A former National Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Adewale Oladipo, is a professor of Nuclear Chemistry at the Centre for Energy Research and Development (CERD) at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. In this interview with DARE ADEKANMBI, the seasoned administrator who was Deputy Director General (Administration) for Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organisation speaks about the Supreme Court victory of Governor Ademola Adeleke and how PDP should reinvent itself going forward, among other issues.
How did you receive the news of the victory of Governor Ademola Adeleke at the Supreme Court?
Well, to start with, I thank God. But it was expected because we knew we won that election fair and square and former Governor Gboyega Oyetola and co were just on a fishing expedition. So, we thank God. We received the news with a lot of joy and we commend the judiciary for proving its mettle.
In terms of the details at your disposal so far, what aspect of the judgment would you say sealed the victory of Governor Adeleke?
It is difficult to weave a lie for long. The main issue is that we won the election free, fair and square. What people refused to accept is the fact that BVAS is the game changer. Once the information stored in BVAS is available, we can rest assured that figures and technology won’t lie. That is one good thing about science. Science is always true and you may like it or not. Unfortunately, Oyetola and his co travelers did not take BVAS into consideration. They thought it was like the last time when they stole our mandate. BVAS has proved to be the game changer.
What do you think went wrong with the decision of the tribunal which sacked Governor Adeleke from office?
The tribunal is something else. Have you ever seen a judge writing hip pop song in his judgment? It showed lack of character, respect and lack of personal dignity. The judgment of the tribunal was so blatantly partisan that I knew the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court would throw it out. APC and Oyetola wrote their own results of the election as their wishful thinking dictated and gave it to the tribunal and the chairman of the tribunal just accepted what the APC constructed. Things are not done like that. As I said, BVAS is the game changer and we tendered the report from BVAS. They said they saw over voting in I think 600 units where such was not reflected in the voter register nor the figures from BVAS. So, the APC just constructed it the way they constructed something in 2010 to sack Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola from office. That was the exact thing they did in this matter. They are still using 2010 techniques in 2023. They need to wake up. The tribunal was rubbish.
This appears to be the first guber matter that will be tried up to the Supreme Court under the new Electoral Act. What implications do you see the Supreme Court decision having on the outcome of the various petitions before the tribunal across the country?
There will be a lot of ripple effects. I know that our governorship candidate, Ladi Adebutu, won in Ogun State. In Nasarawa and Kaduna states, PDP also won and all these states were stolen from us. We are at the tribunal already in those states. By the special grace of God and with the aid of technology and science, we are going to retrieve our mandates in those states. At the national level, we have tendered incontrovertible facts supporting the fact that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar won the February 25 presidential election and we are arguing the matter. I don’t want to say much about something that is already before the learned Justices. But I am sure that PDP will smile at the end of the day. As a matter of fact, it is Nigerians who will smile because they actually voted for the PDP.
If Nigerians voted for PDP, how come Atiku was not declared winner of the election?
How come that tribunal said Oyetola won the Osun governorship election of last year when the people of Osun State did not vote for him? Voting for a candidate is one thing; another thing is the decision of the umpire itself. If Chelsea is facing Arsenal in a match and the referee decides to put on the blue jersey of Chelsea, what result do you expect from such a match? Need I say more?
For Governor Adeleke, with the distraction of the matter over his election finally over, what should the people expect from his government going forward?
We have our five-point agenda which we were already implementing before these people came with their distraction. Now that the distraction is over, we will now face squarely the business of governance because there are a lot of things to redeem in Osun State. The four years of Oyetola have been completely lethargic. You cannot point to a single project that the gentleman executed. All the projects started by his predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola, he abandoned all of them. But we have started doing those projects. The interstate road linking Osogbo with Kwara State, we have already started doing it. The township roads in Ife, Ede, Osogbo, Ilesha, Ikirun, Iwo, as we speak, we are working on them. We have just resuscitated the water distribution system in Esa Oke. We are working on those of Ede and Ife. We are also going to work on that of Ilesha. We have sunk a borehole in each of the 332 wards in the state. So, our people are getting clean water. Schools are being rehabilitated as we speak. It has been four locust years of the Oyetola administration. We thank God they are finally back in Lagos.
