Adebutu Is The Next Governor Of Ogun State – Solarin
A fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State, Honourable Sunday Solarin speaks with DARE ADEKANMBI on the governorship aspiration of Honourable Oladipupo Adebutu, the politics of zoning and his aspiration to represent Ikenne State Constituency in the House of Assembly.
SOME folks will not give PDP a chance in the coming election, in view of the skirmishes in the Ogun State chapter of the party.
That is absolutely erroneous. PDP, as it stands today in Ogun State, is a very healthy party. Yes, we have passed through troubled waters. To God be the glory, we have been able to swim to the shore safely. I know the turbulence has gone down completely. You will not see the PDP of today as the same PDP when Ali Modu Sheriff and Senator Ahmed Makarfi were at loggerheads as to where the leadership of the party rested. That percolates down to the local chapters, including Ogun. It was true that we had some skirmishes orchestrated by Senator Buruji Kashamu and his group. But that has also been laid to permanent rest. He is no longer a member of the PDP because he has been expelled from the party. I learnt he has been going about, telling people he can’t be expelled. When a woman is divorced, he has the right to choose whether to continue to answer her husband’s name or otherwise. But that does not make her a legally married wife to her husband because he has been divorced.
Before the advent of Kashamu, Ogun PDP won all the 40 elective positions in the state in 2003 and 2007. But before 2011, Kashamu came into the party and members of the party became disenchanted and there was a lot of disaffection among the rank and file. But now that he has been expunged from the membership list of the party, we now have a party that can win elections in the party. There is internal cohesion in the PDP. Those of us in the party now know that we are healthier as a party.
You are backing Honourable Oladipupo Adebutu to emerge as the party’s governorship candidate of the PDP when Governor Ibikunle Amosun has gone to Ogun West Senatorial district to search for a successor. Don’t you think the pendulum may swing in that direction, with APC as the ruling party?
I am not aware APC is picking its candidate from Ogun West. If the governor has said it, we will wait till he brings his candidate from that zone. The issue of Ogun West is not new. It was the same thing we said in 2011. But the people of Ogun State did not see it that way. They voted for somebody from Ogun Central. Had Amosun not belled the cat that time, he would not have been governor today. He did not buy what the political class said. The political class may not eventually control where the votes will go. They can only influence votes to a certain degree. So, it is for the electorate to see the credentials of the candidates that parties have paraded. It is not the region of the candidates that matters. For a democracy that has endured for 20 years, people will be deciding based on a complex combination of factors beyond clannish, sentiments of ethnic considerations. People want good governance and capacity. The electorate will look for the candidate that embodies these virtues. People have been impoverished in Ogun State today and Nigeria as a whole. Nobody should take the electorate for granted. Ogun electorate want a candidate, who can take them out of the doldrums; a candidate who has the compass to lead them to an Oasis. This candidate is no other than Honourable Oladipupo Adebutu, who has the acumen, capacity, sincerity of purpose to actually govern the state. Ogun electorate are among the most sophisticated in Nigeria.
What are the chances of Adebutu winning the election next year?
His chances are very bright. I am yet to see a candidate that has lived in Ogun State for about 27 years uninterrupted apart from Ladi Adebutu. When you talk of grass roots politics, you will count him as one. He lives in the heart of Iperu Remo in the midst of poor people. He lives a class-less life. He didn’t say because he is from an affluent background and so he should be separated from the poor. I am waiting to see a candidate that has such social character. Ladi Adebutu is one of the single largest employers of labour in the state today. I am waiting to see a candidate that can tell us the number of Ogun citizens and residents that are on his or her payroll. If I see any candidate having the kind of social and political credentials as Ladi Adebutu has, I may say we are in a very serious contest. The Adebutu family, as a whole, is the largest employer of labour in Ogun State today. His father, Sir Kesington Adebutu has numerous Ogun indigenes working in his business empire. The same thing goes for the siblings of Ladi Adebutu. They have their economic empire built in Ogun State. The Adebutu family alone has no fewer than 10,000 people directly engaged in the business empire. You know what this means in the economy of the state. Honourable Adebutu has distributed close to 200 transformers across the state from his personal wealth.
Is it the turn of Ogun East to produce the governor? Some claim it should be the turn of Ogun West?
When people come with this kind of argument, we really have to look at it from historical angle and the socio-political setting of the state. Ogun State is broadly divided into two divisions: Egba/Egbado [now Yewa] division and the Ijebu/Remo division. If look at the way the pendulum has been swinging, it has been right and left. Currently, the Egba/Egbado is running on a second term of office and it was the same claim Amosun rode on to become governor. After this division is done with eight years, the pendulum has to swing back to Ijebu/Remo division in 2019. That is the major divisional path for the political configuration of the state. We must not drift from that historical direction. Don’t forget that the PDP picked its candidate from the Yewa or Egbado component in the 2015 election. In 2011, the Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) also did the same thing, out of the regional balancing. But what happened at the end of the two elections? There is no triangular movement in pendulum.
You are aspiring to represent Ikenne State Constituency in the state House of Assembly in 2019, what is motivating you?
I am being motivated by my penchant for good governance and quality representation of a very unique constituency, the constituency that produced a great icon, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Anyone, who will represent such a constituency, must be highly knowledgeable and cerebral. I am also motivated by the need for effective governance at the grass root level. I have lived all my life in my constituency. I understand the terrain and the people and the people in turn understand me as well. I am one of the best materials for the constituency.
You are running on PDP platform and candidates will naturally also emerge from other parties. How well-placed is PDP in Ikenne Local Government Area?
Winning an election is a combination of two major factors, among others. The popularity of the platform and the popularity of the candidate flying the party’s flag. PDP is not only popular in Nigeria, it is also popular in my constituency as well. That, combined with the fact that I have the capacity to give effective representation and engender good governance at the grass roots, having been involved in politics in Ikenne Local Government Area of the state for about two decades. Drawing strength these factors, I am sure I will win the election.
People have been representing the constituency since 1999 when the country returned to civil rule, what are you going to be doing differently from what your predecessors have done?
Ikenne State Constituency is an enlightened constituency and I must commend those who have represented us in the past. To the best of my knowledge and in my fair assessment, I will say they have done well. They have attracted considerable development to the area. They have made their mark and I can only aspire to better their achievements. Community job can’t be completed in one fell swoop. I will continue from where they have stopped, looking at the dynamism of the current realities. What our people in the constituency needed 16 years ago will not be what they need now. Once certain aspirations have been met, you have to move to another level. I will cover areas my predecessors have not been able to reach. I am not one who will castigate those who have occupied an office that I am aspiring to occupy. I will add my own value.
Does the politics of zoning favour you?
I will say yes. I am from Ogere Remo, which is a community that has not even occupied any elective position since the return of civil rule in 1999. So, if my community has not been elected for the past 20 years, it is time my community has one of its brightest sons to get elected to represent Ikenne State Constituency. I will be massively and with unbridled alacrity be supported from the home front and in the remaining four towns making up the local government area. The four other towns- Ikenne, Ilisan, Irolu and Iperu-have come to realise that my community, Ogere, deserves to be supported in 2019, having also enjoyed support from us in Ogere. If anything has to be zoned now, I am highly at an advantage to get it. Perhaps, this is why I remain the sole aspirant in the PDP, which is the dominant party in the area. I remain the best to represent the constituency in 2019.