The embattled chairman of Osun State Chapter of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Hon. Soji Adagunodo recently met with some selected journalist where he bare his mind on some sundry issues. SUNDAY OGUNTUYI was there.
It’s been two months since an Appeal Court sitting in Akure decided that you are no longer the Chairman of the Osun State Chapter of PDP…?
No! no!! no!!! The Appeal Court never ruled that I am no longer the Chairman. Go and read the judgment very well. It did not say that. There was a prayer by the appellants to the court that the November 3, 2020 High Court Ikirun Division Interim/Interlocutory Order be vacated which was granted. Meanwhile my Chairmanship position that hinges on November a 9, 2020 Preservative Order was not appealed against, which means it still subsists. The Court of Appeal ruled that the substantive case be determined at the lower court.
Mind you, there is nowhere in the judgment where Sunday Bisi was pronounced Chairman of the Osun State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party. Go and get a copy of the judgment and read it very well. I’m waiting for the resumption of the courts to straighten this out.
Okay, what are your prayers before the court?
My prayer is that my removal is illegal, null and void, based on the 2017 Constitution of our party as amended, which incidentally was signed into law by both the National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus and the National Secretary of the Party, Senator Umar Ibrahim Tsauri. Section 2 of our Party Constitution is very clear on its supremacy, so I am praying the Court to reaffirm me as the rightful chairman, with all privileges to function and serve out my tenure, without hindrance.
Increasingly, party members are articulating that you should settle out of court. How are you going to pursue the next phase of the court case against PDP on your removal?
On the two occasions that the High Court, Ikirun Division gave an Interim order on the 3rd and 9th of November last year, I called for political solution, but those that do not have the interest of the party at heart did not allow those, who are supposedly, concerned to listen. What I believe is that there are certain elements that are feeding party members with fabricated lies, to actualize their illegal position, but by God’s grace the case will reopen when the courts resume sitting. I will exploit and execute every known legal means available to clear my name and pursue same to a logical conclusion.
What is your assessment of the party crisis and what is the way forward since some observers of the happenings in the party believe that the solution lies with your reinstatement?
For peace to reign in any society, which our party belongs, there must be justice. My removal from office illegal, it is injustice of the highest order and quite unexpected from a party I hold so dear. Suffice it to say, that political parties aggregate the destiny of citizens in trust and, therefore, should be seen to obey its own laws and constitution. That is what gives the populace the confidence to cast their votes, in trust for the party to take charge of their affairs and destiny as a people and without fear of being manipulated as being presently experienced by APC, especially at the Federal level.
Are you aware of a proposed tour of the state by the Sunday Bisi led Working Committee beginning from June 1, 2021? If yes, what does this mean to you?
I am aware that a group of people in the party, otherwise known as the Ademola Adeleke group, codenamed The Pathfinder Team, proposed that and also made a release about the tour which clearly indicates that it is not a party programme but a group’s programme. That’s what our party has been turned into.
It is not an official programme of the Osun State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party. Interest groups within a political party are allowed to consult but this should not be misconstrued as an official programme of Osun PDP. No, it is not. It is a group of supporters that want to do that for their preferred aspirant. There is a difference between OSUN PDP AND PATHFINDER TEAM. Many of such will still take place.
As for the party, when it is ready to move and consult with members of the party and the good people of Osun State, you will see the who-is-who that will be involved. There’s no way the party will consult round the state, whether with members and or the public, without me as the party chairman being involved.
