The factional chairman of the Osun Peoples Democratic Party’s, Mr Soji Adagunodo, in this interview with BOLA BAMIGBOLA of Punch, dismissed the claims that he is working for the ruling All Progressives Congress in the state.
What is the situation in Osun PDP presently?
The situation in Osun PDP is like the situation in any other political party. I used to say that politics itself is the management of crises and the political party is there to oversee the political situation of a group of people. The situation of the PDP right now is like that of any other political party out there that you can see. We are planning to restructure, rebuild and we are also interested in how we can re-project our party for the forthcoming elections in 2022 and 2023. The process is on. Different interests will come in from those who are interested in holding different political positions like the presidential and governorship. Definitely, you should expect a bit of crisis, but it is now the responsibility of the political party to know how the crisis can be managed positively and at the end of the day have a good party to win elections.
Your party is in court and there are some people who have refused to associate with the PDP because you are laying claim to the chairmanship seat. Will that not impede the efforts to reposition the PDP?
This is more reason why I said politics itself is the management of crises. We would continue to manage the crisis because by the time we resolve this chairmanship crisis, we will still have a lot of other issues to resolve like that of who will finally be our governorship candidate. Other political parties like the APC and Labour Party are also in court like us. Also, about 10 to 12 state chapters of the PDP are in court. It is not peculiar to the Osun State chapter alone. It is normal for parties to have crises.
It is said that the crisis in the Osun PDP has to do with who will be the candidate of the party in 2022. Some people feel you are not going to support the ambition of Senator Ademola Adeleke. Is that not the cause of the crisis?
That is part of what am saying. I said that after an election, whether you win or lose, you are to reassess the party. One of the ways to reassess the party to move forward is for all to deliberate on who will be the governorship candidate in the next election. Some people want their candidate to be there and when they see that you are going to be an obstacle, or see that you might not be an easy nut to break, then, they won’t be happy relating with you. So, in a way, 2022 is part of the problem. Some people are also interested in being the chairman of the party. There are some who feel that they have offended Soji Adagunodo so much and if he is still the chairman, they won’t be able to get what they want from the party. There are some who need money too and if there is no crisis, money won’t come. Some are also working with the opposition party against the PDP so as to decimate the party from being a viable opposition. All the crises you are seeing are just based on interests and we are capable of solving them.
Your party not too long ago agreed that Adeleke should be its governorship candidate in the next election. We learnt that you are not supporting that decision. Is that the reason why they want you out?
No, that is not it. One thing that we should know is that we have the party constitution, which deals with who is going to occupy a particular position and who is going to be a candidate of the party. If you want to be a candidate for the party, they can adopt you unanimously. But the moment you are not unanimously adopted, then you cannot say that the party has adopted somebody. It means you still have to go through the process. There is a guideline for us to select who is going to be the candidate of the party. So, if all of us do not agree with the adoption, then we will still have to follow the guidelines of the party. I am aware that some people adopted our candidate in 2018 and I am still aware that some people were not in agreement with the decision. It is now left for the party to manage both because we need both of them to be in the party as opposition and work together for the PDP to win the election.
It was said that Adeleke did not trust you because you lured him to contest and thereafter, you then brought Akin Ogunbiyi to contest the same position in 2018. Is that correct?
If I am to open up on the 2018 issue, then you will have to give me six to seven pages of your paper because the issue of trust that you mentioned is in two ways. If you don’t trust me, I can’t trust you too since we are in a political party. It is crazy for you to want to be my candidate and not trust me and you still expect me to work for you to become the party’s candidate. You have to seek my favour for me to take you as my candidate. As the chairman of the party, it is my responsibility to look out for and bring people to join the party because we need people. It is the responsibility of the party members to determine who will be the party’s candidate and that was what happened in 2018. I did whatever I was supposed to do to ensure that we did have a less rancorous primary. People can testify to this. I set up about five layers of committees to interface with those people contesting. I set up the Alhaji Taye Ambali Committee, who is the Senatorial leader of the West to interface with those who came out from the area. Elder Sunday Akanfe interfaced with all the aspirants to see how we could manage ourselves to have a less rancorous primary and if possible have a consensus. He, being the state deputy chairman, met with them. Professor Wale Ladipo also met with the aspirants. Oluomo Daisi Aina, Ganiyu Olaoluwa and I also held meetings with the aspirants. When Ogunbiyi showed interest in contesting, I was caught unawares. Those who invited him knew because I was not the one who brought him to the party. If they are talking about the 2018 election, no matter how you think I have offended you, I don’t expect you to still be talking about it or have the mindset of not trusting me. It means you did not imbibe the tenets of democracy. We have some people who worked for Ogunbiyi then but are now working for Adeleke and likewise, we have some who worked for Adeleke but are now on Ogunbiyi’s side. That is politics for you. Why didn’t I work for him? Then it means something must be wrong along the line. Ask him what it was. If I refused to work for or support him, then it means something went wrong along the line. Although as the chairman, I have the liberty to support anyone that I want. I supported and worked tirelessly for him to become the Senator.
