Former Governor of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja recently disclosed that he would have rejoined the Peoples Democratic Party but for the cunning attitude put up by former Senate Leader, Teslim Kola Folarin. While speaking on a radio programme in Ibadan, the former Governor who is the Ekerin Olubadan of Ibadanland made it clear that though the option of rejoining his former party is not foreclosed, he cannot do so under the party’s current arrangement. The former Governor spoke on a number of issues including his relationship with the leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former President Obasanjo’s involvement in Accord Party as well as his current relationship with his former Deputy, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, who many felt betrayed him when he was unlawfully impeached.
While analyzing the Obasanjo years, Senator Ladoja said to an extent, Nigeria got good governance under Obasanjo. He said “the first term of Obasanjo was good, but in his second term, he started fighting everybody, It was as if he was saying I am in power, I am now in charge and he proved he was really in charge.”
On the former President’s role in his impeachment, Ladoja said “he didn’t believe in democracy because when I told him they would not be able to impeach me because they can never muster two-thirds majority, he told me two-thirds my foot. And that was true, but luckily there is a third arm of government, the judiciary which will tell you this is the limit.”
Senator Ladoja denied insinuations that he wooed the ACN before the 2011 elections and begged for the party’s Governorship ticket in 2010. When it was however put to him that Alhaji Lam Adesina said he (Ladoja) came to his house before the elections, his response was “Lam can say anything he likes but I know the truth. Let me tell you what happened, when we decided to look for a fallback position, when we were thinking of pulling out of the PDP, we considered various parties. ACN was one of them. I met him about three times. Did he also tell you that he came to my house two times?”
He disclosed that “the discussion was mainly on how we could get integrated into ACN. I saw that they wanted to see how they could use me so that I and my supporters would not get the benefit of the association, so the negotiation broke down”.
The reporter asked if the Accord Party leader said they wanted to use him because the ACN was not willing to give him their governorship ticket. To this he replied, “no, its not only about the Governorship, we needed to know, if we joined, what was going to be the sharing formula? They were not willing to discuss that and I know ACN very well. When you join, they will tell you that you will have opportunities as every other person. I know ACN very well; it is not always what you expect that you meet.” On how well he knows the Action Congress of Nigeria, Senator Ladoja said “it’s the same, from AD to AC to ACN, so it is the same people. How many primaries were conducted? The latest one, was Akeredolu a member of the party in Ondo State? They have their own method, if that method is working for them, yes, its good for them but I don’t believe in that method.”
Ladoja also debunked insinuations that former Governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu paid his legal fees when he was impeached. “After you were impeached, did you run to Tinubu in Lagos?” the reporter queried. “No, he invited me”, was the reply from Senator Ladoja who went on that “the discussion line was how do we fight it? I didn’t just meet Tinubu. I was in the Senate in 1992 with Tinubu, I went into exile and we were in exile together at that time. At least we were seeing each other twice in a week when we were in exile. So when I came back, he was one of the people who tried to persuade me to join AD but I don’t look at myself as an opportunist. So I did not take the bait. The opportunity was that we suffered in NADECO, so we should also be the biggest beneficiaries in the new scheme since it was principally mounted by NADECO machinery.”
Speaking further, Ladoja said “Tinubu is a long term friend, we met ourselves in the oil industry, so it is not a friendship of today. He was in Mobil, I was in Total. So if something happens to your friend, the best thing you can do is to say come, my friend what can we do? He actually suggested that we should take Wole Olanipekun, but I paid him.”
Then came the question “why did you go to Lam (Adesina) instead of Tinubu when you wanted to enter into negotiations with ACN?” Ladoja replied, “I am from Oyo State. Why do I have to go outside Oyo State because I want to solve the problem of Oyo State? Ah ah!”
When he was asked if he would have been able to cope in the ACN where Tinubu is the god, Senator Ladoja simply said “I don’t think Tinubu is the god, Tinubu is just acting the position of the leader of a party”. When his opinion was sought on whether Tinubu is doing well or not, he declined making any direct comment as he said “that depends on him and his colleagues in the party. I am not in a position to judge because I don’t have the facts that they have at their disposal.”
Senator Ladoja denied playing any contributory role in the decimation of the PDP in the South West. In his view, the “PDP contributed to its own decimation.”
