Barrister Kenny Ayanwale is the publisher of London based Entertainer International Magazine, lawyer, farmer and a Chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) in Osun State. In this interview with RAJI ADEBAYO, he speaks on issues as they affect the PDP in Osun State and Nigeria as well other sundry issues.
The crisis in PDP was put to rest by a recent judgment of the Supreme Court, how do you see the judgment and what do you think is the way forward for the party?
The 94 pages judgment of the Apex court is a very strong judgment. There is no area of the PDP constitution that the judgment did not treated and it has resolved all the issues in crisis. And only those who don’t have the interest of the party in mind will still have problem after the judgement. The judgement is very articulate and has resolved any argument that may arise in the near future. I believe strongly that as we speak now all is well in the PDP.
There are some former PDP members who have moved to other parties, what is the party doing to bring them back into the party?
Party is working tirelessly to bring everybody back before 2019, look at Ondo when former governor Mimiko went to Labour, after he won the election he moved back to PDP, in Oyo State, former governor Ladoja was aggrieved he moved to Accord, former governor Akala moved to Labour and later to APC, but presently talks is in top gear to bring them back to their base, there is no party like the PDP, everybody can see it now, so belief me before 2019 general election all the aggrieved members will be back to their base and be rest assure that the PDP is coming back in 2019.
Look at the Senate, are they not the PDP members at the Senate that helped Senator Bukola Saraki to win the election as the Senate President because, they knew, he was part of the PDP but at a time, he is aggrieved like other members which I belief all things being equal all of them will be back before 2019 general election, you can see present minister of women Affairs, Aisha from Taraba visiting Markarfi at the Wadata plaza after Supreme Court judgment, where Markarfi declared that she is a product of the PDP and I belief she will back into the party soon, likewise others.
Another good example is former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, since the time he said he joined APC, have you heard him in public talking bad of PDP, no, because he know they built it together and he would not want it to be destroyed, he recently paid homage to Senator Ademola Adeleke after his victory at the Osun West Senatorial bye-election, so what are we talking. All of them are coming back.
Let’s look at last election in Osun West Senatorial District where PDP carry the day, despite the fact that APC control the state, how do you see that election?
Fantastic, actually the election is a message to those in power, those in government, especially Governor Rauf Aregbesola that the business is no longer as usual and that people has spoken through their votes, not by money or deceit any longer. The election is very good, clean, free, fair and a victorious for PDP across the board. So, all in all the electorates through their votes have pointed to the direction they are going in the coming election in the state. PDP won in 9 local governments out of 10 local government that constituted Osun West Senatorial District, that’s what they call hands down and by this, it is unchallengeable in any court of law, although it is a constitutional right for any contestant to challenge the election if the person is not satisfied with the result but I don’t think any sane person from saner world will challenge this kind of victory of PDP in this election.
And I don’t think any sensible lawyer would like to waste his time on this kind of result except those who have commercialize their integrity and dignity would come forward to challenge this result.
Coming next year, there will be governorship election in Ekiti and Osun states, with this victory for PDP in Osun West Senatorial bye-election, are you now saying PDP are to come victorious in both states?
In Britain and other western world people decides and look at things according to the opinion poll, the last Osun West Senatorial bye-election in Osun state is a symbol of opinion on what to come in the governorship election next year in Osun,and Ekiti states as a politician, lawyer, publisher and journalist, I do sample people’s opinion across the state, the feelers is that people have tired of APC in Osun state, a state that cannot pay salary nor pension, what a government, series of abandoned road projects, despite the fact of receiving Paris Club re-fund twice. The pensioners are suffering; the governor was commissioning uncompleted projects despite the huge amount available to them in the last quarters. Lots of PDP members are now performing government’s responsibilities as social corporate responsibility and community development services, even a councillorship seat from Governor’s ward will be won by the PDP in any election in Osun presently, Chief Fadahunsi who contested in Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s Senatorial District under PDP but lost is doing fantastic job in the District, Ife/Ilesha with his personal money to developed his constituency and the state.
Before the Osun West Senatorial bye-election, PDP was factionalised but they came together for the election, now after the election, how united is Osun PDP?
