Ifeoluwa Oyedele is a member of the Unity Forum opposed to the re-election of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu. He is one of the governorship aspirants of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Executive Director (Engineering and Technical Services), Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited. In this interview with reporters, he says the Ondo APC needs a governor who can unite the party. Osagie Otabor was there.
The Unity Forum recently met in Abuja. What was the motive?
The Unity Forum met two weeks ago as part of efforts to seek the way forward for the All Progressives Congress as it relates to the 2020 elections in Ondo State. We all agreed that one person will emerge as the candidate.
Was it for the purpose of dislodging the governor?
It is not about dislodging anybody. Every citizen of this country has the right to aspire to any position in this country. That right is guaranteed in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. If you are a member of a political party, you have the right to aspire to any position.
I was a member of the constitution drafting committee of the APC merger committee. I was also a member of the constitution drafting committee of the APC. There is no where in the constitution that says anybody who is a bona fide member of the party be exempted from aspiring to any position.
I don’t think there is anything strange in that. It is the same thing that happened in football. When the coach thinks that the most expensive player is not doing what he was expected to do, he changes him. The best coaches in the work are being replaced irrespective of whether they are doing well or not.
There is nothing like dislodging anybody. It is the right of any political party to determine whether they need a change or not. That is the right that everybody is exercising. The constitution makes it possible for the President to be changed after every four years.
It is assumed you are backed by the powers that be in the APC?
Who are the powers that be in the party? Every member in a political party is big and we have leaders. We respect our leaders. We defer to our leaders and our leaders have opinions. They also have a responsibility to ensure progress in the team that they manage.
Whether some is a favourite or not is not an issue, it is the pride of the leader to say at this point this is the person I will support. It is also the right of members of that political party to share and support that view.
What reconciliation terms will you accept?
I think there was a process put in place by leaders of this party for reconciliation. Once the terms of that reconciliation are met I am sure that members of the Unity Forum will accept the outcome. The truth of the matter is that it is the governor who has said he is ready for fight.
He said he is no longer interesting in meeting with members of the Unity Forum. It is the reason why we are where we are today. I am not sure that the party is as united as we like it to be. That is the reason some of us are getting up to say we need to rebuild the party.
We need to reunite our people for rapid economic development so that we can have sustainable livelihood for our people. Members of the Unity Forum wants unity in the party. We want all of us to be on the same page. We don’t think the Governor is doing that.
We don’t think the Governor is uniting the party. That is why the National Reconciliation Committee was put together to ensure that the terms of settlement of uniting the party is what we are looking for. Once we meet the terms put together by the leaders, it will just be an easy ride to peace.
How will the situation in Abuja affects the Unity Forum?
I am sure that will be resolved very soon. That does not affect anything. Political party has structures. When somebody is removed, you have to replace in accordance with the constitution of the party. These processes are well laid out in the constitution of the party.
What will happen if you are picked as the candidate?
Ondo State will be better for it. I will rebuild this party. I will make sure the APC is united in Ondo State and it will be strong again before the advent of this administration. Don’t forget that I am a founding member of this political party.
I was a member of the merging committee. I designed the logo of this party. Therefore I have a mandate to ensure that this party is run the way the founding fathers of the party want it to run.
There will an added advantage if somebody who knows the reasons, the nitty gritty of why this party was formed is made the Governor. Ondo State will be very lucky for that. I will rebuild and unite the people for accelerated development and I will ensure sustainable livelihood for the citizen of Ondo State.
I mean a state where the people can express their God given talent. Where you can live in peace and enjoy good health.
A state that can help to fund education of the poor, where quality health care is provided and develop deep sea port. I want to see Ondo come back to greatest producer of cocoa. Ondo State will begin to export skilled labour to other parts of the world.
What mode of primary will you or the Unity Forum prefer?
Any mode of primary as it is stated in the constitution is acceptable to me. I am not afraid of any kind of primary but of course it will in preference of the majority of members of the party.
What are your chances?
My pedigree, my capabilities. My integrity, record of achievements and the facts that I can be trusted. The fact that I am a person over the years can be trusted to do what they wanted me to do.
This is time for members of the APC in Ondo State to be united as we were and as we have always been. We need to queue up behind the man who is transparent, who has competence, who is a man of his word, who can do what he has promised to do and capable of taking the APC to that promised land. A man capable of turning around the near ugly situation we have in Ondo State.
How does Nigeria overcome its challenges?
We need to return to skill acquisition of the youths. Ondo State can earn N1.8trillion every year from agriculture alone. We need to return to the time when agriculture was the main stay.
The wealth of the old Western region was built from agriculture and Ondo State played a significant role in that aspect by being the highest producer of cocoa at a time.
Today, I am not sure what number we are in the production of rubber, I am not sure what number we are in the production palm kernel and the products of palm kernel.
The method of achieving these things to ensure our people can come together and give them seedlings is there. There are so many ways to develop this state and we can do it now.