Resolution of Tinubu/Akeredolu rift good for S/West’s future –Oshati, APC chieftain
Chief Olatunji Oshati is the Balogun of idoani in Ose Local Government Area of Ondo State and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He speaks with STEPHEN GBADAMOSI on political developments in the area, robbery attacks and other recent events in the state. Excerpts:
What is the position of the Idoani community on the proposed local council development areas (LCDAs) in the state?
When the state governor, Chief Rotimi Akeredolu, announced the composition of an 11-man committee over the creation of Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs), we welcomed it with open hands. Idoani has submitted a memorandum for the creation of Ireakari LCDA, consisting of Idoani, Idogun, Afo and Imeri. We proposed that Idoani should be the headquarters of the council. We put that in the memorandum. It is our belief that the council will bring rapid development to the grassroots in the area. It will eliminate marginalisation and ensure the cohesion of the four communities and bring development and growth to the grass roots. We believe in the sincerity of the governor to create the LCDAs. He is a man of his words.
As a chieftain of the APC in the state, how do you view the squabble allegedly between Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu, and the recent efforts being made at rapprochement?
It is a good development and a welcome relief for all loyal members of the party in the state. It will douse the unnecessary tension that is brewing within the rank and file of the party.
As a matter of fact, and for those of us who know the genesis of the crisis, it was Aketi that was wronged. In 2012, during his first attempt when he emerged as the leaders’ consensus candidate of the party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) then, there was serious uproar and infighting that nearly brought down the roof over the party, because everybody regarded his choice as imposition by the leaders. He eventually lost, despite the huge campaign and support by all the machineries drafted to Ondo State by Tinubu.
Having realised that the main reason for the loss was sabotage from within by the aggrieved members, Aketi decided to revolutionise the system by bringing about internal democracy. Unfortunately, he met a huge brick wall that brought him against the powers-that-be. You know, he is more of an activist than a politician. Activists are always very focused and difficult to be dissuaded.
He tested his renewed revolution to sanitise the party during the election of the state executive council, but again, he met the superior machination of his master. His candidate, Ade Adetimehin, won but was not declared. He was still undaunted and promised to fight on within the party at a time majority of his followers were disillusioned and totally discouraged. The rest is history for those who know.
He clinched the ticket in 2015 by the grace of God and against all odds. Ideally, he would have thought the boss would call to congratulate and draw him closer, not knowing that a bigger obstacle awaits him through the emergence of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), sponsored by Senator Tinubu, which actually gave him a good fight.
You see, what I am saying is that the courage to say ‘thank you’ or ‘l am sorry’ is gradually lacking in our culture. I think there wouldn’t have been any big deal, if the situation had quickly given in to a simple ‘I’m sorry.’ It appears to me to be a misunderstanding arising from our loss of ethics as a culturally sensitive people. There is nothing happening between these two people that cannot be solved easily; it required a simple thing of saying, ‘I wronged you, I’m sorry. You did this to me, but don’t be annoyed. Let us move ahead;’ and things like that.
Tinubu was said to have attended Akeredolu’s inauguration to douse such insinuated tensions. Isn’t that true?
I said it earlier, the courage to say ‘sorry,’ even if that person is junior to you should have been enough to save us some of these things. We have leaders in families and politics and all other spheres of life. Whether junior or senior, we manage relationships by give and take. This hullabaloo should have been unnecessary, if our leaders could say ‘sorry.’ You wrong your junior ones and still gain their confidence. It happens all the times and should not be an exception in politics.
This Aketi that I know is a man that believes in solidarity. That is the psychological gauge of his actions and attitudes which is unexpected of an activist. Senator Tinubu knows his potentials and I know he needs him more at a time like this.
You see, if the reconciliation is sincerely implemented, the South-West’s unity towards the struggle ahead would be more guaranteed.
What is your assessment of the Akeredolu-led government in the state?
So many have been said about the miracle behind his unprecedented achievement within two years, but I will rather put it that his achievements are his new-found strength. The people are happy and very appreciative and even positively hopeful as some of the areas not touched are eagerly looking forward to the creation of LCDAs that will quickly galvanise their own development.
What is being a Balogun like and how has it affected your life as a person and a politician?
I am just me. I am the Balogun of Idoani, to the glory of God. The people, in their wisdom, thought I should be. It has nothing to do with my person. I see it as a call to serve the people in the town. I still remain Olatunji Oshati that they found worthy of the title. I respect my father’s name and will do all in my powers to maintain the purity of that name.
What is important is service to the people in whatever capacity I find myself. As a politician or as a traditional chief, I remain myself.
What is the situation in Idoani now, after the recent bank robbery that rocked the town?
Idoani is a town of highly alert people. Ever since the king, Alani of Idoani, Oba Oluwafemi Olutoye, mounted the saddle about four years ago, the town has witnessed tremendous development in infrastructure, many of which he singlehandedly facilitated. There is the new palace hall and the rural electrification of the streets through solar technology. He brought prestige to the throne as a former Army General. The town has been peaceful until of late when a bank was attacked by a gang of heartless armed robbers.
When you heard about that robbery attack, what was your immediate reaction?
We just left a meeting of Alani-in-Council on that day when we heard sporadic gunshots and we were told that the bank was being robbed. Many innocent people were killed, including bank officials. It was, indeed, a bad day for the town.
But then, we want to use this medium to praise the sense of vigilance of the youth of Idoani who apprehended a suspect that was later handed over to the men of the Nigerian Army who came from the nearby formation. It is to the credit of the youth that the suspect later confessed to be a member of the robbery gang. He is now helping the police in their investigation.
The latest report on the matter is that five more suspects have been arrested and arraigned before an Akure magistrate court.
One thing that is of note is that Idoani is not a town that leaves its flanks open; people don’t commit such evil there and go scot free. The spirits of our forefathers are always on guard. That is why the first suspect walked carelessly into the hands of the youth.
Though, this type of incident, I must say, is not peculiar to Idoani. Banks have been attacked in other neighbouring towns, it is not about Idoani alone.
We must appreciate the security agents for their efforts and timely intervention which gave the people some measure of respite and stabilised the situation.
The state government, through the deputy governor, Mr Agboola Ajayi; and the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr Ifedayo Abegunde, was also supportive.
Idoani felt the impact of the attack. What other things did the town do to show that?
We can only pray to God to continue to protect us. It was an unexpected event. The town organised a vigil to pray for the repose of the souls of the deceased. There was a vice principal of a major school of the community among the victims; there were three bank officials, and two policemen, as well as other people who suffered one form of loss or the other. Idoani commiserates with all of them.
What the town wants to tell the whole world now is that it is the only bank that serves about six communities in our area. Government should, please, reopen the bank and strengthen security around it. The bank serves Imeri, Idogun, Afo, Ifira and other towns, apart from Idoani. It is, almost, an indispensable facility to the people. Our people will now go through the rigour of moving about 40 kilometres to Owo or Ikare to carry out banking transactions. That is tedious.