A former spokesperson for the campaign team of a former governorship candidate in Ekiti State, Segun Oni, Moses Jolayemi, who is also the Labour Party coordinator for the 2023 presidential election in the state, tells MUHAMMED LAWAL his views on the recent tribunal judgment, among other issues
You held several positions in the media before you joined politics, how would you describe the experience so far?
I think social media retired me early. Newspapers are no longer selling like they used to, because of social media. However, I am proud of some newspapers that are still able to weather it. I am not sure I have thrown myself fully into politics because I do not believe politics is a profession, so I remain a journalist. There is no way we will not be interested in what is going on around us and we cannot fold our hands not to serve the people. With the experiences I have garnered within 30 years, I believe I should be of good use to the society. That is why I’m here today.
There is a general perception that politicians are liars. As a journalist guided by the ethics of journalism, which emphasises truth, what has your experience been?
That was why I said I’m not fully into politics. Many of these politicians do not regard us as real politicians, because we do not believe that lying should be part of politics. So, if you do not do it the way they do it; the likelihood is there to say you are not a politician. Contributing to the growth of the society and serving the people, these are what make you a politician, not the politics of lying or calling white black. I am not sure of wearing that gown, I will speak the truth. I am not sure I will submit to such an obnoxious creed of lying. This is not to say that there are no politicians who are truthful, honest or genuinely want to serve.
You served as the chairman of Segun Oni’s media team when he contested the election on the platform of the Social Democratic Party, what do you think made him lose the election to incumbent Governor Abiodun Oyebanji?
Serving as the Chairman Media Team of Segun Oni was his second attempt at the governorship of Ekiti State. The media is a familiar terrain. Segun Oni was a good product, he was accepted and the majority of the people wanted him back based on what he did in the past. Good governance is like pregnancy, you cannot hide it. So many people know that Segun Oni did well as governor and he is probably the best since the state was created. He was a marketable candidate. I will say in all honesty that money made him lose. His major opponent then was money. If he had half of the resources possessed by other candidates, the story would have been different.
You were the coordinator of the Labour Party Presidential Campaign Council in Ekiti State, people might think you defected to the Labour Party because your former boss lost the governorship election. Did you consult Oni before taking the step?
If I say I am loyal to you, my loyalty is not 99 per cent, but 100 per cent until I feel there is no need for that loyalty anymore. I called him and I told him and he gave me the go ahead. The way things were going with the Labour Party, the upsurge of interests, especially among the youths, was interesting, and we also saw that there were prospects. Of course, we had lost the governorship election. If we had not lost the election, I probably would have been engaged with other things. So, I accepted to serve as the coordinator for the Labour Party in Ekiti State when the Social Democratic Party was not going anywhere. There was no prospect for the party anymore; it was Segun Oni who brought the party to life. Again, LP has some programmes and policies that excited me. Also, the ideals of the party resonate with me.
You said in the past that the Independent National Electoral Commission did not conduct a credible election, what do you think INEC must do differently in subsequent elections?
The Independent National Electoral Commission has a lot to do to win the confidence of the Nigerian people. It is like INEC talks more than they can do, because the way they spoke about the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System and Result Viewing portal, known as IReV, you wouldn’t believe anything could actually go wrong. Clearly, they still have a lot of gaps to cover. INEC said the election result would be transmitted electronically, giving us all manners of assurances, but suddenly, it refused to work. After spending multibillion naira of taxpayers’ money, in advanced climes, you would have questions to answer for that. In some societies, the head of the commission would have to throw in the towel because he failed to perform to expectation. If he had told us it wouldn’t work, we would have continued with our old method before he came up with this grandeur project or idea. Nigerians only want transparent elections; they want their votes to count.
The tribunal dismissed the case of LP presidential candidate, Peter Obi, and he has filed an appeal at the Supreme Court, do you think he can reclaim his mandate or he should simply listen to people who advised him not to appeal the ruling?
I do not think that he is going to pull through at the Supreme Court or wherever. Senior advocates, analysts and enlightened people have all looked at the judgment and it was described as very good. I do not see how far he can go. If you say a mandate is stolen, the onus is on you to prove it, and not only proving it, you have to prove it beyond reasonable and possibly unreasonable doubt. The reality is that the President is installed and it is even more difficult now. From what we hear, he (Obi) was not able to prove his case convincingly. Your party won in a polling unit, you must have the result to show for that claim. It is not all about talking. The judges are also on social media, but they are concerned with facts and what is presented before them, not what is on social media or the interest of the people. For me, I do not see this case going further because I do not know anything new that they want to plead at the Supreme Court; I consider it an exercise in futility.
There is no doubt that the removal of fuel subsidy has caused hardship for many Nigerians, but the Federal Government introduced palliatives to cushion the effect of the subsidy removal. Do you think the steps taken at the federal level are sufficient?
The manner in which the subsidy was removed caused a lot of crises. It was sudden and nobody prepared for it. The people at the topmost part of the ladder in the society and the comfortable middle class will not feel the pain, but those at the lowest rung of the ladder will tell you it is not a sweet story. A decision like this cannot be taken in such a manner in developed countries. There should have been debates on it for months and this will prepare the people for it. The fuel subsidy was removed to make the country better; not to punish the people, so it should have been done differently.
Do you think the Ekiti State Government has been able to support the people in this time of hardship and how would you rate the governor’s performance in his first 100 days in office?
I think Governor Biodun Oyebanji is on the right track. Well, it is too early to conclude that this is the best governor or governor of the year. As it is being said, morning shows the say and he has started well. If a leader is on the right track and the so-called democracy dividend is not yet delivered, but you can see signs that tomorrow would be better, in a way it makes you happy and hopeful that tomorrow would be better. I hope he continues on that path.
What are your thoughts on the Bola Tinubu presidency and the appeal by Atiku Abubakar?
It is obvious that Atiku is not destined to be president of this country. Having contested six times – 1993, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019, and 2023, Atiku’s political life has run its compass. On the other hand, Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s presidency is pre-planned and ordained. The hand of God, you can say, was visible and tangible every step of the way.