Chief Derin Adebiyi is the chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun state. In this interview by LAIDE RAHEEM in Abeokuta, Adebiyi accused the national chairman of his party, Adams Oshiomhole of being a PDP agent and an undertaker on assignment to destroy the ruling party. The embattled APC state chairman, chronicles what he terms atrocities of the national chairman of the party, among other issues.
The National Working Committee of APC three days ago announced the dissolution of state and local executive committees in both Ogun and Imo states. The following day, you came out to say the dissolution was an exercise in futility, how do you mean?
My stand remains unchanged. The dissolution is of no consequence, patently illegal and of course, I would call it executive rascality. Between me and you, Oshiomhole was only using the name of the NWC to perpetrate illegality, he is the only person that doesn’t want to see us because of his penchant for illegalities. How would you explain in an election year a national chairman behaving that way? All over Nigeria people are not happy with him in APC. I believe people are maintaining graveyard silence because they don’t want to rock the boat of the party because of election. If not for the interest people have in President Muhammadu Buhari, I can tell you as at today, there will be no APC again because of the actions of Oshiomhole. The man is behaving like an undertaker. And I have strong feelings that Oshiomhole is an agent of opposition. He was planted by the PDP to destroy APC because in my 44 years in politics, I have not seen anybody at the helm of party affairs behave that way, and yet, you want that party to win. It is not done! I have said it severally and I will repeat it, Oshiomhole is behaving as a trade unionist. You know that he used to be a professional agitator, he has forgotten that as at now that he is in executive position, he needs to exhibit characters of a good leader.
Your exco and that of Imo were alleged to have been involved in anti-party activities, hence, your dissolution. How do you react to that?
It is arrant nonsense! I have never involved myself in any anti party activity. To put the records straight, there is a procedure for punishing any erring party member in our party constitution. I have never received any query. And if Oshiomhole felt we have behaved in some ways he felt it was anti-party, he should have called us and queried us. What have the people at the ward level done? What have the people at the local government level done? It is just a way of calling a dog bad name in order to hang it.
You see, how do you explain this? We held a primary for the governorship after three days postponement due to the way Oshiomhole was handling the situation. We knew all along that he was supporting Dapo Abiodun, but the people he sent down here to conduct primary realised that Dapo could not win and 10 percent or even below of party members are for his candidate, he still went ahead to instruct them that they must return Dapo by any means. We raised some eyebrows and told him that if he wanted APC to win in Ogun, he would have been just an unbiased umpire. We said to him that what he was doing was wrong, but he put down his feet because he believes he has endless powers. But I want to tell you that at the appropriate time, Oshiomhole will know that he has no endless powers.
He did not stop at that. We were to have our legislative primaries, my brother, this man did not inform us that elections were to hold on the 7th of October. We left here for Abuja on the 5th to attend the APC national convention to formalise the adoption of President Muhammadu Buhari as the sole presidential candidate. I was in bed on the 6th of October when somebody just called me and told me he was the chairman of election panel for the legislative primaries. He added that he was already in Abeokuta for the exercise. I asked him which primary? I told him I was in Abuja and as the state chairman of the party I was not informed. I thought the person must be a comedian and left to inform the governor there in Abuja. When I told him, he was surprised that nobody told him anything either. As I was talking with the governor, another called me to say he was a member of election panel coming from the east. He said the then acting national publicity secretary of the party, Yekini Nabena gave him my number. It was there and then I told the governor that we must get a formula to get us to Abeokuta. And before we knew what was happening, we had started reading it on the social media platforms of those loyal to Dapo Abiodun, that their people should troop out for the exercise in order to show us they were on ground. They knew we were in Abuja, they thought we could not make it to Abeokuta on time for the primaries. But to their surprise, we made it down. These primaries were conducted by the election panel sent from Abuja, despite that we were not adequately informed, none of the aspirants loyal to Dapo could win a seat. So that heaped a huge shame on them and their cohorts in Abuja.
I was invited to Abuja to collect forms for our candidates. When I got there, I got the INEC Forms C01 and 08. We took for 26 assembly candidates, three senators and nine house of reps. I came back home to give the forms to those who won the primary elections, according to the list they gave to me from Abuja and which I crosschecked and confirmed with the one with us. My brother, after filling those forms, I took them back to Abuja and submitted at the national headquarters. And they told me that they had submitted everything. Surprisingly, when INEC published the names of the candidates, we discovered that Oshiomhole had fraudulently removed four names of the house of representatives candidates and substituted them with names of those they defeated at the primaries. When we saw this, we approached Oshiomhole and the people at the national headquarters told us that the list of candidates given to me was the one submitted to the office of national chairman.
