Embattled chairman of People’s Democratic Party, PDP in Osun State, Prince ‘Soji Adagunodo recently granted interview to some journalist where he bared his mind on some issues bothering the party in the state, SUNDAY OGUNTUYI was there.
INEC released Osun Governorship Election to take place in July next year, do you see your party as formidable enough to win the coming election?
It’s a cheering news that INEC has fixed a date for the next year’s gubernatorial election. It is also something that interest PDP members and all lovers of our party because. It signals the beginning of the end of the ruling party and the beginning of our ascension to power, notwithstanding that we know that every political party has political problems. That is not new, the essence of every political party is how to manage internal wranglings and how to resolve it on time. Be that as it may, I can assure you that we in PDP, in no small time, every other thing will be in order. We will put our house in order. We will ensure that all crises are brought to standstill. We will ensure that we are in unity to face the task ahead because as an opposition party, to fight a ruling party and win election is always tough. But we have faith in God and people of Osun State and our members that by the grace of God, unity will return to our party in Osun State.
As it stands today, who is the authentic chairman of PDP in Osun?
I know a lot of people will be interested in this. On March 25, 2018, I was elected as the Chairman of PDP and my tenure is to run for four years. Whatever happens, the constitution of our party is sacrosanct. If you read Article 2 of our party constitution, it is supreme and binding on all members and organs of our party and if the constitution says my tenure ends in four years and if that tenure is going to be truncated, there must be a reason one of which must be (1) if I resign which I didn’t, (2) if I commit a misdemeanor and an allegation was levelled against me, which was not investigated. At the same time, the constitution stipulates that even of there is an allegation, there is a way to handle it. If the constitution is not followed, the constitution also stipulates that whatever actions taken is null and void. Taking into cognisance of all these and the fact that I have instituted a case in the court of law, which is supreme to all extant laws of the land, I remain the Chairman of PDP in Osun State until otherwise state by a court of coordinate jurisdiction. I don’t want to discuss much on this. I have a team of lawyers whom I engaged that are working on it and I was informed by them that any case before the court is prejudiced, that is, it is not open for discussion. So today, I may not be explicit in this particular issue, but the fact remains that I was elected to serve for four years and by the constitution of our party, I have not been removed. And if any removal is done, it is illegal according to the constitution of the party and that makes me the authentic chairman of the party
Mr. Sunday Bisi is the PRO of the party according to you and Mr. Ayo Areola who is also from your constituency is the new PRO of the party, how do you want to reconcile this?
Thanks so much for this question. Mr. Sunday Bisi was elected on March 25, 2018 as the PRO of PDP. As at today, he remains the PRO of PDP. If he is going round there is nothing wrong in building the party, we are brothers, we are colleagues and associates and whatever he does that is for the promotion of the party, there is nothing wrong in that. If he is promoting the party, all well and good, it’s still good for the party you said Mr. Areola is also the PRO from my federal constituency, that’s true, whatever they might have done while this crisis last, by the time leadership of the party resolves this issue, it will be taken care of and if it is the court that resolves the issue, that also will be taken care of appropriately.
Taking cognisance of the fact that the election in the state is less than a year, don’t you think the crisis rocking your party will hinder affect your chances? How do you think this crisis will be solved?
I want to inform you and the people of the state that the problem of PDP was escalated and promoted not by the PDP leaders in Osun State, that is the main issue that we have to address, the problem of Osun PDP was created by some clique but I want you to know that the problem will be resolved as quickly as possible. The future of PDP nationwide depends on what happens in Osun PDP. And that is the more reason why it must be resolved as quickly as possible. I want to inform you that I know that there is a Reconciliation and Strategy Committee led by the former Senate President and format Governor of Kwara State, HE, Senator Bukola Saraki who is working tirelessly to ensure that this problem is resolved. I’m sure it’s going to be resolved very soon and I want to say also that the cooperation of the leadership of the party in Osun, from both divides, is essential. I know some of our leaders and members that are not contributing to the development of PDP, they are happy with the crises in PDP because they are not part of the progress of the party. What they have contributed to PDP throughout their time as members of PDP has always been failure and that’s why they are encouraging crises in PDP. Very soon, people will know and identify them and very soon, people will excommunicate them from the party.
You were alleged to have favoured a particular aspirant against the rest in 2018, can you shed light on what transpired?
