The factional senatorial chairman of the Kwara state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Jimoh Balogun speaks with KAYODE ADEOTI on the expulsion of his faction from the party, the forthcoming 2019 general elections in the state among other issues. Excerpts:
Your faction of the APC held a primary election recently and a former lawmaker emerged as the party flag-bearer for the gubernatorial seat in the state, the exercise since it was conducted has been raising lots of questions as to if the national body of the party was carried along…?
Everyone can see that the election was done with high sense of fairness. As we’ve always been saying, we are the authentic APC in Kwara State, for somebody to rubbish the APC in Kwara, it is uncalled for. The chairman of the party, Com. Adams Oshiohmole has no power to rubbish us. In the first place, we’re the one who voted him in to lead us. In fact, his chairmanship is under doubt, because his emergence then was a sort of kangaroo arrangement, we supported him to get there then because we don’t want APC to go into oblivion, that’s why we overlooked many things and handed him the mandate and we thought he’s going to fix the party but reverse is the case today. If Buhari is not careful, he will look back and see no one.
How do you attend to the allegation that the poll was not witnessed by INEC?
In fact, some people said we rented a parlor to conduct the election, it was a lie, it was a big party election. The press men were there, security agencies and the officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were in attendance. Since we had 13 candidates vying for the gubernatorial ticket, we made it open for party members to vote for candidate of their choice and the most popular among them, Kayode Omotoshe emerged. Either they all like it or not, he’s the party flag-bearer. Those negating his candidature are just toiling with their future; we will not close our eyes to ensure that the rule of law is not enforced. The last hope of the common man is judiciary and we are solving the matter, we will ensure that justice prevails. Earlier, the court has given an order that he (Bolarin Bashir) should stop parading himself as the party chairman in the state, and if he continues, it means, he’s playing with prison. What he’s doing is contempt of court. If Oshiomhole also continue with all what is saying concerning our party here, I think he should be told that this is not a labour union but political party, party that has been in existence before his emergence. He should be very careful and watch his utterances; otherwise, we will have no option than to react in a terrible way to him.
Many people have blamed the expulsion of your faction from the party on the fact you did not carry the national leaders of the party along during the gubernatorial primary held in the state recently, is that true?
We did carry them along, the last time we were at the party national secretariat, all our candidates were cleared even before the so called authentic faction. We were cleared because we are the authentic set of the party. The other set were just running up and down. For Oshiomhole to say he has dealt with APC in Kwara, that is a big joke. We will fight our course to a logical conclusion by the grace of God.
… (Cut in) But your faction has been expelled from the party
Our faction can never be expelled from the party. It is the other faction that can be expelled. We’re duly elected by the national body and the INEC.
In order to achieve a formidable force, would you advocate a synergy between your faction and that of Bolarinwa…?
We are there as a party, if they want to come, they’re free for the sake of victory in the coming election. They are members of our family, they can come. And if they want to stay off, we are on the move, we are on ground and we fight till we achieve our aim as regards 2019. But it is better they come so that we will put ideals, resources together for the general election.
How do you attend to the allegation that your faction is a mole working for PDP
We cannot be working for PDP. PDP is a party on its own and we are a party to. We are not working for any political party, we are a big political party, if anyone is insinuating such, the person is just day dreaming.
It is evident that your party has a national leader who is Senator Bola Tinubu, even the president….has there been any talks between you on how to make things work in the party for 2019?
If Tinubu calls me today, I will go there, and if I should be called by President Buhari, you can be sure I will go there because he knows me very well, we work together. We put them in power and after we did, we can all see what they’re doing to us. Even if they don’t call us, if there is assignment at the party Secretariat, we will go there and nobody can send us away. I am in APC before most of them came, my tenure should expire by 2023, so they can expel me after that time.
There has been complaint among some political groups in the state that your candidate is not popular to stand Hon. Rasaq Atunwa who is the PDP flag-bearer in the contest?
I can only talk of my candidate which is Omotoshe, he is a politician to the core, a journalist and a one time lawmaker. For two terms in the House of Assembly, he has been a majority leader. He’s intelligent and outspoken. By the grace of God, let us wait till that D-day; we can all see how much vote he pulled among his contenders. He is very humble, they’ve never found him wanting of anything bad, if he’s not a politician, no how he would have made it to the House of Assembly. By the grace of God, the sky is his limit in the 2019 poll.
Over the years, conduct of elections has always been peaceful in Kwara State, what do you think is always responsible for this and what do envisage of the forthcoming one?
I’ve wanted to make a press statement over this question you asked me but if I had done that, many people will think I’m doing the biddings of one party or person. Kwara state is a symbol of peace and harmony. This has nothing to do with the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. Kwara is our state, somebody was saying something recently on social media, he calls himself Oluomo of Lagos, and he should be careful and watch his speech. All sorts of thuggery act they are doing in Lagos, if not for Buhari Omomusa, who is an Islamic cleric in Ilorin, we would’ve know what to do for him. He should be careful and focus on Lagos not Kwara. We need to also be wise of those who come around only when there is election. Politics is a game of number, who will vote for such persons. We should chase them out from Ilorin, the great city of ‘Alimi and Alfa’
Is the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed truly a thorn in the flesh of your faction of the party as some people posited?
Lai Muhammed is my personal friend and we’ve been coming for the past 45 years. We’ve never been in the same party, this is the only party that joins us together, he is minister in Lagos not in Kwara, and he has never won his own ward, who knows him? The records are there. All his family are in Lagos. He is not a threat to us at all. Lai Muhammed and his colleagues are politicians in the diaspora. This BOB hails from Agbeku, he cannot deliver his polling unit. I’ve never lost in my polling unit not even in my local government.
Your message to the electorate and Kwarans
My message is very simple; they should ignore politicians in the Diaspora. Those who are on ground, we know ourselves. Votes for candidate of your choice.