The local government election was billed to take place in Oyo State on February 11, 2017 but it has been postponed indefinitely due to a court injunction. What is the position of your political party in view of the development?
I remember vividly when the Oyo State government announced the creation of an
official reaction of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) was to call it a Greek Gift and ill-timed. Greek Gift in the sense that there is more to it than meet the eyes. We know quite well that the state is not buoyant enough to finance such a large political structure. It is just like a man who fathers 33 children and he is finding it difficult to cater for them. All of a sudden, he got more wives and bore additional 35 children to make the number 68. How do you want to cope? Putting political structures on ground across the state requires a lot of finances.
Here we are: as at the time the governor was announcing the creation of 35 LCDAs, Oyo State government was owing a backlog of wages and salaries; contractors were owed. Yet, you went ahead to create an additional 35 LCDAs. This cannot fly; it cannot work. When Lagos State, which has been the model which everyone of us looks up to, created 37 LCDAs, it had more than enough. They got more money from Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to cushion the effect of that. Unfortunately Oyo State, based on what it has been declaring over the years, has been generating just a little over N1 Billion as its IGR. These are the things that cannot make it work. You cannot create these things; you cannot get it done.
Why did those people approach the court to get an injunction to stop the election?
Another thing that made this people to go to court is that you (the government) annexed 16 villages from Oyo. The consenting authority to appoint or instal village heads in Oyo is vested in the Alaafin. But you now annexed those villages to Ogbomoso. If they want to instal new heads of the affected villages, are they going to go to the Soun of Ogbomoso? It is a time bomb, waiting to explode. These cases are similar to the crises that happened between the Ijaws and Itsekiri, Modakeke and Ife. So, if this thing is not quickly nipped in the bud, I pray we will all live to see the end of it.
Believe me, it (the court injunction) is a good development, even though we know that the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government in the state set that booby trap because it knew that the LCDAs they are planning will not work. They didn’t have any intention of conducting any local government election in the state. The creation of the LCDAs was pre-arranged; it was planned; everything was designed to fail so that they will have enough excuse not to conduct the election.
Remember, when they started, they said there were several court cases preventing them from conducting the election. They now kept on appointing caretaker chairmen and renewing their terms of office. Now, the court cases have been settled. I remember vividly in November 2015, the Vice President of Nigeria was at the University of Ibadan for convocation. Governor Abiola Ajimobi was there and he was asked questions and he told the congregation that he was going to conduct the election in the first quarter of 2016. When the first quarter was about to elapse, media men went to him again and he promised that it would hold before September runs out. But that did not also happen until he announced, hurriedly sometime in the last quarter of 2016 that he will conduct the election on February 11, 2017.
Every bit of OYSIEC’s action and inaction indicates that it has no capacity to conduct that election. So, as far as the Oyo SDP is concerned, the governor is not ready and he is not willing to conduct that election.
Were the political leaders in the state aware of the intention of those people that went to court to stop the election?
I think it was more of a traditional thing; it has no political undertone. We were not aware, but we knew that this thing is not going to work. They went to court, based on the fact that their ancestral home and their ancestral head is in Oyo, not Ogbomoso and you cannot force that marriage of inconvenience. They went to court because they want to belong to where their ancestral lineage is; that was the motive, I believe. As far as I know, it was not a political matter.
Before the injunction, how prepared was your political party for the local council poll?
We were one of the few political parties that were ready for the election. As a matter of fact, SDP spearheaded what we called coalition. We decided on that coalition because if you look at the trend throughout the country, since the state governments have been conducting local government elections, the ruling party in each state has always been the winner. We knew that to beat these people to their game, it is better for all the political parties to come together, form a coalition, align with each other and present a common candidate and that is what we did in SDP.
But unfortunately, when the thing was going well, some political parties backed out. But, till today, in some local government areas in the state, SDP was adopted. I can be specific in Irepo where the candidate who is going to fly the ticket of SDP is a Labour Party man. In Ibadan North West, the contestant on the platform of SDP also came from Labour Party. In Atisbo in Oke Ogun, John Otunla, a relation of former Accountant General of the Federation, is from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but he is going to contest on the platform of SDP; same in Kajola. We have many other like that but I cannot mention all.
The point I am trying to make is that these are things that we believe are going on well. The ruling party is scared that if the four political parties can come together and if you add all their results together, they will beat APC. That is one thing we believe we should do to ensure that his people are shown the way out.
Culled from tribune