- Says People Will Decide Which Senatorial District Produces Governor In 2022
- No Automatic Ticket In APC
Alhaji Rasaq Salinsile is the Caretaker Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the State of Osun. In this interview with ISMAEEL UTHMAN and SODIQ YUSUF, he speaks on wrangling among various players in the APC and his view about the 2022 Governorship Elections. Excerpts:
YOU have been the Secretary of the APC, the ruling party in the state, for about seven years. What has been your experience so far in party politics and governance?
To the glory of God, being the Secretary of the APC in the State of Osun is an opportunity that has increased my knowledge about people, party administration and party involvement. I have been a member of the Osun State House of Assembly, so when it is about governance, especially the legislative side, I am competent to talk about it. But I didn’t know much on party affairs other than struggling to get the ticket for elections and all of those. That was the furthest I knew about the party then, but to the glory of God, when I became the Secretary of the party some six years plus ago, I was able to see some things.
One, there cannot be anybody holding any political office without the party. The vote belongs to the party, according to the constitution. Party is the engine room that produces all the political office holders, especially the elected ones. The most challenging period for anybody on my seat is always when there is need for people to get ticket to vie for various elective offices. Usually, people will come from different fields of knowledge, new and very old people in terms of party experience and involvement. Some people have been in the party for several years and for one reason or the other, they may not have been lucky enough to be given political offices, these are some of the things we consider and we are always guided by our leaders at home across the state. It takes a disciplined mind to succeed in this place, not because I am a stakeholder but it will take a disciplined mind to come here and not mess up your integrity; it goes beyond whichever position you hold. It depends on the individual, who you are and how and what you want people to remember you for are some of the things that will guide you and your conduct.
As far as I’m concerned, I want to be remembered for what I have been able to do here in terms of how I have been relating with people, my judgments on issues and all of those things. It is challenging but to the glory of God; we are moving.
You said the most challenging period for political party office holders is during the electioneering period. How did you manage the 2018 election primaries among the governorship aspirants?
We thank God, that one is history. As usual, we had up to 27 party members that bought intent forms. But only 16 of them purchased nomination forms. We had the primaries which threw up the candidate of the party and now the incumbent Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola. The primary election was peaceful.
But some party members said the election primaries were manipulated. How true is that?
There is no election, however good it is, that some people would not have grudges against. That is natural. That is human beings for you! Even in advanced democracies, we all saw what happened between Trump and Biden. Trump went the extra mile to deny Biden victory, which had never happened in the history of American politics. When contests are up, however beautiful it is, some people will have to complain. The management of those complaints is what we can now be talking about and that is what will give credibility to the election. If it is well managed, it will aid the smooth show in the election, but if it is not well managed, it can disrupt the election. If it well managed, tensions would have been doused before the main election and that is where party managers should watch.
With your explanations, it would not be out of place to say that the crisis that greeted the election primaries of the APC in 2018 was not well managed.
We did our very best. I will not say we managed it too well. We could have done better. Had it been we had done better; our people would not have resulted to working against the party in such numbers. If everybody had worked together to support the candidate, the 2018 Gubernatorial Elections would not have turned out the way it did. For the party, I am not saying we did very well in the post-primary crisis management. But we did our best. It was like our best was not good enough.
Aside the post-primary elections crisis, what other factors do you think contributed to the poor show of the APC in the Gubernatorial Elections?
The major reason is that a candidate purportedly coming from a wrong senatorial district. That was the major cause of the crisis. People thought it was Osun West Senatorial District that should produce the candidate and they had their reasons. They said in the history of Osun, since its creation in 1991, Osun West had its stint in governance for just 22 months, whereas the East had spent eight years while the Central spent 12 years in the saddle and that in all fairness, it was the turn of Osun West to produce the governor. On that, people fought and fought. At the end of the day, when the candidate came from the Central, they were not happy and that led to the problems we had at the polls, leading to the re-run where we eventually had the day.
How are you making sure that what happened in 2018 does not repeat itself in 2022?
This is politics. You might be looking here but things might be playing out the other way or on the other side. Democracy revolves round the people. The people might decide that the candidate can come from anywhere, and whatever they decide, so be it.
Are you saying that the party members might to agree to the modality that Osun Central should produce the governorship candidate of the APC again?
Ordinarily, there should be a primary election and if the people decide the ticket should go anywhere, so be it. There is nothing like automatic ticket.
There is a report that is circulating on WhatsApp that the Ward and Local Government Chairmen of the APC have adopted the incumbent Governor Adegboyega Oyetola for second term in office. How true is this?
Social media and its similar devices have nothing to do with what happens in the party. The party is guided by rules and regulations. Anything outside the party’s constitution is not legal. Anything they write on the social media has nothing to do with the operations of the party.
The APC appeared stronger and more united for the 2018 Governorship Elections. But the party seems to be weakened by the infighting of political players now. How do you want to position the party for victory in 2022 with the depth of division in the party?
We (APC leaders and members) were working together for the candidate the election primaries threw up in 2018. As far as I am concerned, I do not see any division in the party. The Secretariat is here. Governor Oyetola is in his office in Abere. If we have anything to do together, we come together. Where do you see division?
