A former senator, who represented Oyo South from 2011 to 2015 in the National Assembly, Olufemi Lanlehin, has said he is qualified to take over from outgoing Governor Abiola Ajimobi.
Lanlehin, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, left the then Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, for Accord when it was obvious he was not going to get the party’s governorship ticket in 2015.
Speaking to Sunday Punch on what role he will be playing in the state politics in 2019, he said: ”I intend to contest the primary election for the position of governor. I believe that I have the educational qualification, the capacity, the experience, the track record, and the passion for the job. Going by what I have seen, I believe the people are not getting what they deserve. First of all, the structure of the system is skewed against the progress of our people. There is a fundamental flaw in the constitution we operate, but that is a Nigerian thing.”
Speaking on politics in the state is shaping up for 2019, he explained that the contest for the governorship in Oyo State is essentially between two parties – PDP and APC, adding that “the PDP comprises the old PDP, that is, members of the PDP as it were, and substantial members of the Labour Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Alliance for Democracy and nearly all the members of my old party, the Accord Party, who were dissolved into the new PDP. To that extent, I believe the PDP has been able to put together a very strong, virile party that has a strong base from the ward to the local government levels in the state. I believe that going by the quality and quantity of people there, I have no doubt whatsoever that come 2019, the rebranded PDP will win the governorship of Oyo State.”
He said the PDP is aware of the fact that for it to retain or regain power, it must be a mass movement; “it must have the support of the people at the grass roots. And that is what the PDP has done. It has rebranded. It has, nationally and at the state level, gone through the crucible and it has been hit left and right and is now rebranded. That was why it went through all the political processes: it had its ward congress, local government congress and its state congress. Even at the national level, it had its national convention. Although it’s not been easy, because where two or three are gathered in search of offices or power, there is always a lot of disagreement; we agree to differ. At the end of the day, there has been a kind of agreement that we must all work together in order to reposition Oyo State and Nigeria in general.”
He added: “The APC, on the other hand, has been in power (in Oyo State) for nearly seven years. It has not had a single congress whether at the ward level, local government level, state level or even the national level. It is just a special vehicle that was used for a special purpose and, at the end of the day, when the purpose was achieved, they did not do anything again. The purpose of the APC, the reason why it was put together, was to get power. It never thought of what to do. They were so much in a hurry. They were so much enamoured with the need to get power at all costs. They had all manner of people of different ideologies who came together for the purpose of acquisition of power, and once that power was put in their hands, they were at a loss on what to do with it.”
Lanlehin said the Coalition for Nigeria Movement is not going to affect anything at all. “First, the people, who are supposed to be members of that movement, are already in different parties and a lot of them believe that they can actualise their political ambitions in their present parties. To now leave and join a movement, not a party, mind you, which has not been registered and will have a lot of people in there from different parties, is not going to be easy to merge them to form a united, workable movement because the time is not there. If they want to register to form a party, before they meet all the criteria, put all the structures in place and get to understand one another, it won’t work. Even parties that have been long in existence are still reconciling here and there. It’s a good thing that Chief (Olusegun) Obasanjo came out the way he did, but Nigerians are already aware of everything he said.”
On what he thinks about the push for devolution of power, the PDP chieftain noted that “Why should the Federal Government control the police when it is right there in Abuja and it doesn’t know what is happening in my local government or my ward? All over the world, where there is peace, tranquillity and justice, policing is done from the local government upwards. But here, it is from the top and so, we are not getting it. What is the business of the government with minimum wage when there is inequality in the cost of living? Even the minimum wage that is being asked to be paid is not being paid. But essentially, this issue of the Federal Government appropriating all the resources and giving handouts has totally made state governments to become beggars. Nobody is innovative anymore. At the end of the month, everybody goes with his bowl to get his or her dues, unlike before when we used to have strong regions, which controlled, to a large extent, the things that existed in those states and made the maximum use of them. So, we must go back (to that structure). It’s just simple commonsense. Our developmental trajectory from the time we had self-rule can be put into two compartments: pre-military rule and post-military rule. A lot of our development was during the civilian era of the pre-military rule and the military rule is akin to the presidential system because it’s unitary — everybody awaits orders from above and everybody goes lazy. That was how we find ourselves where we are now.”