GOD CHANGED PDP ZONING FORMULA
As governor of Oyo, the 'Pacesetter State,' Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala does not need further introduction. He has carved a niche in not only his politically volatile state but the South West geo-political zone. The flamboyant former police officer understands the dynamics of politics in Nigeria and he was in his elements as he bared his mind on several issues, including the politics of the South West, the controversial issue of zoning in his party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Goodluck Jonathan's ambition to contest the 2011 presidential election. Excerpts…
Is there zoning in PDP or is it a figment of the imagination of the media and Nigerians?
No, it is not the figment of anybody's imagination. In any political setting there must be zoning but there is nothing sacrosanct in it. It is to allow participatory leadership of each zone to reflect the federal character of the country. It is not a written law but for political exigency.
But a lot of people in PDP think its something that needs to be followed but since Obasanjo spoke on it on the VOA it has become an issue and the country wants the best man for the job; what do you think that will do to the PDP?
One thing that should be realised is that at any point in time, there is always a time to determine what should happen to a political set-up. Zoning is good but it is not a law. Man proposes God disposes. If an act of God upsets the plan of man, then there is nothing we can do but to re-zone.
That is what I think will happen now. We didn't envisage what happened but it has happened and that is it. God in his wisdom has upturned the calculation of we humans. All this talk of zoning came about because some people are saying President Jonathan should not contest in 2011…
(Cuts in) Why?
Do you support his contesting in 2011?
He is a Nigerian, he is qualified and he is presently the president. Why can't he contest? If he can't contest where should he go? The permutation initially was not for him to contest but God has made for him an open door if he wishes to contest. I am not saying he should contest but I know that he is a Nigerian and he is eminently qualified to contest and he is already occupying that position. The argument of those that said he should not contest is that they want the North to finish its eight years like the south.
That is the plan of man but God has discarded that. Do we now say because of zoning, he should get out of the place?
Atiku said on a BBC interview there would be political upheaval if Jonathan contests.
What of militant's upheaval if Jonathan is disallowed from contesting?
So PDP in picking a Presidential candidate will throw open the contest?
No we will put the interest of the country upper first. PDP has an in-built mechanism to do that. We have found ourselves where an act of God has upturned things the way we did not expect.
With many dissenting voices, reform agitations an suspension of some members, isn't it a matter of time before PDP implodes?
We are all one and it is a big family. When we have problems we resolve them and PDP is a big family and I can assure you we will resolve everything. Will Jonathan be too old to contest in 2011 or is it that he is not qualified?
Don't you think that President Jonathan will be breaching a gentleman's agreement between the Northern PDP and their southern colleagues if he decides to contest?
God has changed the equation. Nobody would have thought it was possible if our late President had survived his illness.
What if the north decides to bring up a strong candidate to face Jonathan?
The North also has the right to do that.
Do you envisage that perhaps the north might be aggrieved enough to pull out of the PDP en mass?
Anything can happen. When Obasanjo was to contest in 2003, two people from the North contested against him. The late Abubakar Rimi did and Barnabas Gemade also contested against him at the primaries. Let us now assume that Jonathan decides to contest tomorrow any other person from the North can challenge him. That is democracy at work.
I would have expected that because of the gentleman's agreement, nobody should have contested against Obasanjo. In 2007, PDP zoned it to the north but some people from the south challenged late Yar'Adua. Owelle Rochas Okorocha came second at the primaries, why did he challenge Yar'Adua since there is an agreement on ground? If tomorrow Atiku and IBB decide to contest they are free to contest. They will square up in a contest, it is as simple as that.
There seems to be so much trouble inside PDP now, do you fear an implosion?
There is no crisis in PDP. A party as large as the PDP must periodically experience some wrangling. You should expect that once in a while.
Why is the PDP chairman standing trial still holding on to his seat?
The PDP chairman is standing trial and has not been convicted. Anybody can make any allegation against you, but the position of the law is that you are innocent until the accuser is able to prove his case.
I am not talking of legal issues now but is it not honorable for him to step down?
Since he has not been convicted, he is presumed innocent.
Why are we suddenly remembering this crime that was committed in 2002?
It is still part of the beauty of democracy.
