Talks About His Links With Gov. AJIMOBI & AKALA
It is no long news that the former Senate Leader and Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate in the 2015 guber election in Oyo State, Senator Teslim Folarin has defected to the ruling party APC but the circumstances surrounding his exit from PDP has become a major subject of discussion in the state. In fact, many political associates of Teslim are still shocked that he could leave the party the way he did, especially when the party is presently going through reformation under the new management led by its National Caretaker Chairman Ahmed Makarfi. But this development, however, is not surprising to some who had seen the handwriting boldly writing on the wall long before now.
Particularly the way and manner in which the former leadership of PDP managed the party. Everybody heard about how the fund meant for Folarin’s campaign as the party’s candidate in Oyo was diverted to an opposition party as well as many other anti party activities which some political pundits said contributed greatly to the party’s failure in the 2015 election.
Another pointer to the fact that Folarin was no longer interested in his former party as how he missed out, as a stakeholder, when the Makarfi led reconciliation team visited the state and met with major stakeholders. But few days after, his picture alongside Gov. Abiola Ajimobi and Ex-Gov. Alao Akala surfaced on the internet where they reportedly met in London. Then followed by his defection to APC with his team, to join his arch rival in PDP back then Otunba Alao Akala.
Aside that, another major question being asked now is that, what has changed about the Ajimobi led administration and Oyo APC, that made Senator Folarin join the train? All these and many issues were extensively discussed during Folarin’s first major live interview on air after the 2015 election, on a program called ‘Political Circuit’ on Fresh F.M.
When asked about his political plans now that he is in APC and based on the news making the rounds that he is likely to be given senatorial ticket come 2019 and the major reason he joined APC on which he was quoted to have said that it is because he want Gov. Abiola Ajimobi to succeed when the latter has less than two years to the end of his Administartion as governor.
Folarin was very blunt about his response, “I didn’t say that was the reason. A question was put to me that what are my aspirations and I said well, my thought now is to make the governor to even do better. Yes, I said I joined APC to make governor Ajimobi do better but that is not the main reason we left PDP. Of course we welcomed the opportunity to work with Governor Abiola Ajimobi. But we think we have reached the end of the road so to speak so we had to leave our former party.
On whether I will be offered senate ticket and all. I think it is too early to begin to talk about aspirations. We are here to add value and believe me we will add value. At the appropriate time am sure all these will be discussed but not now. All these insinuations about this senator’s seat or that senator’s seat are all stories. You know we are in the season of stories.”
On how he was betrayed by PDP. “If you look at my history, I am probably the only high profile politician who has not moved to other parties and it makes me wonder why anybody should be getting excited over who has moved to APC, everybody has moved. But PDP for me is a party that doesn’t repay loyalty. Because I have been so loyal to the party and every time we expect this party to repay that loyalty they are found wanting. It is a major reason we had to leave.”
Folarin also spoke about his role regarding the crisis that polarised PDP back then.
“You know in the last four years the noise has been that Teslim is the problem of PDP. I recall a respected member of PDP going on radio station to label us ‘Jaagba’ and all that, it is that bad. Whereas they are the real ‘Gbewiri’. And I haven’t said a word in the last 3 years, it is not by accident. I also wanted to take stock to see what was happening. Sometimes you start thinking maybe am the problem but believe me, so I said okay, let’s excuse ourselves and what do you have now in PDP? Absolute chaos so I can’t be the problem. Though their problem is non of my business but as a politician you have to monitor what happens in other parties. I am a Manchester United supporter, am interested in what Chelsea plays. So what am saying is since Folarin, the problem, he has left the party. I don’t see any improvement, I see them going round the same spot so Folarin is not the problem.”
On whether he told Ex-Gov about his decision to leave PDP during his visit to him when he came back from abroad and if Ladoja also let him know his intention to rebuild PDP. Folarin has this to say. “I didn’t go to him to consult. Remember I had been abroad for a while, I was monitoring things and he was constantly getting in touch with me. So when I came back out of courtesy I paid him a visit. And this is where we are. Yes, he was briefing me, how far they have gone.
