New Telegraph

Ogundele: Abiodun, Amosun’ve Taken Ogun Backward by 30 Years

Dr. Sikiru Ogundele is the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State. In this interview with OLUFEMI ADEDIRAN he speaks about Governor Dapo Abiodun’s performance in the state and the chances of the PDP in the ongoing suit before the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal

What is your party’s assessment of the second term performance of Governor Abiodun?

Dapo Abiodun’s government has been a bundle of disappointment to the people of this state. Although, to me I’m not disappointed because the man did not plan to be governor. He said he wanted to be a Senator. He planned to be a Senator, the Governorship was forced on him somehow. Do there wasn’t any preplan. As I’m talking to you now, for almost five years now, the government has not come up with a blueprint of how it is going to run the affairs of the state.

I see that government running a tiki-taka government, tiki-taka is the government that embarks on whatever that comes to their head – no plan. There is disconnect between the people and the government of Dapo Abiodun and when you are disconnected with the people you are to govern or you are governing it means you cannot know the actual needs of these people. Where they need water, you go and build house, where they will need road, you go and reroof their schools. The government of APC in this state has taken us back by 30 years.

Otunba Gbenga Daniel came, Chief Segun Osoba was here and he transformed all the rural areas. Daniel came and transformed the State into an investment hub, and investors-interested State. Ogun State which was a civil servant State of those days, Daniel came to transform the State to a business orientated State. But the government of APC took over and took back by 30 years. During Daniel’s time, civil servants were collecting their salaries as at when due and they will patronise the local market, but in all APC’s administrations, both Ibikunle Amosun and Dapo Abiodun the salaries of civil servants were deducted criminally in the guise of cooperative and these people said they are not interested in cooperative.

Salaries are not being paid as at when due; they have taken us back by 30, 35, 40 years; people are in pains now, local contractors are not patronized; aliens are the ones that are collecting all the contracts and when they get the money, they take it out of the State. The contracts they are awarding are not reflecting on our local markets. The aliens that got the job will bring their own people, they will collect the money and take it away from the State. Local markets are suffering. For example, look at those bridges that the APC government built.

I said to some people at some many fora that all the bridges they put up there, the money for them can as well be used to construct roads instead of wasting money to beautify our roads. I see all those bridges as just mere beautification of the roads when health, agricultural, educational sectors were criminally abandoned. Amosun came, had his own eight years, all those sectors were abandoned and it was penny wise pounds foolish administration. His administration constructed model schools and abandoned them, they wasted so much money on those projects.

The cost of constructing one was put at N2 billion, the cost of one bridge can renovate all the dilapidated structures of schools in this State. That is to tell you that APC has come to add to the hardship of the people. Let us come to Dapo Abiodun’s government, look at Abeokuta-Siun- Sagamu road which was re-asphalted by this current administration. Daniel constructed it originally and it was commissioned by Umaru Yar’Adua. Amosun re-asphalted it and was also commissioned by another person, this man (Abiodun) abandoned all other roads re-asphalted it and called Buhari to come and commission it. That is the kind of government that is being run by Dapo Abiodun.

What improvement has this government brought to the health, educational, agricultural sectors?

I’m a doctoral student of Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED) and the structures in that school are those erected by Gbenga Daniel and some philanthropists like Chief Adebutu. There is no single new structure in that school and this applies to all other schools, all other tertiary institutions in Ogun State. Look at the Mos- hood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), the workers, the lecturers there are be- ing owed salaries of almost two years now.

What do they expect them to eat, how do you expect them to give the students quality lectures when they are all in pains. The man (Abiodun) is just a bundle of disappointment to the people of Ogun State, not to me because I know he was not going to do anything. There is no connection between him the people, so what do you expect? If I’m to give award to Dapo Abiodun, it will be the award of well-dressed Governor in Nigeria. There is no single person that is enjoying in the government of this man.

Civil servants are crying, technicians are crying, they are not being patronized, the local contractors are also crying because they are not being patronized and he wanted to run for second term. Don’t be disappointed that the original votes of Dapo Abio- dun if all the overvoting are deducted from the declared votes, he can’t get up to 150,000 votes.

How hopeful are you in winning at the Election Petitions Tribunal, bearing in mind that no governor has ever emerged from court process in the State?

There has never been so criminal rigging of election in Ogun State that would likely to have warranted court coming up with judgement of installing a Governor. But in this case, it gives bitter taste of life in the mouth when the supposed responsible and responsive leaders could go so criminal to rig an election. It is very obvious. I’m so sure that the judgment of the Tribunal will come in our favour. I don’t have any doubt because it’s too obvious and open.

