Femi Ogbonnikan holds a conversation with Dr. Femi Majekodunmi on the moves to unite various factions in the Ogun State All Progressives Congress, particularly the bid to reconcile Governor Dapo Abiodun with his predecessor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun
How are you proceeding with the task of rebuilding your party (APC) in Ogun State, having come out of succession crisis?
I will thank God. We would all remember the bitter days, not long ago. Today, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has reasons to glorify God. The process of rebuilding will not come so easy. It is true there are some pessimists. There are so many problems, here and there which are not palatable. I can tell you that our new governor, Dapo Abiodun, has started very well by pleasing virtually everybody. He has started governance without bitterness. You would recall that, there is never a time, right from the campaign, you see him fighting anybody, talking ill of anybody, not to talk of abusing anybody. It is God that makes it easy for reconciliation and the process has started. I can tell you that, people you consider as our antagonists; people you consider as our enemies or some people in oppositions; many of them have come back. They have reached out to us, some have even got back to their wards, because we make sure our gates are open. One thing that remains now is that, we still have many of them, that still want to come back and we are exercising caution, because there is a case in court. We expect them to finish the case or to withdraw the case so that reconciliation can move faster.
What is the possibility of bringing back the dissident members of the Allied Peoples’ Movement (APM) into your fold?
We are very careful and we are not abusing anybody. I won’t refer to them as dissidents, because they exercised their democratic rights and so, they started another party. Some of them have returned to our fold. What we expect them and we told them to do is, to go back to their respective wards and start all over. We have no policy ruling them out, except those who are still in court. Those ones should finish their court case or withdraw their court case before joining us fully. This is the situation. We see politics as a game of numbers. We see politics as all-embracing. Like some people use to say, “people in politics consist of the bad, the ugly and the good.” All these people have a place in politics, because they are part of the democratic process. In democracy, we talk of people. We talk of winning elections and things like that. Besides, nobody can be seen as an outcast, and nobody should be underrated. But, we are careful so that we don’t allow people who have bad intentions to come and destroy or tamper with our own good intentions.
What is Senator Ibikunle Amosun’s current stance in view of his continued membership of the APC and his support for the APM, on the other hand?
For now, things are quiet when we are considering the aspect you are talking about. One thing is certain, we are not going to fight him. I believe that the battle has been lost and won and he has no intentions of fighting us. We are all in APC. We want to see a situation whereby as soon as possible, we are all one. And this would probably, include Amosun, depending on his own attitude. Don’t forget, we assisted tremendously in the victory of Amosun, because we were forward looking. We saw the danger in opposing Amosun who was supposed to be our Ogun Central senatorial candidate. That was the time that slogan, ‘APC all the way’ started. It was specially designed because of Amosun. We asked our members to vote for Amosun. It was better our members voted for Amosun than for them to have gone and voted for another party. That would have been disastrous for us. We assisted Amosun; we assisted other APC members who were die-hard and supporters of Amosun, once they were carrying the flag of the APC and that was a very wise thing for us to do. We thank God we did it. It contributed to our success to a very great extent.
What steps have you elders within the APC taken to reconcile Senator Ibikunle Amosun and his successor Governor Dapo Abiodun, in order to move the party forward?
The process is on. We are watching what Amosun would do. As far as Dapo Abiodun is concerned, you can easily imagine what he would. He started doing it right from the not-too-good time of bitterness. In other words, he was not bitter. He didn’t attack anybody. He didn’t use thugs. He didn’t use anything detrimental to the democratic process. He kept calm. He is a man of peace. If all goes well, he will favour reconciliation. I can see it. Because at a time I was meeting the two of them, trying to reconcile them so that they can work together before the elections. And this was very much publicised. My activities were very well known. But at the end of the day, Dapo Abiodun won. We thank God that Dapo won. In the whole of Ogun State, everybody seems to be happy. You can also see that the parties in opposition, the candidates and many of the people in the opposition, have embraced Dapo, and it is marvellous in our sight. Partly, this is happening because of the attitude of Dapo, before the election, during the election and the immediate post-election time. You can see that the process is going on. We are watching, but we mean well. If we mean well all will be well. It is simple.
Why do the people of Ogun State expect so much from Governor Dapo Abiodun?
Right from the period of the elections, Dapo Abiodun meant well. He is giving a very good impression of himself as a dynamic, peaceful and purposeful person.. May be, that is the reason God has assisted him to win. We are waiting. Dapo Abiodun is somebody I have known for years. I know him to be a serious-minded person. He doesn’t dabble into what he can not do and make success of. I trust he would deliver. I trust he won’t disappoint many people. What the people are saying is, use what you have, spread it around so that the people would know that you have done your best and they gain something tangible. Like roads, healthcare delivery service, education and others have been taken care of. These are the infrastructural needs of the people. It goes a long way to say whether the governor is performing or not. He can get all these things done to a reasonable extent, because the problems are many. Then, everybody would smile and give him a pass mark. That is our expectation.
Would you say Ogun State is bedevilled with the phenomenon of godfatther?
Godfatherism is as old as light itself. The Yoruba people say it all, ‘Oba mewa, Igba mewa’ (Ten kings, ten seasons). “Nigbati Oba ba gun Ori ite, wahala ma nwa l’arin Oba ati Af’Obaje” (When a king ascends a throne, there is usually disagreement between the king and the king makers). Crises would always happen. It is natural for a godfather to expect a lot, if he has laboured so much to get his son to assume the throne. That is where the problem lies. If he doesn’t expect much there is no problem. On the part of either the king or the governor, or whoever is in the lofty position, when he gets there, his problems are many. It is not, just the godfather that would naturally give him problems, everybody who voted has to give him problems. Even those who didn’t vote, or voted for the opposition candidates, have a right because he becomes the governor of everybody, not only the governor of those who voted for him. He would get more than he bargained for. When you consider our dear country, our dear people, everybody wants to be governor, everybody wants to get something from the governor. And how can a governor satisfy one million people? Let us reduce it, how can a governor satisfy 200 people? Even when he tries, he can never succeed. If he gives somebody, he will say it is too small. If he gives another person, he will say, he doesn’t do well. So, nobody succeeds and the problems would always be there. My advice to the kingmaker is that, he shouldn’t ask for too much. He should allow the son or the governor to perform, while he watches. One thing is certain, no king or governor that is on the throne that will not remember the kingmakers. It is when the kingmaker asks for too much or bothers him too much or sees himself as all-in-all, that is where the problem is. On the other hand, I would advise the governor too, he should give adequate respect to people who got him there. All the voters are like the governor, godfathers, because they all work together, they all give him a lot; some spend their money; some deploy their energy; some talk well; and have good things to say about the candidate and things like that. So many people have contributed. Some will even come back and tell lies where they did not work for the governor, they would say they have done so. By doing so, they are expecting some kind of remuneration or patronage and so on. Moreso, when we have a society like ours, it is not yet developed, people talk of ‘stomach infrastructure’. We have not reached a stage where people do good things; do you favour and say; they did it for God or posterity sake; and keep their integrity. They want remuneration; they want feed back. They want to be seen and given something, which is unfortunate. But the reality of the situation is that both the godfather and the governor, must see it as such.