Alhaji Gbade Adeleke JP aka Aleshinloye is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party in Oyo State. He had previously served the state as commissioner on two occasions during the military dispensation. He was Commissioner for Lands and Housing and later Commissioner for Youth and Sports under the regime of Colonel Ahmed Usman. Adeleke contested the PDP National Assembly primaries in the state in the just-concluded elections but was allegedly denied the ticket. In this interview with TOSIN OMOJOLA, he bared his mind on issues ranging from the elections, PDP’s defeat and its future, as well as his expectations from the Buhari-led government among others…
Let me start by asking how you see the recently held general elections.
Well, people including those from outside Nigeria claimed that the elections were free and fair based on what they saw and I will, to some extent, agree with them because there were some states where one cannot really say it was a free and fair exercise. For instance, there were some states where elections were cancelled; in some places the exercise was inconclusive only for the INEC to organise a re-run.
But by and large, I will agree that it was free and fair, most especially when you consider the way losers accepted the outcome and went as far as congratulating the winner. If the elections were not free and fair, I don’t think they would have done that.
Good a thing, those who felt they were cheated or rigged out have a way through which they can fight their cases, and that is the tribunal, to seek redress.
Based on this, I will give INEC a pass mark because unlike before, we had a very peaceful poll. The issue of violence, ballot snatching in which thugs used to have a field day, and rigging were reduced to the minimal level. I hope INEC would build on this for future elections. It is a process and I think the commission would have seen all the loopholes and start work on how to address them.
For the first time in the history of Nigerian politics, the incumbent President lost and conceded defeat. If you were in Goodluck Jonathan’s shoes, would you have done the same thing?
To me, the President has done something honourable by accepting defeat and that is how a good leader should behave. He has shown a good example for others to follow. He had said it even before the election that what he wanted was a free and fair election and that he will accept the outcome of the polls. He has done something that one should be proud of he has through that demonstrated a high level of maturity. In addition, he has lived up to his words to ensure a peaceful exercise having said that it is worth it shedding the blood of any Nigerian for an election.
You contested for a seat in the National Assembly during your party’s primaries but somehow along the line, something happened. Can you let us into what really transpired?
That was really an unfortunate incident and from what I have seen now, I am being tempted to ask whether I am in a wrong party or camp so to say? Imagine what happened to me, I emerged the winner during the primary, the evidences are there but somehow I was denied my victory. The evidences are there and the matter is already in court and I will fight the course to the last point, even though elections are over, but justice must take its course.
It is quite unfortunate and that is why the PDP in Oyo State is in this mess, those managing the affairs of the party are not doing things the way they should be done.
When things go wrong, you trace it to the top and it is very unfortunate that the executive of PDP in this state allowed things to go this way.
If you see the credentials of some PDP candidates who contested the primaries, you would be surprised because they are nothing to write home about. Somebody claimed she is a lawyer whereas she is not and this person was said to have won the primary. From her credential, she only tendered the statement of results, would I say that is negligence on the part of PDP, and the screening committee was supposed to have discovered all these and find out the authenticity of the documents submitted by each aspirant. We have enough evidence that the document submitted by the person in question was not credible.
With the outcome of the elections, what is next for the PDP from your own point of view?
Yes, the deed has been done, the PDP has lost, now there is the need for the party to reconstitute its structure in Oyo State and not only in Oyo State, even at the federal level, there is the urgent need for what I will call a surgical operation to be carried out in the party. Things have gone wrong with the leadership and unless something drastic is done especially at the executive level, things could get worse for the party. I think it time for concerned members, those with genuine purpose, to come together to restructure this party. When there is a crack in the head, the entire body gets hurt, therefore, for PDP to reclaim its rightful place in Nigeria, there is the need for total restructuring.
Aftermath of the elections, there has been mass defection from the party to the APC, are you thinking along that line too?
I will not defect, I am a stakeholder in PDP, I have been in PDP since 2000 and I will remain in PDP but I will go ahead to fight my course for justice. That has been the problem with the party; it is like they don’t want professionals in the party. What they usually do is to frustrate them out but I will not leave the PDP because I want justice to this case. I won the primary and I was the one declared by the returning officer, why they substituted my name with another person is what is unclear to me.
So how do you see those that defected especially after the March 28 Presidential and National Assembly elections?
That is unfortunate, that is what they call political prostitution. How do they want people to perceive them, you lost an election and within a few days you decamped, what kind of people are they?
Those who left before the election simply because they were aggrieved could still come back but those who left a few days after losing at the polls are shameless politicians.
