Engr. Seyi Makinde, a business, philanthropist, politician and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s gubernatorial aspirant in Oyo state, has said that he is confident that his party is gong to win the coming guber election in the state. Makinde, in chat with this magazine, described as a mere fallacy the stories flying around that he has inherited an empty party after the exit of former Governor Chief Rashidi Ladoja. He said though he was disappointed that Ladoja left the party but that his conscience is cleared, having tried everything humanly possible to persuade him not to leave. He however said that the door of continuous deliberation and negotiation is not closed yet. “I will say that I was disappointed that Baba left because you probably would have seen that I made a lot of effort to reach out to him, there is no way a son can drive his father out of his aboard. However, we have put the disappointment behind us and we are forging ahead. If you look at the party structure, over 80 percent of the local government party chairmen are still with the party, and in numbers at least 30 out of the 36 are still with the party, the others also I believe they are on their way back. For the state executives the same thing, close to 90 percent of them are still with the party. Yes, we had minor disagreement during the state congress but everybody including the national leadership of the party came in here to appeal to Baba, they chattered a flight to come and meet him, they appeal to him ,I believe everyone tried their best but you can take a horse to the river, you cannot force the horse to drink from the river. I think we’ve tried our best and we would continue to reach out to him if there is still opportunity to have a rethink, he is my father politically, he is also a high chief of Ibadan land. So we cannot disrespect him or say how is his own in the politics of this state and this is an ex-governor. I visited him personally and I prostrated with my chest torching the ground for him and I’ve heard from other people who visited him that he showed them where I prostrated, I should prostrate for my father not the other way round so there is nothing wrong in that. So, we will continue to do our best and reach out to him but having said that we have to do what we have to do politically.”
Makinde therefore feel it is highly laughable for some people somewhere to believe that what is left of Oyo PDP today is empty when indeed good number of Exco are still with in the party. When some of Ladoja’s loyalists didn’t even follow him to ADC. “It is not an empty party because the executives at ward, local government and state level are more or less intact and if you look at 2015 general election result, you will notice that Governor Ladoja, who was also a candidate in the election also lost. 2011, he lost also so a tree doesn’t make a forest, I will use this Yoruba adage which says ‘apapo ope o ma npa ota’ (regular people can come together and they beat master of the game). This is what I have noticed and that has trend politically right now. A lot of ordinary folks are coming together to synergies, they have been motivated by the promise of the structure of leadership, good leadership for the party and for the state eventually. So more and more people are making a turnaround and coming back into the party. The door is opened for a lot of people to come back and realize their ambition within the structure of the party so if anyone is saying it an empty party, they are far from the truth. You can do a check by yourself,”he said.
On whether Ex-Gov. Adebayo Alao Akala was offered the party ticket and rejected it? Makinde has this say. “Well, what I heard in the news was that I visited him to convince him to come back to the party. Because he became a governor under the banner of PDP so PDP assume the party is his natural habitat and this is also the type of visit that you see on a daily basis within the political environment. We visit ourselves, other parties visited me, but I didn’t go to the press to say they offered me anything. You just keep pushing on because at the end of the day what is all these about? It’s about service to the people and I will rather address issues that has to do with how do we want to serve the people? How do we want to turn things around? How do we make a good model out of our state? Yes I visited him, we had discussions and what was reported in the press was far from the truth.”
But is the same crisis that made Ladoja left the party not going to repeat itself, as PDP leadership have resolved for candidates to emerge through consensus option? “We have the constitutions of the party and that says all position must be contested for at a properly organized primaries, that is the constitution of the party. However you have other arrangement where people can come together and say we may have consensus candidate for some constituencies but in all of this the constitution of the party reign supreme. Someone just said that Seyi Makinde is being assumed to be the candidate of PDP. But we are not assuming, we are reaching out to the people , we are reaching out to our party members and we’ll try and put ourselves at a position of advantage, we want to take the game beyond whoever want to contest with us within the party.”
In all this ongoing alignment and realignment within the political space in the state; the uncertainties everywhere, how confident is Seyi Makinde? “Yes, everywhere you only have two parties in Nigeria right now, it is either APC or PDP. We are confident about our chances in the coming election. If you look at the result of 2015 governirship election and move back like 2 months before the actual election like December 2014, certain individuals were in PDP at that time, I was in PDP, Governor Akala was in PDP, Senator Folarin was in PDP. Up until 2 months to the general election that I left for SDP, Governor Akala for Labour party, if you go back and put what PDP as Senator Folarin as the candidate had, what labour party had and what SDP had. The three together, we were 10,000 vote short of votes of the APC. If you put that together it will give you exactly 317,000 votes. That is minus Accord and there were a lot of people who on the eve of election voted for Accord. They were PDP members but some of the PDP leaders had preference for governor Ladoja. So if we just come together, I mean all of us in Dec 2014 come together that would have been enough to win the election. Now you join some of the Accord people, that are here now and I think we are the party to beat and besides also what I have been hearing from people is that they want a new lease of life, they want something new and fresh.”
On the notion in some quarter that Seyi Makinde throws money around to always have his way in politic. Makinde couldn’t but wondered what could have brought up such notion. “People said I always thrown money around to have my way, I didn’t have my way in 2017, I contested for the senate and I lost. In 2011, I didn’t have my way, I tried to contest the primary I lost, I wasn’t the candidate of the party. In 2015, the same thing happened ,l didn’t have my way. I contested the general election. So I don’t understand their thought of me having my way with money. I think it’s just a way of giving dog a bad name in order to hang it. There is no fact in it at all. Yes, I believe I have to give back to the society, I believe I have to help the needy, I believe that, each needy child that is taken off the street is less one of 419ers, an armed robber in the future. And this child that you turn around for the better, it is an addition to the economic power of this state so irrespective of what people want to say I believe it’s the right thing to do for me and we will continue to do that,”he remarked.
Makinde is an Engineer and a subject matter expert on fluid and Gas Metering. He is the Group Managing Director of Makon Group Limited; an indigenous Oil and Gas company in Nigeria. He established his first oil and gas private business called Makon Engineering and Technical Services, (METS) at the age of 29 in the year 1997, after earning years of work experience with international oil and gas companies.