What happened to Adeleke in PDP was what I foresaw and avoided AlhajiFataiAkinnadeAkinbade, Secretary to Osun State Government in the regime of former governor, Prince OlagunsoyeOyinlola, recently defected from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) to Labour Party (LP) to actualise his governorship ambition. Akinbade, who is also a former PDP chairman in the state, is widely perceived as a strong contender who can battle incumbent Governor RaufAregbesola of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and PDP’s candidate, Senator IyiolaOmisore, in the August 9th governorship election in the state. In an interview with ISMAIL AFOLABI in Osogbo, Akinbade speaks on why he left PDP, the crisis in Labour Party and his appraisal of Aregbesola’s administration among other sundry issues…
why did you leave the Peoples Democratic Party?
I left PDP when it became obvious that there would be no internal democracy and no genuine primary election that would produce a generally acceptable governorship candidate for the party. When you look at the situation in the PDP in Osun State in the last one year and judging by the nature of the people in the state working committee or executives of the party, it was glaring that there was no way they could organise and conduct a free and fair primary election. Therefore, for me as a serious aspirant, I need to move away from the PDP and join another party so as to be able to actualize my ambition. There was no internal democracy in PDP and I cannot continue to struggle unnecessarily and delude myself. That was why I left PDP in a nutshell.
But the primary election was conducted and it was believed to be free and fair. Was it not?
You must have heard about the way one of the aspirants, AlhajiIsiakaAdeleke, who was the first executive governor of Osun State, was humiliated in a hotel in Osogbo in the build-up to the party primary election, which forced him (AlhajiAdeleke) out of the race. For me, I knew from onset that such a thing would happen because I know the profiles of those involved. Don’t forget that I’m a former Chairman of PDP and I recruited all of them into the party when we brought PDP to Osun State. I can say that I’m vindicated now. AlhajiIsiakaAdeleke was dragged to come out because I left the party and some stakeholders in the party felt that my defection would give undue chance to a particular aspirant. That was why they asked Adeleke to contest when they persuaded me to return to PDP and I refused to return. But unfortunately,
Adeleke was misled and we could all see the consequence. What happened to Adeleke was exactly what I foresaw and avoided. If they could do that to Adeleke, they would have done the worst to me if I had not left the party for them.
In an attempt to stop you from leaving PDP some months ago, you were said to have had a meeting with President Jonathan. Can you tell us what transpired at the meeting with the president?
The meeting was attended by those of us contesting for the PDP ticket at that time and it was aimed at preventing intra-party crisis among the aspirants. We were at the Presidential Villa for the meeting but when the president met us, he apologised that he could not stay long at the meeting owing to some other issues he needed to attend to. President Jonathan then promised to call us back in two weeks but we could not hear from him thereafter. That was it.
You served as Secretary to Osun State Government during the tenure of Prince OlagunsoyeOyinlola as governor and you want to be governor of the state now, what will you do differently if you become governor?
A driver controls the vehicle and there can only be one driver in a vehicle at a time. As one of the principal officers in the OlagunsoyeOyinlola government, I’m sure we did well even though there were many things we would have done but the circumstance of the sudden change in government prevented us. For instance, we started Osun State University but we could not take it to our desired level before we left. The free trade zone had been put in place by our administration but had not been put to use when we left and it is just there the way we left it at that time. Also, we laid the foundation for some other things in the areas of agriculture and industrialisation among others and those things are still begging for attention now. So it is not about what I will do differently but what needs to be done. One can only build on something, you cannot build something on nothing. So, when you talk about my blueprint, you must note that blueprint is not an isolated thing. There must be a connection between the present and the past and we hope to do things that will affect the lives of the people of this state positively.
What is your assessment of the administration of Governor Aregbesola?