Don’t you think the mass defection may mark the demise of the party?
I don’t think so; it can’t be the end of the party. It is now left for the PDP Board of Trustees and other stakeholders of the party to call themselves together and meet each state branch of the party to sit down and see where the problem lies. PDP now needs to reconstitute itself to form a formidable opposition to the APC. I know the leader of APC is a man to be reckoned with, he would like to have a formidable opposition likewise the newly-elected president, they will need a formidable opposition to put them on their toes. I will not want a one-party system for Nigeria, that is not the best for the development of this country, it is always good to have a good opposition and that is what the APC did, having formed a formidable opposition, the party has succeeded in taking over power from the PDP, that is how it should be. It now left for PDP to pick up the pieces, sit down and carry out total restructuring from the local government level, to the state level and the federal.
The whole PDP system should be overhauled, it is unfortunate that those running the party do not want people who will tell them the truth, people that will tell them how things are exactly, they don’t want them in their system and this is what is happening in Oyo State.
If tomorrow, the likes of Chief Obasanjo, Prince Oyinlola and others who have dumped the party make up their minds to return, should the party accept them?
Well, Obasanjo, Oyinlola are stakeholders in PDP, they left the party because of certain things, which they saw but which they believed were unfair. Although I cannot speak for them, I believe the decision about coming back or not is left with them. As I said, they are stakeholders who felt they were badly treated and left because our level of tolerance is different. I was cheated also but I decided to remain with the party. My main purpose of joining the PDP is to serve the country because I believe in the party’s ideology. I could have also left the party to join another party but I wondered what my children would be thinking about me. I know they will ask me, are you a man of principle, why are you flying around like a mosquito, why are you changing like a chameleon or why are you jumping around like a prostitute?
So the way I perceive situation is quite different from the way other do, they have their reasons why they left and if they want to come back, I think the door is still open.
As General Buhari gets set to take over the mantle of leadership from President Jonathan, what are your expectations from him?
My advice for the new president is to try as much as possible to tackle corruption. This is one area he must address. He must set up a panel to look into this issue, look for those found wanting in this regard and make sure they are dealt with.
Corruption, the issue of security, as well as making life comfortable for the people should be his priority.
Electricity is major problem in this country, same as fuel, health , education, these are vital areas the new president should face as he assumes office come May 29.
One thing I noticed in him is that he has that feeling for this country. When he lost the last time, he wept and now God has taken him there, I can see in him that zeal to serve this country.
There is this belief that fighting corruption in Nigeria is not possible because most politicians are involved, do you subscribe to that?
It will take a strong man with a strong heart to address this issue. To me Buhari, regardless of his age, can do it if he really wants to. Corruption has eaten deep into our system to the extent that when you get outside Nigeria and they ask you where you are from or they see your passport and you tell them you are from Nigeria, they will say oh from that corrupt country. It is a bad image for this country I pray that this new government will be able to tackle it. He must also work on our foreign exchange. We spend more money on foreign exchange but our income does not justify such expenditure. It is major problem that needs to be addressed. Look at Ghana, Japan, in those days our naira was stronger than theirs. In those days when you go to England, they accept naira at the Liverpool Market but things are no more like that.
The CBN also needs to be overhauled too because I don’t see the reason why the naira should be devalued in the first instance, on what basis? As a banker I am looking at it from the banking standpoint, I don’t want to go into much of this.
Finally sir, what is your view about the Card Reader used by INEC for the last elections?
The card reader is good, it is scientific, I think it is good, it is a welcome development but I would advise that INEC improve on it. A situation whereby some card readers failed to work at some point during the election was worrisome. It is okay.
Besides politics, what are you doing presently?
I am a banker. Presently, I consult for some banks. For now, I concentrate more on politics because if you want to be a good politician, you must take it serious. You don’t say because you or your party has been defeated you now stay away, no. God spare our lives, four years is around the corner. After this election, I am planning to go and rest because the whole exercise has been hectic. As the elections are over now, I want to see how we can move our party forward, how the aggrieved would be called together and let everybody say his or her mind. So I remain a politician but I still have my job, which is banking.
You combine politics with your banking profession, how do you take a rest?
I can go abroad and take a rest, my family is there, in fact my children were like asking me what I was coming to do in Nigeria but what can I do in America. Now with what happened to me you can imagine what my children would be saying.
I have what it takes to serve my country, I have been in government before most of them, I served as commissioners under two governors, so I am not coming in because of anything but to serve my country. Look at Buhari now, in spite of all he went through he was never deterred, that is how one should take life, winners never quit and quitters never win.