A former Acting Governor of Kogi State, Chief Clarence Olafemi speaks on political developments in the state. In this interview with DAILY POST correspondent, John Akinfehinwa in Lokoja, the former Kogi Assembly Speaker disclosed reasons for his defection to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
What is the reason behind your defection to the opposition party, PDP?
You see, politics is a game of interest. I am a highly principled politician. There are basic expectations that I have as a politician; If I don’t get what I expect from my party, I will leave. APC is not my father’s party, neither is it my uncle’s party that I will say I will commit my life to it because of my father or uncle.
This is a party I willingly joined, believing that my peoples’ expectations will be met. With the public perception of APC today, if there is election in Kogi and the election is free and fair, you will be sorry for APC. I have granted interviews severally and was accused that I was insulting Kogi governor.
I do not look like an irresponsible person, I am 67. The boy who was insulting me knows his age; he cannot be more than the age of my first born who is 41years old now.
So, if you talk of being irresponsible, who is more irresponsible between me and the DG media who was insulting someone who is as old as his father? What he considered as insult to the governor are mere criticism. You can criticize positively and if the person you are criticizing is a wise man, he will take your criticism, analyze it, filter it and see the truth.
There is nothing I have said about this government or said to this government that has not come to pass. Starting from the crisis they had with the House of Assembly, which he inherited, to leadership crisis. I started by trying to help the government at no cost, because as a former Speaker, that is my own principal area that I know very well.
I was able to speak to the minority in the House, I was able to speak to the majority. I took the majority to the governor, seizing the opportunity of a ceremony in his honour. I was going to resolve the crisis without any problem; It was going to be give and take.
Of course, there was a counter advice, I saw it. I don’t want to ridicule myself as it became so messy and nasty, so, I quietly thanked my God that I have withdrawn from the project. Part of my reasoning was what was adopted.
What is your view about the ongoing civil service crisis in Kogi state?
When the issue of civil service came to the fore, I wrote and I granted interview. Yes, there are problems. When I was acting governor, I saw some of these problems. The method employed in solving the problem was a cause of concern and the impression people have when it was getting prolonged unnecessarily.
Their fears was that this man wants to cut the size of the civil service and he is unwilling to pay them so that he can make personal gains on it. They said your anus smells and you opened it to one or two persons to prove that your anus is clean. How many persons are you going to show it to? How many can he convince that he means well when people are hungry.
The numbers of people that are hungry are many, far more than those that are being paid. Some will be paid this month, second month their names will be missing. Third month, the name will come back again. Keeping accurate record of such payment becomes a problem. You screen today, somebody is cleared, and tomorrow he becomes a ghost worker, next tomorrow he becomes pardoned.
There are so many irregularities going on. And gradually he was sinking, and sinking and sinking until he got to the bottom of the ocean and could no longer come up.
With that type of situation, somebody wants me to wait in the party so that I can be rubbished. One was even saying I should go to a new party so that I can be rubbished. Which new party will defeat APC and defeat PDP? Where will they gain the strength, and funding?
Will your defection to PDP bring about virile opposition in Kogi State?
Of course it has started bringing it. Starting from the local government where I decamped which is Mopamuro. If you get there today, the people we have problems contending with were the PDP. Today, we have come to join them. So the so called APC is as good as dead. When there is an election, supervised by INEC, not election supervised by SIEC, I don’t need to start bragging, you will see the result by yourself.
When you move to Yagba East, where the Olomos, Erukutus, Sister Lamis, Akanle, Odeyemis has left APC, you don’t need to be told that APC is empty.
What’s your view on the alleged mal-treatment of founding fathers of APC in Kogi State by Governor Bello-led government?
We the founding fathers of APC in Kogi State have been relegated and dragged in the mud by the government of Yahaya Bello. That is why we are united. One, we don’t even know what is happening in this government at the Federal level. None of us have access to the cabal there.
That is why you find out that somebody who was a PDP man until Yahaya Bello was sworn in, today such persons are board chairmen in APC.
People who spent their time and resources are nobody. I was a former BOT member, I was member of the presidential campaign council, I have done my best there for them.
It is he who pays the pipers that should dictate the tune. If it is not interest, what took me to APC? If not me, the likes of Alex Kadiri, Bello Abdullahi, Ohiare, Late Senator Ohize, Senator Dangana, former minister Humphrey Abba, former house of representatives Ismail Inah and other strong leaders of APC; they have all been sidelined by the state and the federal government.
What joy will you say you have working for the same party who do not recognize you after victory?
What are the expectations of Kogites from your new party?
We have resolved that there are no permanent friends and permanent enemies, but permanent interest. Everybody has learnt his lessons. Those we left behind in PDP have seen why they lost the election.
Those of us who made them to lose the election, we have seen that not having influence on who succeeds former Governor Idris Wada is an error on our side, which is not of our own making. Some was natural, because we never expected Late Prince Abubakar Audu to die. If Audu were to be alive, no way he would have behaved the same way Yahaya Bello is behaving. I know him for over 30 years. Audu’s death created Kogi State’s current problems. I just believe that is the way God wants it. There is absolutely no reason why Yahaya Bello should sideline all of us, particularly those of us who risked our name to support him at the beginning.
The only response the governor’s DG on media and publicity will give to my interview was that I complain because I did not have appointment in the state. Which appointment? Me that has been a minority leader, speaker, and also sat on the same chair he is sitting and directed the affairs of this state? Sometimes, if you don’t have what to say you keep quiet.
At one time, he said it was because I was not made a minister. Why should I lose ministerial slot when I worked for the party’s victory? It was because of the imposition and impunity that created problems and destroyed the PDP, which they have now seen and APC has not seen, it will also destroy APC. There is no party that can flourish with imposition and impunity. I say with all sincerity, the days of APC are numbered both at the Federal and the State levels.
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