Osun 2026: With genuine reconciliation, APC’s future is bright — Hon. Rotimi Makinde

A Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Hon. Rotimi Makinde, was a member, House of Representatives in the 7th Assembly. In this conversation with NewsDirect, the grassroots political mobiliser spoke frankly about the Tinubu presidency, labour strike, Nollywood industry, Osun politics and how APC can bounce back and kick out the Gov Adeleke-led PDP government come 2026 among other critical issues. Excerpts:

Let’s start with the one year anniversary of the Tinubu presidency, in which you were one of the key figures that vigorously campaigned for him during the 2023 election. The country seems to be bleeding, how do you feel now?

Well, there is no doubt that Nigerians are witnessing harsh economic realities and other challenges, but we must be fair to this government led by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. He came to power at a critical moment and he must lay the foundations needed to drive the economy and all other developments. By the time he took over, we knew where Nigeria was and we knew it was not going to be that easy.

My only consolation is that he has the capacity to turn this country around to an enviable status and Nigerians need to be patient with him. Even the best of reforms will not produce benefits overnight; we still need a bit of time for the reforms to mature. It’s not easy for anybody now but there is hope that things will not continue this way without an end.

I am hopeful that President Tinubu will fix this country. One year is not enough for an objective assessment given the rot he inherited but he is not folding his hands, his government is working and doing the needful but we need to have more patience. It’s a sacrifice we all have to make.

The hardship is becoming unbearable and the Organised Labour is kicking with nationwide strike, what can you say about it?

Nobody is saying that all is well but something is being done. They are putting up palliatives although the type of palliative I had expected was not to give out money but intervening on critical areas: For instance, providing relevant amenities for farmers for their agricultural activities, interventions on transportation, on communication, ensuring safety and all that.

Across Nigeria, a general strike demanding higher wages has brought the country to a stand still and you ask: is that the best solution? The protesters’ voices are loud and clear: the economic reforms, they say, have nudged more people into the abyss of poverty.

There seems to be a tug-of-war between the government and labour unions. The striking workers demand for higher wages are a response to the hardship, a call for immediate relief in the face of rising cost of living but the increment must be cautiously done or else you inflate the economy more and more.

I know that the reforms over time are indispensable for the nation’s fiscal health. I think that these reforms have resulted in short term hardship for many Nigerians. For us, strikes have become a recurring decimal, an unpleasant reality we’re forced to grapple with. It is sad that essential services have become bargaining chips in high stakes negotiations. The truth is that the increase demanded by the labour is likely to inflate the government wage bill by at least 9.5 trillion naira ($6.3billion).

My take is that both the government and labour must be realistic in the negotiations, be transparent and let empathy, wisdom and resilience be our compass.  I trust that the man in the driver’s seat will deliver the needed democracy dividend that will take this country to a greater level.

You are one of the titans of a movement called the SOUTHWEST AGENDA FOR ASIWAJU (SWAGA’23). That was as far back as 2020. What’s your group’s fate in this government?

That’s the truth, that no one can actually murder and the role played by Swaga led by Sen Adeyeye, Sen Soji Akanbi, Sen Gbenga Obadara, Hon Bosun Oladele, myself and others. We are still committed to our confidence that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed would deliver, we remain hopeful and believe our principal is a man that never overlooks good deeds as well. We are happy our journey was never in vain and we shall continue to wish Mr President well.

Your party, APC is the main opposition in your State, Osun today, what is the fate of the party?

I want to tell you that the future of APC in the state is very bright especially if we adopt genuine reconciliation and allow unity to be our watchword. Failure to do just that would be further disaster for Osun APC. We shot ourselves in the foot in 2022. PDP was never our match but Internal crisis and lack of commitment cost us unnecessary and avoidable electoral misfortune despite the fact that our party performed creditably well.

We are aware there are factions, which of the two major groups do you belong to, Ileri-Oluwa or the Omoluabi?

I am more of Pro- APC as a party and former Gov Oyetola is the face of APC. I am a party man to the core, there’s no controversy about where I stand, call it Ileri-Oluwa, I don’t care, but mind you, that was the option before me as Ogbeni Aregbesola was seen to have distanced himself and I was left at crossroad.  Remember, Oyetola is my in-law. I married from Iragbiji. That was the only sensible option before me… I hope I have answered your question.