In politics, there cannot but be misunderstanding. Even in a nuclear family, sometimes, there are misunderstandings, you cannot call that a division. Where we have five to 10 people, they cannot see things the same way at the same time and that is why the state executive of the party is made up of people from every local government. People would supposedly bring in their best to represent them here. Whenever there is misunderstanding or feud, there is no division. It is a matter where the players have not got a common ground which I believe they will still do.
What is the actual cause of misunderstanding among the political players?
As far as APC is concerned, the party is not seen to be what it is supposed to be. We are in the party Secretariat now, how many activities can you see going on in the state office of a party that is in power? When activities are not happening in the State Secretariat, what do you expect of the local, ward and the unit level? As at now, there seems to be no life in the party and that is what we are saying. Things should not continue like that. And that is why, some of us are saying let us put life into the party.
Is that what gave birth to The Osun Progressives (TOP)?
There are some things that are expected to be going on that are not going on. The group we call ‘TOP’ is a caucus within APC. In APC, we have over 300 groups and every group is working towards the uplift of the party just like TOP. The Osun Progressives has seven objectives. None of the objectives is anti-APC or anti-government. Go through it, there is nothing of such, everything is planned to work for the uplift of APC as a party and its members.
The Osun APC Caretaker Chairman, Prince Gboyega Famodun, stated in the statement that groups are not recognised within the party. What is your position on this?
I want to loudly say it that the Chairman cannot say groups are not recognised in the party. This is because he knows that there are over 300 groups in the party. IleriOluwa is a group in the party, Oranmiyan is a group in the party. How dare anybody say that there is no group within the party? Isn’t Oranmiyan recognised? Isn’t IleriOluwa recognised? In actual fact, Oranmiyan is the foundation of whatever we call progressive party and government in this state today because before the advent of Oranmiyan, there was nothing like AD again. For anybody to say the party does not recognise groups, I wouldn’t support that and I want to say clearly that the Chairman did not say it.
With the current situation of things, do you guarantee victory for APC in 2022?
Victory belongs to God. If we manage our crisis well, there won’t be problems.
Can you rate the performance of Governor Oyetola so far in office?
He is trying his best.
What is the position of the party on the reversal of some of the policies of the past administration by the governor?
The party was not consulted to the best of knowledge. The party produces the government. The moment the party births the government, it now behoves on the government to see the party as its parent and relate as well with the party and if the government decides not to, so be it. The party has no power on the government until it is time for government to come back to the party to seek re-election. As far as I know, the party was not consulted before the reversals were made.
You were the Chief of Staff to Governor Rauf Aregbesola at some point. How would you describe him?
He is an excellent man. My regret is that I was unable to work closely with him for more than three months. We had been close pals immediately after the local government elections of March 27, 2004 because I participated in the elections as chairmanship candidate of the AD in Iwo Local Government. I would not have known that I was not close to him until the three months I spent as his Chief of Staff. It was then I really knew the stuff this man is made of. In fact, my regret is that I was not close to him for more than those three months. If I had been able to work with him for more time, I would not have been like this today. I give that to him. He is an embodiment of so many things. He is so blessed and humane. He has the milk of kindness flowing over all his body. He is a superb administrator.
People have been expecting the lists for caretaker committees for the local governments and LCDAs in the state. What is delaying the list?
I do not know.
But, it is said the party is supposed to send the list to the Governor?
I do not know anything about the appointment of caretaker members and committees at all. Quote me, I do not know.
Since the progressives came to power in the State of Osun, what fortunes has it brought to the state?
The fortunes are too numerous to mention. The face of Osun has completely been changed positively since we came. We were lucky to have a workaholic in Aregbesola as a pacesetter. Osogbo could not be regarded as a state capital let alone the state be rated among the best. Before Aregbesola was done with his first term, things had drastically changed for better. Osogbo can now favourably compare with any state capital in the country, courtesy of Aregbesola’s administration. Go to the nooks and crannies of Osun, there is nowhere you will not see good roads. Come to talk of education, a great transformation was recorded, the health system was improved and even, security network was superb. Before he came, hardly could people be sleeping with their two eyes closed. But by the time he came, all these vices dropped to almost zero level to the extent that Osun was adjudged as one of the most peaceful states in the nation.
In terms of education, our performances in WAEC were nothing to write home about. But after 3-4 years, things changed for better. We started having good results in WAEC and JAMB and Osun became one of the performing states which I think is sustained till now. In so many areas, Osun has changed. I am very much proud of my party.
How soon would the APC hold its congresses in Osun?
We ought to have had our congresses in October, 2018 but coincidentally, that was the period we had the Governorship Elections and you know, such things could mar an election. That was why we were given a waiver and immediately after came the General Elections: the Presidential Elections and others. Since then, the National Headquarters has not gotten time for us until the present Caretaker Committee which got there and changed the status of every party executive throughout the nation to caretaker. If they say that they are ready for congresses today, it is fine with us. We are waiting for the directives of the National Secretariat. Anytime they say we are having it, if it is tomorrow, we are ready. When they say it’s time, nobody can say otherwise.
Are you still interested in the Chairmanship of the party in Osun?
Yes. I am much interested.
But the current Chairman is also interested?
That does not close the opportunity. When it is now time for the Governorship Elections, people will come out. Even in the PDP, people are coming out. When the time is around, more people will come out to declare their ambition. It is only a useless seat that people will not contest.
The only thing is that whenever you contest a position, whatever is the result, you have to take it in good faith. That is when you are a true progressive. But in this instance by the grace of God, I am a serious contender.