A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State, Alhaji Abdulrasheed Adebisi Olopoeyan, in this interview by NURUDEEN ALIMI, talks about his determination to make the party stronger, among other issues.
DURING the last Eid-el-Kabir celebration, the governor of Oyo State, MrSeyiMakinde, was at your residence to celebrate with you. That move, at that time, suggested that the perceived rift between two of you had been resolved. But recently, a 32-second video footage went viral on the social media space, where you were seen alleging that the governor had not rewarded you accordingly for the support you gave which, according to you, contributed immensely to his emergence as governor in 2019. Could you shed light to this?
Ordinarily, there has been no time that the governor had decided not to pay me a visit during Ileyafestival; he comes every year since we knew each other. He usually came during Eid-el-Fitr festival until I suspended it because some of my followers wanted to be using the opportunity to take alcohol, which I do not like. So, the governor’s visit during Ileya is just the usual which has been happening for quite sometime.
In the video, you emphatically said you worked tirelessly during the electioneering, which brought the governor to office. What are those things you did which you can say qualify you to be specially appreciated?
Before the footage that went viral, the meeting had been on for close to two hours, but I reacted that way when somebody talked about those who have left the party. The governor knows that I really contributed, in no small measure, to his emergence. There is nobody in this state who can say he or she did more than I did during the 2019 governorship election. Even the governor knows nobody worked for him to emerge more than I did because I was the one who single-handedly brought him back to the PDP in May 2015. Both of us had a meeting in London shortly after he lost the governorship election on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
At that time, he told me he was tired of politics and that he was not interested any longer. But he told me if I could help talk to leaders of the party in the 33 local government areas of the state, he would be willing to return. He specifically told me that the mistake he made was that he did not really have a very strong relationship with the real determinants in all the local government areas. And I started working. Even at that time, the PDP was in a state of confusion. Virtually all the key elements of the party had left. I was the one who brought the party back to life at that time when I started the Reformed PDP to lure those who had left the party to return.
At that time, when Makinde was still in SDP, people accused me of engaging in anti-party activities because I was hobnobbing with Makinde. I was the one who reconciled him with the likes of Senator Hosea Agboola,HonourableMulikatAkande-Adeola and the rest of them. The first meeting he held with Agboola was at Farinto’s house in February 2016. It was at that time I changed the name of Reformed PDP to Aseyori SeyiMakinde (ASM) and we used to have our meetings at Supreme Hotel, Ibadan. Also, seven of us founded what we called Oyo First, myself, BisiIlaka, MulikatAkande, DemolaOjo, Sharafadeen Ali and Senator Femi Lanlehin also joined us but later some people pulled out because they felt the agenda was for Seyi Makinde.
The point I am trying to make is that at that time, none of those who are benefitting from the present administration in the state was there. Those who are claiming to be part of us now came after the election had been won. After I spoke angrily in the video, I saw a comment from someone on a social media platform talking about the issue of money I mentioned. I know exactly what I am saying. It is not because I am hungry or I need money to finance my family. I bought my house in 1992. I am not a poor man; I have built houses in Ibadan even before joining politics. When I said some people are suffering, I was not referring to myself. If you worked for somebody to achieve his or her dream, you should be duly compensated. All those people that we worked together during the election are always in my house; they need to be compensated for their efforts. I am not asking to be a commissioner or any other appointment but our people should be considered for something reasonable in this government. I am not asking for money;all I am asking for is to fix our people, who worked together to bring forth this government. I do not have any child employed by the state government despite that I have eight of them who are graduates. Those outsiders, who are speaking, cannot understand what we are talking about because they are ignorant of the happenings in the political circle. I have not left this party (PDP) for once and everybody can attest to that fact. The senator representing Oyo South in the National Assembly is an outsider; it was few months to the election that he joined us.
This is what we are talking about. He does not even talk to me but I do not actually care. I am saying all these so that the people would know how things are going. I have had cause to deal with governors in this state; I had a very good relationship with Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, even the late Senator AbiolaAjimobi whom we were not in the same political party. I am only fighting for the party and we cannot afford to fold our arms while useful members defect to another party.
Last Saturday, the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr Bayo Lawal, while featuring on a radio programme, described you as a political chicken. What would be your reaction to this remark?
You know we have two elders, the good ones and the opposite. Bayo Lawal is just unnecessarily angry because we are together in Ibadan North East and he knows how valued I am. It was the present Chief of Staff to the governor, BisiIlaka, who brought Bayo Lawal to join us in our group then. Why he is feeling important now is that he has been made a commissioner. To me, he does not have any value. Why he is thinking he has value is the appointment. As far as I am concerned, he does not possess the qualities to occupy such sensitive public office. The reason I said this is that you would discover that when he was first appointed, he was taken to the ministry of special duties. I am sure you know what that means. I want to believe you are also aware that he ought to have been the senator representing Oyo South but the ticket to contest was withdrawn from him and given to somebody who was just a stranger in the party. I am 100 per cent convinced that the governor did not ask him to go and say all what he had gone to say on the radio. I believe the governor would still ask him why he had said all he said because Bayo Lawal is just poised to disorganise the party.
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