The declaration of Dapo Abiodun in the first instance was against the Electoral Act that says ‘if the cancelled votes are more than the margin of win, the election should be declared inconclusive.’ But in this case where we have over 30,000 votes were being declared void or invalid and the margin between Dapo Abiodun and Ladi Adebutu is just 13,000 votes, that is to tell you that the decla- ration should not have come in place at all. The election supposed to have been declared inconclusive.

It is just a criminal way of disenfranchising those that have their votes can- celled. There was criminal evidence tendered at the court to show that this election was rigged. In some of the ballot papers, thousands of them that were supposed to have been thumb- printed were just marked. There are so many discrepancies in that elections, irregularities that are so open. I have never doubted the credibility of the Tribunal, because it is just an open thing.

This man (Dapo Abiodun) was rejected and it reflected in the voting pattern, he was voted out, but he criminally went to rig, I will continue to use the word ‘criminal’ because the election was supposed to be peaceful, but so many thugs came in into so many polling units, destroyed all the voting materials, so all these things were being evidently tendered at the Tribunal and they cannot close their eyes, they are just too many for them to close their eyes and just give a wrong judgement. So, I have no doubt that that judgement will come in PDP’s favour and Ladi Adebutu’s favour.

Do you have faith in the judiciary?

What we have noticed in the judicial system is honestly nothing to write home about and it gives pains to our marrow when we see cases that are supposed to go straight and have a correct judgement, the wrong judgments were delivered based on technicalities. But now it has been removed. I think the judicial system of this country has to redeem its image. The judiciary is supposed to be the last hope of the common man, but unfortunately, we have seen judgements that put our judicial system to question.

I had a case some time ago, a case of contempt of court before justice Buba, the last sitting of that case, the minute of the sitting, the last two lines of the minute of that sitting said ‘this case is being adjourned till February 28 for hearing’ and this judge came up with a complete judgement on February 25. The case that has not been heard. This is a case before Buba and we dealt with him; we dealt with him and he begged and we just forgot about it. That was when late Buruji Kashamu was still alive, that was when judgements were being purchased. …

That is what we have seen in our judicial system and it is very painful for this country. This time around, I think they are looking up to redeeming their image. I don’t have any doubt that they will do the correct thing. And attentions are on them now; all eyes are on them and the international community is watching. Let us see what is going to come out of the Presidential Tribunal and the one that concerns us in the State, we will then be able to place correctly the judicial system of this country.

Your party and the governorship candidate, Ladi Adebutu have been charged to court over allegation of vote buying during the last election. Are you not bothered that this may affect the outcome of the Tribunal?

The PDP lawyer, Chief Uche was asking their star witness that the case you just mentioned is before a court bringing it to the Tribunal is just an abuse of the court process. Let the court handling the case give its judge- ment. It is just an allegation and it is being investigated; let them come up with their own judgement, so they should not lump it with the Tribunal case.

It is a criminal case; it is not an electoral case. We also wrote a petition to the Nigerian Police Force to investigate Dapo Abiodun vote buying too with all evidence. The case is also in court. In his own card used for buying vote, there is a picture of Dapo Abiodun and ‘vote for Dapo Abiodun’ was written on the card.

But in our case, it is just an empowerment programme organised for the late mother of Ladi Adebutu and it has been investigated and they are being convinced that this is meant for this purpose, not electoral purpose.The termination of that em- powerment programme will be 2026. Is there any election coming up in 2026? No, so it has not been proved, it cannot affect the judgement of the Tribunal because a competent court is also handling that case.

Why do you think PDP lost or performed low in the presidential election?

It is very devastating the way we lost the election at the federal level. We lost because of poor management of people and that has been the problem of PDP since 2015. I have asked the party hierarchy if we are not under any curse. What happened in 2015 replicated itself in 2019 and in 2023.

Five governors left us in 2015 and this led to that failure at the polls. The same thing happened in 2019 and the same thing happened in 2023. What do we expect, Oyo, Rivers and other three governors left before the 2023 election, what would have become the outcome of that election? Although the declared person did not have a clear success at that poll, if PDP is under curse, let us change the name of that party.

Your party has been enmeshed in protracted crisis over the last two decades. Is there any end in sight to this crisis?

As a political scientist, I have written books on the crisis rocking the party. We are bound to have crisis in political parties even in all organisations, not only political settings. I predicted the crisis of Nyesom Wike and Iyorchia Ayu in one of my books even before the crisis started. I made suggestions. I told them the prognosis of that crisis; it is all here in book and everything happened. The book was written seven months to the election and I gave a copy to Ayu. Our problem is based on poor and bad management of crisis.

