Deputy governorship candidate in 2019 election and former House of Representatives member, Honourable Kola Olabiyi, debunks claims that Isaac Omodewu is the APC chairman in Oyo State, saying Alhaji Abu Gbadamosi is the real chairman.
What do you think is the solution to the Oyo All Progressives Congress (APC) crisis, because there is no solution in sight now?
Well, there is no doubt in my mind that we have a crisis and I also believe that a known problem is halved. So what I think the leaders are doing is a way of trying to reconcile everybody, but in the reconciliation, truth must be told that in a democracy, the majority will always have their way, while the minority will have their say. But when you look at the way it is panning out, putting into consideration what happened in Kajola the day the position of the chairmanship was zoned to Oke Ogun, it was crystal clear that Alhaji Abubakar Gbadamosi emerged as the winner. In that meeting, we voted, but we didn’t vote for a candidate. We only micro-zoned the positions to each of the local governments in the zone. So, the chairmanship position was zoned to Kajola. If other contending forces were actually thinking of probably not supporting Alhaji Gbadamosi, I expected them to have looked at somebody within Kajola, because the position was zoned there. So, it was the leaders in Kajola that met and settled on Alhaji Abu. The foundation of a progressive fold is always like that. When you micro-zone, the leaders will meet, get in touch with the people at the local government or constituency and they bring up a candidate. That is the tradition. So, talking of the crisis, I really can’t say anything, because the general election is less than a year away, yet we are still talking about party structure now. I believe we should get it right and people should be able to speak the truth. It is not about being sworn in or being given a certificate of return. Return for what? As what?
Are you saying the solution is for Alhaji Abu Gbadamosi to be officially announced as the state party chairman?
Yes, because that is what the people wanted and voted for. If they don’t believe what we are telling them, they can just come to the federal constituency and engage the people either through a direct primary method or the indirect primary system. Mind you, don’t you forget that after the issuing of certificate of return, all the leaders in Oke Ogun reaffirmed the candidacy of Alhaji Gbadamosi? So what are we talking about?
Are you saying that despite the fact that Isaac Omodeowu is from the same zone as Alhaji Gbadamosi, he doesn’t have the kind of grassroots support that Alhaji Gbadamosi has even after he has been sworn in?
Even a blind man knows that in his own Itesiwaju, he does not have the majority. This is very simple. We have 10 wards and my own approach to politics is talking to people, being with them and all that, not being arrogant. In Itesiwaju Local Government Area, all the gladiators are on one side. Professor Adeolu Akande, who is the chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), all the executive chairmen that have ever been in the council area have been in the progressive fold, four of them, are in the same camp with the NCC chairman. I as a former member of the House of Representatives belong to the same camp, though all of us belong to different wards. So, how will somebody now say he will win in Itesiwaju?
So if the leadership doesn’t agree that Omodewu should be changed, do you see any solution coming from the zonal congress. Maybe they will placate your group?
It is not really about a group this time. It is about the party. And that has always been my position. Even the last caretaker executive in the council, all of them are with us. So, we are actually the ones in charge. It is they that are a group; we are the party. And if you are talking of placating, why should I leave my zone as a practicing politician and be thinking of Abuja? If you are talking of the zonal congress, it is fine. We have nine positions and at least one will come to Oyo. Even if they give anybody, will that be equal to somebody at the grassroots who is supposed to mobilise people and be respected by virtue of his experience and antecedents? So that is the problem. The whole thing is getting funny to me. How will Alhaji Abass deputise Omodewu? How? I really don’t know what our leaders think about when they make key critical decisions? We are talking of the party and someone who has the capacity to reconcile people, talk to them and placate those looking for positions. You see, there will always be crisis. We have not even got to the real crisis period. When people are coming and going for different positions now, who will reconcile them? Who has the experience? That is why we are saying we need experienced people. People talk of age and I wonder why because Oyo State even needs somebody that is experienced and old now, as there are a lot of factions, groups here and there now. But it wasn’t like that when people like me contested for an election. It was more organised then. I don’t know how we can hold an election in a divided house.
So do you think the problem is that APC opens its doors to all kinds of politicians, is that the cause of this problem?
Well, normally, politics is about the people, so you can’t open any door as there will always be free entry and exit. So that is not the issue. The point is like I keep telling people, these party executives that we have are now turning to another thing now, I don’t know the miracle they can perform. Even if you force a gubernatorial candidate or a senatorial candidate on people, will they vote? Of course, they won’t go out to vote. So, it will still not work. Some of us that are leaders may say we will go to polling unit, vote and then return to our houses. But will this win us an election? It won’t. So, we have to mobilise people to come out and vote.
All the old people and young ones have to be carried along; you have to talk of security and resource management and all that. But if you are not happy with the party, in order not to say you are engaging in anti-party, you will simply go to the polling unit, vote and go to your house. But will that win an election for us? What I am saying in essence is that we really need to go back to the drawing board. Unfortunately for Omodewu, immediately after he got the certificate of return, he came back to Ibadan and assembled some people who are part of his recruits and then said that they are the party chairmen in the local governments. Who does that? Like in my own ward now, you will say somebody is the party chairman? So, those were the mistakes he made immediately he came back. Instead of looking for how to reconcile people genuinely, he brought some people together and said he is swearing them in. As what?
So do you see some people leaving APC if this crisis is not resolved?
Well, I am not a prophet and I can only talk for myself and I am back in the party. I also believe that time will tell. When we get to the bridge, we will cross it. We are moving towards the bridge now, when we get there, we will know how to cross it. It is too early to be speculating now because there are so many other interests involved. Jagaban is the rallying point.
You mean Senator Bola Tinubu?
Yes, Tinubu is the rallying point to some of us. So leaving the party means leaving him. That becomes difficult for some of us because it is the bigger picture. And I keep telling people that it is only God that can decide to do what He wants at any point in time. Whether Tinubu is this or that, God has put him forward and he is our leader, father and everything to us. So we won’t talk about leaving the party when we have that type of project. But the thing is, that project will be successful if we cross our ‘t’s” and dot our “i’s”. That is getting back to the grassroots, because every politics is local.
But is it not because of your loyalty to Tinubu that some of you lost out the party structure to the other side?
Time will tell. Whatever you do in the dark, when the day breaks, what happens? Everyone will see it. So we are still waiting for the day to break. And we will all see it. It won’t be for someone to project or think. It will be clear to us all when that time comes.