Muyiwa Oladipo is a former speaker of Ogun State House of Assembly, and a former ally of outgoing governor in the state, Ibikunle Amosun. In this interview with FEMI OYEWESO, the former commissioner speaks on politics of the state and why he parted way with the governor
There are insinuations making the rounds that you have fallen apart with the camp of Governor Ibikunle Amosun. How true is that?
Well, like the adage goes, ‘20 children cannot play for 20 years’, there will always be a time to part ways, no matter how long your friendship might be. Anything could have cost your going different ways, but as regards the outgoing governor and I, we came in contact some 14 years ago, and as for me, I am a very loyal person, and once I decide to leave, there is no going back. My departing from Senator Ibikunle Amosun is purely on principle. Number one is that, I am a progressive to the core, I am not reactionary.
The formation of APM is reactionary. It is not well grounded. It is an afterthought and it is bound to fail. It was not borne out of sincerity, so it has to go, and that was why the entire state goes against it, not minding the numbers votes they to have gotten. Of course, you can’t rule money factor out. As matter of fact, over half of the votes gotten by the so called APM was bought.
If you are a resident of Ibara House corporation, two weeks before the elections, the house of the outgoing governor was like an ATM, everybody was going there to take money, and that doesn’t bother anybody, the will of God will prevail over the wish of man. The outgoing governor took it too far by playing god and I told him not to see himself as God and to stop playing God.
How did he play God?
Yes, by going round the world, telling them, this is who I am handing over to as the next Governor of Ogun state. And I warned him severally not to play God.
We learnt you sacrificed many things for Governor Amosun and he later paid it with evil. How true is that?
I disagree with you by saying I was taking to dry land, it is all about service. If you look at it, you don’t see being posted to any area as a punishment, it may be, but let me go a bit biblical. Joseph’s brothers sold him to slavery believing that he was going to die or whatever, but being sold to slavery helped him to become the prime minister. Ditto whatever happened to me. The leave does not come down from a tree without the permission of God Almighty. It may be meant for punishment on his path, but I turned around the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The history of Drum Festival cannot be complete in Nigeria today without mentioning Muyiwa Oladipo.
Since you were removed, the ministry of local goverment and chieftaincy affairs has not been that vibrant again. Will you say you are happy the way you were removed?
Well, that is a personal decision. If you give yourself to serve and if you are an appointee, you have to submit to somebody, you must be ready to serve in any capacity. What if I wasn’t posted to Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs in the first instance, what if I started with Culture and Tourism? But let us just say that I started with Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, many people saw whatever I might have done there, and having moved from there to culture and tourism, many people read meanings to it, I never care. But the thing is that being posted to Culture and Tourism was a plus to me.
Sincerely, it sounded punitive initially, many people saw it that way, but I took solace in the word of God and that was why I mentioned Joseph’s history. When I was posted there, it was regarded as dry land to you, I turned it into fertile land, I mean Israel, land flowing with milk and honey. No reasonable government will jettison Drum Festival. I was praying when I had the first edition, I even thought the outgoing governor was going to stop it because he didn’t support it initially. I am bold to say it to the whole world that he didn’t support it (initially) but along the line, he changed his mind and that reason was best known to him, he took the planning away from my ministry, which he has done, till tomorrow.
Taking about taking it away from your ministry, some people see it as an act of ingratitude, would you say you regret evolving such a project and was taken away from you, or will you say you regret serving under Governor Amosun?
Some of the things you did were not adequately rewarded. How about that?
Let me go legal at this point. Adequately rewarded, you look at consideration in terms of law of contract. Not being rewarded is relative. If you are talking of not being rewarded monetarily, maybe. But if you are being rewarded with the response from the outside world, you have peace of mind, you will believe it is worthwhile. To a very large extent, it was rewarding.
For the first time in history, bringing many countries together to a festival, how was the experience like?
Very refreshing, rewarding and satisfying. It was a programme that was planned in four months with no input from the state government. I made bold to say that. We raised funds from individuals.
The history of African Drums Festival can never be written and completed without giving thanks to God and some individuals and companies, because when the government of the day felt that there was no life in it, we look the other way round. I started it not as government induced project and I still see it as that.
Government should not have a hand in anything tourism, government should not fund tourism, it should just create enabling environment and establish the body that will superintend it, while the financing should be from the public. What we did when we started in 2016 was that I some other people in the ministry came together and discussed the modalities and I did tell them that we were not going to involve the government financially but will create enabling environment. We called certain business individuals mainly Ogun state indigenes, and all of them supported the ideas.