Under the leadership of Soji Adagunodo,Chief Gunju Adesakin and Chief Gbenga Owolabi in Ife, Chief Odekunmi in Gbongan, Fatai Akinbade in Ogbagba, Lere in Ikire, Senator Akinlabi in Ode-Omu, they have united the party and are able to take the party to higher level which made us victorious in the last Osun West Senatorial election, Honestly, there was two factions of PDP before the election, both factions united for the election and came victorious, after the election, the Supreme Court judgment solidified the unification. So, there are some who have moved to SDP, Labour, Accord or even APC but with the recent victory and the judgement, many are coming back while leaders are still working seriously with all possible available means to bring others back into their fold and I can assure you that all of them will be back to their base, PDP, before the next year governorship election and 2019 general election.
When you were mentioning PDP leaders in Osun State you excluded Senator Iyiola Omisore. Why this omission and who are those in the forefront of getting the gubernatorial ticket of the party in next year’s election?
The issue of party leadership is quite different from gubernatorial aspiration. Don’t mix the two together. As far as PDP is concerned in Osun, Omisore is one of the leaders. He is not the leader but one of the leaders but for him to say he want to contest the governorship again on the platform of our party I am totally against that. We cannot keep recycling a single person as if there is no other competent or qualified person. Myself also qualified and competent to contest the governorship of the state, do you think we are so daft in Osun PDP that we will continue to present a candidate that people have rejected in the past. Do you know why we lost the gubernatorial election the last time, it was because of the candidate presented by the party, and I believe that PDP is not going to make such mistake any longer.
Omisore is a strong party member, very serious party leader but for the governorship ticket of the party in 2018, please forget it and more so the gubernatorial ticket is not zoned to his senatorial district. And it is based on merit and the product we presented to the people of the State, we needs to be careful about the figure and character we are presenting to the voters, not same person and same character again and again.
Has the PDP zoned the gubernatorial ticket and which zone will produce the governorship candidate now?
People are clamouring for Osun West , but the party leadership knows the best and what next to do in that respect but the most important thing is that we need credible candidate, who is clean with integrity and has no issue with anti-graft agencies.
And assuming it is finally zone to Osun West, who are the people from that zone that you think, can carry the ticket of the party in the next governorship election?
We have prominent people that are very good and I am also a factor that they cannot do away with.
Who are these two prominent people?
To be honest with you, Senator Akinlabi from Ode Omu, a former Minister is there. So also is former Secretary to Osun State Government, Alhaji Fatai Akinbade from Ogbaagba. These two people are committed party members with good records.
There will be governorship election in 2018 in Osun and general election in 2019, what is Barrister Kehinde Ayanwale contesting for?
I am a PDP man, PDP member and a loyal PDP person to the core, I can’t say particular position, whatever the party decides that I should vie for, that’s what am going to contest for, if the party decide that my ability, capability and responsibility should be within the party secretariat, belief me or not, am going to do it better than go to any elective post, my aim, mission and vision is to serve the state, give back to the system and the people of the state, and for the people to see democracy working the way it should be, not by word of mouth, so am not power drunk for any position but will abide by the decision of the party leadership.
Presently, what interest me most is to work tirelessly to ensure that all aggrieved party members return into the fold, after that if the party leadership see in me any elective position, if they say, Barrister Kenny Ayanwale we want you to go for governorship so be it, if they say Senator, Reps or otherwise, so be it but the truth of the matter is that party decision is the supreme, so I have been moving round the state talking to people in every local government in the state, the youths, elders, artisans, businessmen and women to see the different between the PDP and the APC in the state.
PDP has been running the affairs of the country in the last 16 years, and APC in the last 2 years, how can you compare the government of the PDP and APC?
That’s very good question, when you are making comparism between the government of the two parties, this APC people have not being fair to the PDP because there is no government in this country that can match the success of the PDP government in terms of performance, governance, development and policies. We all know the exchange rate during the 16 years of PDP, we all know it now, within two years of present government, what of the price of food stuffs, and others but the best in position to judge both is the masses, and I think one of the judgement was the outcome of Osun West Senatorial bye-election, which I think people will judge same in next year elections in Ekiti and Osun states as well general election in 2019.
