WHAT I FORGOT IN AGODI- RASHEED LADOJA
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Senator Rasheed Ladoja, erstwhile senator and Governor of Oyo State has shown interest to contest for the office of governor of Oyo State. His aspiration remarkably is against that of his one time deputy and present governor of Oyo State and promises to be an epic encounter.
Ladoja who is aspiring on the platform of Accord in a session with newsmen last week explained why he is came out and what he expects to do to turn the fortunes of the State. Excerpts.
Sir, what is it that you forgot at the government house that you want to go back and pick now?
That is a very good question. I have taken the backstage since 2007. When you see what is happening and you see people saying 'if it were the time of Ladoja, oh God, if it was Ladoja.' If the people are still remembering the times of Ladoja; Ladoja is still alive! During my time, the workers get their salaries latest by the 28th of every month. And whenever there is a festival, they get it one week before the festival. Most of the things we built that time are being allowed to crumble by this administration.
When you look at it you will be wondering what is going on and the people are still asking for Ladoja, if you don't give them Ladoja, then you are frustrating them. Life belongs to God and he has still given Ladoja his life. I tell people that I have concentrated my life in service. So if I am available and they still want me, why should I not make myself available for service?
That is what brought me back to politics and I thought that we could achieve it in the PDP. I joined forces with other people who wanted a change in the PDP. We thought we could get the PDP to realize what is happening. You see we started with the Ekwueme committee because first of all, I had written off PDP. So when that came, I felt relieved. And when they brought someone in the caliber of Ekwueme, I felt that God had granted our prayer.
I appeared before him to tell him what I felt about the PDP. After the report came out, the major problem I had with them was that they did selective registration in 2005; they deregistered so many members. Many founding members were deregistered; even Atiku was deregistered. Ekwueme said they should go and re_admit everybody.
Even those that have gone to other parties, they should invite them back. They were forced to leave the party; they did not go out of their own volition. After that, they said all the abnormalities in the party should be addressed. The party accepted the recommendations and set up another team and in our case. The team sought to set up another committee; five from Ladoja group and five from Akala group.
The subcommittee did their best again to the extent of coming to Ibadan to meet all the stakeholders. Ike Nwachukwu came to Ibadan on the 5th of November, 2009 to say now, 'we are ready for implementation. I am only here to set up the implementation committee.' That recommendation up till today, they have not allowed it to work. So it is not a question of jumping the gun, it is a question of service. We are ready to keep serving because that is the only thing I can give at my age.
You did complain recently that the state media was refusing commercials from you what do you intend to do about it?
Well, that is not the first time that is happening. I remember that in 2003, the same thing happened. It is an attitude of a government that is afraid. I don't know why they should shut us out. They first of all said that we should go and change what we wrote and it is baffling because if other media are using the same thing, theirs cannot be different. If you see this documentary which normally you will pay not more than N25, 000 for; they are asking us to pay N500, 000.
I just told them that the people know what they want. If they decide to shut us out, 1001 media stations will carry it. It is not like before when the mass media was monopolized. Those days it used to be only Daily Times, but today, we have so much to choose from. They thought that that would derail us, it did not; rather it made us stronger.
That is the pity of government media. When government got involved in the Daily Times business, that was when it started failing. And I thought they would have drawn lesson from that one. All the performing media stations today are not government_owned; both in electronic and the print.
So I don't want to waste my time lamenting that the state TV station refused to carry my jingles. If they don't carry it, others will carry it. NTA and a lot of other radio and television stations carried it. So why should I bother myself about a press that is no more responsible. When you look at responsible and responsive journalism, then you will count BBS out.
Are you relieved that such political characters in Oyo such as Late Adedibu are no longer alive?
Baba! May God grants him mercy. May God forgive any misdeed he must have done, knowingly or unknowingly. I used to tell you journalists at that time that we make the myth out of Baba Adedibu. May be because it helps you to sell your papers. If not, I don't see anything spectacular about the performance of Chief Adedibu. You make the myth out of him.
I have worked with him; he was instrumental in my joining politics, anyway. But we disagreed and I used to tell him that I won the senatorial election in 1992 without his assistance. During the confab of 1994, I won the election that time. For those of us who are mathematicians, when you say A + B = 5 and A _ B =5, then you see that B is equal to 0.
