Chief Segun Odekunmi is a chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP) in Osun State. He was Osun State Campaign Coordinator for Goodluck Jonathan in 2011. In this interview with Raji Adebayo in his Gbongan country home in Ayedaade local government. He speaks on the crisis in the state PDP and the forthcoming governorship elections among other issues.
Q: Since the Supreme Court judgment that resolved the leadership crisis in the PDP, how far have you gone with achieving unity in Osun PDP?
Odekunmi: You know in every political setting, there must be those for and those against a particular development. So people tagged us, I mean those of us from Soji Adagunodo faction as Ali Modu Sheriff faction but they got it wrong. We are not, but we are for Makarfi from the onset but law abiding citizens we were following the trend as events are unfolding. The fact remains that we are for Adagunodo, so when the judgment was passed,
Faforiji faction who were known as sheriff faction with their commander tagged us Sheriff but all was a lie, when Markafi was the chairman before appeal court judgment, we are with him, when appeal court stated otherwise, we remain loyal and committed party members and when Supreme Court ruled again, we still remain loyal and committed members, we never moved to any party either publicly or underground. So those that are making frivolous allegations said their faction should form the state executive. They tried their best until we went to the last convention only to see that their assumption is wrong. Though initially they did not even contest anywhere, they didn’t hold any congress anywhere, it is only Adagunodo group that did its congress in Osogbo stadium. And the congress was witnessed by the INEC, Police, DSS as well as other security agents. No other faction held any other congress but when they wanted us to drop what we were holding in our hands, we were satisfied with it because we are very confident that if we go to the field 100 times we will still come back triumphantly.
Q: Following the dissolution of Osun Exco by the PDP NEC, how prepare is your group now for the coming congress?
Odekunmi: We are absolutely prepared and we are ready even if they want us to hold the congress tomorrow we are ready. It is only the other group that is afraid and is looking for Kangaroo settlement.
Odekunmi: cut in…… PDP led by Adagunodo came triumphant. I want you to get it right, there was a faction by Faforiji group that is being financed by Senator Iyiola Omisore. It was the Adagunodo faction that gave the intention form and other forms to Otunba Adeleke. It is the group that conducted the primary election, it also announced his name and gave his name to the INEC. So the Adagunodo faction worked for him at the election but the Faforiji group worked with us as members of the SDP and that was the tag wore by their people at the election. They have their own candidate in the Social Democratic Party, SDP but he withdrew for Senator Ademola Adeleke. Their candidate withdrew from the election and the money paid for the forms and other thing in their party was refunded by Adeleke. The same goes to Otunba Omisore who anointed his personal assistant to pick the ticket of Labour Party to contest the same election .
Q: Are you saying Omisore initially did not support the PDP?
Odekunmi: His group went to pick SDP ticket to contest the election against our candidate.
Q: But the impression we had was that PDP was united from the beginning in the election.
Odekunmi: Before the election our faction facilitated everything needed by our candidate, I mean the PDP candidate . But they supported us during the election by withdrawing their candidates.
Q: The word, ‘support’, is it appropriate here since you are members of the same party although they are in different factions.
Odekunmi: It is appropriate because they were not with us at the beginning because they went to other parties to field candidates, though they later withdrew the candidates .
Q: So who should we ascribe the victory at the election to?
Odekunmi: To the Almighty God only
Q: Are you saying the crisis in Osun PDP is not connected with Sheriff versus Makarfi leadership tussle at the national level?
Odekunmi: We cannot be an Island unto ourselves. Makarfi was in charge when we conducted our ward, local governments and state congress and he was the one who issued out congress material to us so it was Makarfi who ordered the congress. So with this Supreme Court judgment we are Makarfi. Makarfi is from the north, Sheriff is from the north but we are from the South West, so we don’t have friend or foe among the two.
Q: Are you saying a congress was already held before the resolution by the Supreme Court
Odekunmi: We have held the congress long before the judgment and Sheriff was in charge until we went to Port Harcourt and he ordered for the postponement of the convention. We all came back only to hear that after we had left, Governor Nyesom Wike, Fayose and some other people have sacked Sheriff and appointed Makarfi . But that is not our problem, we are not Sheriff and we are not Makarfi , we are PDP . I am a founding member of PDP.
Q: Now that election will be coming up in the state next year, who and who do you think will be going for the governorship election in your party. Who are the ones that have shown interest?
Odekunmi: Many people will aspire to be governor but as I am talking to you now I don’t know the lucky person , man or woman that would become Osun State governor come 2018 but I know some people that may not be so lucky .
Q: Is there any zoning arrangement in your party concerning the governorship election?
Odekunmi: We are praying the authority in the party to give us that chance in West Senatorial district because since 1991 when Osun State was created we have only produced one governor in the West, the slot supposed to come here. The Central Senatorial District has occupied the seat for eleven and half years, and they are about to finish eight years now in the East, the West just produced governor for 22 months. Senator Isiaka Adeleke spent just 22 months as governor during Babangida’s administration. That was the only time we tasted that position so we are appealing to everybody that loves democracy to help us zone that position to the West
Q: As a leader in Osun West Senatorial DIstrict can you mention those you think if nominated can win the gubernatorial race for your party.
Odekunmi: There are many of them if i start giving you names I may omit some of them who are very important and as a politician I don’t want to offend anybody. All I know is that we have capable hands that can paddle the canoe of Osun State from the West District.
Q: How prepare are the leaders in this district to pick a credible candidate?
Odekunmi:We cannot do it all alone , it is going to be the combine effort of all the leaders in the state . That is why we are appealing to them to help us zone it to this state.
Q: have you been reaching out to the other leaders outside the district on this?
Odekunmi: We are trying our best. We always analyse to them the way I said it earlier but we don’t know their minds. But we are appealing to them and we are still appealing to them to zone the governorship election to this place.
Q: Are you confident the PDP can win the election in 2018?
Odekunmi: We are going to win because we knew why we lost in 2014
Q: Can you tell us why you lost in 2014?
Odekunmi: I may not want to disclose that on the pages of newspapers
Q; So how is your party going to avoid what led to its loss in 2014?
Odekunmi: We will avoid as we are going to present a suitable candidate
Q: Are you saying you have an unsuitable candidate in 2014?
Odekunmi: I did not say so .All I know is that anybody that is being accused of anything either positive or negative we will be careful in selecting that person.
It is God that ordain not human being. We are bound to make mistake but with grace of God and with prayers, I don’t think the mistake of the last time will repeat itself again. We are going to win hands down.
Q: How easy do you think it will be to dislodge APC that has been in power for eight years?
Odekunmi: We have done it before, we will still do it again, by the grace of God in 2018 PDP will triumph.
Q: What do you think the PDP government will do differently to what is being done now if it comes to power in 2018?
Odekunmi: In an exam you don’t leak your questions and you don’t tell others what you have when you are going for a competition. We will reserve that until the campaign period.