Are you surprised that the National chairman of the ruling party is having this problem under the government his party controls?
Anybody can have problem. People can suddenly decide to probe into your past and then use it against you.
Is 'area cool and calm' in Oyo PDP?
There is no problem in Oyo PDP. I swear on oath that nothing is happening in Oyo PDP.
But there are factions.
They are telling lies as usual.That is their stock-in-trade.
There was this talk that a court injunction stopped the congress because the late Pa Adedibu handpicked most of the officers, is that true?
I don't know what they mean by that, honestly. There was no injunction and number two, all the posts are zoned and the people just brought in their men. Everything was done transparently and democratically. The same delegates that emerged are the same people that went to Abuja to nominate Vincent Ogbulafor.
They are saying there were no congresses at ward and local government levels.
It is when they want to hang a dog that they give it a bad name. I thank God that I won my cases at the tribunal and it was after winning the cases at the tribunal that they started all this trouble. Why did they wait for two years and after they realised there is no legal impediment on my way they started this trouble? Why can't they get the courts to charge us for contempt since then? The point should be did we actually flout any court order? Did you see any court slam us for flouting its order? If you go against a court order you have committed contempt of court.
They are telling all these stories because they want to have something to say in Abuja. By the way, who are those people? These are people who could not come into the party though the front door. They came in through the back door.
Nobody said anything was wrong with the EXCO until it dawned on them that there were no legal stumbling blocks on my path. They waited until after the tribunal and the appeal tribunal had confirmed my election.
How come the Ike Nwachukwu in its second report said that there is no EXCO in Oyo?
What of his first report? Do you know what was in his first report? Ike Nwachukwu wrote that I should bring everybody together and I did that. They were not satisfied and they went to him again and asked Ike Nwachukwu to write another report and he did.
I asked him when I saw him later where he left his integrity. It is like a judge giving two judgments. He first said we should all come together and I wrote a letter to everybody asking them to come over into the government and I attached the report of Ike Nwachukwu to the letters. The first report from Nwachukwu was personally delivered to me by the highly revered Chief Ebenezer Babatope. But after two months they did another report, will you take such a thing? I told them I wouldn't accept it because I am not a dummy.
How much of this is about 2011 politics?
If it has to do with 2011, let us all go on the field, why are they trying to go through the backyard?
Is all this trouble coming from the opposition or from factions in the PDP?
They don't belong to any faction because there is none in Oyo PDP. Those people causing this are not members of my party.
We are talking of people like Elder Oyelese, Senators Ladoja and Balogun here. Even Adeojo. They are the one asking that the EXCO be dissolved.
Adeojo is not a member of my party. Lekan Balogun is in my party. Oyelese is in my party but Ladoja is not in Oyo PDP.
It is then a combination of those from inside and outside…
Lekan Balogun and Oyelese had problems with Baba Adedibu before he died and after his death they were not well recognized. As a ploy to come back into the party, they feel they need to destabilize the party. If you look at all the people you listed, they are all in Ibadan, so it is a localized problem and not a problem for the entire membership in Oyo. We have 33 local governments in the state and Ibadan is just one of the cities in the state. Ladoja fielded Lanre Latinwo under the AC against the PDP during the bye-election to fill the vacant seat of Lagelu Federal Constituency.
Latinwo was his CPS, Chief Press Secretary. People are shameless; you contested election as a member of House of Representatives under AC only for you to come and claim you are a member of the PDP. At what point did they become members of the PDP? They need to answer that question. Ladoja went on radio saying Ngige and Tinubu are coming to Ibadan to campaign for Latinwo and that I would soon be disgraced at the tribunal. But we defeated them. We have done nine re-run elections since 2007 and we defeated them in all of them. Who can stand against the PDP in Oyo state?
Are you saying you won't need them?
In politics, when you need somebody you go for that person.I know the people that I need but if you see that someone is proving difficult you withdraw from him so that he does not become an impediment. Those who can betray the party, we will avoid them. Those who are very good and can help the party, we will go after them. We know one another and our political strength. I have answer for every one of them
But some people are saying this man from Ogbomosho has not done anything spectacular to deserve a second-term in office.
