In the last 2 decades in Ekiti State, Senator Abiodun Olujimi has become a force to reckon with in the politics of Ekiti State both at the state and federal level. This journalist cum politician started as the Special Assistant to the Executive Governor of Ekiti State, from where she was elected to the Federal House of Assembly. She became the Deputy Governor of Ekiti State with Governor Ayo Fayose in 2005. Olujimi attained other great heights in politics from being the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure in her state to a Director of Women Affairs. She is the first female Deputy Governor of the state and first female to be elected senator in Ekiti south senatorial district and the first female to be made Deputy Minority whip at the Senate.
She is indeed a mentor and role model to many female politicians in the state. She hails from Ekiti East Local Government area of Ekiti State and she was the only PDP female aspirant in the race. Abiodun Olujimi is one of the most experienced female politicians in Nigeria. She is the senator representing Ekiti South senatorial district at the Senate. After the primary election which produced the Deputy Governor, Prof. Olusola Eleka as the PDP candidate for the July 14th governorship election, City People Ondo/Ekiti Reporter, Adeola Shittu was a guest at her GRA resident in Ado State, where she revealed reasons behind her stepping down for Prince Adedayo Adeyeye on the day of the primary election and her 2019 ambition.
On Tuesday 8th May, 2018, the PDP delegates in Ekiti state took the decision which produced the Deputy Governor, Prof. Olusola Eleka as the PDP candidate for the July 14th governorship election. What is your own view on the outcome of the primary election?
Until the early hours of Tuesday 8th of May, I was an aspirant but eventually I didn’t contest because I collapsed my structure for Prince Adedayo Adeyeye, which means I stepped down my guber ambition in the interest of my people, state and the party at large. But I will say it was relatively a free and fair election up to the point that I would say the arrangement was solid. One of the reasons I pulled out was that, I saw a few manipulations, one of them is that everybody was in uniform and the uniform was put on them for a particular aspirant which was very intimidating, which everyone should have seen as unethical. For crying out loud, it was not a carnival nor naming ceremony nor burial party or wedding yet people were particularly clothed so that they could be identified.
So to me, it was unethical but for such manipulation the election was not free. Again, all the delegates were kept away from other aspirants a night before the primary in the name of wanting to speak to them until early hours of the morning. I knew it was going to be manipulated. So I felt if the people who were with me join hands together with the people of Prince Adedeye we would have a runaway victory, but it didn’t work out that way. But he contested, so he knows best what really went wrong.
The news was that you were actually threatened to step down by some forces within your political party, how true was this?
I am to old in this profession for anyone to be threatening me, just too old. I stepped down because over time we have been having series of meetings with several leaders and so many stakeholders who felt gender would be an issue and I am being frank right now. They believed gender was a serious issue and I was pressured to have a male go at it. We argued, we quarreled many people were not convinced and so over time we have been working together, myself and Prince Adeyeye believing that if I got convinced or he got convinced one of us will take a shot at it. So it wasn’t a one day event, we were speaking, in fact when I went round the Local Government I addressed his delegates as well as my own.
I addressed the people who believed in him along with the people who believed in me and what they kept on saying was that one of us must fly the flag but I knew the sentiment, so I was very sure that at the end of it all we both knew that only one person was going to fly the flag and again we didn’t want any situation that the PDP would be torn apart with three aspirants taking a shot on that day and like I said, I decided I will be the sacrificial one because I am the one that would have the greatest loss if anything went wrong. I am a member of the BOT, I am a member of the leadership of the party at the senate and I am a great stakeholder in Ekiti state and I felt if I didn’t sacrifice for the party no one else will be able to do anything better and it will have been a lesson for all of us.
With the emergence of Prof. Kolapo Olusola Eleka as the flagbearer of your party PDP, do you see PDP winning the July 14th governorship election due to the mass defection that hit your party before and after the primary election?
First and foremost, I want my party to win the election and I do want my party to win at all cost. However, I have a few reservations, which in order not to put my party in crisis I will not say a word. I believe many things were not handled right, I believe there was misuse of power, I believe too many things went wrong and what you saw was just tip of the iceberg. Ordinarily with the way the PDP was, no one could stand against anybody and the person will get 50 votes. Nobody will stand against an anointed candidate of the PDP and get 50 votes but we all saw what happened, which means there is trouble in the land even within the party, I just pray that this will be properly addressed
During the reconciliation meeting, you told the leadership of the party that visited Ekiti state that they must come back after the primary election for reconciliation because a lot of people are leaving your party, are you still on it?
