In this interview by Bankole Taiwo, Comrade Abayomi Arabambi, the new Chairman of Labour Party in Ogun State opens up on the crisis rocking the party as well as the readiness of the party to give the ruling APC government the boot in 2019 due to its lacklustre performance
The Labour Party in Ogun State right now appeared divided with the parallel congress held recently at the State capital, can you please shed more light on this?
Well, as far as I and my other executive members are concerned, there was only one congress in the State as stipulated by the party’s constitution which says that the national Chairman of the party will determine when and when not to hold a congress. The party’s constitution is supreme and thank God the Supreme Court has ruled on this in the PDP leadership case between Sen. Alimodu Sheriff and Sen. Ahmed Markafi where it decided that the National Working Committee of a party and the party’s constitution is supreme to the conduct of the affairs of the party. So, we in Labour Party have no choice than to align ourselves to the ruling of the highest court in the land. A letter to this effect was written to INEC and the National Working Committee of the party seconded the National Legal Adviser of our party to conduct the congress which we did from ward level to the State. The head of Monitoring for political parties from INEC, Alhj. Ahmed was there, likewise Mrs Oderinde and Josephine from INEC headquarters, Abuja. It was at the congress that I emerged as the new Chairman of the party. It is rather unfortunate that someone somewhere is the source of the other illegal congress held at wherever and it is no other person than Prince Gboyega Isiaka. I am to say the least very disappointed in him because I never imagine that someone of Prince Gboyega Isiaka’s status will be sponsoring division and unecessary agitations within a political party of which he is not a member. Anyway,they are all futile efforts because just as the constitution of the party says, the national chairman just last week inaugurated our newly elected executives and also affirmed my leadership as the one endorsed by the National Working Committee of the party….
…(cuts in) But just yesterday, the other faction of the party posted on social media that a particular high court judgement has restrained you from parading yourselve as the Chairman of the party, how true is this?
It is all lies and I have told them to paste the court judgement for all to see. What we have only been served is writ of summons to appear before a court sometimes in March. We got this from some disgruntled elements led by Oginni who is suppose to be the Secretary of the party but have turned himself to errand boy for Prince Gboyega Isiaka. Even the lawyer who took the matter to court is GNI’s lawyer because this same man for about a year held meetings with us trying to pave way for the coming of GNI into the party. GNI was said to be taking his time at that time to come into the party so it was this lawyer we were having meeting with for about a year. It is really an insult for GNI to be sponsoring any court action against Labour Party because this is a party that he has the privilege of becoming a member but destroy his opportunity because of his mischieviousness and political naivety. Can you imagine him asking me as the Chairman of the party to step down while he appoints his crony instead before joining the party. I however vehemently rejected this and ask him to please point out the reason why I am longer fit to be the Chairman of the party. He has up till tomorrow not found any reasonable reason other just being mischievious and arrogant. Oginni, his errand boy who was then my Secretary however agreed to cede his office to one Wasiu Isiaka, younger brother to GNI. I am so amazed that a politician who want to use a political party to actualise his ambition will first send packing those who he met in the party. His story is just like a stranger who is seeking for protection in a town but first want the removal of the king of the town. It is so unatural and barbaric. This is a man that has contested twice the governorship race and failed, so what does he have that I do not have that will now make me to vacate my office for any of his errand boys. You don’t have to destroy others to achieve your political desire. So, right now as we speak, there has been no court order and I have also told the man circulating this fictitious message to produce the court judgement.
How true is the allegation that it is the largesse of N20 million from Hon. Ladipupo Adebutu, one of the PDP guber hopefuls in the state that is tearing the party apart?
