Ibadan G-7 aspirants can’t dictate to Oyo PDP —Ishola

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Kunle Ishola, the Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State and former Commissioner for Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development in the state, is a scion of  late Governor Kolapo Ishola. In an interactive session with some journalists, he bares his mind on the 2015 governorship race and other sundry issues. OLAKUNLE TAIWO brings some excerpts:

AS the 2015 elections draw near, tension seems to be brewing again in the Oyo State PDP, with some leaders of the party singing discordant tunes. Are we are about to witness what cost the party victory in the last general election?

Political aspiration is the fundamental right of every qualified individuals as guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution and that of the PDP. However, the national leadership of the party will issue guidelines, stipulating specific guideline in line with the relevant laws of the land to determine who is ultimately qualified to vie on the platform of the party. In view of this, there may be as many as 200 aspirants for a particular position, there is nothing wrong with that. That is the beauty of democracy; that is widening the options for the electorate to choose the best.

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The onus now lies on the contestants and their supporters to allow decorum to reign and respect the rights of others to co-exist with them in the democratic space. Aspirants and their promoters should avoid stifling the space through their acts and utterances. Before the time stipulated by law, any comment or scheming is an attempt to sell the aspirants but this should be done within the ambit of the law without generating unnecessary tension. Politicians should realise that people are wise enough to choose their leaders and that all the zones in the state should bear in mind the fact that the choice of who governs the state is joint one.

What is your view on the demand by some PDP governorship aspirants of Ibadan origin that the party must produce an Ibadan indigene?

I just talked about that now. But, let me tell you that as a bona fide Ibadan indigene myself, from what we hear from the grassroots people, the general feeling in Ibadan now is that the selfish demand by these aspirants does not reflect the popular wish and thinking of Ibadan people as they have now realised that where a candidate comes from does not determine his performance, and I think  this is based on their experience under the present government led by an Ibadan man.

I believe anybody from anywhere in Oyo state, with proven capacity to develop the state and its people without making things difficult for people, is entitled to be governor of the state as long as the person is qualified to occupy that position. The Ibadan PDP aspirants are free to arrogate anything to themselves. But, they should know that where their rights stop are where the rights of other people begin. They are just playing a mind game. I am sure they know they cannot impose anybody on the party or the people, as far as the governorship race in 2015, is concerned. It is high time these aspirants started preparing to face aspirants from other zones if they think they are popular enough. Any politician, who is sure of himself, should be bold enough to come to the field for an open contest. These Ibadan PDP aspirants should stop fanning the embers of disunity among the people of Oyo State. The earlier they realise that the totality of votes of delegates from all the zones of the state will determine who becomes the candidate of the party

Don’t you think the PDP national leadership of your party should step in to cool the brewing tension in your party?

The national leadership of the party is on top of the situation. It has made it categorically clear that party members will be given opportunities to choose candidates through free and fair governorship primaries across the states. This implies that the party will make sure that only popular candidates emerge as its standard bearers across the states.

This is a clear message to all aspirants to get ready to participate in the primaries and stop maligning others. Those trying to manipulating the system and engage in name dropping should sit up and forget automatic ticket in Oyo State.

The party has realised that imposing Governorship candidates in any state will have dire consequences and lead to unpleasant results which we don’t want.

The Ekiti State experience is now a reference point, particularly in the South-West, the hallmark of which is that the PDP conducted  a free and fair primary that produced Mr Ayodele Fayose. How do you think that will impact on the 2015 governorship election in Oyo?

The election will definitely have complementary impact on our own election. PDP is fully on ground in Oyo like Ekiti. It will have an open, transparent, free and fair primary like the one witnessed in Ekiti to, elect the most popular candidates among the aspirants jostling for the position. Don’t forget that we lost the 2011 election due to internal crisis and the activities of some fifth columnists who mortgaged the interest of party members by teaming up with the opposition. But, the people are wiser now, having seen the difference between PDP the APC.

When the PDP was in power, local economy of the state boomed, money circulated well due to government patronising residents  and citizens of the state (both artisans and contractors) for contracts and government supplies as opposed to what operates now under APC. Government businesses are outsourced to Lagos contractors, thus, encouraging capital flight which has really impoverished the people of Oyo State, who are the legitimate owners of the resources of the state. The people of Oyo State have seen how the APC has messed up the economy of the state. So, we expect a repeat of the Ekiti experience where a free and fair primary will produce the most popular candidate that will win the 2015 Governorship election.

As the legal adviser of the Oyo PDP,  what is the position of the party on acts of indiscipline or anti-party activities which seem to be a recurring decimal in your party?

