Former Senate Leader and the People’s Democratic Party’s governorship candidate at the 2015 election in Oyo State, Senator Teslim Folarin in this interview with Yemisi Ajayi, bares his mind on issues of national and state concern, especially the revival of the PDP. Excerpts:
Recently President m u h a m m a d u Buhari launched a Change Campaign what is your view of the Change mantra?
I was surprised about the campaign because I thought it’s what Nigerians don’t want to hear with me. I think the timing is bad and I don’t know who advised Mr. President that is not what we need now, we need to put food on our table, and people are tired of the change. Fine, we need to change for better but not the change whereby we cannot feed our family.
Let’s look at Oyo State, do we still have PDP In the state?
Absolutely yes! We have and we have people who have been decamping from various political parties to PDP, for instance the state woman leader of Accord party. We don’t need noise; noise would not let us win elections. We are planning to put ourselves together to strategise on how to claim our mandate back and it is about forming alliance with other ‘arm’ of People Democratic Party (PDP), if possible, because nobody can do it alone.
What do you mean by arm of PDP?
Very simple, if you look at PDP when PDP used to be PDP, we were unbeatable but later we had what they called Accord-PDP, Labour-PDP, and Social Democratic Party (SDP)-PDP. We are going to put our house together and we don’t have to be rocket scientist to know that, that is what we have to do to move forward if we don’t do that than the present party in government will win by 20 percent, that would be it.
How soon will that be?
That was why I said we don’t need to make a noise, we are working behind the scene and it’s difficult, its hard with the margin because there is a lot of vested interest and I think we would get there. The good thing is that we all know that if we don’t come together we are wasting our time.
What about the factions at the national level of the party?
You see, when we have Presidency for 16years we used to do things in certain ways a lot of people referred to the former President Goodluck Jonathan not because they liked him but they did because of his office so when he take decision that he wanted Mr. A to be the Chairman, it’s not necessary that you like him or you like his decision because he is the President. When you don’t have those entire tendencies that have been hidden coming to the forefront are the same things happening in Oyo state. Now, it is happening at the federal level, but the good news is that we began to see the signs within days and weeks of this administration. Don’t be surprised when you see us coming together, we have to come together and all our brothers who were loaned to the All Progressive Congress (APC) would also come back to the party and for them to come back they have to see that the party is serious. Within days, weeks and months you will begin to see the real PDP again.
What would you say on the new Local Council Development Areas to be created by the Oyo State government?
In principle, I don’t see any wrong in that. I must be sincere with you, the idea is to accelerate development at the grassroots level but for paucity of fund, that is my worry because? even the ones there now cannot be funded so where would the fund come from? I have a suspicion that it is not done for the right reasons. I doubt if the intention of the government for the move is right.
How prepared is the PDP for the conduct of local government election?
How ready is any opposition party? You see, that is a good question. One of my prayers is that government should call for local government election – that would obviously accelerate our coming together
Why the delay in the coming back together and would you say it is difficult to achieve?
Yes, it is very difficult because there is a lot of interest that we need to look into and also needed to be sorted out. But we will have to do it among ourselves because nobody will do it for us. Any resolution we come ?home with is bound to be lasting and for anyone to come from nowhere and impose any formula or decision on the party, it won’t work
With this issue of corruption against your party from the centre, that PDP has spoilt the nation for 16 years,, Don’t you think that will puncture the chance of PDP in the forthcoming elections?
This party came to power and it is obvious they are not prepared. Government is not a tea party. It is about facing challenges and solving problems, that is what government is all about. Yes, PDP is evil we all know that. They promised to change things. Now they see how easy it is to put food on people’s table. People are very tired and I think it is a flimsy excuse that PDP has spoilt the country. Their Senate President is from PDP, Senate leader, Governor of Kastina, Sokoto, Kaduna etc. all came from the PDP. So, which PDP are they blaming? Is it the PDP that chose to remain or those that has crossed to their party? That is not what we need now, government is about solving problems. Like I said, we are going through trying period? now, is it Jonathan’s or PDP’s fault that the price of oil collapsed? ‘NO’. But the truth of the matter is, when you want to seek for an election you should have a plan, you should be able to project through research into future by looking at what is going to happen in ten years from now and what scenario we are likely to have etc. We all know that the price of oil would collapsed, it’s not new, we have been told that there will be the shortage of cocoa in next three years in the international market, what are we doing about it now? I don’t see any plan on ground we are blessed with mineral and natural resources. When we were campaigning, we talked about cassava. The main stay of Thailand is cassava, Oyo state is the highest producer of cassava after Edo state, we have mineral resources like lime in Ibarapa, we have Gold, what are we doing to create wealth? Let me tell you the main key why Jonathan lost the general election, it was because of Confab report. See, the constitution remains the way it is, all the progress that we made, all the developmental projects that we made were done during the regional days since they had strong federation. Why has anybody done nothing other than go to Abuja to collect soup and come and share it but the soup is no longer there.
How would you rate this present Administration in Oyo state? It’s been over one year into the current tenure, would you give them pass mark?
They are handicapped because of funds but I am disappointed for two reasons. I think Oyo state should be far better than other state for two reasons. One, this government succeeded itself, so when they are talking of $100 per barrel, this government also participated in it. Two, I want to believe that we have a Chief Executive in the state who is knowledgeable in oil industry. I think with that kind of experience, they should plan so that Oyo state won’t suffer like other state now. They can’t pay salaries and even the Federal government could not pay on time.
Advice for the people of Oyo state to calm their nerves during this economic recession?
My Advice is we have to cut our coat according to our cloth. Those that have should share with those that don’t have and we should continue to pray to God and I am sure that very soon everything will be over.