Well, you see without reconciliation not much will happen because we all know Ekiti well. We know our people. We know their sensibilities if the party does not take absolute charge but I just pray that my party wins the election because I want it to win. You see, without my party in government in this state, there will be serious problem and I know that PDP have contributed a lot to the development of Ekiti state but so many things are begging for answers.
After the primary election on Tuesday, the governor of Ekiti state, Dr. Ayodele Fayose promised the governor of Delta State, Sen. Okowa that he will reach out to you and Prince Adeyeye in other to join hands together to move Ekiti state forward what’s your take on this?
Well, I think that’s the step forward but actualizing it is what I think is important, I pray that happens because without working together we won’t be able to go far.
Come June you will be 3 years in the Senate, how will you describe the leadership of the Senate?
We have done well, even though we have too many challenges’ we have challenge of being statesmen and that have impacted, I won’t say negatively but it has impacted badly on our ability to do so many things. The fact is that because we believe that Nigeria comes first, we rejected everything partisan and we decided to put Nigeria first. You see, we have a government that is not caring enough, they just want to destroy the opposition despite the fact that the resolution was just desirous of letting Nigeria have some sense of peace and well being, so it has been from one problem to the other. Right now almost all our people are being chased by either EFCC or DSS or one security agent or the other, they have probing them way back to 20 years ago.
These are people who came into politics 4 or 8 years ago. Most of their wives can’t even take a cup of water and go to sleep; they are always afraid that somebody will come knocking on their doors and drag them off to prison it’s terrible. It’s a shame the way people are being harassed for things they know nothing off. For instance, if am a stakeholder in a party and my party comes to me that as a stakeholder this is fund for you to mobilise for my party, do this for me and they give it to me and I disburse it and I mobilise for my party and you now come and hold me responsible for taking the money and for not asking where the money came from and you throw me in prison. My wife that I used to collect the money because I didn’t have a proper account is in prison.
My children are taken to prison. I don’t understand that. I believe it is senseless. Again, I believe when you are working in a place there is a minimum that you should be able do with your salary and allowances but we find a situation whereby our people are told to put all they have together and everything they have gotten is declared as ill-gotten, they don’t think about the fact that you have businesses, they don’t think about the fact that you earn something and if you earn something, you should do something out of what you earn. After all, the prayers we say to our children is that wherever they go, they should find favour and they will be able to do something to further their future but now I find a government that says you must not have a future, you must never be able to earn and do something out of your earning.
I think that’s a curse but that is where we are today, there is no peace and we don’t want to wield the big stick. Don’t forget that we were there before and we had a government that had a predominantly PDP legislature and three times they moved against him with notices of impeachment, this was because the party was convinced that something had to be done and to show the president that something was wrong but what we have right now is a situation where everybody is thinking this my person, this is my party, oh no you can’t do this to us.
Patriotism, I thought was to the nation not to a person but now I find that the opposition is endangered, patriotism is right now for a personality, one person out of 170 million rather than to 170 million people that is where we are trending on. We will be three years come next month. We have done our best, we have supported Nigerians, we have supported every bill that emanated from the presidency, we have supported every initiative that we felt are useful, we supported everything that will make harmonious Nigeria, Developed Nigeria and peaceful Nigeria. So for me the leadership of the senate has done well and the leadership of the opposition has done extremely well.
In the last 3 years how have you been able to impact your senatorial districts?
Well, have done my best too and my people have been very happy and grateful. So I thank God for the little I have been able to do. In the last 3 years, have been able to help them construct a few roads. I have been able to provide solar boreholes about 114 of them have done about 26 motorised boreholes because in my place water is a major issue and the streams are running dry. During the dry season there is nothing to drink and there is usually an epidemic of diseases cause by the flies and lack of water. So, this has been fairly addressed.
Aside that, I have been able to empower and trained over 2,700 of them. We don’t just train, we give them tools to go and work. Some were given block modeling machines, tricycles, motor cycles, grinding machines, sewing machines, huge generators, freezers, industrial sewing machines among others, in other to keep them in business and prevent them from been a nuisance on the streets and today they are all doing fine in their respective fields. I believe going forward we will still be able to do a lot for our people.
Ma, 2019 is around the corner, is Senator Abiodun Olujimi re-contesting for the second time?
Well, that is in God’s hands and that is a decision am yet to decide on. I am a political animal and I have used this one they have given me well, so I believe my people, if they are consulted, they will say we want her back and I know going back we will be able to work together to move our senatorial district forward.