It is rather funny to say that I favoured a particular governorship aspirant in 2018. Maybe they didn’t know what happened at that particular point in time. We started the struggle in 2016 and some of the leaders of the struggle have been in the forefront and they were front runners of becoming the governor of the state before I even become the chairman. So, I didn’t encourage any of them, they have been aspirants, they have been contesting, they were part of the struggle against Otunba Iyiola Omisore as the struggle then was against Omisore. The issue was not about me assuring anybody, I only had one vote while it is the delegates of the party that cast the rest of the votes. The chairman’s status was reduced to mere administrative head during governorship primary. I didn’t use any instrument of office to support Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi who later came to join those array of aspirants that we had in PDP. There were Dr. Ogunbiyi and Senator Ademola Adeleke. Before them we had about ten aspirants before the two of them joined the governorship race. I was not the one that spurred them to become aspirants. In any way every aspirant will need the favour of the chairman and the chairman also must assure all of them of fair play and level playing field and the only way you can do that is to assure all of them that they can as well become the governor if they can convince the members and delegates of the party by selling themselves and the stuffs they are made of. So, the idea of me favouring one against the rest didn’t even arise but let make it clear that we are all political animals, every politician, every human being has the right to have somebody that he has sympathy for, so if you’re going to vote in any election you must have somebody that you have sympathy for, so that was what happened at that particular point in time.
Hon. Sunday Bisi is claiming to be the chairman of the party while those who are loyal to you are saying he is a factional chairman and why would you allow your PRO to be claiming to be chairman while you’re still in power and why has he not been suspended?
You have to understand that in politics, people have the right to aspire to become what they want in life and if the PRO has ambition to become the State Chairman there is nothing wrong in it. It’s only that his ambition is coming at the wrong time. If he wants to be the chairman of the party, he should have waited till after the end of my tenure, I’ve committed no offense, I’ve done nothing wrong to the party, I’ve worked tirelessly with everything I have to serve the party and if some people just gathered and thought that they can manipulate things, I tell you, if they have been getting away with it in the past, I want to assure you that it won’t work this time around. We are an opposition party, want to get to government and we must show example that we are responsible and capable of being trusted by the masses to hold their destiny in trust for them. But if we don’t respect our own laws, the constitution of our own party by ourselves how are we assuring the people of the state that we can manage their future for them as required by the laws of the land. So we must adhere strictly to the laws of our party and the laws of the land (the court orders) and that’s why I want to fight this impunity to a logical conclusion.
There was an insinuation that you have met with Senator Ademola Adeleke in America accompanied by Hon.Wole Oke , can you let us know the outcome of your meeting?
I have not met Senator Ademola Adeleke, we have no arrangement to meet and therefore there is nothing to report to the house. I know it is the prayer of all PDP members that both Adagunodo and the Adelekes should reconcile and become one family that we used to be and I’m also praying that that will come to pass by the special grace of God. What you just read is with a conditional clause “if” it didn’t not say I and Senator Ademola Adeleke had met, it said you can’t say, it means it can happen but I’m telling you that it has not happened. Yes, it can happen, but I want to tell you that it has not happened. I have no reason to meet Senator Ademola Adeleke in the US so also Sen. Ademola Adeleke has no reason to meet with me in the US. He is in Atlanta and I’m in New York, so we are not meeting and there is no report to give to anybody.
If by chance the court decides that you are the chairman of the party and Sunday Bisi goes back to Appeal Court or the court retains Sunday Bisi as the Chairman and you are also headed for court, it is obvious that the matter may not be resolved in less than 12 months that the election will hold, are you open to alternative options of resolving the crises?
I have answered your question in one of my interviews. I said on two occasions when I went to the High Court, Ikirun Division and it gave an order on the 3rd and 9th of November, 2020. I called for political solution because I know that if we continue to pursue court process, it will not be healthy for the party. I know that political solution is the best and I’m still assuring you that I believe that the leadership of the party at the national level will do something about that. You know I keep mentioning national because I know that the leadership of the party in Osun state is ready for political solution. But we need the concurrent of the leadership of the party at the national, the moment the leadership of the party at the national level is ready for political solution it will be better for the party but I assure you that whatever it is, I believe that certain elements are feeding fat on the crises going on in Osun but I pray that the soul and spirit of all members of Osun PDP that need deliverance will not allow those who are feeding fat to succeed as resolution through political solution is the best option. If we can’t have resolution through political solution and we have to keep waiting for court to be the arbiter, then there is a very serious problem with the party. I want to assure you that we are going to resolve, no matter the situation. Management of crisis is the reason we have political parties. We’ll manage our crisis successfully and we’ll ensure that peace returns to PDP.