(Cuts in) Not really, I asked because of the so much rumour peddled about your neutrality?

I am happy you called it a rumour and that I was neutral, if what you called “Neutral “is me not engaging myself in the crossfire between our two leaders, I will claim it and accept that I stood aloof. I am for APC, I was for Gov Oyetola because he was the party candidate. I called it maturity, you may choose to call it anything. My position cost me a lot in the two camps but God lives and He is the one that can vindicate.

How can you also make an assessment of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola as a leader of the party?

I will forever be grateful to Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola for so many reasons and for this, never shall I be seen to disrespect him as my leader and as a mentor. But I am not happy with the turn of events.

That is my principle towards any of my benefactors, of course, without being economical with some grievances in my heart, I feel bitter towards him because for his sake, I had so many enemies for myself especially in Ile-Ife when he contested for his second term, and he won the 2014 election against Sen Iyiola Omisore who is from my local government.

But thereafter, he had the state mercenaries to support me. I was unprotected when it was the turn for my own election barely six months after. I had to face a lot of challenges which also included security. Late Oba Sijuade (May his soul rest in peace) was so unhappy with me despite my closeness to him. He was so keen to have an Ife born as governor but I had to be loyal to my party. Baba told me I may not win the election before election day and he gave me a genuine reason. “Rotimi, you are too hard on Omisore!”

Snowball to 2015, my election year. The aggression and gang up against me was damn too much for me to bear. The likes of Sen Iyiola Omisore and others were out to take electoral revenge on me. With a billion naira, it became hard to win the election, he was then the immediate past and embittered governorship candidate of the PDP, they were not comfortable with my role against his ambition.

I was damn committed to my party against him in Ile-Ife, same position was shared also by  Prof Wale Ladipo also from the same ward in Ife East, he was serving as the PDP National Secretary, he too must be seen to deliver his constituency against my party despite his love for me, all these great politicians of Ile-Ife actually knew I was the best to represent Ife but they were so helpless.

They all recognise the benefit of a community to have a ranking in the National Assembly. Chief Femi Fani Kayode too was one of them as a member of the PDP and also from Ife East, he is my person and someone who loves me so dearly. I was once in solidarity with him as I attended his court cases even as an opposition, he too was then serving as the PDP spokesperson, he too needed to deliver his home, all of them combined together descended on me on the election day with the support of the police who were there to protect the interest of President Jonathan.

It was just a mere six months after my total suicidal and after my fanatical support for my party and in particular my Gov Aregbesola’s victory which was championed by me, at least, in my constituency as the serving House of Representatives member. An Ife man lost the election and many of our people felt bad towards me and also Senator Jide Omoworare, they expected us to work for our kinsman Sen Omisore. Very few understand the need for us to be loyal to our party and so the community concluded that we contributed to PDP’s loss and so in 2015 we must be voted out as the payback for what they called a sin.

That explains why I lost the 2015 election; this is the first time I would speak on this, it was never because I failed in my responsibilities as a legislator. My record remains in public. On the day of election, I did all I could to win all local governments outside Ile-Ife, I won in Ife-South, Ife-North and Modakeke but lost where I was born, Ife East and Ife Central with higher population to Hon. Abiodun Adeogun, he was fully supported by all these PDP people mentioned, not just me, my party lost the Senate election too in Ife axis but my co-traveller, Sen Babajide Omoworare was however lucky, he had his way through votes from Ijesha-land unlike me. I needed to win the majority of the votes cast in the Ife Federal constituency. I simply paid the price of being a true party man and for the loyalty to my governor. Many wrongly saw it as betraying my own people from winning the governorship election… May God never put us on such a cross road.

Having lost the election of 2015, was there any compensation for you from your governorship candidate that won?

That is the irony of politics and what I continue to see as a big lesson I got in politics and what I termed as sin done on me. The same Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola to whom I laboured so much for couldn’t protect me when it mattered most or save me from total ridicule in my community, at least  compensate me with a good post.

Three of us who could not make our return to the National Assembly expected so much as he began his second term. APC is very funny when it comes to reward, despite the fact that we were there for him wholeheartedly, and I personally, made so many enemies at home. Not a single reward came for almost three years in his second term, I saw hell. He preferred to govern our state without a cabinet for almost three years. He abandoned most of us that put our life on the line to ensure he was victorious.

