PDP will win Osun West by-election election —Alabi
Senator Olu Alabi, a former chairman Federal Capital Territory (FCDA) is one of the major stakeholders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Osun State. In this interview with OLUWOLE IGE, he speaks about the chances of his party in the July 8 by-election for Osun West Senatorial District, among other issues.
AS one of the stalwarts of PDP in Osun State, what are the chances of your party in the election?
This coming election is not involving the PDP alone. It involves all the factions of the PDP and all the conference of political parties in Osun State. So, it is the conglomeration of all parties, who are tired of bad governance by the APC government and have come together to ensure victory for the PDP in this July 8 by-election.
Are you concluding that the chance of the PDP is brighter in the election?
The chances of the PDP have never been brighter since I joined the party like we have it now. In actual fact, everybody, even outside the Osun West Senatorial District, is happy. A cross section of people talks positively about it and this includes the market women, teachers, the clerics — both Muslims and Christians. They are of the view that it is a divine intervention that has made the PDP to come together to present Ademola Adeleke as a candidate. Our chances for this election are extremely bright.
Since Ademola Adeleke became the flag bearer of your party, what has been the response from the communities constituting Osun West Senatorial District to his candidacy?
Firstly, the sympathy of his late brother, Senator Isiaka Adeleke is a major stimulus to the campaign. Apart from Osun West, people across the entire state just believed that the PDP had done the right thing. More so, that the party that they expected to present him let him down. I am not even sure that the candidate APC is presenting for this race is even qualified for the election. But, that is story for another day. Everybody accepts Ademola Adeleke and I have not seen any objection to his candidacy. He is a very energetic person and he is known in the state. The family name is also working for him and he has a clean slate. One of the biggest problems in politics is that if you have been in a position and you failed to perform well, it becomes an albatross for you in the next election. What Adeleke’s opponent did when he was a senator between 2011 and 2015 leaves much to be desired, even in his hometown of Ejigbo. They cannot point to anything he had done as senator for four years. What is he looking for again and I may add, this time around APC has miscalculated because we politicians believe in fair geographical distribution of posts or positions and federal character is boldly enshrined in our constitution. Right now in Osun West Senatorial District, the Speaker, Osun State House of Assembly, Najeem Salam is from Ejigbo; the member representing that constituency in the Federal House of Representatives, Professor Mojeed Alabi is from Ejigbo town and now you want to bring a senator from the same Ejigbo town when you have 10 local governments, making up that senatorial district. Ejigbo itself consists of about six wards. I really can’t see how they are doing their calculation. Even within the party, some members are not happy. So, our chances of winning this election by the grace of God are very bright and people in town want a change. With the last election we had during former President Goodluck Jonathan time, people are now used to the word “change” and they believed that if they do not get what they want in any government, they will wait for a time to make a change and this is the time to make the change.
But, the line of argument of the APC is that the PDP does not have credible and sellable senatorial aspirants and that is why Ademola Adeleke emerged as your candidate 24 hours after he decamped to the PDP. What is your take on this?
They have to make a defence. As far as I am concerned, even the late Senator Isiaka Adeleke was a member of PDP. When there was a disagreement towards the build up to August 9, 2014 governorship election, he defected to the APC and he was given the senatorial ticket for Osun West and he won the election into the National Assembly in 2015. The present Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State lost primary election of the PDP and he crossed to APC in the second day and he is now the governor of Benue State. So, what is strange about Ademola Adeleke becoming our candidate. Before we picked Ademola, we had seven aspirants and all of them are very credible, including a former Minister for Youths Development, Senator Olasunkanmi Akinlabi. God directed us over our choice of Ademola Adeleke. In an election, the name of the party you represent will give you about 55 per cent votes, the rest depends on the personality of the candidate you field. In Osun State today, the name of the PDP is a selling political brand. When I contested for governorship some years back, if my steward then contested under Alliance for Democracy (AD) against me that time, he could have defeated me. He just needed AD as a brand then and I would be defeated. During the time of the SDP, once you belong to that party and you could win the party’s primaries, you have already won the election. Political parties win election and this time around, PDP is the darling of the people in Osun State and Osun West Senatorial District in particular.
Do you believe in the capacity of INEC to conduct free, fair and credible election on July 8?
INEC has always been my fear. The chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmud Yakubu is a perfect gentleman. Left to him, he wants justice to be done. But, what of the people surrounding him? Are they on the same page with him? You have all sorts of characters in INEC because the experience of what happened in Edo State, where the result of election was delayed and they said they were working on some figures and drove out all election observers, journalists and party agents is still fresh in our memory. Thereafter, they announced the result of that election. I am too uncomfortable with INEC. But, I can tell you that it is easy for politicians to rig where they are popular. Now, APC is not popular in Osun State and it is very difficult to rig and I don’t think any INEC staff will make himself a scapegoat in the state.