I have also learnt of the malicious publication to that effect which is being circulated on social media, the truth however is that it is all lies. Hon. Ladi Adebutu is not a member of Labour Party and has nothing to do with the party. Rather, it is Prince Gboyega Isiaka that is using his ambition to drestroy the party with the collusion of Oginni. It is a familiar route they both travelled in in 2015. This was how Oginni insisted on GNI in 2015 and even went on air to say that all other candidates had withdrawn. May be he collected money from him and thought that is how everybody behaves. Hon. Adebutu is in opposition likewise me but we could synergise if the need be in the future, alignment and realignment are not strange in politics but right now Adebutu is in PDP while I am in Labour. To tell you that Prince Gboyega Isiaka is not a serious governorship material, this is a man that will be taking offence whenever we criticise the governor of the State for his various acts of maladministration, corruption and the likes. Yes, I agree that the government should be commended when it is deemed fit but that an opposition will now be the friend of the government of the day even in the face of unprecedented sleaze and untold hardship is what I can never agree with, why then are we in the opposition? We are for the people and that is why we have been telling the governor to be alive to his responsibility and pay the civil servants their deductions, pay their pensions and gratuities running to several billions of naira. If GNI will not be comfortable with our opposition to the bad governance we are witnessing under Gov. Amosun, he may as well never be the kind of governorship material Ogun people are earnestly praying the good Lord to give them in 2019. We are always on the side of the people and that is why we criticise the governor for his bad policies but this GNI does not like because he is not on the side of the people, the more reason our people must shine their eyes before casting their votes next year.
Does it mean the Labour Party may in the nearest future settle for Hon. Adebutu?
The party is open to aspirants from Ogun West and Ogun East Senatorial districts. We have Sen. Adeola Olamilekan fondly called Yayi from APC and likewise Hon. Adebutu from PDP but Oginni would rather wrap all his life around GNI as if the party is only meant for GNI. I am not like that, I am very independent with a rich political pedigree having served at various capacities while I was in PDP.
As an opposition, what are the many sins of the ruling government of APC in the state?
They are so many, the sins of Gov. Amosun as far as good governance is concerned are really many. This is a governor that came from humble background but forgot and started destroying other people’s homes. How easy will he think it is for those people knowing full well that that was his humble background. I gathered that N7 billion was said to have been paid as compensation for people whose properties were demolished during the construction of Enu Gada to Lafenwa road that has been long abadoned. I was wondering what type of property destroyed there that could gulped such huge amount of money. They are all ploy to steal the State dry. The bridge newly constructed at NNPC junction was said to have cost the State a whooping 43 billion naira, this is a bridge that is not up to hundred metres. We even wrote to the Permanent secretary to let us have the budget but he wrote back to say the budget was with the Attorney General. How much is Julius Berger doing a kilometre of road? The governor claimed to have completed Akute-Alagbole road, Atan- Lusada and Lafenwa-Enu Gada road and wrote the national assembly for a refund but we wrote to the national assembly and even took them to court over this issue because these roads have been long abadoned. The government also spent about 2.6 billion naira for about 26 model schools each which have for long been home to reptiles and animals. Can you imagine what such huge tax payer’s money would have done if it was spent on our dilapidated primary and secondary schools? The local government which stimulates growth from the grassroots are in comatose, the cooperative deductions of about 26 months owed the civil servants are in billions of naira. This governor from the available document with us has collected 75 billion naira bail out fund to pay gratuities, pensions and deductions owed the civil servants but what has he done with it. The President felt the pains of the people and released this money for all these issues to be taken care of but the governor has decided to continue to run the show the way he likes. Our debt status now as a State is 430 billion according to documents obtained from Debt Management Office and we are servicing this for 65 years. The suffering and hardship this government has unleashed on our people is unprecedented and Labour Party is ready than ever before to put a stop to this by chasing the party away from the State in 2019.
What is your comment on the Colition Movement for Nigeria inaugurated last week?
We must commend our ex-President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo for his frankness and the timely message sent to the President Buhari. We sincerely hope the President works on some of the issues Baba Obasanjo raised in the letter. However, as far as the movement is concerned, the Labour Party is the Third force Baba is talking about because if he says PDP and APC have both failed the nation, then we are the party that is on a rescue mission.