He started his political career as the elected councillor from Alanamu central and the Majority Leader of Ilorin West council. From 1995-99, he was the pioneer chairman of the Sarakite movement during Baba Saraki’s era and later became PDP ward chairman from 2002-2007 in Alanamu central before his emergence as the Ilorin West chairman of the party in May, 2018. In this interview with HEAD POLITICS, MUMINI ABDULKAREEM, Hon Amin Muhammed Akota for the first time since his emergence spoke on a wide range of issues regarding the intrigues that trailed the council’s commissioners list, his take on the Moshood Mustapha’s saga and plans ahead among other sundry issues. Excerpts:
Since your coming on board, what have you been doing?
Firstly, let me thank all my leaders beginning from Senate President and leader of the party, Dr Bukola Saraki, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, Alh Saadu Agaka, Barrister Saka Isau (SAN), Alhaji Sulyman Kayode Yusuf Maja, Hassan Taiye Gegele, among others who supported me, including the youth and women for their uncommon assistance. Well, after the state congress that brought us in, it has been a gradual movement because our predecessors are yet to hand over to us.
We were initially told that all the outgoing party chairmen should remain until after the national convention which has now been slated for June. But last Friday 25th, May 2018, we were all called to a meeting and the party chairman directed that they should start the hand over process immediately that will end June 1st. (this interview was conducted before the party’s handover ceremony on Friday).
What do you think gave you this position in spite of the alleged serious politicking that played out in Ilorin West?
I am a grassroot politician to the core which is why I go with the nickname “my people my people”. I fight for the people’s cause and I don’t trade them for money, not for any amount. In 2004 as one of the ward chairman for PDP in Alanamu central which I also combined with the acting vice chairman of Ilorin West Local Government, the council gave us about 35 hajj slots and some people wanted to handpick for us. I told the then youth leader of the council, Taiye Elefo that the entire slots should be taken to the party for the people to decide on its distribution. He said my name was there and I said no. Getting to the local government, Alhaji Sadu Agaka, the then party chairman was amazed by that action and prayed for me. We distributed it two slots per ward except the big wards like Alanamu central, Ajikobi and Magaji Ngeri that had three or four. Later, our people approached Alhaji Agaka that I didn’t get any slot and he asked me whether I was not interested but I said we have to satisfy our people first. It got to the ears of the leader Bukola Saraki who gave us additional three slots and specifically said one should be given to me. That was how the nickname emerged. The people of the grassroots are the ones that will mobilise and campaign for the election, they are our bullet to fight our cause and they were the ones who pressured the leader that since 2011, I have not been given any position. I pray God should give me the strength to serve them more than their expectation.
What are you going to do differently from what you met on ground?
During my maiden meeting with my excos, unlike the norm, my plan is to elevate the zonal chairman and zonal woman leader, including the ward chairman and vice to the local government council under the office of the vice chairman. They will work with the council because they are our engine room, and we will make them enjoy the dividend of democracy more. Also, the canvassers will be given more formal roles to play not only when election is coming. Right from now, they will interface with us through regular meetings and where there are problem and challenges, we will appraised it and provide solution. The council will now take care of them unlike before where it used to be the burden of the Leader alone. We will also meet the market women regularly because they are our key people and some of their problems we can take to the local and state governments; we will be doing that for them because we believe in them.
Funding is central to the actualisation of these initiatives, how do you expect to solve that?
The party is the father and mother of the government and therefore must spend for the child from childhood to puberty. The party consists of the chairmen, councillors, commissioners, board chairman, Assembly members, Reps, Senators and others. They are all collecting salaries and we will tax them based on certain percent of their monthly salaries from where we will fund the party, not asking them to bring government money and even the Senate President will not be left out. That is our own programme and we intend to write those concerned later on the amount we would need from each of them
Was your emergence a political masterstroke by the APC to weaken any support for Moshood Mustapha as being speculated?
There is nothing like that. I have been in the party since 1989 and he met me in Saraki’s dynasty. And mind you, I was the pioneer chairman of the Sarakite movement which I organised after our tenure in Ilorin West council in 1994 during late Baba Saraki’s time. Bibire Ajape was in charge of the New Breed group and my then speaker, Alhaji Sulyman Yusuf Maja was the chairman of Maja Association while Senator Adebayo Salman was the chairman of Ilorin Emirate Group all in Baba Saraki’s camp. Moshood Mustapha came to the picture during the politics of late Governor Muhammed Lawal and he can testify to our work. Before this appointment, the Senate President had other plans for me but it was the people that said they want me now to sanitise the party. Even MM was the one that first told me that Saraki wanted me as an SA but the people wanted me as the party chairman and he asked where would I prefer. I told him I can work as a messenger once it is under Saraki dynasty because it is all about service I have a house elsewhere where my family stays but I am living here in Isale Aluko with my people and participates in all their social engagements and activities because I know they may need me at any time, including in the midnight. I advise politicians who do otherwise against such action.