All efforts to talk to him over this was unsuccessful as he would avoid seeing us. He was behaving like an emperor, a grade one headmaster and not like a team player. He is very arrogant, I have never seen such arrogant human being in my life. We cried over this but our plea for doing the right thing fell on the deaf ears of Oshiomhole. As that was not bad enough, when it’s time to submit the names of the house of assembly candidates to INEC, they did not give us a single form till the day the deadline elapsed. I was in Abuja for two weeks, hoping that they would see reasons, because I never believed anybody could do that in a democracy. But I was proved wrong by Oshiomhole and his co-travellers. The day the INEC submission deadline expired, I was at out national headquarters in Abuja and I was told unless the chairman reconsidered out position, there was nothing they could do. The national director of organisation called me the second day that I should send him the names of our candidates. I asked him that which list of candidates and he said that of the house of assembly. I told him that his office conducted the primaries, the results were also given to you and you have all these names, why are you now calling me? He replied that they just wanted to use about ten of them out of 26. I then told him that I was not ready to give him any name unless he was ready to give all of the 26. I also told him that I was in Abuja for two weeks and the forms of house of assembly candidates were not given to me, only for you to be calling two days after the INEC expiration of submission. I challenged him to tell me how they generated names submitted to INEC and he confessed that they filled in the names of the staff at the headquarters to beat the INEC deadline, because they have not resolved the issue of our candidates. You recall that on the 4th of November, we did publications to tell the whole world what Oshiomhole did. That day, the national director of organisation of APC called me again and requested that I should come to Abuja and collect the forms. I told him it was late already, but if he wanted me to come, he would have satisfied two conditions. One, I told him that he would tell me in writing of sms, the names submitted to INEC and two, he would need to assure that the whole 26 successful candidates will be picked by the party. He then sent me an sms that they submitted dummy names to INEC.
That was on the 4th of November. On the 5th I went to Abuja and collected 26 forms. When I got here, I called all the 26 candidates and presented the forms to them, explaining what happened to them. But I got a rude shock when I was nearly lynched by these people here! I was called a fraudulent person. In fact, I sustained injury during the melee. They claimed that they heard on good authority that the forms had been given to those that were loyal to Dapo Abiodun. I was surprised. They asked me to wait till the following Thursday to see the names INEC would publish. Surprisingly, that day the publication was done, contrary to what the national director of organisation told me, the names published by INEC were those that were defeated at the primaries.
Seeing that, I updated him about the development and he replied via sms that I should come and submit the INEC forms 001 earlier given to me in order to effect the necessary substitution accordingly, because 3p.m of November 30 was the deadline. I replied him to kindly send me a formal letter indicating the claim that house of assembly candidate names submitted to INEC were dummies and that he had written letters of withdrawal and INEC substitution forms.
When I did not hear anything from him, I sent him another sms emphasizing my earlier request, he could not reply me. That was an act of impunity.
Why do you think excos of Ogun and Imo states were singled out for dissolution?
Honestly, from my indepth knowledge of what is happening, in majority of state chapters of APC, what we have is a graveyard peace. Look at it, he said he dissolved the Kwara execute committee, that was even understandable. But a court has reversed that and said Oshiomhole lacked the power to do so. His abracadabra in Rivers State to satisfy one section of the party, today the party may not have governorship candidate there. In Niger, Ondo, Kaduna and other states, APC is in deep problem because of Oshiomhole. And like I said earlier, if not for the influence of the President, APC would have been dead by now.
Some people are of view that Oshiomhole might be playing the card of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who may feel uncomfortable with the growing political influence of Amosun in the southwest and Okorocha in the southeast, ahead of 2023 when APC will zone the presidency to the south. Do you agree with this view?
You see, by the grace of Almighty God, this party is in control in Ogun state as at today. And I know you cannot have 2023 before 2019, and I think if the view being postulated by the people is correct, that is politically wrong and morally unacceptable, and of course, they are putting the cart before the horse. If you fail to have a good outing in 2019, how can you be a formidable party in 2023? Personally, I feel that is myopic and balderdash. And I know that some people have what is called inordinate ambition, and if that is their ambition or plan and the reason for rocking the boat all over, I wish them luck.
If peradventure, your exco escapes the dissolution, are you ready to work with the party candidate, Abiodun and ensure his victory at the poll?
Why not? As the authentic exco, we will work for the candidates of our party. But as I am speaking with you, Abiodun has not come to visit the exco and this is because he knows that his emergence was controversial. He places his hope on the fact that Oshiomhole and his cohorts will dismantle our structure. He has been going to Chief Olusegun Osoba’s private house to hold political meeting. I am gainfully employed and I am here, so if anybody says he is a member of APC and needs my support, he should have the courtesy to approach me. We are available here, our secretariat is an open place, all our candidates should be free to come here for support. The analogy of what is happening in Ogun APC is like beating a child and asking him or her not to cry. Oshiomhole is beating us here and he is asking us not to cry. Can any sensible person dissolve about 9,000 people in a party, in a democracy? We have 236 wards in Ogun state, each ward has 27 members as executives. We have 20 local governments and we have 27 executive members per local government. And Oshiomhole dissolved all that! Haba! What is Oshiomhole’s interest? Anybody that has interest in his party and wants the party to win, will find a way of settling crisis and not adding to it. Everyday, Oshiomhole finds a way to increase the rift in the party.
With the majority of the governor’s loyalists now in the Allied People’s Movement (APM), don’t you think this will adversely affect the chances of APC in 2019?
Forget about the APM, APC will win next year’s election with a landslide victory in Ogun.