Aso Rock, not Buhari described Kogi election as ‘well won’ —Oduyoye
Babatunde Oduyoye is the Special Adviser on Political Matters to Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State. In this interview with STEPHEN GBADAMOSI, he speaks on the controversies that trailed the Kogi State governorship election and the recent judgment of the Court of Appeal on the Oyo State governorship election, among others.
What is your take-away from the recent Kogi State governorship election, considering that the Oyo State governor played a pivotal role as the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Campaign Council for the election?
My take-away from the Kogi election aligns with that of the civil society organisations, the foreign missions and most observers that witnessed the election. It wasn’t an election. According to one of the contestants, it was a civil war. It was a election that is akin to military action where you have air, land and sea strikes. It was an election
where chopper belonging to an institution of the Federal Government was used to teargas voters in the stronghold of some candidates, an action followed immediately by land attack by armed men in Hilux vans who were shooting and taking away ballot boxes.
We assumed that Nigeria had moved forward, most especially, after the 2015 election, which was largely credible, free and fair and one in which an incumbent president lost an election and honorably conceded, saying that his ambition was not worth the blood of any man. We assumed that to a large extent, this was going to be a free and fair election. We assumed that it was going to be that of tactics and strategies. We knew there could be violence. But the monumental level of the violence in the November 16, 2019 governorship election was unprecedented, unexpected.
As a person from Oyo State, I have never witnessed anything like that. That election was a sham. But we are happy that it was glaring for all to see. It was an election that has been condemned by all lovers of democracy.
I am also aware that the Federal Government is under pressure from a lot of foreign missions on the conduct of the election and collaboration of some security agencies.
For Governor Seyi Makinde, he has delivered in the sense that he was recognised by his party to coordinate the campaign of the party in the state.
But President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated the believed winner of the election. He said it was ‘a race well run and a victory well won.’ How do you react to that?
I want to assume that the handlers of the president congratulated Yahaya Bello. We need to look back at what Umaru Yar’Adua said after his election in 2009. He accepted that the election that brought himninto office was flawed. So, one would expect anybody that occupies
that kind of position to send out the right signal to the Nigerian populace. I want to maintain that probably the handlers or those who are in charge of the Villa made that statement.
How would the president have said that a victory was well-won in an election in which over 30 PDP members were killed and the woman leader of the party was burnt alive? Could the president, who is being presented as a democrat and who in 1984 said he overthrew the Shehu Shagari government due to the massive corruption and electoral fraud that characterized his reelection really say that he is proud of what went down in Kogi? If, indeed, he said that, then he needs to apologise to Shagari. What happened on Saturday was not an election.
Some loyalists of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo State have begun to mock Governor Makinde, saying ‘b’ose lo lo se bo,’ meaning he came back with nothing from Kogi after spending Oyo State’s money on thugs deployed for the election. How would the governor explain this, as it was his first major assignment for the party?
That wasn’t the governor’s first assignment. The first was conducting the screening for the candidates in the Bayelsa State election. And I know that if they had followed his recommendations on the conduct of the Bayelsa election, the outcome would have been different. But that
is a story for another day.
Second, the conduct of three ad hoc ward congresses was the second assignment that the PDP gave to Governor Makinde. And by the time he conducted the three ad hoc committees, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP had to write him to congratulate him on the successful conduct of the exercise.
On this particular assignment, he was chosen as chairman of the national campaign council. Under his leadership, the PDP ran a successful campaign. That is one. Governor Makinde galvanised about seven governors and four deputy governors on the party’s ticket to attend the flag-off of the Kogi PDP governorship election campaign at the Confluence Stadium in Lokoja. He rallied all the other governors to support the party.
No penny of Oyo State money was expended on the election in Kogi. In his personal capacity, he would probably have assisted the candidate, but I want to tell you that no kobo of Oyo State was expended on Kogi.
How do you react to the call by some people on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe the governor?
When the governor declared his assets, didn’t you hear worse things than that? Didn’t you hear people questioning him despite the fact that there are departments in the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) that have the responsibility of verifying whether the declaration was true or false. How can someone ask the EFCC to investigate him; investigate him for what? For obeying his party and carrying out the functions of a chairman of a council? Why not call on EFCC to probe Governor Nasiru el-Rufai of Kaduna, who went on his kneels begging at the stadium? Why not call on EFCC to probe Mohammed Badaru of Jigawa, who went to Bayelsa and was there on the day of election? On the day of election, my governor was not even in Kogi State. He was in Abuja. You will recall that the agents of government were there to
harass the governor and his entourage at the hotel. But we were able to whether that storm.
