Honourable Adejare Bello is a former Majority Leader and the immediate past two-term Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, between 1999 and 2011. In this interview by DAPO FALADE, he explains why he is seeking the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to contest the governorship election billed to take place in the state on September 22.
You are one of the aspirants seeking to be the next governor of Osun State. Having spent 12 years as a state legislator, the expectation is that you will take your legislative experience to the national level. Why are you seeking the governorship ticket instead?
Yes, the decision to be in the executive arm of government this time around, rather than to go to the National Assembly is largely because of the discovery that even if I join them in the National Assembly, will I be able to make any change? With the level of the rot at the National Assembly, what impact would I make? If you are not a principal officer, especially the head there, it would be difficult. But if I limit myself to the administration of this small enclave called Osun State, I could make an impact and I could do things differently from the usual way.
More importantly, there is nobody, whether in the All Progressives Congress (APC) or in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), that can beat their chest that they worked closely with the last two governors in the state, Chief Bisi Akande, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and the incumbent Governor Raufu Aregbesola more than Adejare Bello. From 1999, I was the Minority Leader of the House of Assembly during the administration of Akande. If you mention my name to him, he will tell you many positive things about me, in spite of our different party affiliations. I gave pieces of advice to Baba Akande; some of these he took and some others he turned down.
For seven and a half years, I worked with former Governor Oyinlola and I know his minuses and his pluses. When people talk of the good aspects of the Oyinlola administration in Osun today, Adejare Bello must be mentioned. During his administration, there was no single workers’ strike in the state. It was because of the advice given by the House of Assembly through Adejare Bello. Oyinlola is a listening leader. I respect him. In spite of being a former military officer, he is a true democrat. Many times, the legislature would change many of the decisions of the State Executive Council and we would not allow them. Oyinlola is a good man. He was not lawless like some other governors. While I worked with Oyinlola for seven and a half years, I also worked with Aregbesola for six months.
Now that you are coming out for the governorship seat, what makes you think you can make a change?
I will do things differently from what obtains now because I have the experience. First, I was in the opposition. I found myself in government and lastly, I am in the opposition again. So, the three different positions suggest that I should make a good governor in the state, having worked with the three governors. In fact, I will combine the strengths and weaknesses of the three of them to govern the state. What Baba Akande did very well, I know. That man is a very prudent administrator. I know the minuses of Baba. He was heady a little; he woudl not listen, unlike Oyinlola that would listen to advice from the House of Assembly and that was why the man (Oyinlola) had a successful tenure.
You seek to contest on the platform of PDP, a party enmeshed in crisis, being one of the reasons it lost out in the 2014 elections. Do you think the people of the state have forgiven the party to want to vote for its candidate in the forthcoming governorship election?
The crisis in the PDP is because there are too many wise men and women in the party and where we have too many of those, there is bound to be crisis. I will justify that with a Yoruba adage which says, ‘Ti ologbon meji ban je isapa, omitooro e ni won o mu gbeyin’ (meaning, if two wise men are eating melon soup, because the two of them will want to eat from the fattest part of the soup, at the end of the day, they will be left with the watery part of the soup). That is the reason the PDP was in crisis and the opportunity we had to be in government for 26 years had enlarged the coasts of many of us. Therefore, it will be difficult for you to lord it over me and that was what happened. But, good enough, we have been able to overcome our crisis in the state. Last month, we did the congresses and there are executives of the party from the ward, local and state levels.
Are you now saying that the PDP is adequately prepared to win the governorship election in the state?
Seriously; I cannot talk for any other state for now, but the 2018 governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states will be a pointer to my assertion. I will be very particular about that of Osun. The APC in Osun is a goner. However, this is on one condition: we must not make a mistake in the choice of our candidate. That affected us largely in 2014. This time, we must be very careful. We must select at the appropriate senatorial district and we must select the best of them all, in terms of experience, integrity and administrative skill so that, at the end of the day, the people will have a sense of belonging.
There are some strong contenders coming from Osun West Senatorial District, including Senator Ademola Adeleke who, incidentally, is from your hometown. What do you think gives you an edge over them?
I have just told you one: I have been in government for 12 years under three governors. That should be a point that makes me tower above others. I said earlier that none of them can stand up to say he has that experience; to be a successful Minority Leader and a two-term Speaker of the state House of Assembly.
Adeleke belongs to the highest law-making body in the country, the Senate. He is a good man from my town. He has the experience but not as rich as that of Adejare Bello. Adejare Bello was practically involved in the governance of Osun State for 12 years and to be the number three man for eight good years, for God’s sake, is no joke. When I was there, it was not as if the word ‘impeachment’ did not exist in the standing order of the House or the constitution. It was there but nobody could think of it because I would not do anything that was beyond my office. I would not go to the governor begging for money for myself. I could only fight the governor if the allocation to the House did not come in time. But Oyinlola did well. He never allowed any delay. It was a priority that time, though the money was not much and Aregbesola also improved on the allocation to the House.
- I felt low whenever I heard an officer was killed during operation—Foluso Adebanjo, retired DIG
What did you mean when you said Governor Aregbesola has started campaigning for PDP?
Covertly or overtly, if you are in government and you are doing things that would make people feel disgusted about your administration, are you not campaigning for the opposition already? That is why I said what is left for PDP to do is to pick the right candidate, a sellable candidate without blemish, a candidate with experience, who has acceptability and integrity. If we are able to do that, honestly, we are already there in the Government House. This is because the people of Osun State — the downtrodden, the artisans and the civil servants — are tired of this government and they are waiting anxiously for the PDP to take over.
What are the things the governor is doing that you found offensive to the people and that you may wish to change if you find yourself on the seat?
Well, there are many of his administrative styles that I disagree with. However, there are some I can change with immediate alacrity and there are some that I will have to make recourse to the House of Assembly because we must comply with the rule of law. If you want to rule, rule by the law or with the law. For instance, the creation of the LCDAs or area offices. These are a creation of statutes, validly passed by the state legislature and there is nothing you can do about it. If you are not happy about it or you don’t want it, you have to go back to the House of Assembly to have a rethink about it. But there are some that I will revert with immediate alacrity, including the cancellation of the Modulated Salary System, otherwise known as half salary. If I become the governor, on the day of my swearing in at the stadium on November 27, 2018, I will make a pronouncement that half salary stops and full salary begins from December 1, 2018, by the special grace of God.
What happens if you don’t get the ticket at the end of the day?
If I don’t get the ticket, I am a party man, life goes on. I am not saying I am the best but I am saying that nobody among them has the experience that I have because I can combine the strengths and the weaknesses of the three governors that I have worked with and make good things out of it. If I don’t get the ticket, I will work with whoever becomes the candidate of the party. But PDP must be very careful with the choice of its candidate. It should not be about imposition from Abuja which I know the national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, will not do. And Honourable Soji Adagunodo, the state PDP chairman, who I know is a man of justice. All we are advocating is a free, fair and transparent primary and there would not be any problem. Whoever picks the ticket, we all will work with him — if the process is transparent enough. Nobody will want to leave the party.
The post Why I’m better equipped to govern Osun —Adejare Bello, immediate past Speaker, Osun State House of Assembly appeared first on Tribune.