The policies of Aregbesola government are nothing to write home about. For instance when you look at the education system in the state now, you will realise that the man is getting it wrong. He introduced unified school uniform for the students and gave them one free uniform. After a while, the uniforms got faded and became worn-out and the students were looking tattered because their parents could not afford Aregbesola’s uniform which is very costly compared to the cost of the previous uniform they were using before. Also, demolishing existing school structures is destructive especially in a state like Osun, whichever you look at it. You cannot be borrowing money to demolish existing structures that were built not too long ago and using loans to build new schools. Would it not have been wiser to refurbish existing ones and build his own new schools if he wants to? The merger of schools does not make sense at all.
There are communities that build schools and donated such to the government so that their children could go to school within the communities but Aregbesola’s policy eradicated some of those schools in his school merger policy and children would have to trek as much as seven kilometers before they could get to school daily. Actually Aregbesola said he was going to run an unusual government and truly, it has been an unusual government and the policies are not working for the people of this state. Part of the unusual nature of his administration is the scrapping of the Due Process Office, which now allows him to inflate contracts.
Aregbesola is doing one kilometer of road with one billion naira and we all know that this is fraudulent. For instance, the governor is constructing Gbongon/Akoda road, which is a federal road and he did not get federal government’s approval to do it so that the federal government can pay him back. He could not seek the approval because that will require the Due Process, which he was trying to avoid. We started that road from Osogbo and constructed the road from Osogbo to Akoda before we left. We got federal government approval before we did the road and that was why FG paid the money we spent on the construction of that road. That money was collected by the Aregbesola administration because we had left office before the money came. But Aregbesola won’t be able to collect the money he is spending on federal roads now because there was no approval for the construction work on those roads. Imagine a state governor using a loan to do federal government roads without any hope of getting the money back. The administration is not transparent and I can tell you that his government is on a zero footing. There are no drugs in the hospitals while local government administration has been paralyzed.
Aregbesola is the one running the local government councils by himself to the extent that he is the one collecting the allocation meant for local governments and helping the councils to pay the salary of local government workers, which was not supposed to be his business since we are talking here about the third tier of government. I don’t have anything against him as a human being but if I must be sincere with you, I don’t rate the Aregbesola administration highly. The governor is just doing everything to favour himself. Aregbesola is just concerned about what he will gain personally. That is the way I read his style of administration.
How does the court case within your party, Labour Party, affect your governorship ambition?
It is an intra-party matter and we are on top of it. So it is not affecting my ambition. The people who took the case to court are party members. Those who went to court did so in order for the party to gain ground and stand well, though some of them are being used by our opponents in other parties. It is a simple matter that could have been resolved within the party but the Osun State government is fueling it. Some of those who took the case to court were even saying it openly that the state government was assisting them in the case. Take for instance, both the television and radio arms of Osun State Broadcasting Corporation have been covering the matter for us free and we discovered that this is because of the interest of the state government in the case because ordinarily, they would not cover it before even if we paid. But they don’t know that the more they do that the more they are helping us to make our party to be more popular.
Labour Party in Osun is relatively weak, given the strengths of PDP and APC that you are going to contest with in the August 9th governorship election, how are you…?
Cuts in … PDP was worse than this when I became PDP chairman and we built the party to the extent that the party was able to win the governorship seat, won the three senatorial districts and won all the House of Assembly seats. (Smiling) Look, I’m a builder. I was thought to conceive, design and then build. And that is what we did to PDP in Osun before it became what it has become today. We shall do the same to LP here by the grace of God and with people on our side as usual.
What is your relationship with Governor SegunMimiko of Ondo State who is the only governor produced by Labour Party in the country and the party’s National Leader?
We are friends. Governor OlusegunMimiko is my good friend. We have always been friends and we shall continue to be friends.
Are you aware that one of your opponents, Senator IyiolaOmisore, and Governor Mimiko are mutual friends?
They could be friends and that does not affect my friendship and relationship with Governor Mimiko. He is a true party man and we are very sure that he will support his party to win the election in Osun. That would be to his credit and advantage in his bid to further strengthen the Labour Party.