Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Lasun Yussuff, was a gubernatorial aspirant in Osun State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He lost to the Chief of Staff to Governor Aregbesola, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola. In this interview, he speaks on the outcome of the primary election. JOSHUA DADA brings the excerpts
What are your comments on the outcome of the governorship primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Osun State, which you participated in?
It is over one month since we conducted the primary in Osun State, and since then, this will be the second time I will be speaking with the public. First was when the TVC interviewed me where I stressed my position on the way and manner the governorship primary election was conducted.
Since then, this is the first meeting I will be having with my campaign organisation which ran the election, and people are insinuating that they don’t know my stand, people have been thinking that maybe I have defected to another party. As far as I am concerned, I am still in the All Progressives Congress (APC). I am thanking my campaign organisation for a job well-done and we know that we are a group that has been conspired against; and people have been calling me whether to advise me or to sympathize with me.
Having accepted your fate, have you deemed it fit to congratulate Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, the winner of the election?
I didn’t congratulate the winner of the primary election, because when I became the deputy speaker, nobody congratulated me for my emergence. They believed that there was a party position as to who takes one position or the other. There was never a party position in 2015, it’s just a group who felt that they own the party, that whatever they say is final. Therefore, I’m not going to be in a position to congratulate anybody. We are in position to support the party and allow people that have not benefited from the party to benefit sooner or later. We are in a position to support the party. I want to put it on record that a lot of grassroot politicians are alienated from the party today, I want to speak on their behalf, since all politics is local, which means those grassroot politicians, who are the real indigenes, who have been suffering should not be alienated in the name of power, in this context.
Politics belongs to everybody. These people are ready to partake in the process of winning an election, they should be incorporated. When such an election has been won, they should be in a position to take a reward from such a system they have contributed to. I want to thank my supporters across the state despite unabated persecutions, Though I don’t know why they are been persecuted, but I want to assure Nigerians that we will do our utmost best to ensure that APC wins the gubernatorial election.
Before the primaries, the party said it would reach out to aggrieved party members after the primaries, was there a reconciliatory committee in place to channel their grievances?
As far as I know nobody has reached out to me; some people called me individually, because we are associates and colleagues and I said some people have assumed larger than life position within our party, they think when they talk, every other person should shut up, and we are shutting up. I have not excused myself from party functions, we had APC Caucus meeting some few days back, we had a party meeting with current chairmen in both chambers, I was there and I also made a speech there.
There are insinuations in certain quarters that you are still in the party, because you want to remain in the party and work against it…
How can I be in a party and still work against the party? What sense is in that? When I’m in the party, I am for the party; but I cannot speak for other members who supported my cause.
At the national level, your party appears to be having problems, what is your reaction to that?
Yes, it is normal; party politics is about disagreement and compromise. Party cannot be at peace all the time, there will be friction, conflict and disagreements and at the end of the day, you must be able to keep the eyes on the ball.
There are crises within the National Assembly and in the state. Here, there are crisis within the various political parties, there are three different political parties that are in court over election matters, what do you think is the way forward?
Those who went to court based on the primaries that were held in the various parties believe that they were cheated and they want justice to be done…they have to go to court. That is the way forward, instead of trying to destabilize the parties or make sure things collapse.
You are known to be a man of courage. You made a powerful assertion that members are being alienated in your party, if the political arithmetic follows this pattern, as a man of courage, do you think your party stands a chance of winning the forthcoming election?
We politicians grandstand a lot, those who practice politics are like 5 per cent of the total voters on an average election day. If the public is able to dictate correctly the kind of party and government they want, that is fine. I’m not in position to know which party will win. I know my party is in government now, I hope the members can put behind their past and work together for the party. So, I can’t guarantee any party yet.
A school of thought in the APC believes that the actions of the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, is not favourable and they believe if he continues like this, the party might meet a brick wall in next year general election, what is your take?
I don’t want to comment on Adams Oshiomhole again, he is a respected party National Chairman. I have made my position known few weeks ago, as per the method of administering the party, if you have a party in government, you will shoulder a lot of responsibilities, because a lot of people want to partake in the activities of the party in government, these are sources of the crisis. A party in government has a lot to grapple with and that is the main challenge of the APC, so we must find a way to negotiating that bend, but it’s not an unusual bend.
It is a bend that is always present for party in power. I know Adams Oshiomhole, having been a former Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, leader and former governor, must have appreciated the fact that he is given an herculean task and he has to find a way of living up to it.
What is happening at the upper chamber of the National Assembly is what some people have described as rascality of the senators, where they move from one party to the other arbitrarily, doing whatever they like for selfish reasons; what is your reaction?
How do you mean by rascality of the senators? What are they doing? What is permanent in politics is interest. I don’t think they have gone beyond their bound by moving from on party to the other, whether from the APC to the PDP or the other way round, as long as interest is the key words, and as long as interest is the only permanent thing, I don’t think there is anything wrong in people moving from one party to the other.
What will be your message to your teaming supporters, who wanted you, but you are not the one picked by the party?
My message to them is to keep faith, that there is still a tomorrow and that tomorrow is still to come.
I didn’t congratulate the winner of the primary election, because when I became the deputy speaker, nobody congratulated me for my emergence