I have been in elective position since 1999 till date I have been a local government chairman and I know what others did and what I did. I was a deputy governor in a regime. What I have done since I came in, I don't think anyone has done so since the creation of this state. I opened up several roads and put several infrastructures in place all around the state. I am building a massive structure for Oyo state in Lagos and I have reconstructed the Oyo House in Abuja. Go to Adeoyo General Hospital and you will see wonder. People are just being mischievous because UBEC went round the whole country and rated Oyo as second throughout the federation. We did not know when they were going round the state and taking photographs. It was on the day of the award that they showed the photo of our schools. UBEC then gave us N400 million to spend on education and a vehicle to facilitate the movement of books in the state. Is it not ironic that UBEC in far away Abuja recognized our efforts and people here are pretending as if we are doing nothing?
The CBN also gave us money and award for being the best state government that assists farmers with micro credit facility. This is because we have a scheme and we give facility to farmers to assist them.
This government is embarking on massive road construction all across the state in Ibadan, Ogbomosho, Oke-Ogun, Saki and everywhere. Molete-Oke-Ado-Dugbe is another road dualisation project that would make the late Obafemi Awolowo smile in his grave because the road passed right in front of his house. Your detractors won't ever praise you.
One of your critics said that you have collected over N250billion since you got to office and that he got a little over N40 billion for the four years he was in office
That is his luck. I think God did not give them money because He realised they would not manage it well. Everyone has his own time but I am a better manager of man and resources. When God gives you a job, he gives you the tools to do the job, let them move closer to God for better luck.
What is your problem with Olubadan?
The Olubadan is my father, I can't have any problem with him.
What of the Olubadan-in-council saying they have not endorsed you for second term?
Are they politicians? Why should they endorse me? The Balogun of Ibadan that endorsed me said it is his personal opinion because of my relationship with him. He did not talk as the Balogun of Ibadan but as Omiyale.
Doesn't that say something about the mindset of the palace towards you?
Will the palace mount the rostrum to campaign? It will be interesting to see the Olubadan campaigning for any candidate. It is just speculation. There are three things I learnt as a police officer never to dabble into. One is land matter. I won't try to judge any case on land. What you do is take all of them to court for affray not to judge them. Secondly, don't dabble into chieftaincy matter. It can bring you trouble because there is no way someone will not accuse you of partisanship. The third one is NURTW and RTEAN disputes. I don't go into it at all. As a governor, I know that you can't satisfy the transport people.
As a politician, I don't go into chieftaincy matters; whatever is in the Chiefs' Law is what I will do.
Tokyo, a friend of yours, recently ran into trouble and he said you are behind it, is that so?
Tokyo cannot stop me from doing second term in office. He is not a politician. I just told you I don't dabble into transport union matters. I've known Tokyo for years, since my days as the Area Commander of Iwo road. Tokyo used to visit me in the office. I know Tokyo is not a politician and if it is God's wish that I should do a second term,Tokyo can't stop God.
Are you planning to contest for second term?
When we get to the bridge we will cross it.
Your poster is all over the place saying you want to contest second term…
That is the wish of the people and they will have the final say over this matter. You don't jump the gun. People are saying no second term, no second term. But I think one good term deserves another.
Do you believe there is a second term jinx in Oyo state that makes sitting governors lose re-election bids?
I don't know, but I think it is just a mere myth.
Do you see roadblocks on your path?
In my wildest dreams I have never thought of or seen any obstacles. I have learnt a lot of lessons in the way things have happened in Oyo. Oh yes, I have learnt a lot of lessons.
What advise will you give to a group of political science students on how to avoid booby traps in Oyo state, for instance?
That is trying to turn me into a political consultant. I will be giving away my personal secrets and I won't do that until I retire from politics. If I give that out I will be giving out my power base.
Is it true that you leant a lot from the late Baba Adedibu?
Yes I did. He taught me a lot and those that want to learn will have to come to my school. I learnt a lot from Adedibu and one of that is that if you want to win any election, you go to the people that vote not noisemakers.
The elites for instance don't vote on the day of election. They would be watching TV.
What is your relationship with the supporters of Baba Adedibu?
