CPC DOES NOT BELIEVE IN MONEY POLITICS - OLADIMEJI
Alhaji Abideen Oladimeji is the Chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in Oyo state. In this interview with Sakin Babalola in Ibadan, he reveals his optimism about the ongoing merger talks between his party, ACN and others of like minds and the reasons why the CPC abhors money politics.
Congratulations on the wedding ceremony of the daughter of your governorship candidate during the 2011 election, Barrister Adebayo Shittu and the subsequent commissioning of your party secretariat at Lakanmi, Yemetu, Ibadan. Your boss, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) was absent.
Yes, his absence was due to other pressing national issues that called for his urgent attention. He sent an apology to us. Some friends who are committed CPC members from the North came to felicitate with us for the two occasions.
You appear relatively new in partisan politics. Would you mind leading us into your antecedents in politics?
I have been in active politics since 1979 when I joined the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). I later dumped UPN for the National party of Nigeria (NPN) and when the military came into power, I went on sabbatical. Though I am a native of Ibadan and married with children, I have worked in several parts of the country and my exposure has taught me a lot about Nigerians and our politics and religion.
Why did you opt for CPC instead of bigger parties in the state like ACN, PDP and Accord Party?
I opted for CPC on principle. Since 1983, when Buhari and Idiagbon came to power as military leaders, I picked special interest in the General Buhari's lifestyle. He instilled discipline in the country and sustained it. If you could remember, prices of commodities which were hiked by shylock traders were brought down. This means he rescued the masses from wicked traders. He tackled corruption head long. General Buhari was then an apostle of discipline. He dealt with drug barons and so on. His tenure as the chairman of Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) was memorable. You too remember the impact of the PTF in many Schools. The Chairman used oil money for the benefit of the masses. So, when political parties were floated, I resolved to join his party.
Can you remember that some of his measures were draconian? The killings of youths for drug offences, the Decree 4, which sent journalists Messrs Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor to jail despite pleadings and so on. What do you say to that?
When laws are made, they must be obeyed. Remember? That was the military government. It consists of Armed Forces Ruling council which is an equivalent of National Assembly today. The implementation of any decision was the joint responsibility of all the members and not a personal decision. He was a focused leader and you would remember that everybody sat up by then. There was discipline, sanity and there was no corruption as we have now.
Still on your leader: the retired General has for sometime been criticized for a statement credited to him which some people insinuated that it was a call for violence in 2015. Are you, his followers, ready for violence if CPC loses the next election?
General Buhari was totally misunderstood. This has been an over flogged issue. He did not call for violence at all. Only those who wanted to commit illegality should be afraid. Would you be happy with a group that rigged you out of power? If you don't want to rig, don't be afraid. Can't you remember what happened in the old Ondo state in 1983 when NPN rigged election, the spontaneous reactions from the masses? We hope nobody would rig or attempt to rig election in 2015.
Money, you would agree with me, plays a significant role in winning elections in the country. And your party insisted on effecting a change in the nation's polity by de-emphasizing money factor. Do you think you can win a single seat in Oyo State without the effective mobilization of voters?
The CPC does not believe in money politics. It is against our policy to use money to corrupt voters. Our leader, General Buhari has warned us to keep away from corrupt tendencies. We fund our zonal meetings with our personal money. Our monthly zonal meeting was held successfully with each individual funding himself. During our activities, we encourage our members to sponsor themselves. Except we stop using money to influence election, our crusade against corruption would be an illusion. Look at the marriage ceremony we held in Ibadan recently and the massive turn out by our admirers, this was an encouragement that money does not bring everything desired.
The CPC seem to be very optimistic on the proposed merger or talking agreements to flush out PDP from power. Don't you think CPC would be swallowed in Oyo State?
That is absolutely impossible. Remember I said that I do not want to talk much on this issue. It is being handled by our leaders at the national level. It is not solely ACN and CPC but parties of like minds with the same passion for the growth and development of the country.
What is your assessment of PDP at the national level?
You can as well answer that. The dividends of democracy given to the masses by the PDP include insecurity, unemployment, hike in fuel prices and above all corruption here and there. Unless the masses vote the right candidate as President in 2015, Nigeria would not come out of her problems. Our problem is bad leadership. We should forget where the candidate comes from and deemphasize the issue of religion. Despite the fact that late Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar'adua came from the North, he solved the problem in Niger Delta and he was not from there.
It was tough before you emerged as the state chairman of CPC in view of the sectional nature of politics in Oyo state. Is that sectional politics over or how are you coping with it?
In Oyo state, some people were deceived to feel that the Governor or Chairman must come from Ibadan because of the problem they experienced from an Ogbomoso man. This is wrong. These were the people sponsored to cause crisis in CPC and they left when they could not achieve their aim. Their intention was to sell the governorship candidate to an area. The crisis is over.
Why did CPC lose abysmally during the last elections?
We did not lose completely. We performed well. CPC was less than one year. There was almost nothing on the ground by then. In Oyo state, some people were told that the Governor must come from Ibadan. Was Major General David Jemibewon (Rtd) from Oyo state? This military governor left a good mark.
Are you comfortable with the number of states and local government councils in the country?
Requests for the creation of more states and local government councils have been sent to the National Assembly for consideration. Suffice to say, a state like Oyo should be broken into additional two states. If you have been to Oke-Ogun area and Ibarapa and compare with Ibadan town alone, you will be convinced that more states should be carved from Oyo state. I have been to almost all the states in the old Eastern state. I know how Asaba, Awka and Enugu are to one another in terms of distance and yet they are state capitals. So, Oyo state should be divided into at least two additional states. The resources are there to meet the needs of the new states.