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Chief Dejo Raimi is a chieftain and elder of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State. He is also one of the founding members of the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE). In this interview with GBENGA ADESUYI, he spoke about the return of former governor Rashidi Ladoja to the party, his nomination for the position of national secretary of the party and other issues. Excerpts:

Ladoja's return to PDP
Ladoja told me in confidence that he is coming back to the PDP and he does not break his words with me. Not only that, many of his followers are coming back with him, they are not even allowing him to have peace they want to go back to their old family and everybody is anxiously waiting for his return. He has visited Mr President and the chairman of BoT, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Everybody is waiting for him, once he joins, I can assure you, an hour later, he will join the race. We only need to work hard.

You nominated Dr Saka Balogun, why the choice of Ladoja again?

Nobody has been duly nominated for the position but there are suggestions. The man from Oke-Ogun, Faniran, is interested. Professor Taoheed Adedoja also wants to be secretary as well as Professor Tunde Adeniran. I have nominated Saka Balogun to contest for the position from the elders' caucus.

And you still went ahead to nominate Ladoja?
Ladoja will be duly nominated after he re-joins the party to contest primary with others. As at today he is still in Accord and we have no business nominating somebody from another party. But after he might have concluded his return to the PDP, he is at liberty to join the race.

Once he joins the party, you will nominate him?
He has enough followers to nominate him, so that he can join the race

Among the elders' caucus
Saka Balogun is a member of the elders' caucus and he is already in the race

Is it not possible for another member of the caucus to nominate Ladoja?

Why not? It is very possible, once he joins the PDP. The condition of having to spend two and a half years is out because, he was already a member of the party but was frustrated out. He was a foundation member.

Your assessment of all the candidates
Adedoja has vast experience and he is professor, you just cannot be a professor for nothing, you have something up stair. He was also a former minister, so those factors gave him maturity. Adeniran is also qualified. But the most important is somebody who will be able to match Alhaji Bamanga Tukur whom the North is presenting as the chairman. There comes in the choice of Ladoja who can also match Bamanga Tukur political experience for political experience, politics for politics, popularity for popularity and so on. Saka Balogun has all those too and even Adedoja. But the landscape is becoming wider and very interesting. We hope the best candidate wins.

Who do you think will win the election among the candidates?

You must be sure of something before declaring your ambition. As an elder, you do not expect me to say one person will win the election. I will not mention any candidate, they are all my candidates but one of them will emerge and whoever emerges, let the other cooperate with him.

Implications of Ladoja's return
What do you mean by implication? On the platform of which party did he win as governor? Did he rule the state as a member of the Accord Party? He ruled the state with the same set of people and those are the people in his camp. I do not see anything stopping him, instead we should praise him. He is my younger one but I salute his courage. He saw something wrong and wanted to reject it. He hates the guts and dictatorship coming from Ota. That was why he left the party and formed a party of his own and he has proved himself.

And you think the 'dictatorship' from Ota will not stop him?

He does not have any problem with Obasanjo again. Can Ladoja be the chairman of the BoT? Will Obasanjo become the secretary of the party? They are now very friendly and if he could resolve his differences with Obasanjo what stops him from becoming the secretary of the party? They have held some meetings together both in Ota and Abuja and there was no problem again between them.

Ladoja/ Akala
During the meeting of the elders' caucus, I told members that God should give me the wisdom to resolve the problem between the two. He should lead me on how to resolve the problem. We are all human beings. That kind of problem, many people do not understand what it means to be impeached, especially when it is your deputy that was used to get rid of you. Ladoja went through hell during that time.

Believe me, myself and Soun of Ogbomoso were looking for Akala to precipitate constitutional crisis before Ladoja was eventually impeached. We wanted Akala to resign. As at that time, there were two speakers; Group 19 speaker and Group 11 speaker. We believed if the deputy were not available, there would be crisis. Because of that we were looking for Akala.

We later learnt he was hiding in Abuja with General Abdullahi Mohammed, his in-law in the Villa. He went to hide there. Those fighting with Ladoja here knew we must be looking him and they went to hide him there. When Ladoja was impeached Akala came out from where he was hiding and took over.

The truth is that Ladoja was the cause of the problem. When we wanted to nominate a running mate for Ladoja, Ayandele Ayantayo from Ogbomoso was nominated. He said Ayantayo was older than him and that he wanted somebody who is younger. Unfortunately for him, he went to pick Akala who later became the person that sent him packing. With that kind of situation to work together again in life, will be very difficult. But the two of them must develop very big heart, otherwise the situation will be too hard. Do unto others as you want others to do unto you. If I were in Ladoja's shoes, I will do the same thing, I will retaliate. But remember they were best of friends and not best of enemies; it was ambition that separated them.

Aside Akala, some members of the party will not be happy over his return

This is democracy, if you do not like something you can express your opinion but majority will have their way. You can only have your say and if unfortunately those who do not like his return are in the minority then the majority will have their way. Many of us want Ladoja back and he is surely coming back to where he truly belongs. We work together for the PDP to get into power in this country.

Did you nominate him for the post of secretary?
The man has a lot of followers and the moment he joins the PDP, you will see many of his followers supporting him. As a member of the party, he can then contest for any position, he has enough followership to beat any opponent. It would have been easier if all the other candidates can come together and pick a candidate to face Ladoja. Unfortunately, none of them will be ready to kill his ambition. Is it Balogun that will step down or Adeniran or Adedoja, or Faniran?