Cockroaches, Rats Have Taken Over PDP Secretariat - Sen. Awoyelu
Q: from your experience, we know a house of assembly member in Lagos, we know you were SDP chairman here, you later became the pioneer chairman of PDP but still, people would still want to hear from the horses’ mouth.
Thank you very much, I am Senator C.K. Awoyelu; Clement Kolawole Awolyelu. I started my political activities in Lagos. There, I was so many things, I was a legislator, I was member of the house of assembly, I was chairman there of what we call schools Management Committee (SMC) for mushin Area. Then, the urge came in me that I should go and practice this game in my hometown, in my state, which was when I had to leave Lagos for Akure as the state capital, I was there for years. I left Lagos in 1988, and then when I got to Akure, I joined others to start playing our politics too. Because at that time, there was a military regime but then, we were playing our game underground. There I worked hard, I became a local government chairman, and the local government chairman in our party then was also the state vice chairman. That was the Social Democratic party (SDP). I was elected under UPN in Lagos, I was the foundation member of UPN in Lagos and there I went to the house. Then in Ondo state, I was also one of the founders of USDP in Ondo state and later I became the-----. So After that, then in 1996, Ondo state was broken into two, then we have our state Ekiti. Then I came back as the first chairman of USDP Ekiti State. My national chairman then who was to say that should continue to manage the two states, that is, Ondo and Ekiti state until a chairman for Ondo emerge, that I was doing. I will spend two there days in Ondo state, I will spend two tree days in Ado-Ekiti and when we had our state in 1996, so when a chairman emerged in Ondo state then I had to leave Ondo state for Ondo people. Then in 1998 I was one of those people that formed the PDP in Abuja. I was on a sit when a committee that we set up, to go and find out suitable names for Political parties, I was part of those people who chose this name, the Peoples’ Democratic Party. So by all standard, I was a founding member of the PDP in Ekiti here I was luchy to be the man chosen to be the foundation state chairman of the party. So, when we formed this party, I was the state chairman, I worked very very hard in all the Local Government in Ekiti to establish the party, to bring it to what it is today and by that time, nobody wanted to touch the PDP, they thought it was hausa party and I do not know how they came about that, because all Nigerians formed the party in the party, when the PDP was formed the party. When the PDP was formed there were Hausas, there were Yorubas, there were igbos, everybody in Nigeria were there, in fact the thinking then was that there must be, they want to have a party that will be broad based. Not an Hausa party, not a Yoruba Party, not a Muslim party, not a Christian party. That was why the PDP was formed. But it took us time to enlightenment our people and introduce the PDP and we are lucky that as time went on the people embraced the party and I want to add that the first meeting that we held at our zone here; the south west was held in the house of an Ekiti man in Ibadan. That is Prof. Tunde Adeniran his house at Bodija Ibadan. That was where we held the first meeting. So we thank God in 1999 when Obasanjo came in and contested and I could say that, many people, not many, a good number of us said he should be the person that will be picked as the presidential candidate. So after some time, after some argument, then he agreed to join the PDP and as luck would have it, during elections he won the primaries and also won the general elections and became the president. The first four years was turbulent in this country. The first four years was turbulent but he was able to move round the entire south west to tell them that there was no point in sitting on the fence, that everybody should embrace this new party and as at that stage, everybody started coming in and we were able to win every state in the southwest. The only state we could not win was Lagos we won other states and since that time, God had been helping the party even up till today. If you want to know that largest party in Nigeria as at today, it is the PDP. We lost the general elections to the APC last time, yes! It was a miscalculation by our leaders then. If not that we would still be in government today and before long, year 2019, we will come back to power by the grace of God.
Q: in the course of starting or introducing yourself sir, you were---in UPN, Awolowo family up till the stage that the PDP was formed, and the political calculation and political history of this country we noticed that the followers of Awolowo then formed the APC. So, apart from serving in PDP government like Bola Ige, how come that you did not even align with AD in the first instance that you went straight to PDP?
