Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State says his administration’s achievements are being leveraged by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, to clinch the state in next month’s election.
Makinde, who made was responding to criticisms from a former Minister of Power and Steel, Wole Oyelese.
Taking a swipe at the governor for what he described as an act of treachery for abstaining from electioneering for Atiku, Oyelese argued that Makinde needs Atiku to win.
But the Oyo governor fired back at his kinsman, saying the reverse is the case.
“Elder Oyelese is older than me and I will not disrespect him. But I think he basically stood logic on its head. It is the other way round,” he said.
“If our candidate will need to win in Oyo State, I will have to campaign for him because PDP in Oyo State is riding on the achievements that we’ve been able to make these three plus years.
“So, if he’s looking for a ministerial position – I don’t think anyone will give him a ministerial position anyway because the last time he had the opportunity, he didn’t do well at all.”
Makinde alluded to Oyelese’s alleged unpopularity, saying in the latter’s hometown of Erunmu, the indigenes “wouldn’t even touch him with a long pole.”
He went on to urge the former minister to be objective, saying, “So, you have all of these so-called expired politicians and then they go out there and say, ‘We’ve done this. We can do this.’
“I respect the opponents; I respect some of the challenges that we have to face for this election. But we are realists. We are driven by data and logic. We demonstrated it before.”
The Oyo governor said beyond personal ambitions, the demands of the G5 or Integrity Group – five aggrieved PDP governors who are rallying against the “unjust” party leadership – were about protecting national interests.
“If I will tell you precisely what is going on, the unity of this country is at stake. When they said, ‘Rotate. Let there be inclusivity. Get zone party positions – rotate it,’ it’s because we know that our federalism has not taken serious root.
“So, to compensate for some of the things that we don’t have constitutionally right now, we said, ‘Rotate the positions, do zoning.’ Now, we’ve disregarded that,” he said.
According to Makinde, party members cannot keep picking and choosing what parts of the constitution they are going to obey and disregard.
“The National Chairman himself was the one that made that comment that peradventure somebody from the northern part of the country emerges as the presidential candidate, he will resign.
“But now you are saying the constitution must be followed. This is the constitution we’ve flagrantly disregarded in the first instance.”
The governor called to question the recent dissolution of the PDP’s State Working Committee in Ekiti State.
“They said almost six months ago that ‘this is too close to an election to start asking the national chairman to resign.’
“But less than how many days ago, they dissolved the entire exco in Ekiti State. So, that dissolution is not too close to an election?” he asked.
Makinde did not hesitate to compliment his counterparts of northern extraction in the opposition who expressed support for a southerner’s emergence as the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate.
“I must give kudos to the governors on the platform of APC – governors like Governor Nasir El-Rufai [of Kaduna], Governor [Mohammed Abubakar] of Jigawa, Mai Bala Buni [of Yobe], Governor [Yahaya Bello] of Kogi.
“They came together within their party and they said, ‘For the unity of this country, let us sacrifice our ambition. Let the presidency rotate to the South.’ So, we must give kudos to them.
“But what happened in our own party? We were fighting ourselves and saying, ‘Our constitution can go to blazes.’ I don’t think that is right,” he said.
In the governor’s opinion, the principles by which he and other G5 members are standing will go down in history.
“The Integrity Governors are not in this to say, ‘We’re trying to prove that we’re right or wrong.’
“We’re standing on a principle and if you stand on a principle, whether you’re right or you’re wrong, may thou be left for posterity because all of this will come and go.
“In another four weeks, the election will have been won and lost, and then we’ll be faced with the judgement of posterity.”