He never made a case for my former colleagues from Osun State who also couldn’t return in 2015. Hon Nathaniel Agunbiade, Hon Adetunji Ajagbe and myself, were left in the cold. I honestly felt that wasn’t fair enough. We were ready to work even without pay.

No one can change this fact in history; it is on record that he governed our dear state with such an unprecedented record and without a cabinet for close to three solid years. I guess that prompted why a law was passed by our colleagues in the 8th assembly that now made it mandatory and with a specific time frame for an elected executive to form a cabinet.. Beautiful I would say.

 It’s like you are still bitter towards him or are you sympathising with former Gov Oyetola against him?

This has nothing to do with Governor Oyetola and I am not bitter, because I am not perfect either. While Aregbesola holds the aces, many know I was so committed, the same I have to do for Gov Oyetola.To those who know me well, I don’t keep malice or harbour grudges against people. I am who I am. I don’t worship people. The truth is that It was a big challenge to control my bitterness against Ogbeni at that time, not with the ongoing crisis in Osun.

I must not appear in the crossfire despite my reservation for him, I also know him as someone who always find it hard to listen or accept flaws. Nevertheless, I owe him the respect, the gratitude and so I have to watch what I say about him as my leader. I hate to be described as an ingrate in life or to be seen as fighting someone on what I know little or nothing about.

Another challenge is the scar in my heart and how I have to align with Sen Iyiola Omisore who crossed to APC through the coalition that produced Gov Oyetola in 2018 and an episode that brought about we all to drop our ambition and allow him to line up those who came with him as against our core loyalists.

This was the agreement reached by our leaders. Leaders can do no wrong. We accepted our fate. That was part of what laid a foundation for all these silent bickering and grievances till today in Osun State. Hon Dayo Eluyemi, Barr Bada Olamilekan and many others who have emerged at our primary were asked to step down through the agreement  reached by our leader following the coalition and those of us on ground were treated like minor we are, despite  the fact that we are not privy to the agreement.

I am not sure Ogbeni the then governor was in the picture too, and so also Alh Oyetola in fairness to him. We were too panicked. All these started the problem and the silent malice that dragged the party back though unknown to our leaders at national level; they ignored all these aggrieved people up till the next election of 2022…

 What is your relationship with Senator Omisore now?

Very cordial, well I can’t but to align and relate with Sen Iyiola Omisore who is now back to our party and automatically my leader, it was an opportunity created by coalition to send signal to my people that we are now on one page to bail our community Ile-Ife, its environs and moreso to ensure victory for Alh Oyetola who happens to be my in-law and the symbol of our party.

What is his perspective about Ogbeni Aregbesola and your relationship?

I am not sure if he’s comfortable with me and my neutral position. I feel the three of them namely Oyetola, Omisore, and Aregbesola deserve my utmost respect. The imbroglio divided too many of us to operate at different frequencies all of which are not in tandem with my principles to make no further enemies in life. Not anymore.To swim well in these circumstances was a big task. I can’t continue to be at malice with Sen Omisore and find happiness in the eyes of my people. It will be unfair for me to take on Ogbeni, no, I would rather continue to keep mute and allow the elders resolve their matters. That’s my position. Though it cost me a lot but I don’t care, my loyalty is to my conscience.

Do you still visit Ogbeni given that you seem to be still unhappy?

I saw him once when he was a Minister, I went to his office, I never sneaked in. I told the then governor of my intention, many who saw me see it as a topic of gossip. I really  don’t care, he too, spoke to me with caution. I went there as I understand he expected me to queue along and that he was feeling disappointed towards me because he expected so much from me as his mentee. Well, I decided to follow my instinct and to stop recruiting further enemies on behalf of him or any others.

He had shunned me twice publicly but no problem about that, he remained my leader and it’s not compulsory for him to love me the way I do. That’s life. I became an apostle of peace on their imbroglio and that I guess is costing me a lot from both ends. I must confess, I am still in suspense and wondering why it is so hot as this. I am not comfortable with all the ugly things happening in the state and most especially the position of the Omoluabi group which somehow contributed to our woes and the undeserved defeat of 2022, incidentally most of this set of people in Omoluabi are friends to me.

It’s like we voluntarily dropped our mantle to the PDP in 2022, we went into that election divided as a party. At several forums before the election, I warned the party ahead but no one listened to me. Some bootlickers almost gave me the name I do not deserve because of my sincere prayers for peace.

