Chief Olusegun Osoba, a veteran journalist and a national leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), first governed Ogun State under the botched Third Republic between January 1992 and November 1993. Again, in 1999, he was elected on the platform of Alliance for Democracy (AD), serving only one term. At the formative stage of the APC, Osoba chaired the committee that drafted the party’s constitution. On Monday night, he shared his burden and concern with select journalists about Saturday’s governorship election, not just in Ogun State, but also South-west states. Gboyega Akinsanmi was there
With the division in the rank of its leadership, can the APC win the governorship election?
There is none whatsoever. I am lucky. I am also grateful to have our National Chairman, Comrade Adam Oshiomhole. He is courageous, determined and incorruptible. He has been steering the ship of the APC well. The progressive that brought Governor Ibikunle Amosun to power in 2011 is back as one family. He is the one that came and joined us. He is the one that is out. The family is the happy family. Despite resources available to him, we won three seats in the senatorial election and six in the House of Representatives out of nine.
Will the outcome of the presidential election in Ogun State determine the governorship election next Saturday?
The next governorship election will even be bigger. The liability of the state’s incumbent Chief Executive that robbed on us during the last elections is already out. So, the boundary is clear. He is no more in the APC. He is in the Allied Peoples Movement (APM). We are going to the field to test the true family of the APC and those who came to join us and created confusion of unimaginable magnitude, not in Ogun State, but in the South-west. This is unheard of in the progressives in Nigeria. On Saturday, the verdict will be clear next Saturday when we will coast to victory by the grace of God.
But why did you support the man who is fighting the APC?
My orientation under Chief Obafemi Awolowo, whom I was very close to, is to give my party all the support it deserves. I always tell the whole world that of all the living progressives in this country, the only two persons that can claim closer relationship to Awolowo than me are Alhaji Lateef Jakande and Chief Ayo Adebanjo. The two of them know that I was as close as they were to Awolowo except that they were with him longer than I was before he died. That orientation is that the party is always supreme. Under no circumstance must one deviate from the party. My advice to all party members is that they must vote all candidates of the APC in the House of Assembly and governorship elections. They must toe the line of the party irrespective of annoyance, bitterness and grievance they have against the person of Amosun. He is still the governor. At that time, he remained in the APC, even though he has started his anti-party activities. As long as he is on the ballot on the platform of the APC, we are not voting Amosun. We are voting the APC.
Why did it take the APC so long before it decided to discipline Governor Ibikunle Amosun?
You are not tactical. We were going into the presidential election in which every vote counts. My vote is equal to the vote of mentally deranged person on the street. I am not in any way superior. At that time, it was not tactical to expose ourselves to the money bag of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). We can then face the fight. We wanted the presidential election to be over, which is national. Now, it is localised. It is now Ogun State. The president has no business with what we do in Ogun State. He has no vote in Ogun State. We, the people of Ogun State, will decide on Saturday.
The manner Amosun was suspended has raised a lot of questions. It is argued that he should have been suspended from the ward level. Can his suspension really stand?
An armed robber and the goods he stole were video-taped. You now say you must prove beyond the reasonable doubt. The law is an ass. I agree. But the law is also sensible. In the first place, we have written as far back as 2018 to the National Working Committee. You may not know it. The ward has written to the Caretaker Committee. Likewise, the Caretaker Committee has written to those of us in the State Caucus recognised in the APC Constitution, signed the document and sent a petition to the NWC about Amosun’s anti-party activities. First, On December 31, 2018, at the crossover service, Amosun said the APC would lose the governorship election in Ogun State. It was published on the front page of Punch. We attached a copy of that newspaper. At another point, he said he would work against the APC governorship candidate in Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun. We attached that document too. We do not have to expose the internal working of the NWC. The NWC will not just wake one morning and suspend Amosun. We have complained about his anti-party activities at different times. The ward has complained. The local government has complained. The State Caretaker Working Committee, which he claims he does not recognise, has complained. He provoked us on the day President Muhammadu Buhari visited Abeokuta. He provoked us by bringing APM’s banners, billboards and symbol to the venue of our presidential campaign. He is lucky that our people are disciplined and responsible. We supplied the tape where he said he would destroy the in Ogun State. What evidence do we need? Amosun has been on his anti-party activities since October 2, 2018, the day we held our governorship primary.