Our party will never embark on state wide consultations without our revered leaders like Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola; Alhaji Shuaib Oyedokun; Dr. Olu Alabi; High Chief Dele Faseru; HE, Erelu Obada, CON; Senator Akinlabi Olasunkanmi; Chief Segun Odekunmi; Our National Ex-Officio, Hon. Paul Olakunle; Chief Olaoye Oyelayo; Alhaji Sule Oyedeji; Aremo Kunle Alao; Engr. Jide Adeniji; Barrister Kayode Oduoye; Dr. Oluomo Daisi Aina; Senator Francis Adenigba Fadahunsi, CON; Hon. Busayo Oluwole Oke; Hon. Taofeek Abimbola Ajilesiro; the Southwest Zonal Officers; Members of the State House of Osun State House of Assembly who are members of the party and many other leaders across the state that are too numerous to mention. So any arrangement or movement that does not have the inclusion of these people, to me, is a mere jamboree that we should discountenance
In addition, even in the so called Adeleke Group, the few that are planning the movement are in their minority. Others in the same group are still eagerly waiting for the court pronouncement on our case because they don’t want to be caught in the web. More importantly, there is no serious minded group that will be planning a tour on behalf of an aspirant without the aspirant being physically present to meet the people. Are they going to be consulting for him by proxy?
Will you consider your removal as the genesis of the Osun PDP crisis?
See, our endless journey in the wonderland of political quandary and party leadership quagmire is due to one reason: TRUTH. The same truth we all love to hate. My removal was premeditated and hatched by some Fifth Columnists within our party, who fed Dr Deji Adeleke with many lies about me. I have, on several occasions, explained to him through personal contacts and letters to clear myself of the many falsehoods and allegations they raised against me. You see, isn’t it funny that I was accused of anti-party activities when, as a matter of fact, I delivered my unit, ward, state and federal constituencies in all elections? I also delivered my senatorial and Governorship votes during elections just as I did in respect of the Presidential Election for the Party’s candidate. Now tell me how they want to justify my loyalty to the party and her candidates in those elections? I did everything humanly possible for the success of the Party even to the extent of putting my life on the line .Those feeding fat from the crisis are the ones who want to subjugate the supremacy of the party and our collective will, with intent to disallow free, fair and credible internal democratic processes under me, to elect the party flag bearer for Osun 2022. They prefer to select, rather than elect, a candidate so that they too can enjoy the same selection because many of them have ambition and they know they can never emerge as candidates of the party in their various domains and constituencies. Funny enough they all lost in all past and previous elections except for a few of them.
Who are those few?
The few ones know themselves and those who lost, who have been serial losers, also know themselves. They are many that do not have records of electoral success or victory for themselves or for the party from time immemorial. They are now the ones in charge that want to control the party machinery at all cost, for the sake of their selfish interest , pecuniary gains and personal political ambition.
Barring all obstacles, if you’re back in office fully today, what will you do as the Party Chairman to chart a new course for the party?
I’ll renew and increase my efforts that was deployed in 2017 and which gave us the needed maximum victory in 9 out of 10 local government areas during the Osun West Senatorial bye-election. In 2018 same efforts gave us another victory at first ballot despite the fact that manipulators crept in and destroyed the lofty relationship between the party leadership and the family of our candidate. I will also ensure that we evolve new strategies to bring in more disenfranchised members. Some have distanced themselves from the party due to the lingering crises. I will bring them back in order to strengthen the party. As it is today, the advantage of the impeding implosion in APC will be fully utilized to bring PDP back to governance in Osun State in 2022.
It is everywhere that Dr Deji Adeleke solely sponsored the Congress leading to your emergence as Chairman. How true is that?
No, It’s a lie. The Adelekes participated in only 1 out of the 4 congresses that we had. I appreciate Dr Deji Adeleke’s contributions. Anything, or every money, he spent was after the Party had successfully installed his brother, Senator Ademola Adeleke, as Senator. They were the first, and the highest, beneficiary of our struggle. Please, don’t forget that we had two formidable, qualified and acceptable Senatorial candidates, Senator Akinlabi Olasunkanmi and Col. Olayiwola Falabi, before the leadership of the Party directed them to withdraw for Senator Ademola Adeleke.
