Omisore: Police Report Exonerated Me On Bola Ige, It Is AD That Played Politics With It
Dr. Iyiola Omisore, former deputy governor and former senator from Osun State means different things to different people. To some, he used to be an enfant terrible who put ‘fire’ in Okefia Government House, Osogbo, when he was deputy governor. He made the place ungovernable for chief Bisi Akande, who was his principal. To others, Omisore is the man whose name became synonymous with the death of chief Bola Ige, simply because they had some political altercations at some point. In spite of that, he won election from detention and went to the Senate to attain some good height. Now the man is in the news again. ABIODUN FANORO was there to ask the politician what he is still looking for.
YOU were former deputy governor and also a senator; yet you seem not done with politics. What else do you want to contest?
I was deputy governor in Osun State between 1999 and 2003. On the heel of the emergence of our government in 1999, I was persuaded to step down for Chief Bisi Akande as the party’s (Alliance for Democracy) governorship candidate. In absolute respect for the party and the elders, I stepped down, hoping that my turn would come. I think it is now my turn to take charge of government affairs in Osun State. From my experience in the past few years, few issues of serious concern have come up, especially now that the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) is in charge in Osun State, there are a lot of things that have gone wrong, that require somebody of my caliber, my experience, my exposure, my pedigree and my background to take charge and correct the malaise created by this unfortunate government now in Osun State.
Talking about pedigree, many still hold the view that when Bisi Akande was in charge, you two had a frosty relationship, to the extent that you did everything possible to physically chase him out of office; why?
If you could recall what led to the collapse of my relationship with Chief Bisi Akande, it was about pro-government policies on one hand, which Akande championed and the pro-people policies on the other hand, which I represented. There was a time during the Workers’ Day, while Baba Akande held a rally with his staff; I held another rally with workers from all over the state. From the first day in office, Akande had let it be known to all that he was anti-people in his policies. As a young man, I know that I have my future career to protect; I wouldn’t want my name and career to be rubbished by the antics or suppressive policies of one man. So I opted out to carry my own cross and that was our point of separation. Part of his anti-people policies were the sacking of workers, sacking History teachers in the state, refusal to pay approved minimum wage. All these led to the loss of fortunes by AD in Osun State. If I had not been careful, I could have perished with the Akande government. So, I thank God that I opted out at that time. That is why I could come out today to say I want to vie for the office of the governor.
You failed to subordinate yourself to your boss and respect him, yet you want to occupy the same office; don’t you worry about what would people say about you?
You would respect people to the extent that it would not damage your career. Baba Akande, I give him his maximum respect till today and he too appreciates that. However, when it comes to issues of governance, for the stand I took, certainly it is nothing personal. What Baba Akande did then was a blatant anti-people policy. Those that associated with Akande during this anti-people policy till today cannot raise their heads politically.
Looking at the resources available to Osun then, was it not the case of pragmatism, rather than being anti-people?
Are you saying it was good to sack workers, that it was good not to pay salaries to workers? What is pragmatic about that? Government exists primarily for the welfare of the people. It is a government by the people and for the people. It is not a government by the leader and for the leader alone. At that time, Ekiti State too was receiving far less than Osun State from the Federation Account, yet there was no single industrial crisis in Ekiti.
Talking about background and pedigree. Don’t you think people would ask you question about your role in the death of Chief Bola Ige?
That people may ask question? Well, people ought to know that I went on trial (for Bola Ige’s murder) for three years, and at the end I was discharged and acquitted. The facts are known to everybody; especially people in my state, Osun. The original Police Report after investigation recommended that I should not be tried at all, that I had no business with Chief Bola Ige’s death. It was the AD, which made it a political case, went on a wild goose chase and sought a scapegoat in me. Since then, I have won elections in that state five times. That shows the credibility I enjoy in the hands of the people of Osun State. It shows their sensibility and a proper understanding of what truly happened in the murder of Ige, which is of no consequence in electoral issues in my state. I even won election when I was in detention. Nigerians are really funny people. When they see people (such as me) they should celebrate, but they will rather be envious. This is unfair.
But to some people your victory while in detention was a fluke, and part of the ‘capturing’ policy of the PDP. Is that not why you lost your re-election bid?
