akindele adekunle

Adeleke will reverse Osun LG poll – Adekunle, PDP acting chair

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The acting Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in Osun State, Dr Akindele Adekunle, shares his thoughts with BOLA BAMIGBOLA on matters affecting his party in the state, including the court case against its electoral victory

Your party is having two major matters before the court. A case instituted by Dotun Babayemi against the candidature of Senator Ademola Adeleke and a petition challenging your party’s governorship victory at the Election Petition Tribunal. How will you react to claims that the cases are not allowing the PDP to fully savour the joy of its victory at the poll?

I beg to disagree with you that we are not enjoying our victory in the governorship poll. We have won the election convincingly and it was attested to by observer groups and well-meaning Nigerians. We have been doing a lot to prepare ourselves to take over governance come November 27, 2022. The Peoples Democratic Party in Osun State is not in crisis. It is just that at every point in time in the life of any organisation like the PDP, a lot of things have to be put in proper perspective. The Dotun Babayemi issue that you mentioned is an issue that I don’t have to dwell too much on. As far as the party is concerned, Dotun Babayemi has been expelled from the PDP. He is no longer a member of the party and we cannot refer to him or answer any question relating to him. As it stands today, he is no longer a member of the PDP.

But Babayemi said the people who expelled him were not the authentic PDP executives of his ward. How true is that?

I will have to put the question to you that who is the right person to authenticate the right executives at the ward level? These things are documented. I am the state chairman of the PDP as we speak today. The facts are there, and those who expelled him are elected executive members and they are not even caretaker members. I can tell you that they are the authentic executive members who have been mandated to carry out the functions and dictate of the party for four years. If you want to verify their claims, you can as well go to the party’s secretariat to see documents and if you have the time, you can as well go to the national headquarters to see it. All executive members at the ward, local government and state levels are all documented and their details are with the national body. That settles it.

What did you do correctly as the caretaker chairman, coming on board about three months to a poll and leading it to victory?

No magic. The differences among various interest groups in the PDP, we worked and resolved them. But the most important thing is that we had a very good candidate, who is popular, tested and loved by the people. Also, we had a robust campaign and sold our candidate and manifesto of the party to the people. We campaigned vigorously and worked assiduously to win the governorship election of July 16, 2022. It was tasking, but we were determined. The most important thing is that our work was simplified by the fact that the outgoing government has not been able to live up to expectations. They have not been able to fulfil many of its electoral promises to the people.

The people of Osun State have gone through a lot. There is a lot of infrastructural decay and at that point when we came in, the people were already yearning for a change. They wanted a better government, a government with human face, a government that will ease their suffering and a government that is sympathetic and empathic to their plights. So, it was very easy for us to come in and to tell them that yes, these are what we can do to put smiles on the faces of people, and by the grace of God, at the end of the day, we were able to win the election.

There are insinuations that your political party’s decision to opt out of the October 15 Osun State local government poll may at the end of the day hurt it. What is your take on such claims?

How will that hurt our party? How will that inflict any pain on our party? Our party is founded on the basis of the rule of law, and we have done our due diligence to know that the purported or planned election is founded and based on illegality. You don’t want to go into nuances of the illegality of the election, but of course, we have made it known to the public and we have even sent a letter to the Chairman of the Osun State Independent Electoral Commission that we would not be part of the illegality. I want to assure you that whatever that is done that is illegal as far as this outgoing administration is concerned will be reversed and corrected as soon as we get into office by November 27.

It is surprising and baffling that the OSIEC chairman is a lawyer and he has claimed in one of his press conferences that he has 40 years’ experience. I don’t know the motive behind his decision to go ahead with the poll. I don’t know why he has been so adamant to decide against the Electoral Act by violating it. Of course, he is aware and every learned person is aware of the consequences of this violation, but I can assure you that as soon as we get into office, if he is adamant and they go ahead with the purported election, it will be reversed.

But OSIEC said it followed the dictates of the constitution. Some political parties also said they received the notice of the election in 2020 before the advent of coronavirus. Did your party also receive the notice of the local government poll from OSIEC?

