(Interview) “Aregbesola is a failure in Osun State” – Odeyemi …says there is nothing to fight over in PDP

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Prince OLADIRAN ODEYEMI, a journalist turned politician was the former Special Adviser to Governor ADEBAYO ALAO AKALA on Media and Strategy, Special Duties, a former governorship aspirant in Osun State and presently, the PDP Director of Publicity in Osun State. In this interview with our Oyo/Osun Correspondent, BAYO AKAMO, he speaks on some national issues including the anti-corruption fight, GOVERNOR RAUF AREGBESOLA’s performance in governance and PDP in Osun state. Excerpts
Nigeria is currently going through a worsening and almost unexplainable fuel crisis that the Minister openly admitted failure to address the issue. What do you think is really wrong with the nation’s oil sector?
It is very unfortunate and I want to believe that what the government is doing is to put things right so that all these issues of fuel crisis is put to rest once and for all. Even though I am in the opposition, I still believe that we should try and exercise patience with the President and with whatever arrangement he’s putting in place to ensure that this crisis is put to an end. So if the Minister and the government has promised May, let us continue to pray for them and wish them well that by May, things will ease out and we’ll get fuel with ease. As it is now, it is only endurance, there is nothing we can do.
Do you now fight the government? Do you now go to the streets? No. We have cried out and that is why they have been able to offer an explanation and they are even sincere enough to admit failure. So, let’s keep it at the May date when we think things will be resolved.
The President Muhammadu Buhari led  government is now being criticized on its on-going war against corruption which many Nigerians considered as the only agenda of a government that takes over power over 10 months ago, how did you view the corruption war?
This is very unfortunate for the administration of President Buhari. There is no way a government will claim to be fighting corruption and leave the citizens under the mercy of other issues. Even the corruption that the President claimed to be fighting, we don’t even understand it. Shall we believe that the fight against corrupt men and women has been one sided. But for the President to choose some people as saints and demonize some people especially the PDP. We find this appalling. It is not too good for our democracy and apart from that, we believe that if you say you are fighting corruption, how long will you continue to fight corruption at the detriment of other important issues you must address as the President and even there is no chronological events that will tell us that this is being done in a sincere manner. Who and who is being charged to court? We don’t have the record. We hear cases of people being investigated on daily basis, how many loot have been recovered? We don’t know. All that we hear is that we are fighting corruption. So it is very unfortunate because it is not going to help the government and it’s not going to help anybody.
Coming down to Osun state, since the PDP lost to the APC in the 2014 election and those of last year, the party has been in one crisis after the other. What is the present state of affairs in Osun PDP now?
I need to correct an impression that there is crisis in the PDP. I quite disagree with that notion. There is no crisis in the PDP, we are all one and we remain the same family. We agree with our new status as opposition party and we have been playing that role in a responsible manner, that is, commending the governor when it is necessary, and condemning him where we feel it is important.
There is no doubt in any association that we do have misunderstanding even in a family. It is how you manage such misunderstanding or crisis that matters, and as far as we are concerned in PDP, we don’t have any cause to disagree amongst ourselves. We are not in government, there is nothing to fight over, we are trying to organize ourselves in such a way that, come 2018, we shall take over power from APC because Aregbesola has failed.
Concerning your office as the PDP spokesperson in Osun, at a point in time, there was serious power tussle among some contenders which nearly threatened your office, how far has that been resolved and are you still the Osun PDP spokesperson?
As at today, do you hear anybody speaking for the party? No. the name Diran Odeyemi is synonymous with PDP in Osun State. So my post has not been threatened in any way, I remain the spokesperson of the PDP and I have been playing that role with the understanding of all party members and the executive. So, my position has never been threatened. Yes, like I said earlier on, we do have misunderstanding and we have sat down and resolved it in the interest of the party. During the campaign period, we had issues, we had misunderstanding but now, what are we arguing for? What are we fighting over? None, rather than we elect new executive council that will take over from the outgoing one, people that we know will do the job and lift the image of the party and portray the image of the PDP in such a way that people will reckon with us as credible opposition that is ready to take over power from the APC.
You once aspired as one of the PDP guber aspirants in Osun State but since then, you’ve not sought any political office at any level. What is really happening?
There is time for everything and whatever one is doing in this world, one should always put God first. When I was aspiring to be the governor of the state, I was a Special Adviser with Otunba Alao-Akala in Oyo State and it got to a stage that my boss considered me worthy enough to be a commissioner in Oyo State but the House of Assembly wouldn’t endorse that because I did not hide my heritage which is Osun State and at that point, my boss thought it ideal to advise me to seek my political fortune in Osun State which more or less encouraged me to come out and seek the position of a governor. But now, things have changed really. A lot have gone and even the political arrangement in Osun does not favour my coming out as a governor again. I am a very realistic person, by the time I came out and wanted to be governor, I knew quite well that it was the turn of Ijesha to be the governor.
Now, Aregbesola has ruled for eight years though under APC. I cannot deceive myself and say because I am in PDP then it has to be another Ijesha man that would come and occupy the seat. No. I am a realistic person. The zoning arrangement would not favour me, and put that aside, a lot has changed and I am not really keen and I believe service to humanity could be in any form. It doesn’t have to come in a position of being a governor. If my people feel that Diran, you can serve us well to be the chairman of a local government, my dear brother, I am ready to contest for that. I am not going to office to make money or for any ulterior motives and personal gains other than service to humanity.
Your party, the PDP had  been critical of Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s administration. What are the real issues for PDP’s criticisms of the APC administration in the state?
If we had not exposed Governor Aregbesola, people will still see him as a saint, as a governor that knows it all. But with our criticisms, with evidence and facts, people now realize that Aregbesola is a failure in Osun State. Where do you want to start from? Is it from non-payment of salaries? Is it from the maintenance of helicopter? Is it the sack of Doctors in the state? Is it the education that is moribund, 29th position in the WAEC? In which area do you want to say Aregbesola has passed? Not even a sector. So, our criticism has worked. Even people outside the state have known who Aregbesola is. He is not a performer. He cannot be a performer and with these, we believe we have achieved a lot by exposing him. If we had kept quiet, people will still see him as a religious man, who is holy. But we have been able to expose and tell the people the kind of governor he is. Go to the state capital in Osogbo, even the road from Gbongan to Osogbo, everybody knows what is happening there and the scam about ‘opon imo’ is now known to everybody.
Nothing like opon imo now and this is something that was done with billions of naira. Planting of flowers from Asejire to Owena, where has it landed us? Maintenance of helicopters which he said he bought for the Police for surveillance, when last do you see the Police using it? He has been using it as a personal property. Where else has Governor Aregbesola passed? For the past 17 months since he was re-elected, he has never appointed a Commissioner. Only he himself, his Deputy, the Chief of Staff and the SSG are the people controlling the state. We have cried out and people now know who Aregbesola is.
Governor Aregbesola recently created additional 31 LCDAs to the existing 30 local government areas and the gesture has generated controversies from the opposition, particularly the PDP, why the controversy?
Just like I said, Aregbesola has no blueprint for Osun State. He is copying what they are doing in Lagos and importing them to Osun whereas there is difference in culture, the people, finance and economy of the state. He doesn’t put that into consideration. You are a journalist, I am a politician. As I am talking to you, I don’t know the number of LCDAs that has been created. They are over 60 now. If you cannot maintain 30, how do you now hope to fix 60. It doesn’t even make economic sense and even the demarcation used in carving these LCDAs is causing crisis among the people. They are not happy. There is crisis everywhere. So, it is not something that is going to work and how it is going to work, I don’t know.

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