What efforts have been made to ensure that the crisis is resolved, how many leaders have you consulted?
I have been talking to leaders across the state and I have made my position known that I’m open for peace and for peace to reign in any society, which our party belong, there must be justice. I’m waiting for justice as I’m waiting for peace, the moment there is justice, there will be peace and the moment there is peace, there will be unity. Ifwe have unity in our party, we are sure of winning the next election that is coming up in July, 2022.
If for instance the Supreme Court doesn’t favour you, what will be your next line of action?
I have said it times without number, even during this interview that political solution is the best in this circumstance, don’t talk about Supreme Court, we are going to go through routes of court processes up to the Supreme Court and it will not augur well for our party and I pray that , that won’t be the route that we will go through. I want to assure you that all efforts are being made to ensure that political solution is employed to resolve the crisis. About leadership in Osun, you know our leaders, Baba Shuaib Oyedokun is the Chairman of Elders’ Caucus, the former governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola is our leader, you know that we have Baba Olu Alabi, Baba Fasheru, Baba Odekunmi, who is the Secretary of the Elders’ Caucus, we have so many other leaders, like Baba Bayo Ajeigbe, Baba Oyelayo, Oluomo Daisi, Alhaji Ashifat Olarinde and so many experienced leaders like Hon. Wole Oke, Senator Fadahunsi, so many capable leaders who can put heads together to resolve this issue and I know they are talking and very soon I’m sure they will resolve it.
There have been rumour by your Deputy State Chairman, Elder Sunday Akanfe Atidade and others that APC has been funding your case, so also others said it is Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi, please can you clear the air on this?
My leaders know me in Osun, I have the capability and I’m capable of funding anything I want to do in life, it’s an insult to say that some people, opposition /ruling party is funding me, I’m not a person like that. I’m in PDP and I relate with PDP leadership, I have support from PDP leadership, I won’t mention names, I have no relationship with APC and I don’t intend to have in as much as I’m still in PDP but if I’m forced out of PDP, then you cannot tell me not to look or relate with another political party. But as at today, I’m a full fledge PDP member, I have no relationship in anyway with APC, I have not done that in the past and I won’t do it. And I want to let you know that if anybody in PDP is funding me there is nothing wrong in that, it’s natural to have people in your party that will fund you, I’m not saying that Ogunbiyi is the one funding me because you mentioned him. Those people that you don’t even know that you didn’t mention that are interested in this particular case are enormous. We have leaders across the 30 local government areas that are interested and they are ready to contribute their widow’s mite because they believe that injustice to one is injustice to all and that’s why we have this. I will use this opportunity to say anybody that is not with Sunday Bisi is with Soji Adagunodo. Any State Working Committee member that is not with Sunday Bisi is with Soji Adagunodo, same thing goes with State officers, LG Chairmen. Leaderships that are not with Sunday Bisi or Adeleke/Pathfinder Group are all with Adagunodo, so I don’t need to start mentioning names.
Knowing full well that the Appeal Court has recognized Hon. Sunday Bisi as the PDP chairman in Osun State and Supreme Court adjudication on the matter is pending as we speak, what will you do if the Supreme Court eventually goes against your posture or desire, as legally substantive Chairman in favour of your counterpart, Hon. Sunday Bisi…?
I know you have not gone through the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Akure. There is nowhere in the judgment of the Court of the Court of Appeal where Sunday Bisi was affirmed as legally elected substantive chairman, go and check it very well, those people who took that appealed against the the Ikirun High Court Order of 3rd of November, 2020 which gave an exparte order, they didn’t appeal against the 9th of November Preservative Order and if you read the Preservative Order, the exparte order has been converted to Preservative Order, so, it was the exparte order that was set aside and there is nowhere that Sunday Bisi’s name was mentioned in the Appeal and there is nowhere in the Appeal Court judgment that that they said Sunday Bisi should be the Chairman. Anybody that is saying that is a bloody liar, tell them to bring the judgment out and confirm it and in respect of the selling point of the party, we’ll come to that. We have a manifesto, the last time we had a six-point agenda that we used to campaign and we had 101 reasons why people should not vote APC. By the time we move out and we are ready to face the Herculean task of campaigning against the incumbent government you will know our selling point but I want to recognize the fact that the fight now is going to be more fierce than in 2018 because of the performance of the incumbent Governor as against the one of former Governor but we are ready. We have our reasons, we have a lot of reasons that we are researching upon that we will let the people of Osun know why they should not vote APC and why they should vote PDP.
