Senator Babafemi Ojudu is the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters. In a recent interview, he speaks on the moves by some group within the All Progressives Congress (APC) to remove Adams Oshiomhole as the chairman and the state of governance in Ekiti State. ‘YOMI AYELESO brings the excerpts.
At the moment, Adams Oshiomhole, the chairman of your party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), has survived plot to remove him. What is your position on the allegation that the attempt to remove is premised on alleged-highhandedness?
This is a very simple matter and I can say all of these crises are all about 2023 and that is why I always ask: who knows who is going to be alive tomorrow? All of us are tools in the hands of God. Why should it be about what we want to eat? To some people, it is all about the next appointment and the next election. Why not about what we should do for the people? These people have been ganging up because of 2023 and they are the same people who wanted to extend the tenure of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun against the position of the party’s constitution. Adams Oshiomhole was elected to run for four years and to seek renewal of his term after the first term. Why don’t you wait for him to finish his term, whether he is high-handed or not? I think it is all about 2023.
There is a process for electing and for removing the chairman of the party. Why don’t you allow that to take place? Why must we always abuse it? Why must we put the party into crisis? Why must we embark on a journey to nowhere? If we destroy the party today, what will history record against our name? It is people who are not patient who are always after one position or the other; who are always plotting and, in the process of plotting, forget the assignment they are elected to do. Look at the environment here: you cannot see changes; you cannot see prosperity. Let us direct our energy towards uplifting our environment. We want an Ekiti State where young people will have something to do; let us have industries. I will advise our governor [Dr Kayode Fayemi] to concentrate on lifting the state, rather than the controversies here and there so that whoever our party put forward in future, it will be easier to win. But if things continue like this, it will be difficult for us to have the government of APC after this present four years.
One of the claims of those opposing Oshiomhole was that he is close to Senator Bola Tinubu who they believe have presidential ambition in 2023. What can you say about this?
What is this anti-Tinubu of a thing? Why do we want to bring people down, particularly people who had assisted us to get to the position we has gotten to? What might have been the disagreement between Senator Tinubu and some of them? They should look at the good things he has done for them.
Is there any disagreement between Governor Kayode Fayemi and Senator Tinubu?
Well, I don’t know about their relationship but I must not say I am not aware of a kind of a disagreement, but disagreement comes in politics. We must know that a leader is a leader. You can disagree with your leader, but don’t let it get to a point of no return or a point where you begin to plot against one another. Fayemi has the right to become the president, likewise Senator Tinubu. Members of the party decide first and the people of the country will also decide. Almost three years to the contest and you see plotting to rubbish and destroy the party. For me, it is not going to help anybody. We should wait and play according to rule and we must not destroy the party.
I have my disagreement with Governor Fayemi but I kept off because I don’t want my personal interest to jeopardise what it is that he has for the people. If I were him (Fayemi), I will govern this state to the glory of Ekiti and Nigeria and, if after running this state and attract more industries to the state- with more youths gainfully employed; provision of social amenities- people will say this is a good example of someone to run Nigeria. That is how you will be judged; you will be judged base on what you have done and not by how many people you can bring down. Try to let people know what you are capable of doing; create a good image for this state; make sure Ekiti becomes the food basket of the nation. When you do all these, it will be easier for you to be considered in governing this country. It is impossible for intrigues and plotting alone to make somebody a president in this country.
But is it true that Oshiomhole does not have the temperament to run the party?
When you point one finger at another person, four other fingers are pointing at you. There is no human being who does not have his minus. Let us assume all of those accusations against Oshiomhole are true, we are members of that party and we should be able to find a way to bring him to do what is right. I did not even agree with that. I have my own differences with him. It is all again about the calculations about the 2023. It shows that some people have another party somewhere as third force but they want to first destroy this party for their secret party to grow. But, is that so easy?
A lot of people believe the president ought to have been more proactive in taking decisions and making his positions known as regards the party. Do you have any contrary view?
Watching closely, the way I see the president, he is a very patient leader. He pretends not see what is happening but he is watching everybody. He will watch and he will not tell you his mind until the last minute.
What is your position on the recent query to about 11 monarchs in Ekiti State?
My emotion has moved from disbelief to surprise and disappointment. Disbelief because when I first saw the query, I initially thought it was not true until I saw the letter from the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, speaking on behalf of other major monarchs in the region and I was so surprised that this could be true. I was more disappointed when I saw the letter from the Alawe reporting the Alaafin to Governor Seyi Makinde. I thought that was unnecessary and uncalled for. Let me say this: stakeholders in our party met and we were alarmed. They were worried that what is going on in Ekiti could be seen by the people of Ekiti as the agenda of the APC. We met and debated the issue and we left the meeting dissociating ourselves from the act of harassing, embarrassing and humiliation of any traditional ruler. That is not the thing we signed up for the people.
We believe that if there is any issue or disagreement between the obas and the government, it should be settled amicably. The leaders of Ekiti should have been called to handle the issue. But to issue query to foremost obas in Ekiti, asking them to respond within 72 hours to a query signed by a deputy director, to me, is disturbing. Let me say this to the people of Ekiti and the entire people in the country that this is not an agenda of the APC. The president holds the traditional rulers in high esteem. I know how he respects the Emir of Daura if he comes to the Villa. Same thing with the vice president; in Sagamu and Ikenne, Ogun State; he treats them with care and he is always happy to have them around him. This is not about our party. What led to this I don’t know but me say and affirm that it is not about our party. Traditional rulers are there for life, while an elected official will be in office for at most eight years.
It is just an unnecessary controversy in Ekiti State because it is not about putting food in the tables of hungry people in the street.