Communications minister, Barr. Adebayo Shittu, has said he has always told people that if God loves the people of Oyo state, he will make him the governor irrespective of whatever impediment mischief makers may bring.
Asked if the loss at the primary the heaviest inflicted on his political career, he answered: “On three occasion, my mentor, General Buhari was frustrated in his desire to become President of this country. He contested elections three times and the elections were massively rigged. He went to court and was also frustrated in a conspiracy between politics and the judiciary. At the end of the day, at God’s own time, people who were frustrating him were taken out of the way. I always tell people that if God loves the people of Oyo state, he will make me the governor irrespective of whatever impediment mischief makers may bring.”
Shittu, who spoke In a recent interview, revealed how he would make all the difference “because I have a lot of experience. I have been in politics for over 40 years and I learnt politics from Chief Obafemi Awolowo who has been the greatest political leader in this country. Working in the communications ministry, the experience I have now, nobody in Oyo state has that. I will use ICT to develop Oyo state. So, temporary loss is not mine, but the loss of the people of my state who deserve the best they can get.”
Saying that he would pursue his case against the All Progressives Congress, APC, for preventing him from the primaries to a logical conclusion, the Saki-born lawyer explained that “We are in court and I have given a commitment that I will pursue the case to its logical conclusion. I am not the judge and I am not the one who is going to give judgement. I will pursue the case to show to everybody that the fact that you are a national Chairman of a party, or that you are a governor does not mean that you can engage in impunity and get away with it. I think that is the point we should make for the development of our democracy.”
Explaining how lack of fund led to closure of the campaign office of the President Muhammadu Buhari support group in Ibadan, he noted that “I think that whole idea that I stopped campaigning for Buhari is nonsensical. I was the first cabinet member who started campaigning for Buhari’s reelection. I am still part of this government and part of the APC. In fact, I am a foundation member of the APC and my interactions and relationship with Buhari is not just starting. I was his party’s governorship candidate in Oyo state in 2011 and President Buhari has continued to earn my respect and adoration because he is one President who was either the first or the second to willingly reduce his salary by half. I think the first leader to do that was Murtala Mohammed who is late now. If he can reduce his legitimate salary so that the Nigerian state can utilise that second part for the good of this country, why would I do that?
“I think the story is mere mischief. We had a rented apartment which is not my property. We rented it for N3 million per annum and we simply could not afford to pay that and the landlord was impatient with us. He said we either pay or get out and we simply took the most sensible option by vacating the place. We are in the process of looking for another office space for the campaign. We hope to get something cheaper. So, it is not true that for whatever reason, I would say that I am no longer campaigning for Buhari. It was the handiwork of mischief makers and a section of the media cannot be exonorated from that. They started carrying that report without seeking my own side of the story. That is simply not patriotic. It is self serving and politically motivated.”
He went further to disclose how he had to pay N22 million, “and they didn’t advertise any condition outside those provided for in the Nigerian constitution. After we have paid, got screened and certified, the Chairman of our party unilaterally and in violation of the constitution, got me out of the way so that they can impose a new comer on the system. Somebody who is barely two months in APC was foisted on the party. Of course, you cannot expect me at my level to support such candidate.
Don’t you think that would amount to anti-party?
“What is anti party. They had an opportunity and they missed it and the party will certainly have to pay for it. With all sense of humility, I have gone past the stage where any party will threaten me. I am in court and if the party think that they have better basis for what they have done, let us meet in court. You don’t start threatening someone who feels unfairly treated thinking you can get him out of the justice system.”
Shittu, however, said his case would not affect the chances of Buhari.
“Let me assure you that by the grace of God, on the 5th of January 2019, we are going to inaugurate a coalition of grassroots campaigners for Buhari/Osinbajo re-election in Oyo. It is a coalition because all those who were frustrated out of APC either through the congresses which were held earlier or through the primaries and who have been forced into other parties invited me to provide leadership because they want to work for Buhari.
“They want me to form a coalition at the grassroots to campaign for Buhari’s re-election. The personality of Buhari goes beyond party. He has supporters in all the parties including the PDP and all these supporters will be galvanised into one campaign force and by the grace of God, we hope to be able to gather 2 million votes for Buhari in Oyo state.”