APC has already won it —Osun Speaker
The Speaker of Osun State House of Assembly, Najeem Salam, is the chairman, campaign committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the July 8 by-election for Osun West Senatorial District. In this interview with OLUWOLE IGE, he speaks about the chances of his party’s flagbearer, Senator Mudashiru Hussain and other sundry issues. Excerpts.
YOU are one of the major stakeholders of the APC in Osun West Senatorial District. What are the chances of your party in the forthcoming senatorial by-election?
Regarding the Osun West senatorial by-election, I am not only just a major stakeholders but also the chairman of the campaign committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC). So, the planning, strategies and the winning formula are known to me. More so, my position as the speaker of the state parliament makes the interactions with our people a lot easier. In the last couple of days, we have been consulting with the party elders and loyalists, traditional institutions and the concerned citizens and we have been able to address some issues that could have caused some snags. A purely party affairs, together with our candidate, Senator Mudashir Husain. As regards our chances, I can disclose to you that with God on our side, and with the support of the people for our government, our party has already won this election. This is because the race is not a contestation in the first place. Remember the PDP candidate is a younger brother of our late Senator, Alhaji Isiaka Adeleke and he was lucky to have obtained our party ticket before he jumped into bed with his brother’s political foes because of the reason best known to him, and we cannot begrudge an adult for taking decision he considers suitable for him. But it is our duty to inform our people who voted for our party in the first place to stand firm on their mandate, and we have been doing that simply by reminding them what happened to them before our party took the mantle. So, it is a straight fight which would be won with ease, God willing.
Are your party’s chances not being threatened by the recent reconciliation of the two PDP factions in Osun State?
In the first place, I must say that I felt unfulfilled democratically that the PDP got factionalised when it ought to be playing the role of opposition, because I am of the belief that opposition is critical to democracy. All the same, the party crumbles like a cookie, because since the return of civil rule, it had been in power and in charge of national asset and resources, and that made its actors to understand sharing and impunity as party principles. So, it is understandable that it is still finding it very difficult to cope with the demand of opposition. That said, it must be noted that when PDP was one and solid, we at the APC trounced and trashed them out of power, and in the process the party lost its balance and deposit; its centre refuses to hold and it becomes everyone unto himself. So, now they have chosen to come together to fight the ruling party, I think it is good for them, but the bad news is that they woke up on the wrong side of the bed, and they are still sleep-walking in this senatorial election. The late Isiaka Adeleke is different from Demola Adeleke, and I think our people are very wise, and they may not want to gamble with one political greenhorn at this critical moment of our nation. It is a statement of fact that the PDP candidate has the right to throw his hat into the ring, but Senator Hussain as highly experienced politician, former ranking lawmaker of the Federal House of Representatives and a one-term Senator cannot be compared with a political apprentice. Therefore, their coming together is not a threat and cannot be a threat but a challenge for the dying opposition that is gasping for breath.
How is the response of the communities visited in Osun West by APC candidate to his senatorial ambition?
Very warm. One thing is that Senator Hussain did his best within the ambit of the law the last time he was at the Senate. Though he might not have been doling out cash to solve individual problem on a massive scale, the projects he facilitated to some areas, including Ede Federal Constituency, were very needed and highly productive. I am not exaggerating, but I would like to say it for the record that no Senator has surpassed his record and the facts are there. It is quite pathetic that we lost the great man in person of Isiaka Adeleke, but that could not be taken as a license to elect an untested hand who fails the simple test of political principle.
Are you not worried by the choice of Hussain, being an indigene of Ejigbo, a community that presently produces you as the Speaker, a federal lawmaker representing Ede North/Ede South and Egbedore/Ejigbo in House of Representatives, Honourable Mojeed Alabi. Will his candidacy not generate bad blood among other communities in Osun West?
The political culture of the progressives is different. It is not a culture of “turn by turn Plc” or winner takes all; loyalty and accident of history could skew some sharing formula with regards to position sharing. I could still recall that there can be accident of history in any political party too. I recall that there was a time, 2003 to 2007, when late Senator Adeleke and former Speaker Adejare Bello on the platform of the PDP came from Ede. But in the case of Ejigbo, the party took the senate ticket from Senator Husain and released it to Senator Adeleke in Ede and we were consoled by the House of Representatives ticket, while my speakership is on. So, nobody ever thought or dreamt of Adeleke’s death, but when the worst happened, the party felt the ticket should be released to the party man who submitted to the will of the party without rocking the boat when the need arose. So, it is an accident of history and the doctrine of necessity that skewed it that way. Fortunately, our people show uncommon understanding and that decision has made our party stronger. Yes, those who want to divide us will want to play game just the way they have reduced Adeleke’s death to a political bait, just that they have lost it on our side, but it is quite sympathetic that some people are hell-bent on reducing Isiaka Adeleke’s political stature in death.