All of us including chief Bola Ige formed the PDP all of us, including Olu Falae we all started in Abuja and formed this party, All families, Awolowo, Azikwe and everybody. But at a stage, a faction got away and that is chief Bola Ige’s faction broke away and decided to go and form their party. Before them it was only one because people felt that it was ripe enough for Nigeria to have a party, a big party. A big umbrella, that is why we chose the umbrella as our symbol, if you see others carrying umbrella. We felt we would need an umbrella in Nigeria where everybody can run into and take shelter. So, it was not a question of Awolowo, when Awolowo died he died. You cannot see a single person now talking that I am Awolowo, no! Those of us who were very close to Awolowo when he was alive, we formed the UPN together in 1978 and only God how many meetings I held with him in his house at Ikenne. We are scattered all along, for nobody to say that he is Awolowo. Awolowo’s party was Action group (AG) and that UPN nothing more. People from all angles from all factions came together. All along, everybody that formed PDP including Awolowo’s family, Ahmadu Bello’s family, Azikwe’s family all joined together and formed the PDP.
Q: Now in 2003, you said you now won landside, how would you describe that? Because people say that it was that period during elections that hijacking of election papers and snatching of electoral materials started, simply because OBJ wanted to win at all cost.
I do not know whether you were in Nigeria in 2003 and as a politician, I want to tell you that nothing like that happened in 2003. I was a contestant, I ran for election then and I knew what, Ado-Ekiti was one of my local government where I won election, including Ireposun/Ifelodun, including Ijero, including Ekiti West, including Efon Alaaye. I won election there. Anybody who can say that in this particular polling booth, not even a ward, election there was rigged. It was my name I was selling, it was not a question of rigging I do not know nowhere in Yoruba land where election was rigged, I do not know that place. Is it in Ekiti? Is it in Ondo state? This issue of snatching of ballot papers, nothing like that happened then.
Q: so, when did it start?
later, I don’t know the date, but it didn’t happen in 2003. I contested with somebody and I defeated him, he did not go to court, he did not challenge the election. He believed that the election was free and fair. That was Babafemi Adewale. You know the man is a lawyer; he was then the Anthony general before he contested. He believed the election was straight forward and was won fairly and fairly.
Q: if yours was not rigged, some people went to court, like Fayose election then was challenged. Rigging was part of it, apart from the qualification something; part of it was that he rigged and so on.
we are Nigerians, if you are running for an election today and you win, your opponents will say you have rigged. If you are not popular and you don’t know anybody, there is no way you will win. You see, I have been contesting in the primaries in the general elections and all these elections in Nigeria. The question of rigging, why should I rig elections? To do what? When I want to represent people, then what will that rigging offer me? I want to be a leader, will I be teaching my followers how to win elections that you have to go and rig? I am not saying that there is no rigging in Nigeria I am just saying, the election in 2003 was free and it was fair
Q: now let’s talk about your experience in a nutshell, when you were a senator, can you point to some of the things you can say you achieved as the senator representing Ekiti Central?
everybody in Ekiti Central, everybody, every local government. They always give kudos to the little effort I made. In all my local government, here was no local government as at now that was then under me that had single complain. I want to start; there is no local government where I didn’t provide water. I dug boreholes everywhere including Okemesi, I dug boreholes there, including Erijiyan, I dug boreholes there, including Ado-Ekiti here, at oja bisi there you will see my boreholes, go to Irepodun you will see my boreholes there and apart from this, all secondary schools in Ekiti cental, I picked student then for bursary that thing was done at Aramoko-Ekiti by a retired school principal Chief Ige . Why did I do that? I did it because many of students I discovered were so bright and so brilliant, but the parents were not finding it easy to pay their fees, buy them things. So I did that everybody in Ekiti central was happy. Leaving that, in terms of helping our farmers, I brought trailer loads of rice of fertilizers brought everything for our farmers, free of charge just for them to use and improve their lots. And apart from that, from Ilawe-Ekiti to Erijiyan-Ekiti I was the person that opened up that road, I did not tar it but then, it was then motorable . so all I did then all other Senators tried their best but I cannot even tell you any Senator would have said that would claim to have done better than I did in my own senatorial district.
