Reverend Adelowo Adebiyi, the immediate past chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Osun and current chairman, The Osun Progressives (TOP) sheds light on the agitation of his caucus. OLUWOLE IGE brings the excerpts of the interview.
What gave birth to the Osun State All Progressives Congress caucus called The Osun Progressives (TOP)?
It was after the revalidation exercise of the party members by the APC, then we believe that the next thing is congress. How do we now approach the congress? This made us to come up with our objectives to ensure that all the executive members of the party from the ward to the state level must be democratically elected. Secondly, there must be equity and fairness for all members. Those are part of the objectives of TOP. We sensitised some of our leaders about it and I even informed the governor about the situation of our party. I told him our party needs restructuring because the marginal lead figure of our party in the last governorship election was very small and insignificant. So, I believe that before 2022, there must be restructuring of our party, which is weak. We need to mobilise and reconcile members. I gave the governor a proposal on all these issues. I was the party chairman in 2014 and despite the fact that the Federal Government was being controlled by the PDP, we were ahead of the PDP with over 100,000 votes in the 2014 governorship election. So, I think when he (Oyetola) was not ready to do anything about the proposal, we gathered ourselves to muster efforts aimed at rescuing the party. That was how we formed TOP. Some of our leaders are in support of it. Such leaders include the Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, the former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), AlhajiMoshoodAdeoti; a former Speaker, Osun State House of Assembly, HonourableNajeem Salaam, among others. We thank God today that TOP is in all the 332 wards in Osun State and the 30 local governments and area office.
What do you have against the leadership of APC in Osun?
The grouse is not personal. It is about issue. We are only having difference with the leadership of our party on policy issue. We are of the opinion that the leadership of the party must be democratically elected. People should be able to campaign. That is the beauty of democracy. They should sensitise our members and let people, who are competent, be in charge of our party. That is when we can win in elections. Let people that are effective and efficient manage the party. So, the grouse is not personal; it is about issues.
So, you are more concerned about the need to restructure the party?
Yes, that is the main thing we are concerned about. The other thing might be a personal issue between the governor and the former governor. My own take is that the governor should be able to manage his predecessor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. As the leader of the party today, he should devise means of doing that.
Is Governor Oyetola not doing that?
To some extent, he is not doing that. That is why some people believe that there is a misunderstanding between the two of them. The governor himself had admitted that there is a misunderstanding between him and Aregbesola on issue of policy reversal. If the governor wants to review the policies, there no big deal about. But, he must consult the stakeholders, not just your members of cabinet alone. There must proper consultation with the former governor and party leaders.
But, the governor said the reason for reversing the policies was based on demands by the generality of Osun people
That is fine. That is as a result of the evaluation of the policies by the people. But, what of the stakeholders? The governor, who was the Chief of Staff in the last administration, was part of the people that came up with those policies, so if he must reverse the policies, he should consult. He should present the fact that from the feedback we are receiving from the people, it seems this policy is not popular, the party will now come up on how to review it.
Does it mean that he did not consult the party before reversing the policies?
I don’t think so. He only consulted his cabinet members; even the Elders’ Council in the party was not consulted. I am part of the members of the Elders Council. There must be proper consultation to ensure that everybody is carried along.
Now that the chairman of the Osun APC congress committee has declared your conduct of ward and Local government congresses null and void, what is your stand?
Politics is about the people and it is local. Don’t come with the idea of “to hell with the people”. Caucuses are allowed within political parties. So, if you are coming to the state to conduct such exercise, you should be able to ask how many groups or caucuses do you have. How can we harmonise them? But, instead you went to the Government House and started talking and also went to the party secretariat and blocked the road with armoured tanks because you wanted to address the press. Politics is about the people and you must be open. The day he (Elegbeleye) came, he didn’t invite us. How do we go to a place we were not invited I am a former chairman of the party and how do I go and face armoured tanks. We organised our own congress, got forms from the national secretariat of the party. All the forms sent by the party from Abuja to Osogbo were all hoarded in the Government House. We are not relying on the Elegbeleye committee. We believe that the national secretariat will do justice over the congress.
The governor is a member of the National Working Committee (NWC) of APC and may influence anything. We are working according to the constitution of our party. If you are going to have consensus, there should be no dissenting voice. The moment there is a dissenting voice, there is no more consensus. We, as TOP, believe: let us go for election so that people who will manage our party can emerge democratically. That is why we disagreed. But, it was on principle.
Source: Nigerian Tribune