Those are the people I inherited. They are part of my inheritance. I was once part of them and now that the mantle of leadership has fallen on me, I give them the best of treatment and they are enjoying it.
You seem to understand the thinking and habit of man?
I do. By my training, if I meet you two or three times, I can predict with some accuracy how you would react to certain situations. Let's say I'm a good judge of character. If I study you, I should be able to manage you and give you a job that will fit your person.
Did your training as a policeman assist you in managing Baba Adedibu while he was alive?
Very well. If I have the opportunity of coming to the world again and choosing a career, I will want to be a policeman again. Police study people and study their needs.
The inability to manage Adedibu was pinpointed as one area in which Senator Ladoja's administration failed; you were his number two, were you not advising him?
I was advising him but there were some advisers that he thought were superior to me who he decided to listen to. All the time he thought I was trying to get his position, but God knows I was very loyal and I gave the best advice to him.
You were not part of those that impeached him as it was being alleged?
I was not part of it. With due respect to those who impeached him, if they had had their way, they wouldn't have made me the governor. They just came to terms with a constitutional fact that a deputy succeeds the governor.
You and Ladoja were friends but politics has succeeded in coming between you…
We still remain friends. We are not political associates but we are still friends.
How will you feel sitting at the same table with him today?
We sit together but we don't discuss politics again. I went to his house during 'Ileya' festival and I will still go there again.
Does he come to your house?
He came to my house once.
What is the problem between Osun and Oyo over Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH,and how bad is it?
There is no crisis between us. When there is a husband and wife and they are about to separate there will be talks of 'I love you' and 'I do not love you again'. We've signified our intention to call it quits from joint ownership of LAUTECH simply because Osun has got its own university. What that means is that Osun is having one and a half university while we have just half.
Why not set up your own university so that the partnership can continue?
That will mean us setting up our own university. We don't have the resources and it is not economically viable.
What is wrong with the present arrangement Oyo wants to pull out of?
We do not have a total say on how the University is being run.
Does Osun have a total say?
We share what powers and responsibility. Osun pays salaries for six months and we pay for six months.
Is it true that you promised some towns satellite campuses and that is why you want to pull out?
I just made the promise; it is a second term campaign promise.
What we are planning won't affect the students and the staffs unless if anyone that wants to go. It would be ungodly to do so.
Are you planning to change your cabinet?
Unless any of them wants to contest as a Senator or as a House of Representatives member or even as governor. I don't intend to change my team now.
You are not working together with the Senate Leader?
The senate leader is the leader in the Senate. The senate building is not here in Oyo state and I am not a member of the senate. I am proud that he is from Oyo state.
But you are not working together as best of friends
He is in the senate and I am in Oyo state. He is my brother.
I know there was a time that you lashed out to him.
That was then, things have changed. In politics there are no permanent enemies.
Will you say you are a lucky politician?
Yes, I am a lucky politician.
So we can put Goodluck between your names
Well if you so desire it, why not?
You moved from local government chairman to deputy governor and then governor, what's your winning strategy?
It is God and the consistency with the people you work with. Have the fear of God in what ever you do. Let people have trust in you and allow them to say good things about you when you are not there.
When I won that election I rolled on my church altar in fulfillment of a promise I made to God that if He assisted me in winning in 2007, I will publicly roll on the floor to appreciate him. God has been my staying power.
Have you done a deal with God again ahead of 2011?
I know that God will always back you when you don't worship him along with Mammon. Don't ever think His way is too slow. Maybe the jinx would be broken.
How will you describe your life in one sentence?
I am a child of destiny. When I lost my father in 1952, two years after I was born, the future looked bleak and I thought that would be the end but see the way things have turned out.
Who are those that really helped you in life?
My grandmother. When I lost my father, my mother was still less than 30 years old. I think she was 28 when my father died. So she had to re-marry and so left me with her old mother. We called her 'Iya Alaro'. It was her mother that brought me up and I learnt a lot of things from her. She taught me perseverance, hard-work and diligence. 'Iya Alaro' did tie-and-dye and a lot of times I had to deliver the cloths before I went to school in the morning.
It must be very tough
It was very tough to the extent that I was left behind by my colleagues. I did not go to secondary school when I was supposed to go. God had been very faithful to me and I know it is good to serve God.
