.
Today, they are criticising Bukola Saraki, tomorrow they are criticising the Governor and when you have a profile of a leader like Bukola Saraki that is rising everyday, then you just want to give a dog bad name because you want to hang it. So whether they appreciate it or not is immaterial, what is important is that the governor is doing well. Just a few weeks back, there was a proposal to name Kwara State University in honour of our late father, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki and then they kept on criticising; that is how they criticised the establishment of the university; their children are there. If we are building good roads, they would still criticise it, if we are providing water they would criticise. Even give them food to eat, they would still criticise. Kwara state government is doing wonderfully well and you know the government is not a vindictive government. Even people in ACN are part of this administration.
Are you saying PDP in Kwara is not having internal squabbles that the opposition would want to capitalise on?
Of all the state chapters, PDP in Kwara is the most united. We are not having internal wrangling. You can see anytime our leader, Dr. Bukola Saraki is around, his house is a beehive of activities. If you are not in PDP in Kwara, you are not anywhere. So, they have nothing to capitalise on. As a matter of fact, people from ACN or APC decamp into PDP on daily basis in Kwara state because there is nothing to look forward to. Because if you are talking about rural roads, PDP government has done it, if you are talking about renovation of hospitals, PDP has done it, if you are talking about renovation of schools, PDP has done it, provision of electricity, if you are talking about employment, PDP has done it. So, what is there for anybody to run PDP out in Kwara? Absolutely nothing! So, on a daily basis, people leave opposition parties to come to PDP because there is nothing for them to look forward to in the opposition parties.
Kwara State Independent Electoral Commission, KWASIEC has fixed the local government elections for October 26, how prepared is PDP for the election?
We are the party that is in power, we are the party that is in government. The people of Kwara trust us and we trust our own people too. We are prepared for the election, we are ready come rain, come sunshine and PDP will deliver any day.