Confab is a hidden agenda – Adebiyi

Elder Adelowo Adebiyi is the Protem Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Osun State. In this Interview  Adebiyi speaks on the reasons why his party is planning to boycott the on-going national conference, saying it lacks legal backing. He also spoke on the stand of the party on reduction in the federal allocation to states; 2014 governorship election in the state, among other issues. Excerpts: 

What are the underlining reasons for the boycott of the on-going National Conference by the APC, because since its commencement the states under APC have distanced themselves from the exercise?

We are of the opinion that national conference is diversionary, because this is a government that has been in power and it has less than two years more and you are coming up with conference of this nature. What are the issues to be discussed at the conference? We have the National Assembly that is doing the review of the constitution now. If there are things to be addressed, let us include them for the constitutional amendment, instead of placing another body in form of national conference. We have had lots of conferences without any positive results and nothing coming out of them. Now we have the National Assembly in place, so if there is anything that needs to be addressed, let us send it to the two houses and let them deliberate and debate it. All states are duly represented there. They should come out with a new constitution that will be of greater benefit to us. Secondly, the timing is wrong. Elections are very close, and we believe that a conference of such nature must be well prepared for but this one is diversionary. Let us get things right by focusing on the 2015 elections. Bringing up a platform for public discussion now might not bring out anything positive, because it is not even a Sovereign National Conference. The National Assembly is Sovereign, so why combining two sovereignties. It is only when the National Assembly is through with the constitution and makes the conference into a law, then that makes it better. The National Assembly should come up with a bill setting up the national conference, approving budget for it and sign it into law. By that means, they will have delegated their power and duties to the conference. Setting it up without clearing up things has political underpinnings. So why not let the National Assembly promulgate a law guiding the conference? It is our belief that these things are going to be, let us leave it till 2016, when we have a new government that will do it and the timing would be right.

Are you being pessimistic that there cannot be positive results from the national conference?

I’m not saying that.  What I am saying is that the premise is wrong. It is just a strategy of PDP to divert attentions of Nigerians, especially as regards the raging crisis rocking the ruling party. The president should have sent a bill to the National Assembly first requesting the permission for the national conference and to promulgate laws based on the conclusion reached. The conference is not being properly put in place and you cannot put things on nothing. The President has a hidden agenda of diverting attentions from the main focus on governance to the conference. You know PDP and their strategies.They did not properly pass the information to opposition parties and federating units for them to know the modalities of their involvement and what they are supposed to do. They just set up a committee to go round the six geo-political zones for deliberation. What are the terms of reference for them to contribute? When, how and where?

Is this boycott only in the Southwest or across the nation?

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No, it is not only in the southwest; it is all over. As a region, there is need for the South-west to come together on some issues and do things together on its own. We believe in South-west federation and we have things in common; the language, the culture, economy and others. So it will be of great benefit for us to work together, and it will benefit all the citizens of the south-west, and it is the common thing in our culture – doing things together.

Your party is also protesting the reduction in monthly allocation to states and threatening court action, what actually do you want?  

You see, the point is that this is a federation. The federal government believes that it has the right to do anything it feels like. If anything happens to the federating account, all the governors and governments must be aware that this is what the country has, and this is how it should be shared. But somebody will just sit down somewhere and decide what amount goes to what state government and what local government. It is not supposed to be so. The units are supposed to be carried along because the economy is not gotten from Abuja alone. It is just a centre for administration and gathering of resources before sharing it to all. What is happening now is that the federal government is just deciding what to give to states.

The reform and re-classification going on in the education sector of the state has been criticized by some sections of religious body in the state; what is the situation of things now, has the government been able to douse the tension? 

The reform and re-classification of schools is part of the commitment of the present administration to education. It is part of providing free, quality education to our children as promised to the people of Osun. But I believe that it is a process. When we came in, the government set up a committee to look into the schools, because what we met on ground is nothing to write home about; in terms of infrastructures, school system, student welfare, teachers’ welfare and others. We believe that there should be a general review of the education sector in the state. And there was a communiqué that came up after the committee’s report. Then part of the committee report is what we are implementing now; that is to provide conducive environment for the students to learn. Government schools must be up to standard. There has to be good structures, libraries, laboratories, offices for teachers and even recreational facilities. And see what we have in Osogbo today, the one at Alekuwodo is a good showpiece for everybody to know that we have started. If we can replicate what we have in Osogbo to all the towns in Osun, everybody will be happy, because private schools are not better than that place. If previous governments had had this intention of providing good qualitative education, we should not have come back this time to start building schools. But what the previous governments had was dilapidated schools, falling structures, without toilet, no chairs, no books. But now we have provided these things in the school, and this is what we want to replicate in all other schools. But I know that this government is not against Christians. I am a Christian myself. But I believe that there are some things we should be able to work with. The Christians should discuss with government on the way forward. It is a new programme, and is subject to amendment and adjustment where necessary. Government is going to listen to them. So I’m encouraging the CAN to meet the government for a dialogue on issues they feel that they are not okay with. And if their argument is superior, the government will take it into consideration. The policy is still subject to review, so instead of complaining, they should dialogue with the government. I believe that building of schools will be of benefit to the people of Osun state. It is beneficiary. You know when things started; some people will always be against it; but at the end, people will be happy and say that someone concrete and good has done something for them.

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The 2014 governorship election is around the corner and with the endorsement, all over, of Governor Rauf Aregbesola, does that mean there would be no other person to contest on the platform of the party and, if yes, how well do you think this would be to other aspirants?

On the 2014 elections, we are ready for that election, and from the party point of view, in the beginning of this year, I went round to all the party secretariats at the local government councils in the state to ensure that all the crises in the party are resolved, to see that the necessary things and machinery are put in place, to have a functional party secretariat and other necessary things. So we thank God that in Osun today there is no crisis. Secondly, we have a committee that is working on assessing the government programmes and policies. It is just to make sure that the party makes an input on the governance, not just mobilization. We should be able to assess government programmes and policies and make necessary input and corrections where necessary. So the government policies and programmes is what the party is looking at now. Also, the achievements of government – we believe is paramount to us in the elections.

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