Q. were you able to facilitate any Federal presence in your senatorial district?
Yes, for instance, if you go to Erijiyan now, you will see a Comprehensive Health Centre there provided by the federal government. Then I can say we completed it but I also struggled to make sure that the Efon Alaaye road leading to Ilesa was done. It was the man that came after me that opened I up and did it. So I did all that should be done by a Senator then, everything that a senator should do. I tried my best to do my best there.
Q. How will you access successive governments in Ekiti comparing PDP government with the AD/APC government?
PDP is my party. In Ekiti State, no party, no government has done better than the PDP government. I will take Fayose during his first period. He did a lot. He opened so many roads, did so many things, all over Ekiti. We felt what he did in his first coming. During this second coming too, he has tried his best. I am not saying he has done what an Angel should have done, no! he also has his own shortcomings too, that is not to say that the Fayemi that came after his first coming did better than he did.
Q. If Fayose did well both in government and to the party, then why are the leaders of the party in Ekiti including you are all opposed to his government leading to the fractionalization of your party defection of some notable PDP leaders into the APC?
I told you, PDP is my party. You see, people have reasons for leaving the party and going from one party to another and I cannot deny the fact that people, some people are leaving the party now, yes, may be because of the style of the government and the style of the governor, things Ekiti people are used to, they are not getting them anymore and that is why some people are going out. I am not going to stop at that and say that this is only happening in Ekiti State, so it is happening in other States of the Federation. People are leaving from one party to another. You will recall that during the ACN government of that time, people left to PDP; so many people. So as today, there are people moving from the party (PDP) because of the style of the governor.
Q. And what are these styles making people to leave the party?
I will say, number one, the governor does not have any respect for the constitution of the party and the constitution provides that for any party election, there must be congresses at the local government and the State levels. Congresses will bring out the best candidates, but during this government, during the governor’s regime that was not done to the satisfaction of the people, that’s number 1. So many people were so much annoyed and in annoyance they left the PDP. Ditto to Local government, when you want to be a chairman, you work and contest in the congress, it is the congress that will pick you, but when a man sits down and pick a chairman of a local government that does not belong to him, even if it belongs to him, he should allow the people as provided by the constitution to pick their candidates, and also in the state, that is another factor and that factor is that today you cannot find the governor in our state secretariat and incidentally I was in Abuja since 1999. I was a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party. During that period, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was the president, Alh. Musa Ya’adua was the president, dr. Goodluck Jonathan was the president, all these people am mentioning, none of them failed to attend a single meeting of the NEC at Wadata Plaza at the National secretariat, but our governor has become to big now that he cannot afford to attend meetings in our party secretariat, even if you go to the secretariat, you can only find goats, pigs, nobody goes there again.
Q: Was he attending the first time he came as the governor?
He was attending, not very regularly, but then he was attending but now he is becoming too big even to attend meetings in the secretariat again. So if he wants to hold party meetings today, he will go to his hometown, Afao to hold it and so many people are so bitter about this and in annoyance many left, that’s why they were pushed out. The Elders of the party, the leaders of the party were no longer recognized as leaders in Ekiti . Everywhere they were sidelined, they were not allowed to function, they were not recognized anywhere and in annoyance, many left too and I want to say people now are not happy because of what the governor is doing now. That is, moving everything that should be dome at Ado-Ekiti, the state capital to Afao, Afao is not the capital of this state and Afao has never been the capital of Ekiti. Somebody like me, is a traditional chief and who has been in the state for over seventy years should know a lot about Ekiti, Afao has never every been the capital of Ekiti, but today if the governor want to do anything he will take them to Afao. These things are terrible. That was what led to the defections, he picked a state secretary from Afao, that is under one ward, it is never done like that, you are the governor, if you are the governor and you are lucky to come from a place that is not up to ward, that should be okay for that ward, and from records and complains of people, appointees in Afao there is no town in Ekiti that has appointees as many as what Afao has today. Those things are terrible. They are things that are annoying Ekiti people, annoying Ekiti politicians. And that’s why you find them moving out. People like me can longer be silent and fold my hands, am not contesting any election, I will not say because of that, the whole state should go to blaze, no! Where we can help, we will go out and help, where anybody is doing wrong, no matter what that person is saying we don’t care who that person may be, we will tell him that you are going wrong. And we will praise you if you are doing well. any stage, where you are doing well, we will praise you.