Probably the information is in the imagination of those that claimed OSIEC sent a notice of the poll to them. I am the chairman of the party and till now, I have not received a copy of any formal letter or formal communication from OSIEC as regards the local government election that will be held on October 15, 2022. So, I don’t know where others got that information from. To the best of my knowledge, no notice was received from them. We are not going to be part of it, because OSIEC has not really followed the Electoral Act. They have barely two or three months to leave office as a government and they want to conduct an election. It is the height of illegality and our party will not be part of that.

Some schools of thought feel that you should have participated to have the locus to challenge the poll in court. Did your party not consider that?

I have told you in the beginning of this interview that the PDP is founded and based on the rule of law and whatever contravenes the constitution and Electoral Act, we will not get involved in it. We are a very disciplined party and we must lead by example. We are going to form the government from November 27, 2022. So, we should not be seen to be participating in illegality and that is the basis of why we are not going to be participating in the purported October 15, 2022 local government election, and besides that, we are in court to challenge it.

Is your party not under pressure as your members are said to be intensifying the struggle to get posts in the next administration?

We are not under any pressure. I need to tell you that we have won the election and people have been waiting for us to come on board. We know the enormity of the task ahead and we are prepared for that. Certainly, expectations are high. We have been out of power for the past 12 years and that has resulted in our people being governed without direction. We will be coming in to rectify some of those things that have been poorly handled.

You have been accusing the current administration of working to create several hurdles for the incoming administration. But the Governor Adegboyega Oyetola administration has said that you have got no proof. Do you have concrete evidence to back your allegations?

This is a sinking and dying government. Whatever you put to them or whatever they are doing, they will definitely deny it. What is the rationale of having to spend up to N1.5bn to N2bn on the local government election that is illegal? If you go through the cities, you will see a lot of refuse dumps everywhere. If you go to Osogbo in the night, everywhere is dark like a graveyard. Pensions are not paid regularly. We have infrastructural decay plus potholes everywhere. Why can’t they use the money they want to spend on the election to ameliorate the suffering of the people? We need to put them on their toes. We are going to make sure that whatever is left in the state is not misappropriated and that is why we set up a transition committee to look into their books and possibly make recommendations and findings to the governor-elect.

What are those things the transition committee has discovered so far?

The transition committee has rounded off its task, but another standing committee has been constituted. Oyetola’s government has been very evasive. What they have turned in are assumptions based on snippets of information here and there, because Oyetola’s government has not been cooperating with the transition committee to open their books to it. But we know that at the fullest of time, whatever is hidden will be revealed. It is a matter of months. At that time, we should be able to tell the world comprehensively that these are our findings. But despite that, we are very prepared and ready to take up the mantle of leadership in the state.

Is the PDP apprehensive as the Election Petition Tribunal commences hearing of Governor Oyetola’s petition against your party’s candidate?

We are very comfortable. What is the essence of their petition? It will be an exercise in futility. An election that was rated highly by observers; they briefed the press that it was free and fair. We are in the opposition while they are in government. They have all the paraphernalia of office to use for the election, but we won them. We defeated them hands down. Tribunal is not an issue. We assure the people of Osun State that they should not be distracted by that. The governor-elect is ready; as soon as we are sworn in on November 27 and by God’s grace, 100 days after they will begin to enjoy the dividends of democracy.

With the crisis in your party at the national level, don’t you think Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and his group are working against the victory of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the PDP candidate in the next presidential election?

I beg to differ. Governor Wike is not working against the party. His action is not anti-party. I will see him as someone who feels that the party has come short of expectations and it is very natural for every human being to react that way, and I have always said at different forums that the party has mechanisms for resolving some of these things. If you agree with me, the party has been interfacing with the personalities and meetings have been going on and reconciliation is on. The party’s flag bearer, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has been able to meet Wike on one or two occasions.

Governor Wike will definitely work for the party in the 2023 elections. He is a party man; he has put so much into the party. He has done so well for the party. So, he has nowhere to go. I don’t want you to be carried away with the insinuations from fifth columnists. Most of the things that you read online are just being cooked up. They are not factual but when you hear from party leaders like us, you should rest assured that what we are telling you is the fact. He is going to work for the party, he is going nowhere.

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