I won all my elections. I have never lost any election in that state. The last election, which I contested is still a matter in court, it is in the Court of Appeal. In this last election, the ACN candidate lost at the tribunal, he is now on appeal at the Court of Appeal.
You were in AD and in Afenifere, which made you a ‘progressive’ at that time, but what is the story today, are you, still a progressive?
I was one of the founding fathers of AD. It was conceived and delivered in my hotel suit in Abuja. I have always been an Afenifere at all times. At no time did I leave Afenifere. Afenifere people today are in ACN, they are in Labour Party, they are in CPC (Congress for Progressive Change); they are in the PDP as well. The issue of progressive does not arise now. Afenifere is not ACN. ACN is (Bola) Tinubu’s ego and that of his co-travelers.
But at a point you left Afenifere and your return gave birth to the recent Afenifere re-union meeting, which held in Akure recently?
Let me put the record straight. It was absolutely impossible for me to attend Afenifere meetings while I was in detention (for alleged murder of Bola Ige). So, for that period I could not be physically present in Afenifere meetings. Also, don’t forget that when our leader (Pa Abraham Adesanya) passed on, there was a little crisis (especially of succession) in Afenifere. That was what gave rise to the re-union you spoke about.
What would you say about Afenifere and the emergence of the Renewal Group?
Eh, eh, you want to expose these people again. Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) today, is being brandished by Wale Osun. Wale Osun was expelled from Afenifere by our late leader, Pa Adesanya. They would have to wake him from death before Wale Osun can become Afenifere member again or lay any claim to Afenifere. He was expelled when (Lagos) AD was to hold its convention in 2002, he was used by Bola Tinubu to deceive Baba Ganiyu Dawodu’s group. He gave two venues for the convention and went ahead to attend that of Tinubu. That was the genesis of what destroyed AD. So, how can a prodigal (expelled) son claim the position of a regular son? There is only one Afenifere, if he (Wale) wants to work for Tinubu, let him go and seek a different platform.
Many believe that you are returning to Afenifere only to use it for the purpose of your political ambition.
This is very interesting. The problem is that some Nigerians lack the sense of history. Most of you peddling this viewpoint are just students of Tinubu politics. Tinubu has captured the media space in Nigeria, especially the Lagos axis. I repeat for the umpteenth time that AD was formed in my suit in Abuja in 1998. You cannot be more Catholic than the Pope. Tinubu and his group destroyed Afenifere to cut a niche for him and give him a platform in the Southwest. Under Afenifere leadership, you cannot have this kind of thing you have in Lagos today, where everything is for sale, same as it is in Osun State. We were born into Afenifere, it is our birthright; it is the right of the original Yoruba people, not people who have no pedigree. Yoruba people are identified with truthfulness, with credibility. That is what is called the virtuous Yoruba (Omoluwabi). Not the mis-use of Omoluwabi as being done by (Rauf) Aregbesola (Osun State Governor). Omoluwabi must not be violent, must not steal, must be above board; must not deceive the people. Afenifere is our heritage; we would use it to our own advantage.
But your return is said to have polarized Afenifere where elders such as Pa Olanihun Ajayi, Ayo Adebanjo, Femi Okurounmu were reported to have abandoned the group?
You people are just peddling rumour all round the place. Senator Okurounmu resigned from Afenifere about two years ago. I have personally paid him a visit with a view to bringing him back into the group. Chief Adebanjo went abroad for medical check-up he is back now.
You accused ACN States of commercializing everything, what is the alternative the PDP has to offer?
What is the PDP doing that the ACN is not doing? How are the ACN states different from PDP controlled states, in terms of meeting the welfare of the people? Why are Nigerians being fooled? Now they are going into All Progressive Congress (APC), telling Nigerians they are going to form a party that is different from the PDP, yet they are wooing PDP members all over the place, urging them to join APC. They are confused; they are simply out to deceive the people. Where is the ACN ideology? The other day they were chasing Atiku (Abubakar) and at another time it was Nuhu Ribadu. PDP is faring better in the states under its control than the ACN states. ACN is just a party for Tinubu to make money, that is all.
But PDP critics say the party was in the Southwest for eight years with virtually nothing to show in the lives of the people.
