2015: Yes… I want to be governor —Great Lam’s son
Dr Ayobami Wasiu Lam-Adesina, eldest child of former Dr Ayobami Wasiu Lam-Adesina,, Alhaji Lam Adesina, and leading figure in the All Progressives congress (APC), recently spoke with DAMOLA ADEOYE on a number of political issues, especially the 2015 governorship election in the state. Excerpts:
YOUR party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) recently lost the Ekiti governorship election; it currently sits on the knife-edge in Osun. Is this a sign of the end time for the APC in the South-West?
I don’t think so. I think it only provides us an opportunity to re-adjust our strategies, and probably have a re-think. As progressives, we have a rich heritage of the fact that Yorubas always vote for us, being the party that consistently satisfies their yearnings and aspirations, and that heritage we will ensure continues. In no distant time, Ekiti will be back in the progressive fold. As for Osun, I’m supremely confident that given the huge popularity of our candidate, Governor Rauf Aregbesola, we will by the grace of God retain Osun.
Without doubt, Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, is a protégé of your father. Has he been able to sustain his legacies?
That’s a question we need to answer, because if we talk about sustaining my father’s legacies, that will be about putting smiles on the faces of the people. I, for one, have been going round, for me to be able to determine if the Oyo State government has been able to put smiles on the faces of the people. You can see me smiling, but are the people of Oyo State smiling? If the answer is yes, then that will mean His Excellency, Senator Ajimobi, has been able to sustain my father’s legacies.
In your own view, has he?
I think it can’t be about just my own view. It is instructive we get response from the people; we have to feel their pulse. It has to be about whether the APC government as currently headed by Senator Ajimobi has been able to put smiles on the faces of the people. That is why I’m going round, getting feedback. But what I will say to the progressive family, especially my father’s supporters, is that we need to critically find out if the governor has been putting smiles on the faces of the people, only then can a second term be justifiable.
Do you want to be governor?
If that’s what will ensure the entrenchment of a progressive ideology in the state, then, yes.
Governor Ajimobi represents the APC, the APC is a progressive party; why not support the governor for a second term?
It depends. As far as I’m concerned, has the APC in power in the state been able to put smiles on the faces of our people? I wouldn’t be able to answer that question until we ask our people if they have truly felt the impact of this government to trust Governor Ajimobi for another term.
Many will think you are against Governor Ajimobi purportedly because he has been anti-Lam in the last two or three years?
Has he been anti-Lam? As far as I know, a tree does not make a forest. It isn’t about being anti-Lam or not; it is more about the progressive ideology- free education, free health, rural development, provision of infrastructure and gainful employment. As Chief Obafemi Awolowo would say, a ruling party must be able to put smiles on the faces of the people, reduce the burden of life on them, not so much about distributing rice or stomach infrastructure as is the trend in the South-West these days. Have we as the ruling party in the state been able to do that? My father’s government even with its meager resources was able to do that.
You want to be governor, the incumbent, Governor Ajimobi, wants a second term and your party doesn’t have the tradition of conducting primaries?
I’ve been in politics with my dad since 1976. When people talk about the fact that progressives don’t conduct primaries, I sometimes laugh. I remember there were primaries during Chief Ige’s time. Though consensus building is possible when there is no one who wants to challenge the incumbent, that doesn’t mean primaries are foregone conclusions.
The party structure in the state is in the hands of the governor and being a party used to consensus candidacy, the general feeling is that of a smooth ride for Governor Ajimobi. What will you do, should you fail to pick the ticket?
I think we need to be very clear as a party, on the need to do that which is right. We shouldn’t take the people for granted. It shouldn’t be a matter of whether we have done well or not we continue in the same manner. If you present a candidate who hasn’t put smiles on the faces of the people, then the election would be lost. If we don’t want to lose this state, then we should listen to the people. Besides, I don’t want to have discussions about party structure because when my father was alive, he never pocketed the party structure. It was a collective leadership. As far as the APC is concerned, a majority of the members are from the defunct ACN. Who built that structure? Alhaji Lam Adesina. As for the issue of ticket, we haven’t got to the point of whether I would run for governorship or not. I’m not in politics because of positions; it’s about service to the people. As you know, thoroughbred progressives don’t change party affiliations, the key is nurturing our progressive ideology.
That means it would be wrong for me to call you a governorship candidate, and it then means that should the governor invite you to a closed door meeting, then you’ll support his ambition?
A child will normally take after his father and for those who know my father sufficiently well, they’ll know the answer to that question. Have you ever heard my father being called into a room, when he’s already taken a principled stand, and then he changes that position? The answer is no, which every blessed Ibadan, Oyo State and Nigerian knows. Same goes for Dr. Ayobami Lam-Adesina.
If the collective decision is that Governor Ajimobi should run for a second term. Does that mean you’ll support the governor?
It was a collective decision when my father as leader of the party persuaded everyone to accept Senator Ajimobi then as the party’s candidate. So if that collective decision still says he should be re-presented, then I would abide. Although I remember my father telling me there was a gentleman agreement with all governorship aspirants in 2011 including Senator Ajimobi that whoever emerges as candidate will spend only one term. He however, told me that it is possible that Senator Ajimobi will change his mind being human. My father then said there are three criteria that the party would look at if that is the case. First, are the party leaders in agreement, second are the majority of the party people in agreement and third the most important, will the people vote the incumbent in for a second term? My dad said if the answer is yes, we have to collectively abide.
Do you think Senator Ajimobi will win, if re-presented?
Am I the only Oyo State indigene? That question would be answered by Oyo State people. We have been going around and feeling the pulse of the people. It is their response that will answer that question.
Your eventual decision to run against the governor may pitch you against your brother who is in the governor’s camp. Don’t you think that may tear the Lam-Adesina family apart?
I’m not sure that can anyway. This family will always be in the progressive party. My father by the grace of God and the support of the Oyo State people was instrumental in Governor Ajimobi’s emergence. If, and that’s a big if, I’ll be contesting for the governorship, I won’t be seeking the same position as my brother.