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Agagu runs primordial govt– Olaiya Oni

Posted by By YINKA FABOWALE and TUNDE RAHEEM on 2008/06/30 | Views: 2426 |

Agagu runs primordial govt– Olaiya Oni


Counsels to the Ondo State Governor, Dr Olusegun Agagu and Olusegun Mimiko, his major challenger at the Election Petition Tribunal, hearing a petition filed by the latter contesting the verdict of the last governorship polls in the state concluded their briefing before the panel a fortnight ago.

Counsels to the Ondo State Governor, Dr Olusegun Agagu and Olusegun Mimiko, his major challenger at the Election Petition Tribunal, hearing a petition filed by the latter contesting the verdict of the last governorship polls in the state concluded their briefing before the panel a fortnight ago.

As the people of the state waited with bated breath for the tribunal’s ruling, Daily Sun went in search of one man who is a major force in the opposition, Dr Olaiya Oni, the Chairman of Mimiko’s party,the Labour Party.

A member of the Constitutional Conference, former Minister of Education under Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar, and Head of Service and Secretary to the state Government in the old Ondo State, Dr Olaiya, despite his age, is a firebrand.He spoke on his party’s expectations from the tribunal, the violence that has rocked the state arising from the outcome of the election, assessment of the Agagu administration and other hot issues in this interview.

Sir, the Labour Party has been barely two years since it was founded in the state, how has been the journey?
Well, thank you. Actually we were born in December 2006 and since the past two and a half years, it has been very wonderful. God has been on our side and as a matter of fact, the growth of Labour Party has been very phenomenal, that people now saw rightly that it is a divine agenda because we were born on December 14 and we went for election April 14 and today we have nine members in the House of Assembly. Parties like Alliance for Democracy (AD), Action Congress (AC) that are there two, three, four years had nothing, except AD that had one candidate and it was because of the collaboration that we had with them. By the grace of God, I am sure we are going to have majority in the House of Assembly.

Because most of the seats which we lost have been thrown out now by the tribunal and they ordered for a re-election. So, definitely we are going to have majority in the House of Assembly. We are going to have at least not less than four or five members in the House of Representatives and at least we are going to have a senator from Ondo State on the platform of the Labour Party. So, it is a phenomenon and the only thing we can say is that it is a divine agenda. I use this opportunity to thank the people of Ondo State for giving others a sort of spontaneous support. Then the leadership of the party too has credibility. Everybody is credible and everybody has been working without thinking of what I am going to have or what I am going to get and so on and so forth.

Everybody is putting his resources, even though we have no cocoa ports that are giving us money, but through individual contributions, the invisible hands of God, we are able to build up a political empire which is unrivalled in Ondo State . In fact, the PDP, which is in government, does not enjoy the sort of camaraderie which Labour Party people enjoy. Whenever we hold our meetings, it's just like a carnival and that trifoliate down to senatorial level, local government level and ward level. You will think that we are having a carnival. And can you imagine for the last one year, even after Agagu stole our mandate, people have been defecting from PDP and other parties to Labour Party and we are not yet in government. So, it is so phenomenal that we could see the hands of God and it is a reaction of the people of Ondo State to the misrule of Agagu over the last four, five years. Agagu has really made us try because he was running a primordial government! Agagu the father, Agagu the son, Agagu the holy spirit.

How do you mean sir?
There is nothing that happens in Ondo State that you cannot trace to Agagu's family. If somebody gets a big road contract, you can trace it to Agagu's family. If somebody has to supply fertilisers, you can trace it to Agagu's family. If somebody is buying the prime asset of Ondo State , you can trace it to Agagu's family. If somebody is getting a good promotion, a good appointment in Ondo State , you can trace it to Agagu's family. Of course, people who surround him, they are just being given peanuts. They have peanuts and I am bold to say that they have peanuts. It's only a few of them that are enjoying. That is why I said it is a primordial government. You see, if you are either Agagu's inlaw or you are his sister, or you are married to or his brother is married to your sister, then you will have your share from the state contract and other goodies.

You are accusing the governor of nepotism?
High handed nepotism, in-fact criminal nepotism. I cannot say, it is an ordinary nepotism, its criminal nepotism. In government, you should not use your personal position to enrich the members of your family. It is against the ethics of government. So, by doing that, he is flouting the ethics of governance and should go to jail for that.

If Labour Party is declared winner of the gubernatorial election (cuts in, by the grace of God), are you going to probe the regime?
Probe is a very harsh word. The word probe is not fashionable to me and to Labour Party. When we get to power, we are going to assess how Agagu has utilized our resources. In doing so, we'll find out the why, the how and the when. In doing that, if we discovered that the resources had not been utilized for the purposes for which they were meant, we will now ensure that they are used for the purposes for which they were meant.

That is by recovering them from where they are put. I mean, of course, if you take N500 million from the treasury, you say you are building a road and we get there, we discovered that the road costs N200 million. It means you have put N300 million in your pocket. So, it is not a matter of probing, it is a matter of assessing. We are going to re-assess the financial profile of Ondo State , then the project structure of Ondo State and so on. By the time we do those assessments, it's normal in any organisation, when we do a re-assessment; we have to put the resources where they should be. If there are some which you believe have been put somewhere where they should not be put, we will recover them and put them where they should be. That is what I am trying to say. So, I don't want to use the word probe.