Q: Considering Governor Fayose, people say he is prove to violent and attacking people and so on, and as an elderly person you live among the people, no security, no police around are you not afraid, this person may attack you and your family?
Well, I have a very strong belief, that my security id the almighty God. He guides, he protects, and I rely on him for protection
Q: In the course of liberating your people, I mean starting from the party in the struggle with the governor. Has there been any threat to you, your friends, your family or your activities, or your business?
As a leader of the party, Rumours, I don’t deal with rumours. i deal with concrete issues. If you threaten me, either you threaten me before me, or before somebody that is close to me, and I know, then the whole world will know. But rumours I don’t talk on rumours, there are complains of people saying that they were threatened that they will be sent out of the party. In Ekiti today, there is nobody who can suspend or expel any PDP man, nobody. Our own group are the people in charge of PDP in Ekiti, not any other person, wherever is saying any other tning is just joking is just wasting his time, is just deceiving people.
Q: Who is the state chairman now?
the state chairman is Chief Williams Ajayi
Q: Has he assumed office at the party secretariat to sit down there and not being molested and work free there?
He has been going there, we inaugurated the state executives here in Ado-Ekiti unmolested and he goes to his office there unmolested too
Q: The secretariat recognized by the governor?
The governor does not need to recognize, he is not an official of the party, and he is not. It is only the national chairman that can talk about the party, whether it is recognized or not and the national chairman has recognized the state chairman, chief Williams Ajayi and that is all that we need
Q: and who is the national chairman now?
Have you heard about any other chairman?
Q: Because there was a time they said, sheriff should not…
A: As a political leader, as at today, all that the court has said is that as far as the PDP is concerned in Nigeria, sheriff is our National Chairman. And he has gone further to recognize the congresses that we have held in Ekiti. One, the ward congresses, two the local government congresses, three the state congresses, and four the southwest congress which is the highest body in Nigeria as far as PDP is concerned, that is the highest body. We are fully covered, fully recognized and fully supported by the court by the law and our national leadership.
Q: now that the governor is parading some set of people as the leadership of the party in the state are you now saying the governor has no party now, since your group is the recognized.
I do not deceive myself, but any other person can choose to deceive himself, but I Senator C.K. Awoyelu will never deceive myself. In Ado-Ekiti here, the two of us went to court, then recognized by the national secretariat of the party. So, if any outside, if anybody is claiming, that person is just deceiving himself.
Q: Where is the state secretariat?
it is at Opopogboro
Q: Now let’s talk about economy in Nigeria, what is your view about the economic meltdown of the nation.
When people talk of the economic meltdown, the way we argue it is not right; we are all born in this country. I was man during the first republic and during that time, if you look at the record all over the world, Nigeria was recognized as a very strong company economically. Then we had the groundnut pyramid in Kano for the entire north, in the southwest here in our own side of the country, we had cocoa, we had oil, palm kennel and all these things, in the east we had pal kennel and so many other things. People were going to the farm. In the southwest here, the whole world knew us as a very great part of the country. It was in the southwest that we had the first television station in Nigeria, in the whole country, we had the first one. We had the first stadium, and we had the highest building in Nigeria everything first, first and first. We had a lot of money, we introduced free education. That was the first in Nigeria, all our children were trained free of charge in Nigeria. So if you are talking about economic you should first look at all these things and then find out where things have gone wrong and if you are very serious, try to make some amendment. The land are still there, they have not benn taken over by anybody, we still have the land, we still have the men, we still have the material, then why cant we go an embark on agriculture?
Q: Did you make such effort when you are a senator?
the thing is divided. There is an executive, whose responsibility is that, they should executive, that is, the law made. They should come with the law to the senate, for us to pass a law to do what they want us to. The situation then was not as bad as now. When I was the senator, look at the price of GDP and all these economic induces, they were never as bad as it is now, I left the senate in the year 2007. During that time, every country in the whole world was looking Nigeria as a giant country.