How are you related to Moshood Mustapha?
We are blood brothers; his grandfather’s mother and my own grandfather are brother and sister from the same parents.
Have you at any time tried to discuss some of his alleged grievances with him?
Before the issue got to this stage, I and Saliu Abosioyoyan approached him to get his side of the story considering wide spread report that he is fighting with Dr Bukola Saraki and he said there was nothing like that. Then I inaugurated the “Majekobaje” group which consist of elders in our area to mediate if there was truly any issue between them. He was approached but he maintained there was nothing and said he only wanted to contest for the governorship of the state. This was so until we heard that he had started holding meetings with the opposition PDP. At one time, we learnt he was having lunch with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and we called him but he denied. When the report emerged on the social media, we notified him that the youth in the area wanted to debunk it and he even sent money for the project. But later, we found it to be true. So we put all our efforts to engage him. Saraki dynasty has been extremely good to us here in Alanamu and his father and especially Moshood Mustapha among other family members have been the greatest beneficiaries of the structure and we don’t want anything that will show any act of ungratefulness on our part.
The list of commissioners appeared very thorny in Ilorin West and suffered repeated rejection from the leadership of the party, what really was the issue?
The issue then has much to do with recycling and the people complained consistently to the leader against it. After the dissolution of the cabinet, Saraki called a meeting and told us to go to the grassroots and allow the people to pick for us as a listening leaders. But the cabal at the local government level refused to take the list home and within themselves handpicked their choices. The grassroots shouted foul and the leader directed it should be done all over again. This happened twice and rejected again until the directive was implemented. Here in Alanamu which is the largest ward with 17 polling units, we were given two slots and we submitted the names of Architect Yunus Bolaji and Engr. Dan Azumi. They have not been appointed yet but we are very hopeful and trust the leadership of the party and our leader, Bukola Saraki that we will be compensated. Adewole and Ubandawaki with 17 and 9 wards respectively were asked to provide one person. The three wards were merged as a district to provide three people from onset. One Alhaja Wosilah was sent from Adewole. The return of our commissioner from Alanamu in the person of Ajibade Kamaldeen has to do with his key position. All the intrigues and back and forth scenario that played out in Ilorin West about the list shows that Saraki is always ready to listen to the voice of the people. When you look at the list of the commissioners, it is only about five of the old hands with key positions that were returned. From Magaji Ngeri, three names were sent, Mustapha Lawal (Baba Eleyin), Jimoh Olanrewaju and a younger sister to former SA, Jimba. From Ajikobi, Taiye Eleja and a former SA, Abdullahi Orekan were nominated while former SA Political Yekini Iluobu made it from Ogidi and Bolakale Rufai Oloje came in from Oloje ward. But we know those that are yet to be appointed will not be disappointed by the leader. We are very sure about that.
Who are these cabals that you mentioned?
We have elders and the leaders of the party and whatever you want to do in the party, you have to work with them, you don’t have a choice because of their long serving experience. Some of them may be retired but not tired and very central to our success. We have many of them. That is all I would say.
What are you planning to do differently during your administration?
We will emulate what the leader has done by injecting new blood into the field that will reflect in all strata of the party from House of Assembly members to Reps. Now we have 10 new chairmen that emerged in the party and this is instructive. Most of us have been in government before and we have to come and rebuild the party with our experience in government to let the people know that the party is the parent of the government.
What is your take on the issue of PDP candidate Musbaudeen Esinrogunjo and Ilorin West council chairman, Hajia Aminat Omodara?
There is absolutely no issue there, election was conducted in Adewole and Esinrogunjo lost. What remains is the issue of councillorship election among the 12 wards in Ilorin West to be contested in about two or three polling units. There is nothing like chairmanship elections again because that result has been declared and upheld except for that of the councillor. You see, this people don’t know what they are doing and he (Esinrogunjo) is just wasting his time. We have been in the system for long and we know the constitution of Nigeria that if it says a thing in one section, it will say another thing elsewhere.