Adeleke can’t stop my ascension as Osun PDP chairman – Babarinde

head of the chairmanship race in the Osun State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a former senatorial leader of the party in the state, Funmiso Babarinde, who is also a contestant for the chairmanship, speaks with Toba Adedeji in this interview.

YOU are contesting for the chairmanship seat of Osun PDP do you think you have what it takes to lead the party in Osun?

I joined the PDP in 1998 as a formation member of the party and have been in the party all along up till today. In 2000, I was an aspirant for the post of the chairmanship at the local government, council chairman. Thereafter, I was appointed as Executive Assistant to the governor during the administration of Prince Olagunsoye as governor of Osun state. We were together until November 26th 2010, when the court sent us packing.

I remained in the party and became Assistant State Organising Secretary of the party. After serving as Assistant Organizing Secretary to the party at the state level, I was Special Assistant to the immediate past chairman of the party, Hon Soji Adagunodo. He is currently the National Vice Chairman Southwest and a member of National Working Committee. Last week, I sent out my letter of intention to contest for the seat of the chairman of the party since then have been doing consultations around.

Why do you want to be the chairman of the party?

I have been in this party since inception. I know everything within the system and I know what to do if I become the chairman. One of such is establishment of leadership training within the party. People have to go through leadership training before you can contest. The party as a matter of urgency will set up a leadership training, it may not be a full time but every state should have a place where aspirants or candidates of the party must go through some training to know what they really want to do because it affects the party and good governance.

Governance should be taken serious more than the way we are handling it now. In the last 20, I am one of the few persons that have mentored young people into the system. Political parties have the capacity to bring more people into politics even if they are not contesting. We need to educate them to add value to the system. In the regulations guiding the political parties there is a clause that every member of the party must be financial member. It means they expected every member of each political party in Nigeria to pay a token to the account of the party.

In PDP, you are expected to pay N100 monthly as a member of the party. If you sum it up in a year it will be N1, 200 and after four years it means each member have contributed N4, 500. This monthly due will support the administrative running of the party. This will help the party not to charge exorbitantly on aspiration forms and others because the dues have supplied some reasonable amount of money. We need to start explaining the need for members to pay monthly dues. When this is done the party would have more funds.

So, if you are given the opportunity to lead the party, you are going to consider raising money from party members to support candidates?

I will make it a point of duty. I will start it from my own ward. Note that we will not because of that money stop you from coming to meetings. I know how much some people pay for some organizations they belong to. So one of the things I will do is to imbibe it in my local government and in my state. Party should make it a duty. If the party has enough fund to carry shoulder their activities, there’s no point putting so much money on whoever wants to aspire and mind you the person that is going to aspire would have contributed dues money for months and years.

If a member of PDP wants to run for governor, there’s nothing bad for him to start contributing N1000 when others are contributing N100. It will drastically bring down the cost of obtaining forms if the party has enough funds of doing its project.

How will you manage crisis within the party if elected?

Crisis management is one of the reasons of being in the political system and holding a political office, especially party offices. If you don’t have the capacity to manage crisis, don’t even dare say you want to contest for party chairman or party executive because one of the main assignment is to manage crisis. Your capacity to manage one or two people determines the success of the party.

But your party suffered crisis after the 2018 Osun governorship election. Are you saying the leadership does not have basic knowledge in solving the crisis?

What happened during that period is just a power play in the sense that some people wanted to be governor and then out of those who want to be governor some people wanted to look for the loyalty of those who are in the party executives and then in a bid to outmaneuver each other, the party broke into factions. It happens in political parties but after a candidate has emerged, naturally everybody should fuse back into the party to make the general election a success.  So, we were together in 2018 when we lost at the Supreme Court in controversial manner after the inconclusive election of that year.

Your ex-chairman, Hon Adagunodo was removed from office in 2020

Yes. There were some issues with the party chairman. He went to court to say he was not appropriately remove and the court said what the party has done didn’t pass through the normal process as stipulated in the party constitution. I’m part of this party. I know almost everybody. I know the establishment and I’m like a bridge between those who are coming behind and those who are up.

Will you leave PDP if you did not emerge chairman at the end of the day?

All the political parties know me that I will not leave the party for anything. I have been offered money to leave my party. I can’t!  I’m not here because of money but I’m here to satisfy my conscience. If there is only two people remaining in PDP, I will be among the two, I will end my political career in PDP. I don’t mind, I want to write it in my memoir that I started in 1998 with PDP and stayed until when PDP says they are no longer PDP. Politics is not a do or die matter but a matter of choice, win or lose.

During one of the public functions attended by Governor Adeleke in Ilesha, he publicly addressed his DG campaign, Sunday Bisi as the next State chairman of the party. Do you think you can still win this race?

24hours is a very long in politics. Because something happens and the governor said ‘this is my incoming chairman’ is not the end. Situations can change. Something can happen and the governor can decided that he want to give the person he anointed another office where he might be more useful. That’s my first answer. In PDP Constitution the president is the leader of the party at the national; the governor is the leader of the party at the state; the Chairman is in charge of all the local government areas.

He will be supported by the commissioner or some of the office holders. Any sitting governor has the authority of picking whoever he wants as the chairman he wants to work with, that is not a doubt. But it does not stop other members of the party to aspire for the same position. As at today, I can assure you that I’m in this race because I have the capacity to do a lot of things and I have the knowledge to add and have been telling anybody that cares to listen.

The governor is from the Osun west, his deputy is from Osun East. Don’t you think that the chairmanship should be zoned to Osun Central?

As at today it had been one stakeholders meeting that this issues has been discussed but it has not been make official at least to best of my knowledge as at today. The present arrangement is that the party chairman should be from Osun East. I don’t have the capacity to say that as an individual but I know what the party is trying to do is that you don’t need to change a winning strategy. But if tomorrow they decided that the chairmanship should go to the central honestly, it would be fair and I will wait till next time.

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Do you think Adeleke will force his ways to ensure that his candidate wins the chairmanship seat of the PDP?

No. It is not the governor that oversees the congress. There will be a team from Abuja, the national headquarters. Governor Adeleke is the leader of the party. I don’t see our governor as overbearing. I don’t see him in that light. He just started his administration as a governor and he has never demonstrated that. The governors that I know at least to some extent, does not have that kind of overbearing influence on who takes what in the party. He would allow the process to flow freely.

It is more of a party thing and current party caretaker chairman, Dr. Akindele has at least put some of us in the picture of how these things are going to run and up till this evening I don’t have issue with the process that is put in place.

The Nation