Olufemi Lanlehin (SOLAN), who represented Oyo South Senatorial District between 2011 and 2015, is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo State and was the governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in 2019. His party was one of those that entered into the never-seen-before coalition that culminated in victory for Engr. Seyi Makinde of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). For the first time, Lanlehin spoke to newsmen on issues surrounding the coalition, and on why the people of Oyo State should vote Senator Teslim Folarin as governor.
In specifics, what were the coalition terms you reached with Engr. Seyi Makinde during discussions for the coalition?
There were four parties – PDP, ADC, ZLP and SDP, and we decided that we will have a joint approach to the election by presenting a single candidate, in the person of Seyi Makinde, and that at the end of the day, if we do win – which we were sure we will, because of the high numbers that we had, that we will have a unity government, which would be structured on the basis of our performance at the presidential/national assembly elections. At the end of the day, PDP which he represented, had 50% of the total votes, ADC 33%, ZLP 10% and SDP less than 5%, which we agreed to round up to 5%.
We constituted our Campaign Directors-General into a committee, which came up with a working paper that culminated in the table we were working with. These DGs, many of them astute politicians and experienced administrators, gave us all the positions available in government, and in fact, gave us proposals A, B and C, and we agreed to one of the proposals which spelt that the governor, will have the SSG, Chief of Staff, one or two Commissioners – I think Finance, ADC will have three or four Commissioners, ZLP, I think one, among others. We structured the whole thing around specific appointments which the governor agreed to give expression to.
Were there timelines to all of these agreements, or you just left the governor to his discretion?
There were supposed to be timelines; they were supposed to be done before inauguration, and if not, because of certain exigencies, then it should continue after inauguration until fruition. But ever since he was sworn-in, he became evasive, totally unavailable. I was the face of the coalition, I was supposed to be meeting him, and reporting to other coalition partners. I think once or twice, we had a meeting with all the coalition partners, before I met the governor more than five times, and he continually promised to do all that we agreed to, although we knew it was not justiciable. I recall there was a time a meeting was arranged – he had spent about four or five months in office then, the meeting was arranged for Governor Ladoja’s house, wherein all governorship candidates of the coalition parties were present. We had that meeting from 9pm to 3am, and everybody stated their grievances; I enumerated my grievances. Of course, he apologised and promised to make amends, and that he was going to contact me on Monday (the meeting was held on Friday), and that we would take it from there, I didn’t hear from him for the next two weeks.
Did you try contacting him?
I think I called him once or twice the next week, and after one week, he still said he would call, and he didn’t. So, all the meetings we had prior to inauguration, which was, I think more than five, and about two after inauguration, were not adhered to.
What you’re saying is that Governor Makinde’s evasiveness and non-committal nature convinced you the coalition would not work?
I knew he was just playing games. I was so convinced that I stepped out of it. Although I left the party in there.
You were the first to leave the coalition, you left around July, 2019
I left because it was so clear to me that he was not going to be faithful, as his body language, spoken language, subtle meanings behind his spoken words didn’t show he would be committal.
In the governor’s defence, he might say he gave appointments to some people in the ADC, are they not your people?
No, they’re not our people.
The likes of Senator Monsurat Sunmonu, Wasiu Olatubosun…
No, I was supposed to anchor the whole thing, and I was supposed to take it back to the house. It was supposed to be a joint approach, joint decision. But at the end of the day when I left, I left therein the party apparatus to continue with the negotiation – Architect Basiru Lawal, our DG, Hon. Yemi Aderibigbe and Pastor Wale Adepoju.
What you’re saying is that those who got appointment didn’t get it through the coalition arrangements?
They were not recommendations from the ADC. As the face of the coalition I can boldly say that.
Perhaps it was their personal relationship that got them appointed?
It was out of their manipulations.
So, in all fairness the coalition led by you did not get anything from Governor Makinde?
And you didn’t think you could’ve given the governor more time to fulfil the terms?
Even after two years, he didn’t reach out to us. Even if someone says I’m stepping out because of so, so and so, as an Omoluabi, don’t you think he should’ve said, let’s look it at it again? The only time he ever reached out, was when we had that marathon 9pm to 3am meeting at Governor Ladoja’s place, which nothing came out of. I just knew he was playing games.
You’re backing Senator Folarin for governorship, why?
I’m backing Folarin because the difference is clear. The experience he has as an administrator, politician, humanist, is incomparable to what Seyi Makinde has. Makinde is a businessman who believes because he has a lot of money, he has bought all he thinks he has. He has not gone through the mills at all.
So, you think Folarin will not be another Makinde?
No. Though it is impossible to vouch for anyone 100%, the fact is if you put the two of them together side by side, Folarin is miles ahead of Seyi, who has no experience, whether as a Commissioner, Board Member, Councilor, and he hasn’t got any milk of human kindness in him at all. He doesn’t believe in anyone. It is now that elections are coming that he is now trying to be nice, and relating with everyone.
But he’s paying salaries?
That’s a constitutional duty, a statutory duty. He’s supposed to administer the state, which comprises all and sundry, all members of the party, all members of the society, but he just administers the state in a manner that benefits himself and his close circuit of friends, he brings contractors and consultants from outside the state to run and manage the affairs and finances of the state.
So, you think Senator Folarin will make a good governor?
He will. Somebody who’s been to the Senate three times, must have something standing him out. It means he’s a team player, one who listens. Remember he was once Senate Leader; for someone to rise that high, surely means he has something to offer. Not someone who got there, and now considers himself god; and his money got him there.