Ex-communications minister, Barr. Adebayo Shittu, has described former Governor Abiola Ajimobi as someone who looks down on others.
Both Shittu and Ajimobi, OYO INSIGHT recalls, engaged in verbal war and litigation over the control of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Oyo State.
This newspaper understands that it took several days for leaders of thoughts in the state to get Ajimobi accept Shittu as ministerial nominee from the state in 2015. A reception was later organized where both of them sat side by side.
Shittu in an exclusive interview with Premium Times, was speaking how despite several reconciliations, they didn’t work together during the last general elections.
According to the Saki-born lawyer, “If you know Ajimobi, you know he’s a very arrogant person. He’s someone who looks down on others. What happened was that there was a meeting of south-west leaders of APC in the office of the governor in Ibadan. After the main meeting, while we were being entertained, he said ‘Chief Osoba, you are chairman of the party internal reconciliation committee, you ought to know that I and Barrister Shittu are not in good terms. What have you done.’ and everybody said Chief Osoba should call these people together. But Chief Osoba at that time had a health challenge and he had to go to the UK to take care of himself. So, I took the initiative by myself to go and meet the governor. I asked when he would likely be in Abuja and he gave me a date. Then I said ‘Governor why are we fighting? We have been friends.’ He said he learnt that I was boasting that if I succeeded him, he would be in jail. And I told him, ‘Governor you know how religious I am. I don’t boast about anything because the future belongs to God. Anybody who told you that, please bring me and the person together and let us confront each other.’ He said ‘okay now, our dispute is over, tell all your people that we are no longer fighting.’ and I was happy. The third day after I called to thank him for the warm reception, he said ‘on the land dispute between you and the local government in your hometown (because I’m building an ICT centre in my hometown), I’ve resolved the land dispute.’ But on the fifth day, he sent bulldozers to go and destroy my ICT centre.”
Asked if the ICT centre was privately or owned by the government, he explained that it was private. “Everything was reduced to powder and 10 tippers were used to evacuate to go and fill potholes on the road to Ogbooro from Shaki. When I learnt about it I called he didn’t pick. I sent text to him that I was surprised about this thing, he didn’t respond. Then I called Teslim Folarin to report. Till tomorrow Teslim has not given me a feedback. The matter is in court anyway. So, it was not that he initiated the reconciliation. It was I who went to him and all I see in this is a person who is very mischievous, who does not want people who potentially can surpass him in terms of performance in government. On top of that is the fact that he colluded with Oshiomhole to get me disqualified.”
Shittu wouldn’t want Adams Oshiomhole to continue as National chairman of the APC.
“That question is preposterous. This is somebody who met the party having 26 states but, by the time he engaged in all the shenanigans and destruction, the party is left with barely 20 states now. My fear is if he’s not removed before 2023, there’s a possibility of APC going down. It is Buhari who is keeping the party together now. Once President Buhari is no more on the ballot, I cannot say, with Oshiomhole, what will happen. So, it is the matter of urgency that we must retire him so that we bring in fair-minded person who would engage less of his mouth than his brain.”
He denied working against the party in the state.
“I could not have played a role because I’m a founding member of APC in Nigeria. Recall that I was a gubernatorial candidate of CPC in 2011. So, when APC was to be formed, I was one of the critical persons, who had to be deployed to serve particularly in the constitution drafting committee. You see a number of things happened. When there’s mischief, when there’s injustice, God has a way of ensuring that people are punished for their mischief, for their injustices and all of that.”
He, however, said that God punishes the party for its mischief.
“He did. He punished the leaders of APC in Oyo State and in the same vein it also showed to our national chairman that you don’t do injustice and get away with it. Let me also go back a little. I was a member of the Oyo State House of Assembly between ‘79 and ‘83 and at that time, NPN was as unpopular as PDP became in the recent past. As one of the eggheads in the parliament, I was just fresh from law school and I was one of those who had all the English to lambast NPN for their corruption and this and that. But along the line, I realised that some of the things we were criticizing in NPN, some of our leaders were also doing the same thing in the area of corruption and as somebody who detests corruption to the marrow, I raised an issue that we needed to prove certain contracts. My motion was taken, a committee was set up by the second day.
“But later there was a motion again to review the previous day’s motion calling for the nullification or disbandment of that committee which was set up. First, I raised my hand to try to object but the then speaker, late now, said ‘as speaker I overruled you, those in favour say ayes, the ayes have it.’ And the next thing was they got my constituents to move motion for recalling me, for disciplining me. They took the whip position from me and made me consequently party-less. Of course, the consequence was that I didn’t have any power but what God did was to ensure that the party lost that subsequent general election in 1983.
“And that was what brought me into the cabinet of Dr Omololu Olunloyo as the commissioner for home affairs, information and culture. In the same vein, many years after, I wanted to be governor, of course, I had attempted it before and I knew I was the most qualified for a number of reasons. From my area, we’ve never been governor and that’s 10 local governments which had been laying the golden egg for APC both in 2015 and in 2019 and I want you to go and check the record. Oke Ogun area has always provided more than enough votes over and above any other section of the state for the party. In 2015, it was the votes of my zone, Oke Ogun that made Governor Ajimobi win because his own people didn’t vote for him.
“And after that election, he went around on a thank you tour and promised my zone that we would be governor after him. We didn’t know that he was telling lies but by 2019 when it became our turn he started his political shenanigans which led to my disqualification and I told the party at that time that God would never support the mischievous. If you didn’t give me the ticket, if you unlawfully disqualified me, the consequences would be very grave for the party. I don’t have power, I don’t even have any money to bribe anybody but just like my people in Oke Ogun had always been doing, we voted massively for Mr President. In fact, we used the votes of Oke Ogun to upturn largely the votes from Ibadan and some other parts. But when it came to the governorship, my people said no we can’t have this anymore. We cannot continue to be number 2. So, what has happened I see as the work of God who shall always rise to justify the position of the oppressed. I was the oppressed clearly.”