When we were doing politics of Abacha, I was in UNCP, Baba Adedibu was in DPN. I wanted to contest the senate. Few days to the election, they said I should not contest because they felt that Ladoja has not purged himself of NADECO blood. So I fielded one of my colleagues, Salafa Ali, and he won. He contested against Adedibu and he did not even allow him to win even in his own local government. So you make a myth out of Adedibu.
And remember in 2007, I told the people of Oyo State to go and vote for Ajimobi 48 hours to the election, and he won. And may God grant his soul peace, Adedibu is someone that I really respect.
Why are most of your associates in PDP not with you in Accord?
We just started our registration about two weeks ago. I joined the party on December 31, last year. People have been asking me since the beginning of the year 'where are we going? Where are we going?' And I promised to tell them before the year ended.
So when I saw that the year was fast_going and the year will end on the 31st and I decided I must talk to the people on that day. So I told them that I have joined Accord; that I have picked their registration form. Part of the problem that we are having is that those that have never participated in government before are now so much interested in politics.
They will call you asking where they can get your card and then I will ask them what the name of their ward is. Then they will say that they do not know. You see, if you are not a politician, you may not know your ward. So that is the problem that we are having now.
You have been there before and you know what it is to beat an incumbent at election, do you think you have enough arsenal to beat Akala?
As far as I am concerned, I think that I have already played my part up to 2007. But when I look at it, I said 'look, we cannot beat Akala with money. He's got tons and tons of it. The only thing with which to beat him is through good will. The goodwill that you have created. That is the only thing that you can use to beat him.' That is why I came back.
What would you say the current government in Oyo State is not doing correctly and how would you correct such?
Those that go into government usually have a clear picture of what they want to do there and they do them one after the other. In education, the person will have good knowledge of what he wants to do there. By 2005, 2006, LAUTECH was already the number one state university in Nigeria and number five out of all the universities in the country. That is the one they are now destroying.
Go to those schools now, you will find some of them caging 100 pupils in a class. And the teachers are not even paid. So how can you expect such teachers to be happy while doing their jobs when they are not getting their salaries?
Have you considered how such teachers will be feeling? You are a worker and you have expenses to run; you are expecting your salary to come on the 31st of the month and it doesn't come. Your landlord comes to ask for his rent; the first week he comes, the second week, he comes again. By the third week when he comes, you will tell your son to go and tell him that you are not around.
And your son will be surprised that daddy is also telling lies. That way, you are ruining the values of your family and you will lose the respect of your family. And that is not to mention the fact that when it is time to go home from work, you will be worried as to what you are going to tell your wife when you get home.
May be, you have borrowed money and borrowed so much so that you are now tired of borrowing. In fact you may not even see where to borrow again. So if the government cannot respect agreement with their workers, what is it? So you are asking me what the checks are. I went to Ogbomoso and I tell them that I came to apologize. When they were trying to make it look like it is a battle between Ibadan and Ogbomoso. And I said no, it has nothing to do with that.
In your opinion, would you say that Akala is a failure and have you ever advised him?
That is where you make the mistake. The truth is that I don't like interfering in what he does. You can see that I have not been making comments about him. I have always been refraining myself from it. I think it will be unfair, it will look as if I want to compare myself with him.
I told him exactly how I feel about him when he came to me in London. That was in 2008 or thereabout. I said 'look, I have nothing against you. Just try and do what the people of Oyo State want. Or let me tell you the complaints they are making against you. One, I am one of the few people that can tell you the truth because forever and ever, you are my subordinate. When they write the history of Oyo State, they will say that there was a time Ladoja became the governor of Oyo State and Akala was his deputy. Then, the history may go on to say that Akala later became governor or even president.'
That has gone down in history. So I have nothing to envy in you. I have nothing to gain from you. Nothing. I will not ask you for what is not my right, but I will also demand for my right.
I will tell him what the people are saying about him. I will advise him to look for ways to better the lot of your workers. We know what we did to be able to pay salaries on the 28th of every month. Go and do the same thing. Adopt a date to pay salaries and let it be regular.
I told him that I read in the papers that he went to England to celebrate his daughter's master degree and took along with him a musician from Nigeria. He denied it saying that it was a bank in Nigeria that brought the musician. Then I said, 'if you are not governor, would you have done it?'
And I said 'I am sure that all your executive council is here' and he said that even if you don't call them, they will come. Then I said 'if you don't tell them, they won't come.