Sometimes I will amused when I heard Rotimi Amechi boasting that he has done this, he has done that, all the project he is boasting about were started during Jonathan’s government, what of Lagos/Ibadan expressway. And mind you, apart from President Buhari, Fashola, Fayemi and few others majority of the present executive members, including Senators, Reps and even APC party executives are part of PDP 16 year’s rule, so this present government is an extension of PDP government under another platform, which is APC. So, I can assure you most of them will be back into the PDP before the 2019 election and as such the PDP will come back into power to correct some mistakes this government is presently making in terms of policies and they were like players on loan , they will come back to their party which is PDP.
Some people are of the opinion that it will be difficult for the PDP to come back into power in 2019 unless the former President Obasanjo back into the party, what can you say on this?
We should not play God, and I pray longer life for Baba Obasanjo but assuming he is not alive today, God forbid, are we now saying the party will not win election any more. Yes, Baba Obasanjo is a factor in Nigeria politics but he was not a card carry member of APC before APC won in 2015, so, people should not forget that Baba Obasanjo didn’t say he was leaving PDP, what he said was that he was stepping aside at that particular point of time, for certain reasons, and don’t forget he also said he cannot destroy what he built referring to the PDP, so directly or indirectly Baba Obasanjo is still in PDP, we should not forget as well that National Executives of the PDP is working tirelessly to bring Baba Obasanjo and Alhaji Atiku Abulbakar back actively into their fold.
The National Assembly has refused to confirm Magu as the Chairman of the EFCC, but the presidency is adamant that who should be the chairman. How will you react to this development?
You know in Nigeria we are not of good mind. If any institution is doing brilliantly and its performance is affecting another institution, the institution that is affected will not be happy with that particular institution. The president as far as I know as a lawyer has the power under the constitution to appoint either in acting or substantive capacity anybody to head the EFCC, Magu is doing well and he is helping the country, you people are not looking at the damages that corruption is causing the country, you are only looking at the personalities involved. If they know that they are clean and have no skeletons in their cupboards, they should allow Magu to be doing his job. Confirmation or no confirmation to me is a ceremonial matter.
EFCC has been prosecuting many people for corruption but they hardly won any case in court. Why do you think this is so?
There is a difference between a security operative who is not a lawyer and those who are lawyers and who can prove cases in court. The EFCC relies on the Attorney General or agency that can provide legal advice. They should have the power and means of hiring good lawyers, experts who can charge the accused to courts, and then you will see that they will not lose cases again. But now they are not taking the proper steps.
Magu is doing a good job, but there is a Division within the establishment that should charge those arrested to court and the legal department that advised must sit up. My advice to Magu is that he should sit down with the lawyers , let him sit down with Attorney General office, sit down with Presidential Anti corruption committee led by Professor Itse Sagay who is a senior advocate to scrutinize things . They don’t need to come up with 100 charges to win a case; they must solidify the charges and do their homework properly before going to court.
The National Assembly in the course of amending the 1999 constitution is saying that the National Assembly members should enjoy immunity like the president and the vice as well as the governors and their deputies, what is your view on this?
They can say anything to protect themselves but I am sure Nigerians will kick against immunity for the national legislators. Even if they pass it, the president will not give ascent to such a bill and it will not become law, they want protection for illegality while in office.
Nnamdi Kanu has been clamouring for a Biafran Republic. Do you think that is a right path to follow now with the situation in the country?
We don’t need break up now, we have a lot of things in common, although Kanu is a brilliant guy and he has moved this movement to some level of acceptance especially among his kinsmen, even outside the country. Our country is big but I don’t want us to break into pieces.
Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani Kayode has been in the forefront of criticizing the ruling party, APC and the president, Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari. How do you see their opposition role so far?
Femi Fani Kayode has been talking well and defending the interest of the PDP, he has been backing PDP. He is the only one that has been arrested and he is not keeping quiet. You cannot compare him with Chief Olisa Metuh who has remained silent since he was arrested and later released. He has not shaken one day since he has been taking to court. He has been standing on his point and he is maintaining it. I can see him going higher in future. I wouldn’t be surprised if he contested for the office of president in future. He has put the ruling party on its toes, he is doing well.