On why he continues to receive PDP top shots in his house, the former Governor was quick to point out that “one thing you have to understand about Ladoja is that Ladoja does not hold grudges. If you are my friend, you are my friend. I don’t have enemies. Even if we disagree on 99 issues and agree on one, we will continue our friendship.”
Again, the reporter asked, “Obasanjo came to you not too long ago, what did he tell you?” His reply was “he came to Ibadan and he met us discussing the issue of Accord and he asked me what are you doing? And I said this is the cloth that Accord people are trying to design for themselves that they have just come to show it to me because I just came back. He said let me see it. So I showed him. He said did you tell them the story of Accord? I said I told them. He said what did you tell them? I said that I inherited it from you. So I said I actually wanted to come and see you. He then told me that he decided that if Mohammed would not go to the mountain, the mountain would go to Mohammed. So I am here, let us go and discuss. We discussed generally about how Nigeria would be better.
But didn’t they talk about movement from Accord Party to PDP, Ladoja was asked. “That has already been settled,” he said. Speaking further he said “frankly, I told him that I do not want Oyo State to become another Ogun State in the sense that if you go too far, people will go to court and you will be in court from now till 2015 or even beyond. I think it is foolish for any political party that is in opposition not to know that unity among them is the only thing that that could bring their salvation. Having laid that down before former President Obasanjo, he understood that Ladoja would not want to dissipate energy where there would not be profit.”
When asked if he was stating categorically that he would not go back to the PDP however, the former Governor said “I am not going back to the PDP on the present terms.” The reporter chose to probe further and asked again that what if things become well and good in PDP? Senator Ladoja gave an analogy as he said “people make parties, it is not parties that make people. If I am in a position to turn PDP into what Accord is today, that is a party where everybody is free, a party where there is respect for what the constitution says.”
Reacting to the next question which bordered on whether he would never rejoin the PDP, Senator Ladoja said “I can join ACN, I can join DPN, I can join APGA, I can join Labour Party”. When asked whether the fate of Accord Party is hanging, he said “today, we expect that people should come and join us in Accord, rather than we going to them because we are superior.”
He also made clarifications on what many now call the “inheritance” of Accord Party from Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. He stated categorically that “I did not inherit Accord from Obasanjo. Accord Party was lying fallow when we picked it. It was after we got there that we knew that Obasanjo had a hand in the making of Accord but he had abandoned it.”
He described his relationship with the present Governor of Oyo State as “very good” as he also disclosed that he and Governor Ajimobi are cousins. He however objected to the fact that he could hold the Governor to ransom if he so wishes. “He has not been able to fulfil all our agreements because of his party, yet we didn’t hold him to ransom.” Explaining how the agreement came into existence, Ladoja said “he (Governor Ajimobi) came to me and said egbon, I will want you to work with me in this government. I said in what form? He said I want you to allow members of your party in the House to work with members of the ACN. I said if it is for good governance, we will do it. And I consulted them and we decided to do it and he said okay, because we are now participating together in the same government, have 25% of all positions and not only that, you will appoint the Caretaker Chairmen, have some Councillors where you won the Governorship election and we counted them, they were four local governments, Egbeda, Ona Ara, Ibadan North East and Lagelu”
Senator Ladoja disclosed that his party has two Caretaker Chairmen presently and noted that if the arrangement was good, Accord Party would have had four commissioners now. Ladoja went on to say that the Governor did not keep to the terms of the deal because “his party was not well disposed to it”. On whether the ACN betrayed Ajimobi as regards the arrangement or not, Ladoja believes “that is between him and his party but I know he had problem when Lam said he should go and bring his agreement with Ladoja and the Accord Party. He explained what was happening and of course I know the dynamics of political parties. Some people may be telling him ah, why should you be feeding your enemies?”
He went on, “of course I expect him to keep the terms of the agreement. I know that he is a gentleman and he is someone that is able to overcome his problem.”
