Dr. Kunle Akindele is the Chairman, Osun State Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which powered the party to victory in the justconcluded governorship election. In this interview with BIYI ADEGOROYE he relives what went down and the prospects for the party in the South-West and the 2023 general elections
How do you view the victory of the PDP in the just-concluded governorship election?
It is splendid, and we are elated and very happy about the outcome of the election. We thank God for the success at the just-concluded poll in Osun State. It was a keenly contested election and the party was actually well- prepared for it and we thank God we came out successfully.
What do you mean that you were wellprepared for it giving the fact that you were there less than four months before the election?
Yes, I actually came in at the right time, just about when the campaign got started and we did a well-coordinated campaign. We traversed the left and breadth of the state, we were able to sell our candidate, and above all we were able to connect with the electorate and hear from them their pains and worries over time, and it really helped us to prepare for the election.
What were their worries you discovered perhaps as deficiencies of the government during the period?
There is a disconnect between the outgoing government and the people of the state. You could see that there was a high level of decadence regarding provision of basic necessities. For instance, the primary healthcare that is the closest to the grassroots was neglected, despite the humongous amount of money that was released to them- about $20million when Professor Isaac Adewole, the former Minister of Health was in government.
They were not functioning, no personnel and equipment. Then pensioners were not paid and most of the schools built during Olagunsoye Oyinlola’s government were in a very terrible state. Most of the pupils in the hinterland have their classes under the tree, (we have the pictures), and other documentation in this regard.
The comment of the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu that some of the electorate and party leaders will labor to death sparked some reaction. How do you see this?
The statement is laughable to me because Asiwaju is more like a visitor to the state, and he shouldn’t have underrated the electorate, because they are the people that have been feeling the direct impact of rudderless APC government and I expected him as a statesman to have come to terms with the suffering of the people of Osun State,.
It was a careless talk on the part of Asiwaju and the party has paid dearly for that. There were internal crises in the PDP prior to the election. How were you able to overcome these?
To an extent, when we came on board, those interests and contending factors were there, but it was a case of continuous engagement of the interest groups and we were able to handle some of them. And to a reasonable extent, we were able to bring them on board such that we were able to confront the election as a united group.
You know, you can’t go to an election or war with a divided house. But it is very unfortunate that despite all the efforts made by the party and other stakeholders, Prince Dotun Babayemi still insisted on going ahead with his case at the court, but thank God the Court of Appeal sitting in Akure, struck out this case a couple of days ago.
But we will still continue to engage him and others, and talk to them on the need to put those things behind us and move on, and think about the electorate who have gone through a lot in the last 12 years. We have to do so much to alleviate their sufferings
It has been alleged that some leaders within your party actually sponsored Prince Dotun Babayemi. How do you see that?
It is not far-fetched, because there was a communiqué that was released a few days ago by some leaders that are sympathetic to his cause. It is all over the media space but they have told him to withdraw the case from the court.
If he did not do it until Wednesday when the country gave its judgment, that means there were some extraneous forces urging him to go ahead. That will not really augur well for him at the end of the day.
The PDP must be excited that it has gained an additional state in the South-West…
Yes, it is actually exciting and we are happy. It is indeed a pointer to the fact that the people are tired of the APC at all levels, including the federal level. It is a very strong signal that people are anxiously waiting for the PDP to take the reins of power even at the national level.
How did you handle the denial to use the Freedom Park and stadium for your mega rally?
In my entire life as a politician, I have never seen a government as intolerant as Governor Oyetola’s government. Since the creation of the state in 1991, this is the first time that a party is denied the opportunity to use a viable venue for its mega rally.
I want to let you know that we actually applied for three venues- the Freedom Park, the Stadium and Government College, and we were denied the right to use the locations. It is baffling that we were denied the use of infrastructures put in place with taxpayers’ money.
What are the programmes of your Governor- Elect, Senator Adeleke, for the development of the state?
Essentially, it is a compact manifesto that bothers on welfarism, but of course, he will respond to health care issues, agriculture, infrastructure, security and employment of the people of the state.
We campaigned around the 30 local governments and we have lis tened to the people and we are aware of their needs and as soon as we are sworn in by November 27, by the grace of God, we will attend to them.
What level of collaboration did you enjoy from your presidential candidate and PDP governors before the election?
It was very tremendous. Despite the fact that we were denied the use of a respectable venue for our mega rally, you can imagine that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar came to Osogbo and it took him about three hours to get to the stadium! He stood by us and you have seen the result.
All the governors were there. Governors Duoye Diri, Godwin Obaseki, Aminu Tambuwal were on ground and the former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki too. They were all there in solidarity and they gave us their full support and backing and that added to our victory in the election.
There is this feeling that the Governor-elect is on the groovy side, dancing and all, do you think that will affect his approach to governance?
You see, everyone has his style and attributes and vocations, so to say. You are a journalist, but you might as well be a footballer or singer, but that would not necessarily affect the discharge of your duties. For me, I am a medical doctor, but I play football and tennis and they do not distract from my commitment to my core profession as a medical doctor for the past 20 or 25 years.
I don’t think such things will affect the discharge of his duties. Remember that he was a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and while there he fulfilled all his campaign promises. He provided scholarships worth N450 million to indigent students and provided transformers to many communities.
At the international level, Arnold Schwarzenegger was an actor of no mean repute, but he rose to become the governor of California, so is the current president of Ukraine, Volodymr Zelenzkyy who was a comedian, yet there is no record of failure on their part when they assumed office. So dancing will not pose any inhibition to the fulfillment of his promises to the electorate.
The Adelekes seem to enjoy a high level of goodwill in the state. How do you see this?
Yes, it is more or less, what I will call genetic factors that came into play. Their patriarch, Senator Raji Adeleke was a federal lawmaker in the Second Republic, while his eldest son, Chief Isiaka Adeleke became the first civilian governor of Osun State in 1991 under President Ibrahim Babangida.
He later became Senator and when he died, our governor-elect was elected as Senator in his place in a bye-election, having won 10 local governments, and today he is the governor elect. So it is a twig, and something we savour. If we look at the antecedents when his brother was in office, that was what we actually used to campaign, you could see what he did when we went to the various localities.
All those things were still there for him and it was easy for us to leverage on that. It will not be different from what his brother did when he was alive.
Despite all uproar, the Muslim-Muslim ticket thing was unveiled on Wednesday ahead of the 2023 elections. How do you see it?
I think it’s quite insensitive on the part of the APC. You know the composition of the Nigerian polity. To me it is as if the APC is taking Nigeria for a ride. There should have been a balance between the Muslims and Christians. Anyway, I don’t want to comment further on that. That is their albatross and they have to deal with it.