For Atiku, you were the Deputy Director General (Administration). Many people have looked at the results of the election and they have said perhaps if the former vice-president had reconciled with Governor Nyesom Wike and other members of the G-5 group or even if Dr Iyorchia Ayu had resigned, things would have been different…
I sincerely don’t believe that. In any case, I just told you that our party won the presidential election and there is no point raising unnecessary hypothesis. As for the so-called G-5, most of them happen to be my friends and I would not want to preempt our attempt towards reconciliation within our party. But I make bold to say that Atiku won the election. He was denied of victory. In any case, the so-called G-5 did not go in one direction. They were pulling in different directions. If Dr Ayu had resigned, Umar Damagum would have stepped in as the national chairman. Damagum is from the North-East zone and Atiku is from North-East and Ayu is from North-Central. So, what difference would it have made? I think it was just an excuse. I believe that no matter what Ayu would have done, the issue would have been the same. But we would have won the election just the way we won it on February 25.
Now that Ayu had stepped aside and election have been won and lost, do you see the G-5 group re-uniting with the mainstream PDP?
I think they are in the best position to answer that question. I can’t answer it for them. But in any case, four out of the five of them are going to become former governors by the end of this month. Three of them lost their senatorial bids. So, if you can’t help yourself, how can you help others? I think only Governor Seyi Makinde came out relatively unscathed. I am happy for him and I pray he remains in PDP through which he rode into power. I think Governor Makinde will stay in PDP. He is my brother and we talk every time. But as for others, I can’t vouch for them.
What do you think PDP should do if it wants to continue to be relevant? Some have even said the loss of people like Peter Obi by the party also made things difficult for it…
Why do people like to assume that those who voted for Peter Obi would have voted for Atiku? Two plus two is not always four in politics. Obi was just a symbol of something. I say this with every sense of responsibility. The South-East felt marginalised and the zone just needed somebody from the zone to rally round. That was exactly what Obi benefited from in the last elections. It could have been one Uche or any other person coming out of the zone on a political platform and the person would have garnered quite a number of votes.
One lesson from the last election is that, as a PDP leader, I feel we should as party begin to speak the language of the youth constituency now. They are the majority of voters in the country. They are the new Atikulate now. Our party must be reformed in such a way that we will give the party back to the people and when we say the people, the youths and women will come first. It can’t be the same faces again in the party. Talking seriously, we have to change the faces of our party at various levels. We need to change our message and really articulate our message so that we can capture the youth constituency. They are the majority of voters and they usually vote in large numbers. But in the last election, Atiku won and I remain convinced over that.
What do you make of the argument over the necessity or otherwise of a winner of a presidential election having to get 25 per cent of the votes in FCT?
Well, I am not a lawyer. I am a scientist and in science we deal with logic and precision. When you read the provision of the constitution, it says to be declared president, the candidate must get 25 per cent of the votes in at least two-thirds of the states in the federation and the FCT. The provision did not say ‘including’, meaning that the winner must get it in 24 states minimum and the FCT. My simple knowledge of grammar tells me that a winner needs to have 25 per cent in FCT. I have not looked at the result of the person INEC declared. If he did not get 25 per cent of the votes in FCT, then there is still problem.
The Uwais Committee recommended that disputes arising from election should be resolved before the inauguration of the winners in the election. This issue has generated heated debate lately. Some have said once a declared winner is sworn in, those at the tribunal are just wasting their time…
I don’t believe they are wasting their time. You can recollect that many governors had been removed after they had been sworn in and they were already in office. It has happened before. But the ideal situation would have been for this country to set up a constitutional court like they have in Francophone countries, including France. We should have a constitutional court that will seat everyday. This thing is not rocket science. They can look at the Evidence Act and give their judgment before the winner is finally sworn in. That will be the ideal thing. I think we will have to tinker with our constitution to accommodate that.
