Why Nobody Can Rival My Political Influence In Okeogun — Makinde’s Deputy

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    Bayo Lawal, Seyi Makinde’s deputy, has revealed that no individual can rival him politically across the 10 local government areas in Okeogun area of Oyo State.

    This was just as the former commissioner for justice and attorney general who is now acting governor, said those who alleged he was not a muslim have come to apologize to him.

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    The Kisi-born politician disclosed this in an interview with Nigerian Tribune.

    Asked if the removal of Raufu Olaniyan as deputy governor and the manner in which he emerged would not affect the changes of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the governor, Lawal explained that “Let me unequivocally and unambiguously put it on record that in Oke-Ogun, comprising 10 local government areas, there is no individual, as of today, of my age, experience, exposure, political stature that can rival my political influence across the 10 local government areas of the zone. I am saying that with seriousness and assertion because there is no socio-cultural organization in Oke-Ogun that I have not been a member, including Oke-Ogun Progressives Movement (OPM), Oke-Ogun Development Consultative Forum (ODCF) and others. It is either I was their secretary-general or member of their Board of Trustees among others.

    “In the 70s, I was part and parcel of when OPM was formed. The oldest person in that forum is Baba Oyedemi of Okeho. I was involved in all the agitations of the forum either for state creation or for institution of higher learning or for others. My office was the natural office of such movements from Oke-Ogun. Only last week, the Council of Oke-Ogun indigenes came on a courtesy call. It has never happened to any Oke-Ogun indigene. I am not only a current trustee of ODCF; I am Secretary of the Board of Trustee and ODCF is the umbrella organization of Oke-Ogun. In my own town, I am Bamofin of Kisi land and I know my activities within the community. I have lived all my life in Oyo State, particularly in Oke-Ogun. Politically, since the inception of this republic, I have participated very actively to the extent that between 1999 and 2003, I was the Honourable Attorney General of the State. I came from that Oke-Ogun bloc and I have done my bit to support my people from that region. I have contested Senatorial election, and this captures the entire Oke-Ogun and part of Ogbomoso zone. So, who can say that Bayo Lawal is not a political figure in Oke-Ogun zone? A testimony to that is that when I emerged deputy governor cum acting governor, all the traditional rulers, at the last count, 41 of them, paid a courtesy call on me. The League of Alfas and Imams have also come to pay a courtesy call on me. In the last two to three weeks, that I have been acting as governor of Oyo State, virtually all the socio-cultural organisations in Oke-Ogun have paid me courtesy visit. You are a journalist. You can compare and contrast. I will not raise issues of popularity with anybody but I am here to say that I am standing on a very firm ground of prominence in Oke-Ogun area.

    “If people feel that because I am coming on board as running mate, they are jittery, that is their own cup of tea. Moving together with my principal, the governor of Oyo State, we are going to win convincingly in the forthcoming general election. I have told people that the 10 local government areas of Oke-Ogun zone will deliver such great margin of success; we are looking at 90 percent delivery for the PDP. The other political parties can share the remaining 10 percent. Anything below 90 percent delivery, local government by local government, will not be good enough for us, by our standard. Governor Seyi Makinde has tremendously assisted us in Oke-Ogun and we must reciprocate the good gesture he has shown to us.

