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PDP HAS REALISED ITS MISTAKES IN S'WEST -ADEDOJA, EX-MINISTER

By NBF News
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Prof. Taoheed Adedoja served as Minister of Sports for seven months. In this interview with AKEEB ALARAPE, he disclosed that the crisis-ridden South West chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has realized its mistakes and ready to address them. He also spoke on why he did not make the new cabinet of President Goodluck Jonathan.

Many believed you lost a place in the Jonathan administration to the crisis in Oyo State PDP.

Internal crisis in Oyo State PDP has nothing to do with appointment or re-appointment of anybody. It is strictly the priority of Mr. President. No, It is not that. It is not just that. Even though I performed excellently as I was rated by many Nigerians, if God says no way, nothing can be done. I served at a time God wanted me to serve and I am happy with what I did.

So, why were you not re-appointed?
God does not appoint people by their credentials. God appoints people that He wants to appoint for reason that He wants them to be at a time. God wanted me to be a minister for seven months in this country and I served as minister for seven months. Where I am going to be next is entirely by God's design. So, it has nothing to do with it. I served at a time I should serve and I am happy I served well and this was commended by many Nigerians, including Mr. President.

Crisis in Oyo State PDP
We should not look at PDP just in Oyo State; we should look at PDP in the entire South West. We have recognized now that there are challenges, there are problems and that was why we had a meeting of top leaders of PDP in South West recently in Abeokuta, Ogun State. We have to recognize the fact that there are challenges, there are problems and the meeting resolved that every state should go back to mend its fences.

I am happy that we have started to see development in PDP so much so that a lot of people that left PDP or that are in PDP half way in and half way out are coming to PDP fully. I have a strong conviction that PDP will bounce back, particularly in Oyo State because Oyo State, I must say, is the strongest PDP hold in the whole of South West. And because of the vision of repositioning PDP in the South West and Nigeria as a whole, we are very happy that the secretaryship of the party at the national level has been zoned to the South West. That is one of the reasons why I am one of the contestants.

What have you observed made the party missed its way and what has it cost the state?

We did not realize that for the party to be in government far out-weighs any individual ambition. The major challenge that we had in Oyo State, which I am sure it is being solved is that we allowed individual interest to override the interest of the party, as a party in the state and as a party in the nation. But now that we have started to realize that, everybody is coming back to realize his mistake and I want to assure you that within a few months time, PDP will bounce back.

PDP is a major party in the state. PDP is a party that people want to belong but because something went wrong and people have started to realize it and once you start to realize your mistake, naturally that will be the beginning of peace and tranquility and progress for such organization, especially PDP that is the strongest party in Nigeria and in the whole of Africa.

It has cost the party the governance of the state and it has also cost the people because PDP is the party that can bring about the required transformation that is needed in Oyo State. It is the PDP that will give the people of Oyo State the right kind of education; the good healthcare that is required. But they have been robbed of that opportunity and people have started realizing that in the last few months that a mistake had been done and that PDP is the right party. But PDP will bounce back in Oyo State. It is a matter of time and it is going to be soon and very soon.

Politics as an investment
If politicians believe that politics is about self, I don't believe that. To me, politics is about service. But if we made a mistake and we thought it was that and we now realize it and come back to the drawing board, I think that is the beginning of wisdom; that we realized that it was not supposed to be so.

Almost a dozen want to be secretary, won't this worsen the fragile peace in the party?

No, it will not because the secretaryship of the PDP is the highest administrative office of the biggest political party in Africa. Therefore, it must parade highly-tested and qualified persons. I am extremely happy with the quality of the contestants for that position. It shows the importance of that position. Due to the importance of that position, people in the whole of southwest are coming up. At the end of the day, the best will emerge. We cannot afford the best not to be representative of South West because of our level of politics and history of politics in the southwest. If the secretaryship is zoned to the South West, it must produce its best.

Its best in terms of understanding what management is; the best in southwest in terms of relating to other people in different parts of the country; the best in terms of acceptability and of course, the best in terms of knowing in and out of Nigeria; and also the best in terms of somebody that had served; somebody that is well-known all over the country and somebody that has the integrity. And I believe that it is because I have those things that I am offering myself; because it is service.

How was your experience as Sports Minister
At any time one is called upon to serve, it is that time that God has destined. God wanted me to be part of the success story of Jonathan Goodluck. I came on board at the tail end of the administration first as a Minister of Special Duties in October 2010 and later I combined the portfolio of the Minister of Sports. I saw it as a rare opportunity for me to be given dual portfolios. I came in at a crucial time for sports development in this country, particularly so that since the appointment of Ministers of Sports in Nigeria, I happened to be the first professional in sports administration to be appointed Minister of Sports.

I set six major agenda for myself and I was extremely happy that I fulfilled these agenda to the letters. On top of the six agenda was the issue of grassroots sports development. I remember very well that the key issue of high level performance should start from the grassroots, particularly the secondary schools and that was why I revived the old academicals and I put a well-known sport personality in charge, that is, Segun Odegbami.

The sport academicals at that time was to produce talented soccer champions for Nigeria, where people like Odegbami, Patrick Ekeji and many other names emerged. I felt that was the answer to bringing back the future of sports in the country. I put up a committee to revive academicals in secondary schools that will not just be limited to soccer but 10 major sports, which included football, basketball, volleyball, swimming, track and field and so on. I am very happy that I left that legacy behind.

I met on ground, as a Minister of Sport over 20 cases relating to sports but particularly in soccer. I believe that Nigeria cannot achieve anything unless in an atmosphere of peace in anything we do; sport needs an atmosphere of peace for us to be able to have full participation. I, therefore, set up a sport arbitration panel, comprising of highly distinguished sport administrators and people in the legal profession. They looked at the cases and I am very happy that I left behind a peaceful atmosphere in sports that many of the court cases had peaceful resolutions, although some are still pending in courts..We have had public/private partnership in sports only relating to sponsorship of competitions and I want to commend the private sectors in the area of sports development.

I left behind a visionary policy implementation for bringing about management of our sporting facilities all over the country in partnership with the private sector. I initiated the idea because it is not possible and government does not have the capacities and the resources to manage the sporting facilities that we have in this country.

The last time the national stadium in Surulere, Lagos was used was nine years ago. The Olympic-size swimming pool in Lagos was used 13 years ago. The Liberty Stadium, Ibadan was used nine years ago. This became my major concerns, so, I initiated the public/private partnership. The same thing with our hostels and I am very happy that the new Minister of Sports has realized the need to do this and I am very sure he will continue with this initiative.