What edge does the APC candidate have over other governorship candidates?
As I said earlier, if you look at the result of the presidential and National Assembly election, we produced the senator for Ogun West, which includes the Yewas, the Aworis and the Egun. If we can produce Chief Tolu Odebiyi as the senator for Ogun West, that is a big victory. If we can poll 6,000 out of 9,000 votes in Hon. Adekunle Akinlade’s local government area, is it not an indication that we are firmly on ground? This is an election he was going about with armed police and SARS. And the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ahmed Iliyasu closed his eyes to Akinlade’s misbehaviour. I keep saying Iliyasu is not supposed to be the police commissioner in an enlightened state like Ogun State. He should be kicked out of the state. He closed eyes, and one of his boys was killed on the way to Ilaro. One of the police officers was killed when they wanted to ambush the election result. If he is on ground, he will not go and ambush the election result. The edge that we have is that we won that senatorial district. We also won one House of Representatives out of three in Ogun West. In Akinlade’s so-called stronghold, we produced the senator. In Ogun Central, we produced the senator and three members of the House of Representatives. In Ogun East, we came first with Senator Kashamu Buruji. When you add all these together, we will win the governorship contest by the grace of God.
What are the issues you have with the Commissioner of Police in Ogun State?
I am upset with him because I deserve protection. As a citizen of Ogun State, I pay my tax to Ogun State in millions of Naira annually. Let the governor himself disclose my tax profile. I am among the first ten citizens that pay the highest tax to the Government of Ogun State. On this note, I demand the right of protection from Iliyasu. He has failed woefully. If the Commander-in-Chief was pelted with water sachets with a good number of police officers surrounding hoodlums that day and none of the hoodlums was arrested, we do not need any analyst to know that the police commissioner is a total failure. God forbid. If anything had hit Mr. President that day and he collapsed, what will we say in Ogun State? Out of 36 states the president travelled to, Ogun State is the only state where such an incident happened. The police commissioner did not arrest any suspect. I went to the president a week after. I asked him: “What is going on?” A whole Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces was stoned. The Nigeria Police is part of the Armed Forces. If not for the eagle’s eye of the presidential guard seizing and stopping the pelted objects from getting to the president, the story will have been different. Even, the domestic assistant to the president fell flat before Mr. President that day. I once told the president that they were tearing and defacing your billboards. Mr. President himself answered if it happened in the North, it could lead to riot. Yet, the police commissioner did not arrest any suspect. As for me, Iliyasu is of no value. What can the police commissioner do to us? We have told our people to be ready. The law says you have the right to defend yourself. The right to self-defence is entrenched in our Constitution. We have resorted to self-defence. Let one million Iliyasu be made police commissioner, we will cast our votes in peaceful manner. So, his presence has energised our people. I have gone round to preach to them. Forget about the police commissioner and not the rank and file. But those who are backing him will regret on Saturday when we deliver the governorship election in Ogun State to the APC and Mr. President who has won his election. I do not need the police. When you are in the majority, God is with you.
With Amosun’s anti-party activities, what is the position of President Buhari?
I am so disappointed with the way the media is hyping Amosun’s visit to the president. Amosun is coming from serious inferiority complex. If he has confidence in himself, he does not need to run in and out of the presidential villa. He is the governor. All governors are giving direct access to the president. A serious governor will be going, photo-shopping with president every day. He told the media that he went to the presidential villa 28 times within five weeks. What result did it produce? Do not forget. The president came to Abeokuta. He saw what happened. Yet, he is making mountain out of molehill. When the president came, he simply said vote for me and exercise your right in all elections. One, he can vouch for himself as president who swore to protect the Constitution of Nigeria. He was speaking as the president because the Constitution guarantees the freedom of association and right to vote for whom you like. So, he spoke as a politician and as a statesman. He does not bother me at all. The president has no vote in Ogun State. He has no direct say in the outcome of the elections in Ogun State. I do not need to sit in the villa while Mr. President’s vote is in Katsina. It is me that will prove to the whole world that the president has spoken as the statesman, who swore to protect the Constitution and who said exercise your rights. Now, we will go and exercise that right. I do not need to go the presidential villa to exercise my right. If you want to go the villa, the vote in the villa is in the villa and not in Ogun State.
