ALMOST two years to the next general elections in Nigeria; various political gladiators have engaged in serious political activities, especially to be in control of the internal organs of the existing political parties. The battle for the soul of the parties is becoming vigorous due to perceived fragment.
It is obvious that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo State is currently undergoing such challenge as the party sharply divided into two major splinter groups, labeled LAMIST and SENACO. Members of the LAMIST group are said to be loyal to a former leader of the party in the state, late Lam Adesina.
While the SENACO members were those that worked with the incumbent governor, Abiola Ajimobi when he contested the governorship election of the state in 2007 on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
However, the Executive Assistant on political matters to Governor Abiola Ajimobi, Barrister Morohunkola Thomas in this interview with Mega Icon Magazine described the claims of loyalty to SENACO and LAMIST as a creation of lazy members of the party.
Is it true that there is crisis in Oyo APC?
Crisis? I can’t see it.
Some people are accusing the governor of not running an all inclusive government, that party-government relationship is not cordial as it should be?
Who are the people in government here, are they not party members? You want to talk about the SENACO , LAMIST which is a figment of people’s imagination. People use that to corner things for themselves. In this government which Governor Ajimobi is a leader, the so called SENACO and LAMIST, have their members here but when people don’t get certain things they would say they lost it because they belong to SENACO or LAMIST.
If you are not popular within your local government, if you are not hardworking within the party and you are not recommended by your people, you may never get anything .The governor will never appoint somebody without due consultation and involvement of the leaders in the party , he is always waiting for recommendations of the leaders.
Take for instance, the newly appointed local government caretaker chairmen, the governor set up a selection and appointment committee made up of leaders from all the seven zones, these were the people that sat down to take nominations from the various local governments and made their recommendations to the governor. Many of the local government chairmen that were sworn in were never known personally by the governor so you have to go back to the local government, you have to work in your wards and local governments, forget about whether you are SENACO or you are LAMIST, those things don’t work again.
What is LAMIST? Those people that said they are following Lam Adesina, you don’t follow a dead person, and what is SENACO, they said Senator Ajimobi Campaign Organization, is Ajimobi a Senator ? He is a governor now so there is no Senator Ajimobi Campaign Organization again, that organization existed in 2003, the man stop being a Senator in 2007, he is a governor now and the governor has said this issue of SENACO, LAMIST is the creation of lazy people in the party, people who don’t have intimidating credentials that will make way for them, within the system and now hide under the fact that I didn’t get it because I am SENACO, or I got it because I am LAMIST, that is not true, those era of LAMISM, SENACOISM is gone in our party.
What about the claims that the governor is not in tune with majority of the party executives and members?
Well I don’t know about that. The party executives were elected into office at a congress in 2014 and by 2018 their time will be up, you have to come for re-election. Has this governor removed anybody from the executives? He hasn’t and some governors have dissolved the executives in their states, but governor Ajimobi has been magnanimous enough.
Remember, these executives that are in place now, he was not the one that put them there, he had the opportunity of changing them in 2014 but he did not do so, so there is no problem when the time comes for the new executives to be put there, if you are interested you can take a nomination form, you run for the election, if the people elect you so be it, Ajimobi will not be party chairman, he is the leader of the party.
But party members are worried about the new concept of Directorate which seems to be alien?
There is nothing alien about that, if you read the constitution of APC very well, it makes serious profound clearly stated provision for the establishment of Directorate in the party, as a matter of fact, the constitution state very clearly, unambiguously that the directors ought to run the party , its only the party secretary that is supposed to be running it with them, all other members of the executives should be coming once in a while, so what we are running now is not a constitutionally provided situation, it is the convention, a tradition.
The constitution says a director should be there . Let me tell you something, late Chief Owoade was the Director of Finance and Admin in the party, if there is a desire now to have more directors in line with position held by Chief Owoade, what is wrong with that? Don’t forget also, when we were in Alliance for Democracy (AD) Opeyemi Bamidele was our Director of Publicity in AD that time even though, we have a National Publicity Secretary.
It was from there that Opeyemi Bamidele becomes Commissioner for Information in Lagos state, go back to the UPN days, Chief Ebenezer Babatope was the Director of Organization for the UPN even though there was an Organising Secretary, and Chief Ajuluchukwu was the Director of Publicity for the party. So having directorate in the party is not alien, it is in the constitution, in the AD it was there, in the UPN it was there so if APC put it in the constitution it should be implemented.
Who are those eligible to be members of the said Directorate?
That depends on the leaders of the party but they have to be members of the party who are qualified in their various fields. For instance, if you want to be a director of finance in the party now you must be a qualified accounting officer and expert in financial matters, this is a modern party, we are not running NPN, we are running APC.
Aspirants are already claiming to have secured Ajimobi’s endorsement, as a political adviser to the governor, has the governor anointed any candidate?
Does it make sense for anybody in May 2017 to be anointing somebody that will take over in May 2019? You know he is in position, he is the governor, if anybody is saying that Ajimobi has endorsed anybody they are illiterates, those who says Ajimobi has thrown his weight behind anybody are political illiterates. I say that with all sense of responsibilities that they don’t know what they are saying.
Ajimobi has no anointed candidate, he has not told me, I have not seen it in his body language, it’s a level playing ground for everybody, many people will still join the race.
How would you react to the perceived crisis in your party as over 35 aspirants jostle for governorship ticket?
Very easy! There are pretenders to the throne. There are people who are coming out because they want to use it to negotiate, its all part of politicking and I want to say that in 2011 there are about 11 people who jostled for the same seat with Governor Ajimobi before he got it. So in 2019, somebody will get it, when we get to the bridge we shall cross it.
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