We are bound in all organisations but it all depends on the sense of management of all this crisis. PDP has not been managing its crisis very well. We lost five governors to just one person because we cannot sacrifice. When we supposed to have just sacrificed one person, the per- son should have just sacrificed and probably taken something else, this person is Ayu. I’m not supporting the five governors, what they did was against the principle of party politics, but in a situation whereby we have what it takes to settle it we should have done that.

These people demanded for the removal of Ayu, what stopped the party or the presidential candidate from calling Ayu to settle the matter? Ayu disappointed me; he disappointed me because the position he was holding is transient, it has terminal date, the terminal date would come. If tomorrow they say, ‘Sikirulahi, you have done enough, leave,’ I know quite fine that I’m going to leave one day, why can’t I just leave and find something else to do? That is why I said maybe the party is cursed because it is just a very simple thing to do.

The office you are holding has a terminal date, you are not going to be there forever, why can’t you just leave and get things settled? We don’t have crisis; it was just mere misunderstanding that was poorly managed and if care is not taken that will be the end of PDP in Nigeria.

Don’t you think current develop- ments can ruin the party before 2027 election?

The crisis is likely to consume the party eventually because what happened in 2015, that also repeated itself in 2019 and also replicated itself in 2023, who says it is not going to come up in 2027 and 2031? I’m of the opinion that even if this party is being cursed for us to be communicating the same mismanagement of the party’s affairs, why can’t we add either A or D or B either in the front or at the back of the party’s name? This is just my own sincere statement as I have been known as a very principled person.

I have said it to their faces that this party is under curse, it is painful, very very painful. We could not defeat Tinubu who has no electoral value in his State and the country again. If he failed to win his State that means he has no electoral value in this country again, if he could fail in his State where he has installed over three or four governors it means that this man has no electoral value again. Even the APC has not been able to manage the party effectively. We witnessed their last congress where people came out crying to relinquish and step down their ambition.

We all watched it on national television, do you refer to that organisation as a political party where democracy is not their own way of life? All these people that we are talking about just came and out stepped the PDP that was known to be a formidable party.

How would you assess the APC government at the national level in the last three months?

The government of Bola Tinubu has not done anything; the government is a very great disappointment to me because an average Yoruba man is a welfarist by nature. When he was declared, I told myself that things will be better in Nigeria, but embarking on a policy without doing proper diligence, he took the cart before the horse. He embarked on a policy of removing the subsidy without any cushioned plan; he has not even gotten to the office to study how this thing could be done properly.

On that swearing-in day, he decided to remove subsidy and Nigeria has been in another season of COVID since then. You can easily count vehicles of the roads now; people are suffering and it is just barely three months into his administration and Nigerians are already crying. He forgot that the removal of that subsidy would bring hardship to all sectors of life. He did not put electricity to run 24 hours or 20 hours before he removed subsidy.

Who are the people that are enjoying the subsidy, nobody has ever been brought to book! We are only hearing of some cabals that are sharing the subsidy money, are they so untouchable? So, Nigerians have just been subjected this hardship due to his inability to run government. I see APC’s administration as wicked set of people. For example, they packed the palliatives of that COVID time into their various houses and all those got spoilt there, instead of them to have brought it out and give it to people that need them.

That is the trademark of APC, wickedness and hardship. The government of APC is full of noise and furry of no significant impact on the economy and the people, it is very painful. These people are so nonchalant and unconcerned about what Nigerians are going through. People came out of the stress of COVID and immediately they got out of that, Godwin Emefiele came out with his own Naira redesign policy and people went through pains, hell to get out of that wahala and Tinubu came, removed subsidy and Nigerians are still suffering.

For almost four years now, Nigerians have been hardship. The government of Tinubu is nothing to write home about. I condemn that government in its totality. Now, he has not solved the problem of Boko Haram in Nigeria; he has not solved the problem of unemployment. So many things he has not solved and he is dabbling into Niger Republic’s coup. What has that got to do with us in Nigeria? And reasonable Nigerians are telling him, nearly everybody in Nigeria is telling him that he can- not go to war at this time. Why can’t he go and fight Boko Haram and get them defeated? It is the height of disappointment on the side of the Tinubu’s government.

Read Previous

Principle Guiding Women’s Dressing (2)

Read Next

Obasanjo’s Govt Best Till Date, Says Abaribe