Between 1999 and now when will you say was your most challenging point?
The 2007 election was it. I don't think life could be so hellish. I was humiliated, blackmailed, backbitten and betrayed by people close to me. I saw the hands of God on my life. After the impeachment, my boss came back and relocated my office well away from the traditional office of the deputy governor, to about two kilometers from the secretariat and journalists asked me if I would use the office and I told them that if they put it under the bridge I would go. I promised God that if he allowed me to sing a victory song and I will serve him.
During those trying days in 2007, did you actually feel you might not become governor?
Yes, at a point I said God if you think I am going to be disgraced, show me something that will prove to me, and he did not show anything until two days to the election and God told me that I was going to win the election and I told everyone that was near me I was going to win. When they were making noise in Ibadan, I told them just wait, and we brought the votes that countered them.
The government of Ladoja really dealt with me; he came up with a report and tried to stop me. He said I was dismissed from the police. He did not know he was part of the problem that led to my leaving the police force.
How did he contribute to your leaving the police?
I told you Ladoja has been my friend. He wanted to be a member of the Constituent Assembly and my boss then knew that he was my friend. He won the election. Before then, Abiola's election was annulled and the Agodi prison was broken into by some June 12 people and prisoners escaped.
Look at me after June 12 supporting Ladoja and then decide to leave the Constituent Assembly. See my predicament, immediately they tagged me a NADECO officer and you know that time anyone tagged NADECO is a goner. That was how I was retired as a NADECO officer. I don't want people to pity me but look at what God has done for me. I am by the grace of God a governor of Oyo state today. The best that could have happened is that I could have become in the a commissioner of police or highest an AIG. I would have retired as a commissioner of police but God used it to get me out of the police. I won't want people to sympathize with me.
So it was not that you were dismissed from the police?
I was not dismissed. I still earn my pension every month. I went to Ikeja in February to collect my pension. I went there and I wanted to line up because it is show your face but the police people there did not allow me. I take less than N40,000 every month as pension. I collect it with pride because it is my sweat. I go there to change my photographs every year to say I am still alive.
People who do not understand where I am coming from say all manner of things and I look at them and laugh but it is good for people to underestimate you. It is not good for your opponent to know your strength.
Do you know the strength of the opposition here?
Yes I do. They don't have the type of training had and everybody has his own limits and strength. I know their strength and limit.
Does that include breaking their ranks?
It is part of the game.
What if they decide to come together?
They will come together in body not in soul.
Are you going to stop them?
They will come together in body but their soul won't be together because their agenda won't be the same. Their aim is to face Akala but in the process of facing Akala they will fight.
Are you scared that Tinubu might wade into Oyo politics in 2011?
Tinubu will not because he won't want to waste his money. He knows me very well. He won't want to waste it on a cause that is doomed. He knows that I am a grassroots politician. I do my planning myself. In police we have what we call operation order and I have drawn up the operations order for 2011 and I will soon start dishing them out. I have my objectives and the men to carry them out.
The AC is planning too.
Who is AC? There is no AC in Oyo, what you people call AC are the splinter groups from ANPP,LP,PPA and so on. They don't have any objectives; they are the people I call failed politicians. They can't get anywhere. How many people do you know who wants to contest in PDP?
I know Oyelese and Ladoja.
Oyelese is in PDP but Ladoja is not in PDP.
Why is Ladoja not in PDP?
He sponsored Latinwo, his boy, to contest House of Representatives election on the platform of the AC, is that person a member of PDP?
Has he not re-registered?
When and where did he re-register in PDP? If someone like Ladoja wants to register, it will be news. Did you read that anywhere? There was a day they all came to the government house here and they were registering. I was just laughing, is the government house the place to register? Is that their ward meeting place? I looked at them and concluded that these are jokers. The people they brought from Abuja gave them party cards and I laughed at them.
Oyelese is a member of the party. He can contest because he did not go anywhere but he was passive and did not work for the party.
In AC go and check the number of people interested in the ticket. Very soon there will be trouble because of ambition. The AC leader knows me and the stuff I'm made off. I have never lost any election.