I made it very clear that I didnt think they were going in the right way. If I had arrived and the former immediate past Chairman, Yinka Taiwo and Asimiyu Alarape the former Speaker were included in the work then I will take them seriously. They were not included so I could see a different agenda. You can’t just come to a party and think you will win, it is not going to work. There must be people that will brief you about why they failed the last time but there was non of that. It was like forming an empty party, I wasn’t happy. And besides I had made my decision to leave before that time.”
On PDP reconciliation team’s visit to the state and whether he was embitter for not being properly recognised as one of the stakeholders. As some believed it was as a result of that the picture where himself, Akala and Ajimobi where they were holding meeting London was released on the internate.
“Even when I was out of the country the leadership of the party in Abuja have always been in contact with me and like I said to be fair to Gov. Ladoja he was getting in touch. I advised them against such move and look at the problem the visit had caused. And the point I made was that you don’t go to peoples’ house to reconcile a party. We have our leaders Chief Yekini Adeojo, General Rasaki you don’t go to them and say from there you are going to Bodija. And what surprised me was that Gbenga Daniel who was behind all these, they came to Ibadan to solve our problems the following day he now went to Ogun and….it just doesn’t make sense but in any case I had made up my mind before then.
There is noting more to the picture than the fact that, that is the present and future of Oyo politics.”
On his experience during the face-off between him and former Governor Akala. And why didn’t he allow Akala run for second term because the believe then was that Teslim could always get his way within the party. “He is a big brother and you see politics is dynamic. Yes, if you speak to him, am sure privately, he will say maybe he made one or two mistakes. But the main problem still lies with the party, the party should have moved in to say this is the way and not that way but certainly that is gone. It is about the future now. You can’t live in the past. The future has to be Gov. Akala, Gov. Ajimobi and Teslim Folarin and that is why we are here.”
In 2003, our party was firmly in tune with Adeojo and with the help of the great Adedibu, Chief Ladoja secured the ticket. Chief Adeojo didn’t leave the party. But these days once you don’t get the party’s ticket you join another party or work against the party. In fact, there was a new dimension that we have never seen before, where a character in the party told people to vote for Accord Party against your own candidate. How are you going to be part of that nonsense?”
The Laguna Olubadan of Ibadan land also set the record straight on the insinuation from some quarters that the only time he won an election was when late Adedibu was alive. “And the only time, with all due respect governor Ladoja won an election was while Adedibu was alive. You see that is the more reason we had to leave to prove ourselves. Because there is no future in the party and things that were happening even at federal level is not encouraging. If you say Adedibu sponsored us, yes he did but was it everybody that contested under Adedibu that won? In 2003, Senator Abiola Ajimobi won so what happened to the last senator? Why didn’t he win? Adedibu was a great leader and am not going to deny that. But that is not to say they can’t win election without him. He has done his own bit and he is gone. We talk about him everyday, we pray for him and I appreciate everything he has ever done for me. I will never deny him but he is gone so let the man rest. The bottom line now is that we that are alive how do we win election? One of the reasons why we want to win election is to now begin to associate ourselves with winners like Gov. Ajimobi. And there is noting wrong with that,”Folarin stated.
But having served for eight years as Senator there must be some things that can be pointed to as Folarin’s achievements.
“I think you people should start educating people on the difference between a legislator and somebody who holds an executive power. If you are legislator you are a glorified councillor, that is what you are. We introduced health centres in Oluyole, Oyo etc. If you go to Olubadan Estate in Ibadan you will see our work there.
On the diversion of fund meant for his campaign as PDP guber candidate in Oyo State in 2015 and whether the party must have noticed he couldn’t win the election.
Any candidate can win or lose election. And like I rightly said, I have been in the senate for two terms. I wasn’t selected or nominated but duly elected. We ran an election. Politics is a game of conspiracy for the elites. Elites will say we want Teslim to win. When I say elites, I mean the people, the leaders, they all worked with me in 2015. When you now say they knew I won’t win what would you make out of the calculation then, where my party went round and sponsoring Labour Party, Accord, SDP, PDP. What do you have at the end of the day? That was the height of anti party in the history of this country.
