Alhaji Abdulrasheed Adebisi Olopoenia is a prominent leader in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State. In this interview with the Nigerian Tribune’s NURUDEEN ALIMI, he speaks about the exit of Senator Ayo Adeseun from the PDP and reasons why it should not be taken serious. He also shares his thoughts about the present administration in the state.
A former Senator who represented Oyo Central senatorial district between 2011 and 2015, Senator Ayo Adeseun recently announced his exit from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to join the All Progressive Congress (APC). As one of the party leaders in Oyo state, what is your immediate reaction to this?
The fact that someone of Adeseun’s stature leaves a big party such as the PDP should not really generate reaction from people like us. This is because there is nothing new in what he just did. But it is pertinent to remind the general public that that has been his usual practice to leave the party and return at will. And it should be noted that PDP as a party is a place where matured minds reside and that is the reason he is always welcomed each time he returns.
In order to set the record straight, He contested and won the local government election under the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in 1999. He later dumped the party to join the Alliance for Democracy (AD) to contest for the House of Representatives seat and won in 2003. As a serving member of the House of Represenatives, he did not conclude his tenure before joining the PDP.
It was under the PDP that he recontested and won the election to retain his seat. As a PDP lawmaker, he was made the Chairman House Committee on Appropriation. He also did not finish his tenure when he dumped the PDP for the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) of which has now metamorphosed into the All Progressive Congress (APC), in 2011.
It was under the ACN that he got the senatorial ticket to contest election in 2011. Two years after, precisely 2013, he returned to the PDP. The party was magnanimous to offer him the party’s ticket to recontest election in 2015 which he lost to the then Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Honourable Monsurat Sunmonu. After he lost the election, he started hobnobbing with the Accord Party. It was at this point that he was suspended for anti-party activities by the Yinka Taiwo-led executive of the PDP in the state.
I make bold to say that it was me who made case for him before he was accepted back into the party. All these things I am telling you are verifiable as they were published in the newspapers at that time.
Let me tell you something, if Atiku had won the presidential election, he would not have left because he knew the PDP would have been considered for a very lucrative appointment. He is our brother and we know him to be a political prostitute. We know him very well and we definitely know that he will come back to PDP.
What can you say to Adeseun’s submission that he brought the governor of the state, Seyi Makinde to the PDP?
He did not bring Seyi Makinde to PDP. He was even telling me at some point not to allow Seyi Makinde come to PDP because he would be a threat to his ambition of becoming the governor of Oyo state. Ever since I became a member of the PDP, I have never left the party to join any other political party and that is the reason I am in the best position to tell the story of any present and former member of the party.
Senator Adeseun in an interview he granted a radio station in Ibadan, said there is corruption in the party at the national level stressing that the delegates list which brought about the candidature of governor Seyi Makinde was manipulated by the national leadership of the party. As a prominent member of the party who witnessed the primary at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium, Ibadan, Can you share with us what really happened that day?
Thank you very much. Let me start from the issue of alleged list manipulation. There was never a time that the national leadership unnecessarily dabbled into the activities of the party in the state. Therefore, the issue of tampering with delegates list does not arise at all. What really happened on the day of the primary was that when Adeseun discovered that the majority of the delegates were casting their votes for Seyi Makinde, he angrily left the venue, probably some of the delegates had pledged their allegiance to him but was disappointed when things turned the other way round. Even those he thought were his core supporters voted for Seyi Makinde.
So, for him to now say that the national leadership of the party is corrupt is somehow funny because when he rode on the chest of the party to become an elected political office holder, he did not say that.
Away from Senator Adeseun’s exit from the PDP. How will you assess Governor Makinde’s government since he assumed office on May 29?
I am very sure you are aware of the fact that I am his person, Aside the fact that we are from the same local government, he has been a wonderful brother to me for a very long time. So, I will want to leave the assessment to the people of Oyo state, because any comment from me about him would be seen as bias. But that will not stop me from saying some obvious truth about the present administration in the state. One thing I appreciate about this government is the fact that it is putting the welfare of workers at heart, although people may say that the government is not doing the workers any favour by promptly paying their salaries on thev 25th of every month. Before people start to say that, I want to remind them of a particular time when workers were being owed for almost six months. I want to believe that a reasonable person will know that the prompt payment of workers’ salaries contribute immensely to the efficiency of the economy. By and large, I will say the government under the leadership of Seyi Makinde, is making progress and I am optimistic the people of Oyo State will have cause to celebrate they decided to vote for Seyi Makinde as governor.
As an observer, what can you say on the issue of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in the state?
There had been a series of news making the rounds. But I will only call on the Commissioner of Police and the Director of Directorate of State Service (DSS) to be on the look for those that want to cause the breach of public peace by printing and pasting campaign posters when the governemnt is yet to lift the ban placed on the activities of the union. My advice for them is to do the needful by inviting anybody involved in such act for questioning as on why he chose to disturb the prevalent peace which has been prevailing in the state.