So, as far as I am concerned, the APC has nothing to say and so, they are looking for every little opportunity to attack the governor and try to water down the achievements he has recorded within five months in
office. I think they should be better concerned about their already failed voyage to supplant the will of the people and steal a mandate that the electorate did not give them. Instead of throwing antics and tantrums at the governor
of Oyo State, the APC should be concerned about rebuilding their battered party.
But there is a video that has gone viral in which an individual was saying that Governor Makinde invited him to Kogi. The opposition has latched on to this to criticize the governor for exporting thugs to Kogi State. How do you explain that?
When we ran the last general election in Oyo State, it was open and glaring that PDP did not encourage thuggery. We did not have busses filled with ammunitions going about like the APC. Rather, we were the ones that were shot at. You will recall what happened to PDP campaign train at Ojoo when we were coming back from a campaign trip. I am also sure the people of Oyo State would remember how many lives were lost in Ibarapa during APC rally and how thugs loyal to the party terrorized some parts of Ibadan. Governor Makinde does not encourage or support thuggery. That’s one.
Two, important personalities saddled with the responsibilities of assisting the governor, including myself; the chairman of the state advisory council, and some of his lieutenants were the only people that travelled with him to Kogi. I say it with all sense of seriousness and without any fear of contradiction from any quarters that Governor
Makinde did not invite, see or have anything to do with Sunday Igboho or any other person. Personally, I don’t know him. I have never met him. He was not part of
the governor’s entourage to Kogi State. Neither was there Auxiliary, as they are saying. It is totally false. As far as I am concerned, I maintain that at no point did the governor meet or invite Auxiliary or Sunday Igboho to Kogi State.
The governor is unaware of all these. The governor was
even surprised to learn from the social media that Sunday Igboho was in Lokoja. I want to maintain that he doesn’t support thuggery and will not encourage it. Look at the action he took in proscribing the National Union of Road
Transports Workers (NURTW) in the state. He has shown the people of the state that he will not support violence or encourage it. If anyone is saying that, I think they are just trying to present what does not exist. It’s all fallacy.
The judgment of the Court of Appeal on the election of Makinde is also an issue, as it has created confusion in that the APC and the PDP are laying claim to victory. What does the ruling portend for your party?
I am not a legal luminary. But from what I have read from experts who understand the rudiments of the legal system, then there is no confusion as people claim. As far as I am concerned, taking cognizance of the
Electoral Act (as amended), and in view of the 180 days deadline for trial of election petition matters at the tribunal as well as the fact that the Court of Appeal has stated that after reevaluating the APC’s evidence, which it said the Tribunal did not give them fair hearing on, then the APC’s claim to victory is valueless and baseless.
As of now, we are back to the status quo, and that is that Governor Makinde remains governor of the state. If the APC and Bayo Adelabu are not satisfied, they should approach the Supreme Court. When they do that, we will be waiting for them.
But I want to use this medium to assure the good people of Oyo State that they shall continue to enjoy the dividend of democracy based on the four pillars of the administration’s police, that is education, health, driving the economy through agriculture and security.
Is there no jitter in the PDP’s camp over that judgment?
No. Having consulted with so many experts and with the interactions with our own legal team, I make bold to say that we don’t have any cause to fear. People are yielding to fear over the attempt by one individual in the South-West to deal with us. People are also alluding
to the fact that because we have the only PDP governor in the South-West, there will be desperate attempt to take over the state through the back door.
But I want to assure you that we are not losing our sleep over this. Oyo State is not Osun State. Osun was carved out of Oyo State. The good people of Oyo State who voted massively for Governor Makinde and the PDP are ready and will not allow anyone to steal their mandate through the back door.
What if that individual you made reference to is backed by the Federal Government?
We have trust in our eminent jurists at the Supreme Court. We still have hope in the legal system. And having studied the judgment, we believe that the Supreme Court will not do other than to confirm the election of Governor Makinde and time that its seats.
It is believed that the coalition that was formed to galvanise support for Governor Makinde before the governorship election has a schism now. As special adviser to the governor on politics, what is being done over this?
With reference to my good big brother, Senator Olufemi Lanlehin, some of the areas of agreement have been respected. That is that an appointment has been made. Other appointments will be made soon. You
will recall that in a statement, he alluded to the fact that, perhaps, it was the busy schedule of the governor that is responsible for his inability to finally make the appointments. But I want to assure you that we are in constant touch with them. He (Senator Lanlehin) is
still part of this coalition.
Governor Makinde will not renege on all the agreements he had reached with the coalition parties. Very soon, some of these appointments will be made. And this does not concern members of the coalition alone. It includes the agitators in the state PDP too. There are over 1,000
appointments, if we go by calculation of boards and parastatal agencies. I don’t think the appointments that have been made so far are up to 200. As long as these appointments will be made, members of the PDP will be accommodated. And members of the coalition will not be