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POLITICS NEWS: Oyetola will lose Osun gov re-election –Aregbesola’s ally, Alimi

POLITICS NEWS: Oyetola will lose Osun gov re-election –Aregbesola’s ally, Alimi

Publish date: 2022-07-03 00:51:02 | Author: Bola Bamigbola | Source: punchng.com

Former Osun State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs during Rauf Aregbesola’s administration, Kolapo Alimi, tells BOLA BAMIGBOLA about his defection from the All Progressives Congress to the Peoples Democratic Party and other issues

What is the feeling like after dumping the All Progressives Congress for the Peoples Democratic Party?

To God be the glory, I am highly enjoying it because I have a sense of belonging here. I am currently in a political party, in an association where I am well loved, that’s the most important thing. I am happy here, unlike what was in vogue while I was in the APC. It was a one day, one problem situation. I faced a lot of threat and intimidation here and there in the party that we all worked to build. But here in the PDP, I am well loved and appreciated by Senator Ademola Adeleke and the leadership of the PDP, and they received me with great enthusiasm.

Many APC bigwigs didn’t leave the party with you for the PDP. Why was that so?

Let me tell you that politics is individualistic in nature, and on the issue of me leaving the APC with no bigwig, I did not leave without crowd. Journalists at times ascribe politics to big names. Many times, it doesn’t work that way. When I left, I left with about 3,000 APC members across 19 local government areas. Go and watch the clip, about 2,300 people, in Osogbo, over 300 personalities left the APC with me. So, if you say I left alone, you will not be correct. Some of our contemporaries in Osun State APC decided to stay put. That is their decision. My own decision was that I can no longer withstand the heat in that party (APC).

My followers all over the state told me it was time to move. So, why should we still be in a party wherein the leadership doesn’t want to see us? In party politics, apart from being in power, we really need to associate with people and enjoy ourselves. A lot of people behave like cat and mouse, whereby everyday, one problem or the other arises. When my followers, opinion leaders all over the state advised us that the APC did not want us anymore, we decided to move to another party. When I wanted to move many people decided to follow me and you have to remember Kolapo Alimi was just a two-term commissioner. I have never been a governor or a deputy governor; I have never been Secretary to the State Government, Chief of Staff to the governor and so on and so forth. My people followed me from 19 local government areas and that is an indication that this is a politician that is loved and I appreciate our people that they showed me that they are men of conscience.

The campaign is getting hot and you have accused Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of showing disregard for members of the APC. Are you not afraid that you may encounter the same thing you complained of in the APC in your new party?

Let me correct something; I was only speaking against Governor Oyetola and not the APC. How would somebody who rode on a platform of a political party now decide to be deriding the same party? Here is a man, who served under ex-Governor Rauf Aregbesola, and Aregbesola happened to be in the APC and he served in that government as the Chief of Staff for eight years. After succeeding the man, he started ignoring all the policies of the previous government in a manner that people in the opposition couldn’t have done. When he started doing that, we tried to tell him this is not how to play party politics. It was at that point that we too started to expose his weakness. We decided that’s exactly what he was doing we were giving him back. It was a case of ‘hit me, I hit you’.  If he who served as Chief of Staff in a government could not blink an eye before ridiculing the policy of that same government, why should I, who is not part of his government, blink an eye before I deride his own policy too?

Whereas he was actually deriding schools built by Aregbesola, do you know he was even the chairman of that project committee? All the projects were supervised by competent engineers, internationally recruited engineers, but that notwithstanding, those engineers who supervised those projects could have been cautioned if anything was wrong with the projects.  But the man was deriding his predecessor. He said he would carry out test and he carried out the test and it proved that all the schools were good. But he didn’t have the courage again to go to the public and inform them that everything said about the project was not correct. He was looking for a scratch in the school that had been in use by students for years, looking for where tiles had broken, whether windows broke. Schools built over six years and he stopped maintenance of those schools for almost two years so that he could have the opportunity to say the schools were not in good condition.