    I Didn’t Anticipate My Emergence As Deputy Governor, Acting Governor 

    First and foremost, I will like to say that events that led to my emergence as acting governor were not anticipated. All of a sudden, the House of Assembly removed the former deputy governor. It became public when the House of Assembly asked the former deputy governor to react to some complaints. In reacting, the House of Assembly, in line with constitutional provisions, asked the Chief Judge of the state to set up a panel for the former deputy governor to respond to some indictable offences. In short, the former deputy governor was indicted and was impeached and then removed. All of those happened rapidly; so you could imagine the events that brought me up as acting governor. However, I must give it to the governor himself, Engineer Seyi Makinde, who even when I became the deputy governor thought it wise that I could stand in for him as acting governor. That is quite unprecedented in the annals of political circumstances in Nigeria. Flipping back to the first republic, we have not had such an experience, especially in South Western Nigeria. This will be the first time a sitting governor will devolve powers to his deputy. With profound respect and humility, I thank His Excellency for trusting and reposing confidence in me that I could act in for him while on vacation. Initially, I thought it would be a tea party. Don’t forget that even before my emergence as deputy governor, he gave me an assignment as Chairman, Oyo State Housing Corporation. But, our activities at the Housing Corporation are incomparable to the larger picture of governance associated with the office of the governor. In this office, there are multifaceted responsibilities, particularly in a state like Oyo State. There is security, political, social, economic responsibilities. There is also relationship between government and traditional rulers; relationship between government and civil servants; relationship between government and the organised private sector. The list is endless and a governor must contend with these areas. If you say we have 30 hours in a day, it will still not be enough, let alone 24 hours. The responsibilities are enormous. Nevertheless, we must allocate time and apply what I often call critical path analysis in navigating all these responsibilities. This means we prioritise and sieve before decisions are taken. Let me add that when the governor was going on vacation, he left the state with me to exercise discretion; to take responsibilities unfettered for which I am grateful.

    I Act Without Calling Makinde To Crosscheck

    No. Crosscheck. If I take a decision, it is with full responsibility as acting governor of the state. I have never sought any clarification since I assumed this office of acting governor. And he has not, for a moment, asked any question. That is the relationship and how far we have been going.

    Those Who Alleged I’m Not A Muslim Have Come To Apologise

    I have always known that truth will stand erect; nobody can bend truth. I was born a Muslim; I have not for once changed religion; my parents were Muslims and I have not had any cause to doubt myself as to whether I am a Muslim or not. Let me say that in this game of politics, as I have often told my associates, anywhere competition is in place, it is a game of disqualification. Nobody will qualify you. For quite some time, you have been in my house; that is a mosque there. I have been living in this house for more than a decade, with a mosque. Even on appointment, I have always worshipped at the Oyo State Housing Corporation mosque. They had a smaller mosque when I got there, and as a Muslim, I saw the need for expansion and there is an ongoing construction of a mosque at the Housing Corporation with support of all my colleagues there. It is just that I have been quiet about it. I have supported Islamic organisations, Muslim establishments with blocks of rooms. I have contributed about N20 million in a single act of supporting a Muslim cause. I have people around here that can bear witness to all these claims. But, since it is a game of disqualification and people bring up things. I have Imams, Islamic scholars around me who have said that making that allegation alone is a sin. For a Muslim to accuse a fellow Muslim, who consciously tells you he or she is a Muslim, is a crime for which they must apologise to Almighty Allah. May I tell you that all those who have raised the allegation have come to me to apologise.

    People Are Exiting PDP, More Are Joining Us

    To neophyte politicians, that may mean much. To experienced politicians, there are variables, parameters, computations based on personal interests. And, if those interests could not be fulfilled, on a particular platform, some people may opt out. But, the good thing about politics is that people are exiting, more people are coming in. The gauge to consider whether actions of some people will rub positively or negatively is when you look at it on a global scale. You ask, are you losing more people than you are gaining. To us, in PDP, we know that far more people are joining every day. Who are those people that are exiting? There are also some of them who are grumbling but are not leaving. When it comes to observing political movements, I can predict where it will end. If people are saying that people are leaving a political platform and joining another platform, the test first, is where are those people moving out going? Are they going to a strong political party that can contend with the platform they are moving out from? If you say people are moving out of PDP, where are they moving to? Some have gone to the Social Democratic Party (SDP), New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Labour Party (LP), Accord Party (AP), a few to the All Progressives Congress (APC). I will say that is a good development for the PDP. Since 1999 till date, nobody who has experience, will move out from a strong political platform and join a very weak political platform that cannot win even local government election. I will encourage those who are dissipating energies on third force parties to align and come on board. Let us drive PDP together; it is wide enough to accommodate everybody. Ten percent of something is better than 100 percent of nothing. If you come on board and you are able to secure 10 percent of what is available in PDP, it is better than 100 percent of nothing elsewhere. I am not seeing anything that can tilt the scale against PDP in the forthcoming election. We will double our efforts. There is a legal maxim that: ‘Don’t rely on the weakness of your opponents; develop your own strengths.’ We are strongly developing our own strengths and there is no doubt, we are coming victorious in 2023.

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