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The Chairman of the New Nigeria Peoples Party in Ogun State, Olaposi Oginni, in this interview with DAUD OLATUNJI, discusses the party’s plans to change the state’s narrative, the controversy around the party’s governorship candidates, and other topical issues
What is the status and leadership of the NNPP in Ogun State currently? Does the party have a godfather or a financially buoyant personality bankrolling it?
We are one of the top three parties because the incumbent governor is from the All Progressives Congress, and then the Peoples Democratic Party has been around for so many years. Another party we can talk about that is making waves is the NNPP, and I can assure you that we are the party that is ready to take over from Governor Dapo Abiodun come May 29, 2023.
We have Father God in the NNPP; we don’t have a godfather because godfatherism is what has been killing other political parties. The NNPP is a party for you, me, and everyone; it is a party where you can be whoever you want to be, a party where no one will ask where you are from, who your mother and father are, or who you know in power. NNPP is giving leverage and equal opportunity, especially to our younger ones, to take leadership. That’s what the party is all about. When we talk about godfatherism, it is not in the lexicon of the NNPP, especially in Ogun State.
As the party’s state chairman, I can say that financially, it has been God and the contributions of the members. It is about the collective responsibility of the people.
Reports have it that the NNPP has three governorship candidates in the state. What is the story behind that?
We don’t have three candidates; we can only have three aspirants. There are lots of aspirants, and people have aspirations. It is the work of the political party to look at it critically and then conduct primaries, so, in the first instance, a primary was conducted and Fayoyin Olujobi got the ticket, and after that, there was some kind of technicalities and maladministration issues that led to his withdrawal from the race. The other woman, Dr Jackie Kassim, did not participate in any primaries, and it is clearly stated in the electoral acts that anyone who does not participate in any primaries can never become a candidate. So, for her name to have surfaced on the INEC list was a criminal offence. If we look at the electoral acts, it is a two-year jail term offence, but for the interest of peace, we were able to sit down as a party, and she also voluntarily withdrew from the race, so we had to conduct another fresh primary for substitution, and it was at that primary that our candidate for the coming 2023 governorship election, Olufemi Oguntoyinbo emerged.
The primary exercise was witnessed by national officers and supervised by an INEC officer for governorship primaries. It was signed by the National Secretary, Oladipupo Olayokun, who was present. The Secretary-General for the whole South West, Tunde Oke, was also at the event to make sure that the primary was fair and free, and to also ensure that the process was duly followed.
The primary that produced Olufemi Oguntoyinbo went through due process, he emerged, and we have his deputy, Alhaja Shakirat Arowolo. We are presenting them to the Ogun State electorate as a better alternative and choice for the new Ogun State in 2023.
Has INEC rectified the error on the governorship candidate name of your party?
The correction has a process, and we have done another primary, which the INEC came to witness. That is the correction. The substitute primary for governorship has been completed, and Oguntoyinbo has emerged as the party’s Ogun gubernatorial candidate.
What are his (Oguntoyinbo) strengths and selling points?
I must tell you sincerely that his emergence is an act of God, as a young man who can take Ogun State out of the dungeon and rescue Ogun from the hands of political vampires terrorising our people right now.
The New Nigeria People’s Party believes in the New Ogun State, but we still need a person with capacity, somebody who has, not necessarily, all the money in the world, but the resources to ensure that the structures are well built and that the machinery of the campaign is moving accordingly, all these things need a person with capacity.
I can tell you that the acceptance that we have been enjoying going here and there with him, even though the campaign has not started, but going from one meeting to another, means that his emergence is an act of God, and with his emergence, Ogun State will be blessed. He has been able to empower a lot of people; handicapped and less privileged people have benefitted from his philanthropic gestures. I believe he is going to be the president of Nigeria, according to his vision.
Do you think NNPP can dislodge the ruling APC?
No man has the resources to dislodge another man, but only God does. Heaven helps those who help themselves, hence, we are working tirelessly, and we believe God will crown our efforts. We are tapping on the non-performance of the APC, and we have seen that everybody is tired of the APC, not only in Ogun State but in Nigeria. We have been challenging them on what they have to campaign with because, in a democratic state, no person of sound mind would vote for APC because they have performed woefully. They didn’t do anything they promised the electorate.
As far as we are concerned, we are coming up with a blueprint of development for Ogun State, as it can be like Dubai, with the accessibility of Ogun to Lagos State, ports, and all that. We can annex that if we have a government that can think outside the box. I will not reveal the secret of what he wants to do here to the public, but I can tell you that within two years in office, people would think that we are in another country because this is a leadership that is coming with a new vision and direction on what we need to do with people’s resources.
We are looking forward to a new Ogun State where there are going to be no potholes on our roads. I travelled to Ado-Odo, and it was a harrowing experience, and you wouldn’t believe that people are still living in such conditions. That shows the callousness of the leadership we have.
Ogun State is buoyant enough to be like Dubai; that is the vision of New Nigeria. And unlike the Ibikunle Amosun government, which was narrowed to the Ogun Central, where he comes from, we are going to ensure that there’s an even distribution of development.
How can you assess Governor Dapo Abiodun’s administration?
I did not mention his achievement, I mentioned his maladministration. Dapo Abiodun’s maladministration — that’s what I said. All he has been doing, the yellow roof or whatever, are local government projects. This government has crippled the local government administration.
You cannot see any local government embarking on projects in their localities and President Muhammadu Buhari has cried out loud that the governors are the ones stealing the allocation of the local government. The same thing is happening in Ogun State. Unfortunately, nobody is doing anything about that. In saner societies, all the governors should have resigned for that.
What is the plan of the NNPP in Ogun in the coming elections?
We are going to make sure that power is returned to the people, that the local government administration is functioning, and that there will be lots of development at the rural level. We are promising that we are going to build new roads, that we are going to make all the roads in Ogun State motorable and accessible to people, and that we will make sure that we give the future of our children priority.
The NNPP is facing a lot of internal crises at the national level, including the defection of Shekarau. Why?
There is no problem at the national level. Shekarau leaving the party, as far as I am concerned, is not a problem.
Is it true that Kwakwanso will step down for either the APC or PDP presidential candidate before the election?
That is a lie from the pit of hell. Kwankwaso is battle-ready to take over. Kwankwaso has a more distinguished pedigree and credentials than any of them. It is like telling a man who has a PhD to go back to a kindergarten class. God has prepared Kwankwaso for the leadership of this country. If those parties are ready to work with NNPP, we are ready for them, but NNPP is not going to any of these parties to go and work for them. He left these parties because he knows their ideologies and what they are out to do. Nigerians are tired of the PDP and APC. I look forward to us salvaging this country together. NNPP is battle ready. We are not going to collapse our structure into either APC or PDP.
How would you react to the recent agreement signed by Adebutu and Akinlade?
That is their personal affair, and the New Nigeria People’s Party chairman is not a party to whatever they are doing in their party. Any agreement can be brought by anyone. I did not see any reason for me to dabble in that. That is their personal affair.