Some of your party members believe you should not have challenged your removal as the party chairman so as not to destabilise the party. Why did you take your party to court?
I have a tenure of four years and I have not done anything wrong for the party. I have worked tirelessly for six years to build the party and as the state chairman, I worked for two years to bring the party back as a strong opposition. As an opposition party, we need everyone to be on board. We won the last election with 353 votes in the first ballot which held on September 22, 2018 and Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State won with 368 votes to become the governor. In my unit, I gave more than 364 votes to the PDP and yet you felt that easing me out will be the best option for you.
But they rely on some reasons. They said you were high-handed as the chairman and also that some funds were mismanaged by you. Have you proven your innocence?
I don’t know what they meant by saying that I am high-handed. We have about 130,000 party members and all of them have peculiar and selfish interests and they believe that the chairman must do their bidding. Everybody wants him to follow his/her own mind and interest. As a chairman, you should be able to aggregate the mind of the majority and follow it. On the issue of financial mismanagement, I have challenged them many times on it and I even told them to come up with facts. They wrote a petition and I told them to set up a committee to investigate when I mismanaged the said funds. Who brought the funds? They said it was N150,000,000 campaign funds. Where did the money come from? Was it from the national secretariat, because our NWC did not give us a dime for the campaign? Was it from the candidate? I told them that they did not give us any money as a campaign fund. It was the presidential campaign fund that came and I was not there when they distributed the money – even as the chairman of the party. The only money that was approved for the party throughout my tenure was administrative charges on funds. We sat together with the working committee and my executive. We have on record how the money was spent. I have been spending my money to run the party, pay salary, and pay rent for two years before I left the office. It was only Senator Ade Fadahunsi and Mr Wole Oke who gave me money to use for the part-payment of the rent of the space used as our office. Apart from these funds, every other expense was paid from my personal purse.
What is the way out?
As I said, the way out is for all of us to sit down together and have a roundtable discussion and resolve our differences. Nobody can chase anybody away from this party, especially those of us that formed the party in 1998. We would all stay in the party and fight it out.
There is also an insinuation that Governor Gboyega Oyetola is using you to tear the PDP apart so that he will have an easy victory in 2022. Is that true?
Well, that is a notion and I also have a notion that the Federal Government is using them against our party in Osun State.
Who are the ‘them’?
I don’t know. Who are the ‘them’ against me? Whoever is thinking that Oyetola is using me, I also have the feeling that President Muhammadu Buhari, Bola Tinubu, Oyetola and others are using them also to destroy the party for us. I have nothing to do with Oyetola. I overheard one of those people who are misleading the Adeleke family talking rubbish. The Adeleke family needs to do away with them. They are making more enemies for them than friends. I tell you they don’t like them. They are not after their political progress. They have to be sensitive to what is happening. Many people who are party members are angry with what is going on. I nearly laid down my life for Senator Ademola Adeleke during the 2018 election. Some hoodlums came to the party secretariat to shoot me because I was against the ruling party. How can you say I am now working against the party? Those saying this rubbish lost their wards/units woefully during the election. Go and check the results.
Are you still on talking terms with Adeleke?
Yes, I don’t have any problem with him. He has been my friend and he is still my friend. Except that what is playing out is more than him. He is not in charge of what is playing out. If he is, the situation won’t be as bad as this.
Then who is in charge?
We know who is in charge. It’s not Senator Ademola Adeleke. He is a good and gentleman. He can be a good leader.
But why is it said that you didn’t support him?
I did. Who says I didn’t support him? I worked for him tirelessly. It is the supporters of Soji Adagunodo who won the 2018 election for him. Go and check the results for confirmation. While the majority of those they trusted and gave money to lost their wards and units, I personally gave money to the women and others you see at the party secretariat to go and win the election. I love and want the best for Senator Ademola Adeleke and that was why I did all that for him.