Oyedepo: Condition of Kwara State Appalling
A leader of the All Progressives Congress and O To Ge (Enough is Enough) movement in Kwara State, Chief Iyiola Oyedepo, spoke with Hammed Shittu on the crisis in the Kwara APC, among other issues =
What informed the recent setting up of the Think Tank called Political Dialogue ahead of 2023 polls in Kwara State?
Our state is having a leader without principle and without any form of ideology and even without any mission and vision and I discovered that we cannot continue like this. I have been in Kwara politics for 30 year. I cannot see any form of ideas generated by the past leaders, especially the present political leaders in the country and our state and I believe that we cannot continue like this. So, my idea, is to create a new set of leadership first for Kwara State and by extension Nigeria. We should start to think about who will rule properly, not just people coming and going without any legacy. Those are the things that informed the setting up of Political Dialogue ahead of 2023 polls.
You are clearly not satisfied with the level of development in Kwara State?
Yes, I am not satisfied with the past situations of governance in the state. I was a commissioner under former governor Shaaba Lafiagi. I was in the government of late former governor Mohammed Lawal and then in the state House of Assembly as Chief Whip of the House. But I have not been in the same camp with former governor Bukola Saraki and former governor Abdulfatah Ahmed. Now, I am part of those that brought this government led by AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq into office through O to Ge movement but I am not satisfied with the present situation in the state. I am not satisfied because Kwara remains unchanged.
I don’t tell people lies, the APC cannot move forward in Kwara State as it is being presently constituted. Don’t even talk of reconciliation again. There are many reconcilable differences without positive results at the end of the day but only one person that is working for the destruction of the party is our Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq and he is the only one person that is destroying APC. And I want to say that, if the APC national leadership still wants Kwara to be for the party, the first thing to do is to check the injustices and persecutions being carried out by the governor and also disallowing him from 2023 contest in the state. The leadership of the party should also ensure free, fair and transparent elections in the party. If these are not addressed and the governor is operating like the way he is presently operating, there will be no way for APC in Kwara in 2023 elections. I don’t see anything that the governor is doing that makes him remarkably different from the people we uprooted from governance in the state.
We complained that the past administrations in the state didn’t conduct the local government councils’ elections. I was on the radio severally and for us now it is even worst. I told them that they didn’t conduct local government council polls then for the first six months and after one year, former governor Bukola Saraki started doing the local government councils polls until he finished his tenure and this also continued during Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed’s administration until they were uprooted during the 2019 elections. And this is the third year of APC-led government in Kwara State, there are no democratic structures in the local government councils and even if the governor is spending local government funds neatly, who will believe him? Is he the only person that can do it neatly? Why can’t he allow the constitution to work and get people elected to manage the people’s money at the local government levels in the state?
Are there regrets for helping to install AbdulRazaq?
Well, I cannot call it regret. If it is regret, I cannot call it a deep one, because the regret I have is that we don’t have in place somebody that we can categorically say is better than the one we uprooted from the political governance of our dear state. That is the only thing. But as the motive for it, the motive for saying O To Ge in the 2019 general polls in the state, I am not discouraged and I am not disappointed and I believe it succeeded in the state. What we used to have in the state was one man dominating political space of our dear state. A family dominated politics and even today somebody there thinks he can erect such a plan, he is just wasting his time. O To Ge has destroyed that type of politics in the state. Sometimes, I see some leaders, some people wanted to become something or the other and they believe the governor will make them. No, the governor must be made by the people.
And this governor, if he must repeat his term in office, it must be by the collective decision of the people. A person that cannot make himself cannot make others. So, O TO Ge has destroyed godfatherism in the politics of Kwara state. Any young ambitious and focussed person in Kwara can now stand up and become what he wants to become without any hindrance or godfatherism and that is why we have this kind of political dialogue. We will build in them this confidence; confidence that they don’t really need any godfather to become somebody in politics of the state; they don’t really need any noble backing before they become somebody. So, it is a continuation of entrenchment of the O To Ge philosophy.
What can you say about the recent defection of some of your APC members into Young Progressives Party (YPP) ahead of 2023 in the state?
Those people that moved into YPP from APC ahead of 2023 polls in the state did not make a good decision. If it is the problem of Governor AbdulRazaq, at least in the party today, we have APC loyalists and we have AA/APC if they cannot work with AA/APC, they can come and work with APC loyalists. If we want to remove the governor and they fail to remove the governor, I mean not by illegal means but constitutionally, I mean organising a free, fair and transparent means, which will get him eventually removed and if they cannot organise that, then, people can move. It is better to move together. When we moved from PDP to APC, it happened under my leadership because I was the state chairman that left PDP for APC.
In view of prevailing economic crisis in Nigeria, if you have chance to meet President Muhammadu Buhari, what advice would you give him to move the nation forward?
When you talk of the prevailing economic situation and challenges in the country, the question on my mind always is that who created these problems for us? Is it not the leadership? Is it that we don’t have enough resources in this country to make the Nigeria great? There is nothing bad with Nigeria other than leadership. Nothing; absolutely nothing. If you bring good leadership into Nigeria today, he might come from China, he might come from Britain, America, a well-focused leader, Nigeria will change within a year or two.
It will change but when you see leaders putting emphasis on religion, putting emphasis on ethnicity, no matter how good you are, you are not from this ethnic group, you can’t be in this strategic offices, those are the people destroying economy. The prevailing economic situation is the creation of the leadership and therefore what I will advise President Buhari to do is to de-emphasise the issue of religion and ethnicity.
In Nigeria now, what we should spend our money on should be security. When our government talks about rail system in the country, road everywhere, those things will not affect the lives of the people immediately and it is those that are secured that can make use of these facilities. Secure the people first, don’t allow them to be killed every day, when they are secured, they will be able to work, the government will be able to tax them and there would be enough money to even build the infrastructures. So, the first duty of a state is to give security and that is the reason people come together and live together. If things are going on like this and nobody is safe, nobody will like to be part of Nigeria that is not secured. I will advise him to lay all his emphasis for now on security, all other things will follow.