How does the former Governor feel about the exit of Hon Temitope Olatoye, alias “Sugar”, a member of the Oyo State House of Assembly who decamped to ACN from Accord Party? “I feel betrayed, that’s all but that is to tell you that a human being will always be a human being. Olatoye has his problems with Ogun State somehow, because that is where he was residing before and maybe he felt that because ACN is in power, they will protect him”, he said. He continued, “they said that he had murder cases in Ogun State, so if he feels that joining ACN will make ACN to protect him, good for him”. When asked whether he knew about the issue before the elections, Ladoja said he didn’t know much about Sugar’s past as he never knew him until he joined Accord Party. He also pointed out that Sugar has come to see him after his defection. The former Governor summed the issue up thus “he felt that would save his neck and if that would save his neck, should I ask him to be hanged because he is in my party? No. If ACN believes that joining their party would make any difference in his attitude or whether he should be held accountable for his crimes, that is left between him and ACN.”
Senator Ladoja also reacted to the issue flying around that he is not wanted in the PDP by the likes of the former Majority Leader of the Senate, Teslim Kola Folarin. He said “I think they want me, to boost their own image because Folarin came to see me in London and he told me that Oga, we are expecting you in PDP. But when we tried to check the PDP, you changed the names of the members of the wards and local government executives in Abuja. He said yes, but you know in the PDP, we hijack, a maa nja gba ni. I said in Accord, we don’t ja gba, we don’t hijack. We allow people’s will to prevail. Now that you have hijacked it, how will you feel if the party now says that they want to carry out a sane harmonization? He said we will go to court. He said Oyo State is not one of the states that they said the congresses were not conclusive and in any case, the party has recognized our congress, has recognized our Chairman and he has been attending the NEC meeting. If they try to tamper with it, we will go to court.
I told him I don’t want to turn Oyo State to another Ogun State where we will be going to court. It doesn’t pay. It will just becloud your thinking and you will not be able to carry out the normal mobilization and serve the purpose of the people of Oyo State.”
When he was asked whether Folarin was trying to prevent his from controlling the party, he replied “I didn’t say I was coming to PDP to control the party. When they talked to us, I said if you want us to join, yes the terms would be where we won the election, we would have the Chairman, where you won, you will have the Chairman and we are going to share the executive positions. ”
And did Folarin betray that trust? “he said he was not a party to that discussion”, Ladoja disclosed. He also disclosed that the discussion was with the Elders Committee of the PDP which had Chief Akinjide, Dr. Dejo Raimi, Dr. Olunloyo, Dr Saka Balogun, Chiefs Adigun Irawo and Adetoro as members.
“Was Akala part of it?”, he was asked. He replied “I was told that Akala set up the committee because he was the one who dominated the Executive also. I believe that wherever you find somebody like Saka Balogun, you should know that Akala is there, wherever you find Laniyan, who was the Secretary of the Elders Committee, you should know that Akala is there. And what really happened was that there was no party organ to discuss with. 2007 to 2011, PDP just had what they called Transition Committee.”
Speaking on why he did not rejoin the PDP, former Governor Ladoja said “it is God that didn’t want me in PDP. When Folarin and co came to persuade me to join PDP, they told me that a gba Akala ni (we duped Akala). And Akala came to see me again, I said do you know what Folarin told me? He said what? I said Folarin told me wi pe awon gba o ni (they duped you) and he said ah! I have realized that. So are you expecting me to also go into a place ti won ti maa gba emi naa? (where they will dupe me too). So that was one of the reasons why when he came to see me in England, I told him these are the only conditions. He said they have hijacked the party, they have recognised their executive, because Akala told me that they produced N 30 million to hijack the party. So where is the money that I want to use to hijack the party? ”
The session did not end without a word about his former Deputy and successor, Otunba Alao-Akala. Ladoja said he doesn’t believe Akala is finished politically. On whether they have become friends, he said “there has never been a time we were enemies. I don’t have enemies and I have never seen Akala as my enemy.”
But does Ladoja still want to be Governor? “that is left in the hands of God”, he said. “You know it was not my will to even contest in 2011, what happened was that Akala believed taking me to the EFCC would stop me from contesting. So I said okay, if that is the case, then let us go ahead and everybody agreed at that time that Akala must go. I wanted him out and by the grace of God, we succeeded in pushing him out. It was not because of what happened to me, it was because he was not running the government to my satisfaction. He did not live up to my expectations. I told him so at every opportunity.”
When the issue of Ibadan elders frustrating Akala was raised, Ladoja responded with a question. “Are you going to say Ibadan elders supported my administration?” he asked. He however pointed out that whether they loved him or hated him, they had every right to do so.