Do you have confidence that the tribunal will do justice to the petition filed by your party and its candidates?
That is my prayer. The judiciary has done very well in Osun and I hope it will be replicated in other states, especially in Ogun, Nasarawa and Kaduna. These are states that the PDP won fair and square. As for the presidential election, I maintain my position that we won that election. I have confidence in the judiciary. They have demonstrated impartiality in Adeleke’s case and I am sure they will do so again.
Still about the people of Osun State and their expectations from the government of Governor Adeleke….
The government has been on autopilot for the past four years. So, there is a lot to be done.
I was even going to ask about the issue of debt burden the state is carrying.
We are already addressing that.
How? By getting more loans and plunging the state further into debts?
No. We have not taken any loan, not even one kobo since we took over the governance of Osun State and we have been servicing the debt we inherited and we will continue to do so because government is a continuum. We can’t because the debts were incurred by Oyetola or his predecessor, we will not pay. We will verify all of them and once they are verified, we will have to continue to carry the burden. But we will not allow it to affect the development of Osun State.
How is Governor Adeleke getting money to do all that he is doing? I remember the allocation of the state used to be the lowest in the country when the Ministry of Finance was still publishing the takings of very state and council. Have things improved?
You will have seen that since Governor Adeleke took over governance, he has been paying salaries as and when due. We actually paid arrears of half salary owed by the previous government.
Are you talking about the 15 months arrears…
Yes, we have started paying it in instalments and we are also paying pension and gratuity. I don’t want to condemn anybody. Capital flight in Osun State had been a major issue, but it has been addressed now. When Osun money was being used anyhow and outside the state, of course, we will have problems. But now, there is no capital flight again because Osun is governed now by Osun indigenes who live in the state. There is no godfather anywhere that will require Governor Adeleke to bring anything to anywhere.
In a matter of days, President Muhammadu Buhari will go into history as an ex-president. What do you make of his eight years on a 1-10 scale?
I will push that question back to you. As we speak, check your pocket. How much do you have there? What can it buy? Look at the price of diesel. I sell diesel. It was selling for less than N200 when we were leaving government in 2015. Today, it is N750. A bag of rice was N6,000 and it is now N40,000. A bag of cement is now N4, 000 plus. The rent I was paying where I stay now was about N2million, but now it is about N6million. Do you know that poverty and inflation do not discriminate? When you go to the market, they will not ask you whether you are APC or PDP before they will give you the prices of commodities. As a journalist, I am sure you cannot travel freely from Ibadan to Maiduguri or Kano by road. As a PDP chieftain, whatever I say may be biased. l therefore leave the assessment of Buhari’s eight years to the generality of Nigerians to check their pockets, go to the markets and come to their own conclusion.
Senator Bola Tinubu will be sworn in as president on May 29. What advice do you have for him?
Why should I give them any advice? If I give them a good advice, I will be hurting myself. If I give them a bad advice, I will be seen as a bad person. Let them do what they promised to do and let them enjoy it while it lasts.
If you give them good advice and they succeed, Nigerians will be happy for it…
They have been in power for eight years, so what advice do I want to give them? They said it themselves that they will take off from where Buhari will be stopping. So, what advice do you want to give them?
The personalities are different. Tinubu may want to see things differently from how Buhari perceived issues…
It is still the same political party. Look, the presidential system is run by the political party and not an individual. The president cannot be everywhere. He can’t be in Works, Water Resources, Culture and other ministries. I can give you an example. I was in Murtala Muhammad Airport and I saw that people urinated on the floor of the toilet there. Do you want to blame the president for that? You can’t even blame the Aviation Minister. Will he be entering all the toilets at the airport everyday? It is a system and it is the programme of the political party in power. APC came with change mantra and they actually changed this country forever. Nigerians voted for change in 2015. Let them enjoy it.
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