Does that mean the so-called clamour for power shift to Ogun West will not count in this election?
It is Amosun’s selfish interest. He claimed that he had trained Akinlade. I asked him. In what have you trained him? Three quarters of Abeokuta is dust. I was born in Abeokuta, a modern town exposed to education, first in everything. The roads in Abeokuta were tarred. There was railway. I will show the photograph of my first railway ride to Abeokuta in 1958. There was power when I was born in Abeokuta 80 years ago. Every modern amenity was there in Abeokuta. But today, in Abeokuta, three quarters of the roads Amosun is constructing are still dusty. We are back to dusty roads in Abeokuta. What is it that he is going to sell? He is a liability to us. He has left the party. Ogun APC now has a clean slate. The people now perceive as the true progressives. I can tell you where I voted in Abeokuta with a good number of highly educated people and professionals. The senatorial candidate of African Democratic Congress (ADC) in Ogun Central, Hon. Titi Oseni scored 106 votes compared to 80 votes Amosun polled. He showed the liability that he is. It was my appeal to the party that a lot of people heeded and voted for him out of pain. In retrospect, they have been thanking me that we are happy that you said we should vote for him. Despite all these, Amosun continues to misbehave by saying he would go full blast for the APM. So, the line is drawn.
So, the power of incumbency will be finally liquidated on Saturday?
The mistake Amosun is making is that when you are on your way out of office, you become a lame duck. Anywhere in the world when Chief Executive of a country or state is ending his term, he becomes a lame duck. Despite the success of President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton distanced herself from Obama. The world will not listen to somebody who has done his own part. We have been telling the people what does Amosun wants again. He was senator in 2003. He has been governor twice. Now, he is going back as a senator. People are asking: is he the only one in Ogun State? He does not appreciate the goodness of God in his life.
Will there be re-alignment of forces ahead of the governorship election?
I will not disclose that. But I can tell you that our greatest foe in Ogun State is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Is the PDP settled in Ogun State?
If you look at the crisis in South-west APC, how do you think the North and the president will perceive the APC leadership in the region?
Apart from the North-west, which of the geo-political zones delivers in terms of quality votes? Those of us in the South-west are the most democratic in the country. We police ourselves during every election seriously. For the votes the president was able to get in the South-west, each vote is a gold cup to him. Of all the geo-political zones, which zone did better than the South-west in relation to his emergence other than the North-west, his own zone?
How can we avert violence on Saturday?
I can assure you that we, in Ogun APC, are determined to make every vote count. We have resorted to self-help. I am not ashamed to say it. I have told all members of Odu’a People Congress (OPC) in every neighbourhood to be ready for self-defence. I have told all the vigilante in every neighbourhood to ready for self-defence. We have resorted to self-help because the Commissioner of Police is a total failure. With that, we are confident. How many police officers do we have in Ogun State? They are not enough to go round 3,026 wards and not talk about thousands of polling units. I can assure you it will be peaceful election as it was last Saturday.
What are the challenges that will face the next Governor of Ogun State?
There are too many challenges. First, nobody knows the quantum of Ogun’s debt stock. The labour unions are claiming the state’s debt profile is as high as N56 billion. Some are saying is over N200 billion. But I know what the state is owing is not less than N100 billion. Second, there are too many uncompleted projects. In a civil service town, Amosun wants to erect a shopping mall of the magnitude of Shoprite for people who are used to going to Itoku and Sapon Markets. Who are the people that will go and buy smoke salmon in the shopping mall? As we speak, it is still at the foundation level. Three quarters of the dualised roads are not completed. All the inner roads in Abeokuta and all the inter-community roads are in terrible shape. The people of Ado-Odo and Igbesa, among others, are living in medieval age. So, it is the same in the entire Ogun East, Ijebu and Remo. In Ogun Central, all roads my administration constructed 19 years are in bad shape because they are not maintained. It is going to be heavy. I pity the next governor, Dapo Abiodun. I do not envy him. He has a lot of restructuring to do financially, economically and educationally. In Agbado, students are sitting on the floors in public schools in Ogun State. Go to many parts of the state, students are sitting on the floor in public schools. I feel upset. I feel very sad. I weep for Ogun State.