What do you mean by that? In Osun State for instance, the PDP was there for about eight years. Aregbesola is now there for three years. For all these three years, what he has done is to make noise. His achievement includes increasing the states debt profile to N219 billion. Throughout PDP’s 7 and a half years in Osun, it only borrowed N7.5 billion, which was paid back. Last time in a press interview he (Aregbesola) said it was not up to N219 billion. Let him tell us how much he has borrowed. ACN in Osun State awarded the dualisation of Osogbo-Ila-Odo-Kwara boundary Road for N17.9 billion, which the Federal Ministry of Works had earlier earmarked to cost N11.2 billion. It is a Federal Ministry of Works’ project, ACN is reimbursed for the project. Why can’t Aregbesola go and do state roads, there are so many state roads crying for attention. The Gbongan-Sekona-Osogbo Road is being rehabilitated by the Federal Government, but the ACN is claiming credit for it. ACN has procured a Helicopter for the personal comfort of Aregbesola at N4.2 billion. Oshogbo ACN spends N1.6 billion annually on hotel bills for visitors from Lagos State. Aregbesola spends N420 million annually on aircraft charter between Lagos and Ibadan. There has never been additional one litre of portable water since the PDP left government in 2010.
Are you saying for these three years, there isn’t anything to celebrate in Osun?
Go to the State and see for yourself. Right now, Osun students are on the streets, on protest. He promised mega schools. Only two are about to be ready out of the many he promised. Aregbesola’s mega school is being built at about £3 million per one, whereas in England it costs just about £500,000 for same building.
From your view, there is contract inflation in Osun?
What is happening is stealing galore. They have used so much money to bribe the judiciary, they have a debt portfolio, so they have to recoup. They are on a recouping mission. What is baffling their primitive acquisition tendency; stealing the money they don’t need. Look at how he is fooling the people on Opon-Imo. Aregbesola says he is off-loading 63 texts books per students. Have you ever seen where a secondary school pupil uses as much as 63 text books, how many subject does a secondary school pupil offer? Our people have gone beyond that deception. Whenever Aregbesola wants to do any project, be it building or road, his driving force is what he would steal and not delivery. He does not have the capacity to deliver anything, he lacks capacity. He has poverty of ideas. The only thing he knows is stealing. We (Osun) are in serious crisis. Education is in comatose in Osun State today. There is no single development in the health sector, no additional hospital in my state today. The youth empowerment he is doing under ‘OYES’ has become an issue. He is being driven by greed and stealing.
What about his urban renewal programme? Let us be dispassionate in the assessment?
What is your own there, are you from Osun? What is urban renewal? I have not seen urban renewal in that state. Which one is urban renewal, tell me now. Where is it being done? Is it Okefia, Gbogan Road, Alekun-Odo, tell me now. There is no urban renewal going on in any of the state’s urban centres – Ile-Ife, Osogbo, Ilesha, Iwo, Ikirun, Ila etc. It is just on the pages of newspapers. The Olaiya Junction to Okefia was done by the former governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola. Go to Osun State and see things for yourself, don’t rely on media hype. They are only using drawings and proto-type in newspapers to deceive people. Students are roaming the streets of Osun, buildings have been destroyed, no replacement. They have to trek for about 10 kilometres every morning to get to school. This has increased students’ dropout figures; the rank of thugs, drug carriers would increase also.
What gives you this quantum of confidence?
The first governor in Osun State was from the Western Senatorial district. The second and the third were from the Central Senatorial district. The fourth, who is the incumbent, Aregbesola, is from Osun East. Osun East is only just having the first slot. Both the West and the Centre have had it at least once. In fact, the Central has had it twice.
But couldn’t Osun West say it is now entitled to it to make its own two slots as Osun Central?
This is the first time Osun East is occupying the governorship seat. The East has a right to eight years of governance. Through Aregbesola, the East is just doing four years, out of which three years is about to be completed. So, the East after Aregbesola is still entitled to another four years to enjoy just half of what other districts had enjoyed. This is why I told you that I am the most suitable.
But won’t Aregbesola go for a second term?
He will try to go for a second term, but he is going to lose. ACN lost in Osun Central. The governorship contest is going to be between Osun West and Osun East. The two aspirants we have from the PDP are from those two senatorial districts.
Are you now saying you may go for four years?
That is not an issue. I don’t answer hypothetical questions. I have an election before me. Let me win the election first before I know what I am going to do.