Did he get money from Gov. Ajimobi to secure PDP ticket as it was alleged in some quarters that Teslim was given about 80 million naira? “It wasn’t only me that lost in the election; Seyi Makinde, Gov. Akala and Ladoja despite all resources given to him he lost. It is like sending a child to the market and the child says give me money to buy food stuff and you say don’t worry when you get to the market you will get alert and then you can use your ATM. And when you get to the market there is no alert and then you put your hand into your pocket and the coins you have you use it for the little thing you can buy. I was not given a penny.
When you say 80 million, am I contesting for House of assembly or councillor?
But when I say money I didn’t get anything from the powers that be. Apart from that, we had a Minister who was telling the whole world that Jonathan preferred the candidate of Accord Party. Am sure you know the implication of that in politics.”
What has changed about Ajimobi’s government that made Folarin team up with him. Being one of the maion critics of the goverment at the initial stage?
“That was how I felt then. You talked about education, today 85% of students in Oyo State scored 5 credits O’level. So based on the statistics on ground now things have improved. So if today things have improved what do you want me to say? That he hasn’t done anything?”
What are the terms of negotiation for his defection to APC?
We have not reached that stage yet. Like I said it is season of stories as 2019 draws near. But today Gov. Ajimobi is the most significant politician in Oyo State whether anybody likes it or not. It is not all about money but he is the most important politician in Oyo State now and that is the truth. The politics in the state is very easy to analyse. Today, politics is based in the tripod there is Gov. Ajimobi, there is Ex-Gov. Akala and former Gov. Ladoja. Then if you have two out of three then it is over.”
Though Teslim didn’t want to go deeper but had to say something about Olubadan and Ajimobi crisis as a stakeholder.
“The governor, Aare Abiola Ajimobi keeps saying it that Baba Olubadan is a father to him. He also tells anybody who cares to listen that this man installed him as the Aare. Do you know what it means to be the Aare, the 5th in the history of Ibadan? But unfortunately when they fight some people will go between them. Am sure some leaders are working seriously in making sure all these are resolved,” he said.
How the ‘Jaagba’ thing came up?
Politics in Nigeria, especially in Oyo State we are still developing. So if you meet anybody who doesn’t like me or who feels threatened by Folarin’s image is likely to call me this “Jaagba” or whatever name he likes. Because I think am the most misunderstood politician in Oyo State.”
Why didn’t he put effort in reconciliation in PDP?
“This game is game of interest, it should be game of ideology in an ideal world but it is not in Nigeria unfortunately. Sometime in the future it would be but today it is not. So I think we are still finding our feet because it is like a woman married to his man and finds he’s not good for her and tries another. That is what is happening now. I started thinking on my own about my peoples’ future immediately we lost the election. Because I could not see myself working with the characters they have in PDP, especially in Oyo State. But if I had left after the election they will say he is going for appointment but we are not hungry so we stayed. So now I think it is the right time. Am still friends with all these people in Abuja, we speak everyday. They come to my house and say what is going on? We still can’t believe it is you of all people. Last week Olisah Metuh was sent to me and I said look at a stage of your life once you make decision you want to stand by it, especially when you are convinced that is the right decision.”
When asked if Teslim left PDP due to frustration or with the way new leadership treated him or how Ladoja described those that left the party, like Hon. Segun Odebunmi Bunvic, as insignificant and those who can’t withstand the heat when heavy weights came on board. Teslim talked tough: “Look, he is entitled to his own opinion. But I can tell you that is absolute nonsense, rubbish. Let me tell you something, if we are still in PDP, even if we decided to stay he wouldn’t have joined the party I know him. He will be too scared, he would wait for Abuja for the result to come before he joins. And I tell you something PDP politics any day anytime we will always get our way of what do we do with the party. As for Segun Odebunmi (BUNVIC) he is part of out team and when we leave he leaves. In politics anybody can say anything they like, it doesn’t bother me. Every four years is a new game, there is a new game in 2019. If it doesn’t work out the way I think I will come and put my hands up and say ‘mogba’ I surrender. And if it works out I will still come back here say I told you so.”