Why I don’t support Oshiomhole’s removal – Osun APC chairman

Prince GBOYEGA Famoodun is the APC chairman in Osun state. In this interview with LATEEF DADA, he explains why he does not support the clamour for the removal of the party’s national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.

How would you assess the performances of your party in Osun state? 

Thank God we passed through the general elections. The performance of any party is essentially rated by whatever result it has after each election. We also had the governorship election of which we won. The peculiar circumstances we faced made it so difficult for us to have a clear win at the first ballot but eventually we won. The rest is now history.
Subsequent election after that showed that we did better than we did in the governorship election. Looking at what we have been able to do as a party, we have been able to see tremendous changes in our educational system. We have not been able to support it with teaching staffs that are inadequate as a result of low finances. There are so many vacancies in the teaching services that qualified teachers are difficult to engage because of payment of salaries, but we had support from social programmes initiated by the government at the central like N-power and some other programmes.
On road development, we have not done badly. Although, we had about 330 kms of road tarred in all the local governments in the last eight years, but more are within Osogbo, Ilesa, Ife and Ede. 
In terms of unemployment which has been the bane of development in Nigeria today, we have our own share of the social decadences among the youths, high unemployment rate. Going by the level of higher institutions we have in this state and the turn-out every year, it is difficult to employ everyone, so, we are trying to organise social services. We have improved on our O’Yes training programme to recharge our youths to employ themselves after one or two years of engagement. 

If not for the exit of former SSG, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti, dont you think your party would have won the governorship election during the first ballot?  

It is a general knowledge that rotation pattern of political office is not in any constitution even at the national level. It is a constitution of convenience and fairness that political parties imposed on themselves believing that all of us have equal opportunity and equal resources. We have three senatorial districts. When it comes to your own, you have opportunity of two term that should go round the constituencies. When you look at what has been happening in Osun since its creation, you would see that the central has benefited more than the others. The first governor was from the west and that is Alhaji Isiaka Adeleke. Don’t forget that he contested with somebody from the central then, Oladosu Oladipo. 
After him, Chief Bisi Akande from central contested with Adeleke from the west. After Baba Akande, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola from the central contested with Adeleke from the west. To that point, why don’t we have the east? It has been the issue of west/central up to the time that Rauf Aregbesola who came from the east. Aregbesola did not even contest all alone, it was Aregbesola with the incumbent. If you look at it, the central has been playing dominant role like the north has been playing in Nigeria politics. It is because it’s a function of ability. I believe every senatorial district has the capacity and individual that can measure up, but the effort needed for you to come out and ask for it is another thing. The central has been coming up all the time with their own human resources to contest for this position and I still maintain that it is not written in any constitution. 
That’s if Alhaji Adeoti had been with us, we would have had a clear win. Yes, but at the same time, as a politician of note and a politician who had opportunity to lead the party, you don’t assume that the popularity of a political party should be transferred to self. The party is the popular organ, not you. I cannot say I’m so popular now because I’m chairman of APC. I come from the town that has only three wards. The best I can be from my town is a councilor. If I want to be anything other than the councilor, I must go to the other communities to ask for vote. So, I should not deceive myself to interpret that the popularity of the party in which I’m heading is as a result of me. That was the mistake he made. Alhaji Adeoti had 49,000 votes as against our own 254,000, PDP 254,000, SDP 128,000.
The previous election was not even like that. We were leading when Aregbesola went for second time with over 100,000 votes. But now, 49,000 out of our votes went into other places. If you look at the number of voided votes, it is even more than 49,000. 80 percent belonged to APC. So, when you interpret that to where we have rejected votes, most of these votes were done deliberately against APC. If we had god-fearing presiding officers, we would have won outrightly with or without Adeoti. 

Are you saying Alhaji Moshood Adeoti is not one of the problem identified or not one of the reasons for the poor performance of APC in the last governorship election? 

I did not say that. The exit or breaking of any faction of political party into another party is a serious challenge to any party. What I mean is that when you see the way it came at the end, you would realise that the move by Alhaji Adeoti and his group was just unnecessary. It was an exercise in futility that reduced them. We have most of their followers that came back almost immediately after the election who said they were misled into leaving. 

How can godfatherism, money politics and thuggery be reduced in Nigerian politics? 

We have a lot of unemployed hands. Most of them are skilled, but many unskilled. In Osun, for instance, I consider us as one of the most peaceful. Thurgery or no thurgery, our election seems to be most peaceful compared to other places.
You cannot compare election in Osun with any state in the South/South or what we had in Kogi in the last governorship election or in Ekiti state during the last gubernatorial election. We try to run away from use of money politics by employing direct primaries which made every card carrying member of the party a decider of who becomes their governorship candidate. My own experience as the party chairman in Osun is that it got to a state that our members started demanding for money to go and vote. It has never happened to us before. The issue of thurgery is very low here. 
What we do in our own party is not a show of force to the opposition. Thank God the last election that we had, nobody died during that election. It is not like what we have in other places. Whether we like it or not, because of the high rate of unemployed youths, you would see thuggery, but we minimised our own. In many cases, when you study the so called thugs, you can’t see them facing each other, rather than facing themselves, they face politicians who employed them. So, when you look at their behavioural pattern, you can minimise their engagement from time to time and that is what we did here in Osun. 

How would you access the chairmanship of Adams Oshiomhole and what informed the conviction of forum chairmen to support his continuation?

We are living witnesses to what fell PDP in this country. The party had a retinue of chairmen. Within four years, they have about six chairmen changing from one to the other. They also changed the Senate president more than four times. They almost have Senate president in all the eastern state because it was zoned there. So, these are all the factors that led to the fall of PDP. We decided to run away from it. We talked to ourselves and those of them that were instrumental to it in PDP who are with us that even if a chairman is not good, there are so many ways to correct them such that they would change rather than removing them and put another person that might eventually be worse. 
That is why we tried to run away from that and we managed it. When you look at the reason for demanding the change of a political party, it is not because it was not doing well, it was because they believed that if another person was there, some people would find their way. When you look at the real reason for wanting to change chairman, you won’t allow it even if the chairman is bad. Some people came to lobby me when we wanted to make a resolution. They said Oshiomhole has not been talking to them and not reachable. I said as far as I was concerned, he has been an improvement over the former chairman. His system is direct primary and my own state has benefited from his policy of allowing us to do direct primary, for that I’m supporting him. 
I have a reason for supporting him. At least, Osun was the first place to embark on direct primary in this country and it has been the practice  in some other places too and this would throw sanity into the system. Oshiomhole championed it and he has succeeded. So,  why do we want to remove him?  

To what extent have you been able to mediate between Governor Oyetola and his predecessor, Aregbesola? 

I don’t know of any crisis between them. If you want to know, it is not easy for somebody to leave office and somebody succeeds him. Look at Obama and Donald Trump. Look at Oshiomhole and Obaseki. Look at Obasanjo and Good luck Jonathan, look at Fashola and Tinubu, look at Ganduje and Kwankwaso. Aregbesola and Oyetola are even managing their own affairs. So, leave them alone. Fortunately for them, they are both children of the same political father. When they do it in the hearing of their parent, the parent will call them and put them into their right places. So, as far as I’m concerned, I don’t see any crisis.