Q: From history and data available sir, things are getting worse by the day, what it used to be in 1979 was not what it was in 1997, what it was in 1997 was not what it was in 2007 ditto now, it is a matter of geometric.
that’s where I started and I said that, when the country was good, when the economy was buoyant, there are certain things that we were doing. Now according to you, when things were going down, should somebody not look at the whole thing the second time again to ask questions, why are these things going down? What is wrong with this and that? That is where our problems lie. No other place. There are reasons why the economy is bad.
Q: Because there is the impression that Buhari himself couldn’t deliver. Can we say that the present president has failed the country?
well, as I told you, I am a PDP leader but that does not disturb me from speaking the truth. Subjectively, the question with Buhari is this; either we like it or not, Buhari is the president of Nigeria today. Let us fix all the component of this nation sit down and see how, what and where they can improve the economy in their areas, in Ekiti now for instance, nobody can tell me that Ekiti should be running to Abuja here and there for every naira and kobo they pick from Abuja. We have a lot we can do in Ekiti. Farmlands are here, land is very large in Ekiti, you can do so many things, go to Ise/Orun now, there’s nothing you plant there that won’t do well, including this water melon, plant them there and it will do well. At Erijiyan-Ekiti, someone was just playing with the seeds-watermelon seeds, when we came back there, there were water melon. We harvested from there, which means that water melon will grow everyehere in Ekiti. Okay since the government has started you can ask that question how much has gone into Agriculture in Ekiti? You will be shocked! You will cry! We are all farmers in Ekiti, except people are doing civil service job. This large majority people in Ekiti. What has the government done to them. All governments they left the areas where we will do well, where our economy will grow, they abandoned them, they won’t touch them, they depend on federation allocations alone. Whereas, before, who will say that the western region will depend on federal allocation and they are doing very well.
Q: Before we leave issue of agriculture, now we notice that the ‘leader of opposition’ in quote, because there was a time the house of assembly declared Gov. Fayose as the leader of opposition in Nigeria. Now, we notice that is taking shots on the president every time, does he have the backing of your party? As a leader of the party, at national and state level?
As a leader of the party both at national and state, I said one thing when I started, that Buhari today either we like it or not is the president of Nigeria. He is not the president of AOC not the president of PDP but Nigeria, the entire country and in Ekiti state we have our culture, we respect all leaders. No Ekitii man will abuse his father or his father’s mate as he likes nobody! So Areas where we have all these accusations, we do not have such a party officers in Ekiti and to go further, there is no way the house of assembly in Ekiti can choose a national leader. I do not know where they derive that power, I do not know; I was a member of the house before.
Q: So, in a nutshell, Ekiti Leaders of PDP are not part of the governor’s vulgar languages.
A: As a person, as a leader, who has been a leader before the governor came, I am not part of that vulgar language, and I will never abuse the president. I can criticize his government yes! As an opposition party man, yes I can criticize the government, nut not the president. I will continue to respect the president, which is what all Nigerians should do. There is no American now that will not respect their president. All Americans, they see their president as a man they should respect. That is also what I want to do to my own president. Nobody has the mandate of Ekiti to go and abuse our president, nobody has that mandate.
Q: On a final note, you want to give advice to EKiti people, Nigerians as an elder statesman. Across parties, having served as senator in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, you are A statesman. So you want to talk to Ekiti people and Nigeria as a whole.
Thank you, I want to again call on all Nigerians that we should start looking at the situations as they are, the present problem in Nigeria is not the problem created by anybody. It was created by our actions or inactions. Our actions because we have depended so much on oil, and when the oil fails everybody fail, and that is why we are in this mess. We are coming from somewhere, they say in Yoruba “ti omode ba subu, awo waaju, ti agba ba subu aw’eyin wo” we should look back to see from where we are coming from and from there we will be able to know where to make amendment. People should see agriculture as the hope of Nigeria, that is the only was where we can record success where we can come back as a giant of Africa once again.