Many thanks to Sir. Kessington Adebutu, Premier Lotto; the management of Bet9ja; Manal Nigeria Limited, Arepo; Otunba Subomi Balogun; Nigerian Breweries; Airtel; Tunde Lemo; Oba Dr Adedapo Tejuoso, The Oke-Ona Egba and all the traditional councils in Ogun state collectively donated because it was a welcome development.
Your shifted your loyalty to Chief Segun Osoba, to support of Governor Amosun. How did it look like?
I am loyal to Chief Osoba any day, any time. At a point especially in 2007; duty calls as far as Ogun state is concerned, to serve the state. It didn’t stop my loyalty to Chief Segun Osoba. The fact that I was appointed the Commissioner is like taking leave of absence from Chief Osoba’s group to attend to the issue of governance and of course when we met at the departure lounge, the outgoing governor has to go and fly the APM airways, while I had to stay with my APC airline.
At the point of departure, we have to go in different ways. The point is that I remain a progressive while the outgoing governor displayed his reactionary tendencies.
One would have expected you to advice your principal then against taking such self destructive stance. Did you do that?
Yes! But at that point in time, it was no going back for the outgoing governor for reasons best known to him. He wasn’t listening to anybody because there was a time I told him in the presence of everybody when he anointed Hon. Akinlade. I told him immediately that it is not over until it is over. At a point, he daunted my loyalty by asking which APC did I belong to and which party I was, and I told him APC and nothing is going to change that.
When Dapo Abiodun’s candidature was confirmed, I told the whole world that Governor Amosun is my boss being a commissioner under his administration, but I am for Dapo Abiodun.
He never expressed his dislike to it, but as time goes on, the best thing he could do is to tell me to leave the exco, which I have done already. I gave him a cogent question that how could he be in APC and ask some people to go to APM?
Many people in the state are of the opinion that Amosun has skeletons in his cupboard that was why he insisted on Akinlade flying the APM flag at the poll. Do you also share the same view?
I don’t! We are all adults. He has his reasons best known to him. If it is a case of wanting somebody to cover up for you or whatever, we are all human beings. Nothing stops him from approaching Dapo Abiodun when he emerged because they are good friends.
Amosun wasn’t listening to anybody. I remember someone asked him which party are we, he said we are all in APC and for reasons best known to him, he said No to Dapo Abiodun’s candidature.
Maybe because he has promised the Ogun West to hand over to them which was very wrong. An Egba man will not handover to an Egbado man and I stand by it. Ogun state was created from two provinces, Ijebu and Remo on one side, Egba and Egbado/Yewa, within the Yewa/Egbado, you have smaller elements like the Aworis, Anogos, Ohoris and co, that was why when OGD was leaving, he did it equitably, justiciable by handing over to an Egbado man, that was why Governor Daniel promoted GNI but coincidentally, majority of Ogun state indigenes wanted Amosun. Ibikunle Amosun should not on that have said he wanted to handover to an Egbado man. It was wrong of him to have even pushed for it.
Do you see the incoming governor doing well in Ogun to keep the Amount’s standard?
I see him making a success of his coming to power. Like he has always been saying that “if God was a man, I would not be Governor today”, and because God has a hand in his emergence, I am sure he would make a success from it, not minding that some evil minded people will come along the line, not minding that some people within his group who are evil minded will want him to fail, not to talk of the outsiders who want him to fail. But since he has started with God as His everything, and what the Bible teaches us is that ‘one with God is the majority’.
How will you advise the incoming Governor?
I will say Mr. Governor sir, please listen to wise counsel from both the foolish and the wise men and always listen to everybody. Don’t ever see yourself as being superior to others, because that is one of the shortcomings of this outgoing governor.
Several people want the incoming governor so ask some questions from the outgoing governor, will you also subscribe to that, particularly concerning the areas of education and infrastructural development of the state?
Yes, you have said something that is not to probe but to ask questions. Questions, questions and questions can lead to probe. Areas that are neglected would be looked into; areas that have been treated by the outgoing governor will only need to make improvement on it; areas that are out-rightly bad, he would try to make it better, like education, health, infrastructural development outside Abeokuta, he tried his best in the area of Agriculture but it is not enough as no government can do it all, but to do it and leave the rest for others to continue.
There are concerns over projects abandonment …
I will support abandonment for some areas or if possible probe those areas. Number one is the More Junction to Obantoko, two is the Panseke/Adigbe road, you don’t need to start demolishing houses and properties at the twilight of your administration, from the look of things, it looks more of a trap to an incoming government, so that once he looks the other way, people will start complaining. Those ones are not done in good faith.
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