He sacked facility managers, saying the money they were collecting was too much and didn’t hire any replacement, and you are collecting money for maintenance. The money is actually N6,000 per student, N2,000 per term. It is for the maintenance. He was collecting the money, but refused to maintain the schools. You now allowed the schools to deteriorate. If you are part and parcel of an administration and that was your mission, then everybody in that party would know that you are an enemy of the party. That is why some of us too started exposing his weakness. Our own happens to be backed with fact and figures. His own happens to be false. Looking at what is happening in the PDP as a party, as it is today, if you talk about leadership, Senator Ademola Adeleke is naturally a kind-hearted someone. He does not harbour malice against anybody. He is so lively. I started to like him when we were at the tribunal. We were working against him, and he knew, but he didn’t mind. He would come to the tribunal sittings and would greet us, play with us. The opposite happens to be case with our governor. He is just too reserved to be a leader.

Some people said you left the APC because you attacked Governor Oyetola more than others in your camp and you felt he would never forgive you. How will you react to this?

That was not the reason. Let me tell you, I am a man of principle and I already know from day one that my humble self will not enslave my followers. I met Governor Oyetola sometimes ago. I pleaded with him when he started the shenanigans. He didn’t listen to me. We don’t have any say in his government and those people you see working with him are the ones ready to sacrifice their conscience and go along with him to malign Aregbesola. He also recruited those people who ordinarily are displeased with Aregbesola, those who left us at the heat of his election when we are working for him. From the beginning that I have seen Governor Oyetola’s character, I know that this is not the type of person that I can work with. I can’t work with somebody who is not straightforward. I am not saying Aregbesola is a saint, nobody, including the governor, is a saint, but it is very wrong of you to hate somebody to such an extent and still pretend under him for eight years.

If Aregbesola had been so bad, if I were Oyetola as Chief of Staff, I would resign from his government. I used to tell all of them in the APC that somebody who served as a commissioner in a government, you are now deriding the same government; where is your conscience? Somebody who served as Chief of Staff, you are now deriding the government. Somebody who served as Director General here and there, the current Chief of Staff, Dr Charles Akinola, served as Director Osun Agricultural Development Plan for four years, the governor himself served as Chief of Staff, the current Commissioner for Works was a member Osun State Broadcasting Corporation Board, he was commissioner for Innovation in the second term. Commissioner for Health now was also a Commissioner in Aregbesola’s government. When they now go on radio and television and started talking to deride the government they served, I used to look at them and then I asked myself, are they taking us for fools?

I cannot belong to a political party where I am no longer wanted, where all my followers who have conscience on issues concerning our party are not welcome, where they started manipulating everything; manipulated the congress, the primary, everything. Just look at the way the APC primaries in Osun were conducted. They did not announce, result. In fact, you don’t need to announce when you have direct primaries. You only need to go to your different wards. It is like general election, you go to local government and you collate. So, if it is a state Assembly primary, people will know the result immediately and so on. But when some people kept result sheets somewhere, they did it the way they liked, even when they have manipulated they didn’t have courage to announce the results because they knew people would revolt against them. When you are in a political party and manipulation is there, you have no option, there is freedom of association.

But if Oyetola had appointed you as Attorney General in his government, would you still have held this view, as the policies that were reversed, were said to be bad?

Let me start from the issue of reversal. The only thing that is permanent in life is change. He has been talking about the people as the reason why the policies were reversed. To me, that is fraudulent. Some people would take opinions of 10, as majority opinion. Now, let us talk about the reversal; we told you that all these policies were introduced in 2011-2012 and we had elections in 2014. If it was the people as he used to say, Aregbesola ought not to win second term. Why was the single uniform introduced? Aregbesola found out that most of the public school pupils, especially those in primary, were wearing tattered uniform.

