The Ladilu of Oyo kingdom and United Kingdom-trained tax lawyer, Chief Bisi Ilaka, who is the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate for Oyo Central senatorial, is optimistic of victory against Senators Monsurat Sunmonu and Teslim Folarin of the African Democratic Congress, ADC and All Progressives Congress, APC, respectively.
Ilaka, in a recent interview with Nigerian Tribune, explained that “Without a shadow of doubt, I stand a very good chance of winning the election next year. My story or the mantra I have been repeating time after time is that in Oyo Central, we have been very unfortunate with the kind of representation we have had since 1999 when the Fourth Republic began. Senator Sunmonu and even probably more so, Senator Folarin, who, at one time was the Senate Leader, will run on their records. Their records are there and I don’t need to tell anybody. But I will run on the unique skill and ability I reckon I will bring to play in representing the district. In my own view, their records have been pretty abysmal and I don’t think they can shape that up as we go for the general election. Let them tell us what they have done to better the lot of the people of the district or what they have brought to the district. How have they championed the cause of the people in the National Assembly? These are some of the questions they will face from the people of the district when the time comes.”
If he wins the 2019 election, he said, “First and foremost, I will properly engage with our people. I am not going to be very presumptuous. I have been in the whole political matrix of the state for a while and I have a good idea of what is required in Oyo Central Senatorial district. In as much as each and every of the 11 local government areas is pretty different, there is a common thread. The district is mainly rural with a little bit of urban area. These councils represent really what I call a true microcosm of what Oyo State is. I understand the challenges of the people and I will be a vector in providing what the district needs.”
Speaking about the recent gun shooting incident in Oyo town, he noted that “Without trying to influence anything because the matter is before the court, what I know for certain was that I was in my vehicle and I heard gunshots at the palace of the Alaafin [of Oyo]. More than 600 gunshots were fired and there was a tragic loss of lives and some people were injured. I don’t know who shot and nobody shot in my direction. I was not in possession of any firearm. The matter is still pretty opaque. Even from the investigation done by the police, there are a lot of questions to be asked. In the fullness of time, I am sure the truth will surely come out.
“I went to Kabiyesi’s palace to celebrate the Oranyan festival with him and his people. It was not a political campaign and I had no reason to believe it was a hostile territory. There was no acrimony between me and anybody there, particularly people of Oyo. People who I expect to see in the palace with the Kabiyesi, the traditional institution in its full glory, fellow Oyo indigenes, were all there. It was a very unfortunate affair. All I can say is that at the end of the day, the truth will prevail because the incident begs a lot of questions. I think that is the best way I can put it. I did not see anybody pull a trigger and shoot anybody. I can only go by what I saw. My nephew was sitting with me in the car and another gentleman was with us in the car. I didn’t see it as it unfolded. The police report is neither here nor there because it does not really pinpoint anything. The truth will surely prevail.”
He revealed that there was a political connection in the whole incident and how it was handled. “Without a shadow of doubt, it did have a political undertone because at no point did anybody point to me that I pulled any trigger. But with the various charges that could not hold at the end of the day, some people probably thought if they could have me out of the way, have me incarcerated for a certain period of time through particularly the instrumentality of the police, I might miss my primary election and they will whip me into line. But I am made of sterner stuff. There is definitely a political colouration to it and I am sure I will be vindicated at the end of the day.
He, however, said that the incident will not affect his chances in the election. “I don’t think so. In fact, to the contrary, every day without fail, people have come to wherever I have been kept morning, noon, day and night. The solidarity they have demonstrated all the time I have been away is enormous and I feel quite humbled by it as a matter of fact. In fact, I have received more sympathy. Those who might have thought they might have spun the matter politically will probably really have egg on their face. Our people have shown a lot of empathy and they do sympathise with my plight. They know the kind of person I am. They know the kind of life I live. I am not one to be carrying gun or touts about, trying to cause harm to anybody. People have juxtaposed my person and character beside the incident and they have drawn their own inference. I know the kind of inference they have done is quite favourable and I feel quite humble by it. It spurs me on to always be the person I have always been. My life is that of authenticity: what you see is what you get. There is nothing hidden in the corner anywhere. I remain highly indebted and humbled by the reaction of our people.”