SOLA OLADEHINDE is the Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the State of Osun. In this interview with OSUN DEFENDER, he speaks on the perennial crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), describing politicians in the party as beggars. He also states that Governor Adegboyega Oyetola has been keeping to faith on the coalition between the SDP and APC; just as he says the governor has so far been implementing SDP’s policies in the education sector of the state. Excerpts:
Dr Bayo Faforiji, a former chairman of your party, described the SDP as a platform for political jobbers. What do you make of his comment?
I won’t like to spar words with Faforiji because doing so will give him cheap popularity. His comments about the party are baseless. He lacks the pedigree to pass such comments because he is a political scavenger. His antecedents are enough facts to prove that he called people what he is. In fact, he left the party based on that. He was about to be disciplined for anti-party activities and when he got wind of that, he quickly resigned and left.
While we are still in coalition with the APC, Faforiji met with the senator representing Osun East, Francis Fadahunsi and got some money and a car from him. When he was confronted by the party, he said he had been working with Fadahunsi since his 2015 contest, thus the car and money was given to him as compensation. The state executive committee faulted his actions and a disciplinary action was in motion before he left the party.
Faforiji also had an eye on the Secretary to the State Government position. He went to meet Otunba Iyiola Omisore and even sent the Senator’s brother, Balogun Yekini Omisore to plead with his brother. He asked Omisore to push for the SSG position and give the position to him. Omisore told us point blank that that was not possible. He took Faforiji to Governor Adegboyega Oyetola to ask for the SSG position but it did not work out. When that failed, Faforiji also asked for Chief of Staff position and that also ended as a wish. He also felt threatened with the appointment given to Taiwo Akeju, who is from the same area with him. He knew the game was over for him. Faforiji doesn’t really have shame. It is the instance of persons like him that make some people to say politics is dirty.
What were the terms of agreement oiling the Coalition between the SDP and the APC since the 2018 governorship election?
Because our governorship candidate, Omisore was the choice of the civil servants and Osun is a civil service state, so we made their welfare a priority in the agreement. And thank God, Governor Oyetola has been paying salaries in full and as and when due. The reform in the education sector was also part of our agreement. We did not support the reclassification of schools, same school uniform and others. The APC campaign was predicated on continuity and our own campaign was to reverse the education policy if elected and that is what Governor Oyetola has done.
Most of the civil servants that voted for Omisore in the 2018 governorship election felt disappointed when he and SDP entered into coalition with the APC. Don’t you think your party betrayed their trust?
I must be sincere with you, most of the civil servants voted for us but not all. Most of them wanted Omisore to become the governor and despite not having the money to throw around, they stood by us and we had about 120,000 votes. We did not betray them. We considered their interests in the coalition we did with the APC. That they are now regularly getting their full salaries proves that we did not betray them and we are for them. They should be grateful to us that we made the decision. They are not politicians, we are and we quite understand ourselves. If we had joined the PDP because they didn’t want the APC then, they would have been stoning us now and saying we have misled them.
Is your party satisfied with the administration it formed a coalition with?
Yes, the governor is doing well. If not because of his pro-activeness, the Coronavirus pandemic would have gone out of hand.
Members of the SPD have been defecting to other political parties, what is the strength of your party ahead of future elections?
We are still intact and we have new members joining the party on daily basis. What we had with APC is just a coalition and because we are involved, we are after the success of the government of the day. That is why we have less of political activities. Most of the people we have in the SDP are grassroots politicians and not people making unnecessary noise. It will surprise you to hear that people from APC are joining us despite the fact that we are in a coalition with them.
We are going to participate in the local government elections. This is democracy, but our agreement can also be extended to the election if the APC wishes. Since it has not, we have registered to participate in the forthcoming election. It is part of the system.
What about the 2022 governorship election?
This hugely depends how the APC treats us, going forward.
As a party, are you enjoying the benefits required of a party in coalition with another?
We are, to a certain level. The APC is trying. Moreover, the government is yet to make other political appointments. So, we are expecting more political appointments. We appreciate the two commissioners earlier given to us but we are still looking forward for more when the governor rolls out the names of another set of appointees.
Do the two appointed members of the SDP still bear allegiance to the party?
As at the present moment, they are still members and committed to the activities of the SDP. Tomorrow they may decide together to join the APC, we will give them conditions and we will work it together again.
Don’t you think the structures of the SDP, sooner or later, will be collapsed into the APC?
It will not favour APC if this should happen. It will also have a ripple effect on the state. A two-party system is not what we should pray for in the state. In the 2018 election, the civil servants pitched their tent with us because of they were not happy with the modulated salaries in place then. PDP was out of their options. If we had not come in as third force, it would have been a different story. The third party helped them to negotiate what they wanted through the coalition and they are getting it now.
You were a member of the PDP, why did you leave the party?
We left PDP because of impunity. If Omisore thinks of himself alone, he would not have left the PDP; he would have remained and fought to be the party’s standard bearer. Before the primary, the PDP had been divided into factions with each faction wanting to bring up its candidate. Besides, the PDP betrayed Omisore. The party was destabilised after Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola came into power. Omisore became our rallying point in the PDP and he rebuilt the party. Let me tell you a known fact, people in that party – PDP like money. Today, if you go there with huge money, they will embrace you and even promise you that they will give you ticket even when you don’t have any ambition. Look at what they did to Dr Akin Ogunbiyi.
What will you say of the current crisis in the PDP?
PDP is going nowhere. They are just wasting their time. People might have sympathy for you as a party but that does not translate to anything if you don’t get your acts together. By this time, the PDP should not be thinking of removing their chairman. Doing so further reaffirms that the PDP is a crisis-ridden party. I was part of the founding members of the party in the state; I can tell you that it is not the same thing it used to be. The people left in the PDP now are 419. When we founded the party, we were all committed and spoke with one voice because we had leaders. Who is their leader now? Leadership dictates the pace of a party and a politician without a leader is wasting his time. The people we have in the PDP now are beggars. What they know how to do is to go to Adeleke’s house for amala meal.
With Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Fatai Akinbade and the likes joining the PDP, are you not afraid the party will give the ruling party a serious contest in 2022?
Is Oyinlola a politician? I can’t deny the fact that he is my boss but he is not a politician. Akinbade is a politician but he doesn’t have the influence to command anybody there. Alhaji Fatai Diekola is a politician, we know ourselves, but he likes his purse more than anything.
What about Faforiji?
Part of Faforiji’s offence was that he took some members of the party to form the Kosemani group. He got money from Ogunbiyi to form the group and to rent a secretariat. When he was confronted, he did not deny it and he is now with the Adeleke group of the PDP. The man Faforijin is hanging in the balance. There are overambitious people in the PDP. You don’t join a party to form ambitions. I make bold to say since we left the PDP there are no serious politicians in the party.
What about Elder Peter Babalola?
He is not a politician. Peter joined the party with an ambition. It is people that will call you to come and contest, not that you will come with arrogance that you want to contest. Where is Peter now?