He wanted to give them good uniforms, and uniforms were different and it was difficult for the government to buy different uniforms for the school. So, he decided how he could solve this problem. That was why single uniform was introduced and he gave it to them free of charge. If that was now a very bad policy to some people, then no problem. If you want to reverse it, first of all let the world know that this was our intention when we introduced it. When he reversed the policy, did he buy uniform for the pupils? No. You might not know, they might be few, but some students dropped out of our public schools because of the reintroduction of uniforms which the government did not buy for them and nobody could buy for them because the children of the poorest of the society who have no people to speak for them. As it is today, the elite that are speaking against single uniform, they will never send their children to their old schools and they are the ones who speak against the policy.

We thought he (Oyetola) was popular in his own domain. As a politician in my domain, I delivered when others failed. My town consist of five wards; I delivered all the five wards with a wide margin of 1,500 votes as at that time of governorship election, while some politicians could not do so in their council areas. Even in Ila Orangun, we only led with 162 votes, while in my domain I delivered 1,500 votes. As a politician, I am a grassroots politician.

With you closeness to Aregbesola, are you already making case for Adeleke and seek his (Aregbesola) support for him?

Aregbesola happens to be one of the pillars of the APC. He has his own mind. When you are talking about some great men that we have in this country, engage Aregbesola and you will know that he is a great man. And that is why these people are trying to deride him in the eyes of the public. But they have done their worse. Aregbesola still remains standing. I cannot speak for him.

Beside your description of Senator Adeleke being a good man, do you think he has capacity to lead a cosmopolitan state like Osun?

That is what we need. That is what we clearly need. Our governor will say he is paying salaries. It was former governor (Aregbesola) that solved the problem of salary in Osun. Ask me how? As of today, no government can come around again and complain about salary. When Aregbesola came in 2010, Osun had over-bloated workforce. And in 2011, the new minimum wage came. It was during Aregbesola that N18,000 minimum wage came. So, the salary jumped from to N3.6bn as at that time. And the average income of Osun happened to be about N4bn. So, after paying salaries, nothing will remain. We were thinking it was the recklessness of the then PDP-led administration in recruiting people that were not needed that caused it, but we eventually discovered later that there were some top civil servants, who usually did it. They would call it “replacement”, without the approval of the state government; they would employ graduates and give them low scale, like Level 3. The person will have about 2 to 3 years to suffer. They had ways of doing it. So when we discovered this, Aregbesola introduced biometrics and we centralized the payroll. All the workers did the biometrics and we centralized the payroll. That is, as a civil servant, you are now paid directly from the state. As the payroll was centralized, nobody could recruit again.

They did it but it could not enter the payroll. So, apart from the recruitment we did in 2012, from 2012 till date, every month, the salary of the government was actually coming down because all the people in the service today are on the contributory pension scheme and the people on the old pension, the figure is coming down because if anybody dies today as a pensioner, the government will no longer pay. If anyone resigns or dies in civil service today, the government will gain that money and that is the reason why it was easy for us to pay full salary from Level 1 to 8, and later on, in July, we started paying full salaries to all workers because salary was actually coming down. Before Aregbesola tenure lapses, the salary had come down to almost N2bn plus.

The PDP lost in Ekiti governorship poll, but you recently said Adeleke would win by wide margin. How hopeful are you ahead of Osun poll?

I’m still holding on to it. Let me tell you one thing. Ekiti election configuration is different from Osun election configuration. Let me illustrate with facts and figures. In 2014, the PDP won in Ekiti, while in Osun, the APC won with about 100,000 plus. In 2018, the APC won in Ekiti, and after the first ballot of the September 22 election, the PDP led with 353. The configuration is different now. The sophistication of the people as it is today is hard to come by. Outcome of Ekiti poll won’t have any negative effect for the Osun PDP. If you see our campaign in Irepodun and Orolu, ask people, you will attest that people are fed up with the Oyetola government of the APC.

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