On the Governorship primaries, Osun PDP had many aspirants before the Adelekes joined our Party, only Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi and Adeleke came into the Party later and almost at the same time. There were aspirants before them, like Rt. Hon. Rafiu Adejare Bello (now in APC); Akogun Lere Oyewumi; Dr Kayode Oduoye; Senator Kola Ogunwale; Dr Ayoade Adewopo; Senator Olasunkanmi Akinlabi; Oluomo Gbenga Owolabi; Barrister N.O.O. Oke (SAN); Alhaji Fatai Akinbade and others. All these gentlemen stood with the Party. They all did everything possible to reshape and reposition the party. And they did not cry about their lofty efforts like what we are witnessing from the greatest beneficiary of our struggle when they lost the bid to emerge as the Party’s candidate.
For record purposes Hon Oluwole Oke; Baba Shuaib Oyedokun; the National Secretary of our party at that time, Prof. Wale Oladipo; Sen (Dr) Olu Alabi; Erelu Olusola Obada CON; at a later date Senator Francis Fadahunsi, CON; and Rt. Hon. Albert Adeogun with the aforementioned foremost aspirants and Dr Akin Ogunbiyi also contributed immensely to the struggle, not to mention my personal involvements and contributions.
One of the allegations against you is that you were involved in anti-party activities?
It’s laughable and insulting. I am a founding member of the party. I can never be involved in anti-party activities against the PDP. The party is in my blood. No matter what happens, I see PDP as my investment. I won my Unit with over 300 votes , my ward with over 1000 votes, an uncommon occurrence in the state. I won my Ward, Local Government, Federal Constituency and Senatorial district, Governorship and presidential elections as I said earlier. So where does the issue of anti-party activity come in?
During the 2018 Governorship election, I was in my ward when I received security information that APC was trying to rig the election in Ward 4 and Ward 5 in Osogbo local government and no single leader was responding to their distress calls from Osogbo. Immediately I got that message, I left my unit in Obokun Local Government and joined our people in Osogbo to prevent the rigging and it was God that saved my life. I was attacked by APC two times that night during that election. I almost lost my life. All active members in Osogbo local government reading this interview will bear me witness. Is it possible for APC to attack someone that was working for them? I didn’t engage in anti-party activities and I can never be. I will never do that against my beloved PDP as long as I remain a member.
Can you confirm to us when the next Ward and Local government congresses of your party will be taking place? We heard it’s October this year.
That cannot be correct. It is a misinformation. The congresses will come up anytime from March next year according to the term and years of office. If you remember, the resolution reached by the present National Working Committee of our party under Prince Uche Secondus in Abuja sometimes around February 2018 was that we should go and conduct a fresh congress from Ward to State when the attempt to install Dr. Bayo Faforiji by the Omisore group failed. They had complained that the existing Partial Ward congress conducted in October 2017 favoured me and that it was going to be an easy win for me. Despite that, we went to Ejigbo High Court and there was a judgment that was delivered on March 22. We got clearance from Abuja to go ahead with the congress in compliance with the court judgment. The fourth and last congresses that ushered us in took place on March 23, 24 and 25, 2018. Therefore, the four year tenure will lapse on those dates in 2022.
As at today, how many gubernatorial aspirants have declared their intention to contest the gubernatorial ticket of the party?
The fortune of the party depends on the ongoing leadership tussle in the court of law, Osun PDP is blessed with personalities who are well equipped in providing lasting solutions to the plight of the people. We have a few who have expressed their wish to run, but no candidate can emerge without a valid Party leadership and primaries. You can’t build something on nothing. I know immediately the leadership crises is over we will have qualified and competent aspirants from our party that will become our candidate.
On a final note, what are your party’s chances in 2022?
The chances of any political party to win elections depend on its stability, capacity and capability to handle internal criss that are always inevitable. Any political party that cannot handle its own internal crisis as a family affair is heading for destruction.
As it is today, I pray that our leaders at both state and national levels will quickly rise to the occasion to resolve all internal crisis within the party. To be specific, the victory or success of Osun State Chapter of PDP in 2022 is very central to the party winning the national elections in 2023, hence the need to resolve the crises in Osun state chapter as soon as possible, so that we can win 2022 Gubernatorial Election which will definitely have multiplier effects on other national elections that will follow, including the Presidential election.