How do you recover them sir?
Very simple, it's very simple. I don't want to let the cat out of the bag. This is a business in which I have been for the past 21 years. I have served 12 governors, so I know. I have challenged Agagu and Alasoadura, the commissioner for finance to a debate on their television several times but they wouldn't oblige me. I will tell them where they are putting their money without leaving my desk here. I will tell them where they are putting their money. I was permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance for two and a half years. I was secretary to the state government for two and a half years and I served 12 governors.

Agagu doesn't see the colour of a cheque or the cheque book of Ondo State , he doesn't. He depends on officials to do all these things for him and we know where to get our information. We know what he is doing. What he does is that Agagu believes in 'cash and carry'. There was a person he awarded a contract of N500 million and he gives a cheque to the contractor who will now go and cash the cheque. I mean, what is he saying? He is saying contrator when you catch this cheque, you can run away to London . He is saying contractor, when you catch this cheque, you can do what you like with the money. I will just say you can return part of the money to me. I don't want to say that one until we are there when we'll ask the contractor, come and look at this road, it was built for N500 million, built a road that's double, about the same time which is about few kilometres away which as about N200 million.

Is that a local government?
No, Elizade is a polytechnic. So, it is very simple, the bill of quantities was there,you know we have the price intelligence, the price statistics in the Ministry of Economic Planning. We know how much cement cost, we know how much iron rod cost, we know how much you hire a caterpillar, the bill of quantities is vey clear. So, from the bill of quantity, you cannot ... this road cost at that point in time, put 10, 20 per cent profit for the contractor. If it would not cost more than N200 to N250 million and you have put N500 million, in other words, the N250 million is somewhere. So, we will take it back, of course, very simple. In your organisation, you give your newspaper to a vendor which you give him 10 thousand copies at the rate of N10 per copy, that is N100 thousand. If it is at the rate of N100, that is one million. And he came back and gave you N600 thousand and he said he had sold everything. Of course, you will tell him that he's keeping part of the money somewhere, is that not so? So, that is why I said I don't want to use probe, but an assessment of the status of the projects in Ondo State in quote.

Sir, since your party came on stage, there have been some frictions and violence and the government in particular has attributed it to the Labour Party that you caused the state of violence. How do you react to this?
You see, Agagu believes in deceit and propaganda. If you remember Hitler during the First and the Second World Wars, he tried to let the whole world know that Germany had been put underground, whereas it was Germany that caused the First World War by the murder of Andrew Ferdinand in Sarajevo in Serbia in 1940. So, after the war, the whole world saw that Germany caused the war and they asked them to pay reparations. But Hitler turned the table round, too robust with propaganda machineries.

The whole world panicked minus only one person who didn't panic and that was Disraeli. But at the end of the day, he himself had to say well I think I have to fight a war to end all wars. At the end of the day, Hitler committed suicide when he discovered that it had been discovered. That is the policy of Agagu. Since day one when the Labour Party came into being, he decided in his mind that Labour Party must be destroyed. His boss, Obasanjo came to Ondo State and said openly as a president which was very, very unfortunate for a president of a country to come to Ondo State and say the flagbearer of the Labour Party misbehaved when he was in government and that he was going to probe him.

I am happy that EFCC replied the second week to say that Mimiko is the only minister over whom it has never received any petition, not to be talking of probing him and finding him not guilty. We've never received any petition. How can a president come and say such kind of a thing. Oh! PDP is a sort of disgrace. And what happened on that day Obasanjo came? Nine people were killed on that day that Obasanjo came. And you know in Yoruba culture and tradition, you don't use ox red dresses as 'aso ebi' (Family uniform).

They wore ox, blood dresses, I mean it’s not done in Yorubaland and at the end of the day, oh God; Obasanjo himself had to take cover when guns were booming. We have examples of 10, not less than 10 arms and ammunitions caught in government vehicles which are still with the police. But you see to Obasanjo the father, Obasanjo the son, the commander-in-chief, nothing happened. So, Labour Party doesn't have money to buy arms and ammunitions, it is only PDP that has money to buy arms and ammunitions. But we have been doing a lot of constructive engagements with them. You know, those NADECO fought Abacha to a standstill for four years without firing a shot.

So, Labour Party has fought Agagu to a standstill without firing a shot. So, it is the PDP that is violent. For instance, look at Tunde Awanebi, the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to Agagu; they said we killed him, whereas the last telephone discussion was between Tunde Awanebi and the driver of Femi Agagu, the Chief of Staff. And he was summoned to government house, in any case I don't know what happened to that case maybe the police are still investigating, I don't know. You see so many things, so many atrocities.

There was a time in Ita-Ogbolu, Iju area, six of our members were almost roasted alive, and they were in hospital for six months. We have the photographs with the police, in fact; we took the photographs to the Deji of Akureland to show him. In our own case, I can tell you that I don't know where I can sleep at that time; nobody knew where I sleep because at any point in time they can unleash terror on you. So many times, they wanted to bomb me in my house, they went to bomb the house of our flag bearer in Ondo, they wanted to bomb INEC, oh yes, they wanted to bomb INEC. And fortunately we got the information and when we got the information, we got to the police before they got to INEC, we had about 60 mobile policemen there.

So, they came back when they were doing a reconnaissance, how they were going to do it and they just met the mobile police on ground. They quickly ran up and held a press conference that Labour Party wanted to burn INEC. Then we said you stole our mandate; we need the document in INEC to prove that you stole our mandate, is it we who would want to burn INEC or you who would not want us to retrieve those documents, at the end of the day.

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