The fifth columnists I just talked about are those who worked assiduously against the party and its candidate in the 2011 election. Most of them and their foot soldiers are now coming round to seek the party’s ticket for the 2015 election. Do they think genuine and loyal party members are stupid? People are intelligent enough to decipher the sinister motives of those who waged war against the party. In a situation where discipline reigns as it should, these people need to be sanctioned as provided for in the PDP Constitution, ranging from reprimand to outright expulsion depending on the severity of their anti-party activities. Some of them are even sponsoring court cases against the party for selfish reasons.

As the legal adviser of the party, I will ensure that the party is able to enforce discipline in its fold to guard against a repeat of the 2011 scenario, This will be done with the support of the national and state leadership of our great party.

With the present composition of the state executive committee of your party in the state is believed in some quarters to be in the kitty of Senator Teslim Folarin and his clique. Don’t you think the governorship primary is a foregone conclusion?

It will be simplistic to assume that the Oyo PDP exco members are in the kitty of any individual or group, except you are saying that the present members are zombies. The truth is that these are fathers and mothers who have integrity, and whose cerebral capacity can make good decisions in the overall best interest of the party members and the good people of the state without being controlled and dictated to by anybody.

However, such a charge is a challenge to the integrity and competence of the members. I am confident that they will rise up to that challenge. They are not stooges of anybody and are capable of mid-wifing a credible, acceptable , free and fair governorship primary when the time comes. Don’t also forget the fact that the exco members themselves know that it is the exco that produces a governorship candidate. Some of them were in the previous exco we had when the PDP was in power and I am sure they have seen the difference between a party in power and the one that is out of power. Though, there could be aberrations or complaints here and there to which corrections may be made, to say that the exco belongs to a person or clique is a collective insult and offends the sensibilities of the entire PDP members in the state.

Can you highlight the qualities that will determine who ultimately gets the PDP governorship candidate in Oyo State?

It is majority of the party members that will determine that through the delegates. But, I believe experience will count;  people will look for somebody who can deliver the goods; who has empathy, and total understanding of the terrain of the state. Somebody who will not destroy the party by promoting factions; somebody who has proven antecedents in terms of what he has achieved before. More so, the candidate must be a good team leader, who can work with others to develop the state and its people. He must not mess up the party and the state. Our candidate will be someone who can execute policies and programmes that will empower and enrich the people of Oyo and not impoverish them. Our candidate must be someone who is respectful and acceptable to all zones of the state and not restricted choice of one zone to the exclusion of others. Though, there is no perfect person.  The PDP will present a candidate who can manage his faults, and be open to constructive criticisms and be ready to adjust and correct himself quickly where necessary.

The open declaration by Senator Hosea Agboola that the time of his former boss, Otunba Alao-Akala as governor of Oyo State is, over appears  like a calculated threat to the re-election bid of the former governor. What is your take on this?

Senator Agboola is entitled to his own opinion but I think as his colleague in the cabinet of Governor Alao-Akala from 2007-2011, I know that people have accurate assessment of the contribution of each and every one of us to the success of our administration. Civil servants were also able to correctly access us as our performance ratings in that government differ.

Be that as it may, I wish to state with all humility that if the media statements credited to Senator Agboola, which he is yet to retract, were indeed made by him, then I believe he is playing God. He is talking in absolutes, as if he is God, by saying it is finished for another man.  I expect him to know that only God can determine the fate of anybody.

While explaining his achievements in life, instead of giving God the glory, he attributed it to his ability to calculate very well as if everything he has achieved is by his own wisdom and power. He has forgotten that it is God that crowns efforts of any man to succeed in any venture.

Do you share the view that the issue of stomach infrastructure is an attempt to debase what good governance is?

Stomach infrastructure is a derogatory coinage of the APC and its apologists targeted at discrediting the success of the PDP at the Ekiti poll. They forget that a leader with empathy must strive to alleviate the sufferings of the people by providing palliatives even as enjoined by Almighty God himself in the Quran and Bible. If a politician gives anything to assist the people, does that necessarily mean he is trying to hoodwink them to vote for him? People know those politicians that naturally give them assistance as a matter of duty. But, the APC belittled the electorate by claiming that the PDP won the election by offering them rice. But, is it not a surprise that the same the APC has now turned round to embrace what they initially condemned as Governor Ajimobi of Oyo State has now gone into distribution of what it termed Ajumose rice apparently to prevent a repeat of the Ekiti calamity for their party in 2015. The good thing, however, is that people are wise enough and will not be taken in by this deceit.

The APC and their elite collaborators believe that carpenters, mechanics, artisans, traders, students and masses generally don’t deserve palliatives, but they seem to forget that the elite get their own infrastructure in form of contracts, cheques, commissions, and electronic transfers running into millions of naira. They should know that whether they employ propaganda to praise themselves for what they haven’t done; God sees everything and will judge us accordingly.

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