 What is your feeling now as part of the struggle group who took over from the State from Governor Oyinlola in 2010? 

Any of us who played an active role towards the takeover of the state from the Gov Oyinlola, a movement of Oranmiyan led by our leader Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola can never be happy with this sad scenario at play.

I am bitter and feeling bad towards whoever played one satanic role or the other that made us lose that state and I must be quick to state this, I pity the teeming majority of our party followers who have not benefited anything. Let me repeat again that it is pertinent to state that  the governments of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and Alh Oyetola in my own perspective did very well in governance while our party was in the government of Osun State, both of them performed credibly well. It is sad that the devil crept in.

 Having said that, what is the way out to all these problems facing the party? 

The way forward is for a genuine reconciliation, Alhaji Tajudeen Lawal the State APC Chairman is on the right path, he is a brother, he needs all our support and honest reconciliation to change the tide. It is a big task and very doable. Personally, I have promised the party through him of my usual total support in order to move the party to the promised land…

What do you think will be the most deciding factor for victory towards the next governorship election in your state?

Yes, that is a good question, Whoever that will flag our governorship ticket shall be the deciding factor of what is to become of us come 2026. We need a bridge builder who must be acceptable to the aggrieved and the good people of Osun State.

To the best of my opinion, Alhaji Adegboyega Oyetola has the right of the first refusal and the honour and respect should be for him. Of course, I wish we could know his mind earlier. We need to know our next move. Osun people know we are better in governance.

The party must recognise the need for genuine reconciliation and must show enough interest in winning formulary. The eagerness of the people of Ile-Ife as a community to rule the state cannot be overemphasised. Of course, Ife federal constituency has the capacity,  population and experienced men of honour that are eminently qualified in the four local governments and Modakeke Ife, the area office. It is easy to defeat the PDP if we put our house in order and review our reward system and pursue genuine reconciliation.The big question is, are we together?.

So what would you recommend as a way forward for your party to triumph come 2026?              

I have answered it partly in your other questions but the situation has become so bad that there seems to be no meeting point between our two key leaders. So bad that the Omoluabi group appears to be feeling comfortable with the PDP in power and would rather prefer them back to power instead of APC. It is as bad as that. I would have loved to see the party having someone who will be at peace in the eyes of both groups but I doubt who will be so qualified for such a cut across role. This and many more happenings in the political arena is changing my principle.

I have come to realise that political party is just a platform. There is not much difference in parties but the players and their interests. The incident that happened on the eve of my election that caused the death of five innocent people on the altar of a church when the opposition came for my life almost turned me into a monster in politics, but I have stopped to dwell on such. Even as I have forgiven the unknown assailant, it’s still a kind of perpetual scar in my heart. I can’t help but continue to pray for their souls to rest in peace.

You are not just a politician but also part of the Nollywood movie industry or are you out?

To God be the glory, if you call me a member of the Nollywood Industry, business mogul, or a broadcaster you are not mistaken. The truth is that I became very selective in the script though I have always done so even when I was very active. The role has to be of good standard and this most of my Nollywood colleagues saw as pride. Aside from a few producers, I am not comfortable with some storylines in circulation this days unlike in our own era…I acted in about 200 movies and produced about 10 which are still talk of the town.

Check out my movie of about 20 years old: Enikan o laiye, Ojo Eye, Eniyan lo buruju and others out, you will be proud of my productions. Fast track to the present, most of them are bad, then we create time to help each other on storyline, but today one can’t even suggest free time to any of them, they easily pick offence and some of them would want me to stake my face on wishy washy stories. No, I am not ready for that, I am not begging for fame but to protect my integrity.

Well, I still relate well with the industry practitioners except those who may be having a kind of inferiority complex towards me. I have respect for all and especially my seniors in the industry of course, and this includes Mr  Muka Ray who is even my junior in age. I am the first Nollywood person to be so elected in the National Assembly, no one can take that off me.

Also, many think I have become more expensive to be hired. No,I am ever available if your script is superb. I remember I acted in a couple of movies even as a serving honourable without receiving a dime. If I go back fully now as demanded by my fans..Some of them may feel somehow and may think that I am coming back because I am in penury since I am not in government now. Very few of them know me as very comfortable before and after politics. I have no plan to quit anyway.I am coming back fully.

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