What gives you the impression that your party will win the next governorship election as the ruling party dealt squarely with your party when it was intact? Now that your party is fragmented, what emboldens your assurance for winning?
I’m not saying emphatically and with all confidence that we are going to win the election but I can assure you we’ll work towards that, I know it’s not easy to defeat a ruling party, I know it’s not easy to be in opposition, campaign and win against a very powerful and formidable ruling party but, it’s not that it’s impossible. We have had instances where an incumbent President, incumbent governors were defeated. I’m assuring you that PDP will also try with everything we have to ensure that we win the year’s governorship election. I’m not saying that we are one hundred percent sure that we are going to win, but I can assure you we’ll work towards that at least in 2018 we defeated the ruling party at the first ballot before they used remote control to truncate our victory. Also to answer your question, we’ll manage everybody in this party, we can’t allow anybody to get out of the party, even if all of us are still together, we have a lot of works to do to defeat this particular ruling party, we are going to come together. We are going to talk to a lot of people, talk to ourselves, we must know that we are to work in concert and unity with each others to be able to defeat the ruling party. We will not encourage anybody to get out of our party and we will not discourage people from pursuing their interest in our party. We want as many people as possible that want to come to our party and join us and join hands together with us to be able to confront the ruling party because we cannot do it alone.
Can we know exactly those metric of performance and why Oyetola will be more difficult to beat in 2022 compared to 2018?
If you look at the indices, during Aregbesola’s era, he borrowed a lot of money, he was not paying salaries. Sometimes he paid half salaries and left a lot of unpaid wages. But let’s be frank, PDP has to really work very hard this time around, Oyetola is not borrowing money, instead, he is paying back all the debts and money that Aregbesola borrowed. He is paying salaries, don’t let us deceive ourselves, though his government is not the best, I agree that there is no APC government that you can compare with that of PDP government either at state, local government or federal level, but to say that if you want to compare the government of Aregbesola with that of Oyetola the indices are just not the same for comparison and PDP must be able to go ahead of time to know that we have to work harder than we did in 2018. We really need to campaign against this present government. During Aregbesola era our major campaign strategy was that they were not paying salaries, civil servants were annoyed, now what do you want to say about the civil servants now and you know that’s the only industry that we have in Osun State is the civil service, don’t let us deceive ourselves about what the populace also are aware of, let’s look for the weakness of this government, I have loads of their weaknesses. I will not say the here, I’m a politician, a tactician and a strategist, when it comes to planning and winning elections. If we really want to win the coming election, there are some things we have to do, things we have to work on, that’s what I’m saying.
Can you clear the fact that the substantive matter is still at the lower court?
Yes, the substantive case has not been heard, it is still at the lower Court in Osun State and this is because courts have been on strike all these while and immediately the courts resume – I heard the court has resumed – we are starting the case soon, anytime from now and there is another one at the Supreme Court that we filed on the Appeal Court judgment.
Which if the aspirants will you support or have sympathy for this time around?
I have said here that even the aspirants that are coming out, we only have one or two that have declared publicly, the rest are mere rumours. I don’t know the precise number of aspirants that we still have except those two that have declared physically and publicly. How are you sure that Soji Adagunodo will not become an aspirant? Or Mr. Akin Adeyi too will not become an aspirant? So, until we have all the aspirants physically present, I cannot know how many they are, that’s when I can assess and believe this is the one I’m going to have sympathy for and flow with. As it is now I can’t answer that question. Also, I have the right to have sympathy for an aspirant because I’m going to vote in that election, so being the chairman doesn’t take away my right to vote, I’m an automatic delegate. So, if you’re going to vote you must have sympathy for a particular aspirant; you must have sympathy for that aspirant but whoever I have sympathy for must not be opened to anybody, not even the aspirant himself because that would have betrayed the principle of level playing field for all.
What exactly is going to be your prayer in court when the case is opened ?
We have made all our prayers in Ikirun, we are not going to make any other prayers again. We’re only going to address the court, adopt all our prayers, so there are no fresh prayers or fresh processes. We have done that at Ikirun High Court division, that prayer was to let the Court know that all actions of the National Working Committee is illegal, null and void according to the constitution of the party and all the relevant sections of the constitution of the party were stated to support our claims that they did all what they did illegally and that the Chairman and Secretary of the party were the ones who signed the constitution of the party into law, so they can’t claim ignorance of their illegal position being against the constitution. Article 2 of our party’s constitution says that, “constitution shall be supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all members and organs of the party, (including the NWC, Chairman and Secretary).”