WHAT is your assessment of the current political mood in Ondo State?
The current political situation in Ondo state is peaceful, though the tempo is high in terms of political campaigns. All the political parties are doing is what they know how to do best. But to me, as the chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), I can say our party is more active than all other political parties. Politics is about people and to make a head way, you must have structures; without structures on ground the impact of your activities cannot be felt. I can tell you that APC is well grounded throughout the length and breath of the state; we have the spread, and we are waxing stronger by the day. I can assure you that APC is a party to beat in this election, because we have formidable structures across the State.
While the APC remains a dominant party in this governorship contest, we can think of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Zenith Labour Party ZLP) as next in that order.
Before the gubernatorial primary election in the state, there were only two active political parties. The defection of the embattled deputy governor, Agboola Ajayi, increased the tally to three.. Agboola lured the PDP into a trap, and put the party in disarray. He assured the PDP leaders that his movement to their party would divide the APC. Unfortunately, he sneaked out of the APC a lone ranger! Thereafter, he left PDP with a sizeable number of the foot soldiers and members, after losing the governorship ticket, thereby depleting the PDP. This dealt a serious blow to the PDP as almost half of the members migrated to ZLP, while some decided to join the APC.
The APC has captured almost 60 percent of political structures in the state. Most of the ZLP members have moved to APC even before the gubernatorial primary, while others left the party, as a protest against the coming of Agboola Ajayi into the party.
Agboola Ajayi seems to be making more waves on the political scene than the PDP candidate. Do you see him as a threat to the second term aspiration of Akeredolu?
From the analysis I stated earlier, I never ascribed any strength to him. We never see him as a threat and he is not even in this race, but the point I am trying to explain is that Ajayi has depleted PDP, and his exit from PDP did more havoc to the chances of the party in the election. He moved with quality politicians within PDP to ZLP within a short period. If you look at it critically, APC becomes the beneficiary, as we have been harvesting defectors from both PDP and ZLP.
Besides all these, the ZLP is without structures in the state. How can their candidate be a threat when the party does not have political structures? It is just noise, and politics is not about making a noise, but having structures that can win election for political party.
We have also received some notable members of African Democratic Party (ADC) from across the State, with large chunk from Ondo West and East Local Government areas, into APC. The entire structures of the party has been collapsed into APC recently under the leadership of the House of Representatives member representing the area, Hon. Abiola Makinde.
So, Ajayi cannot be a threat to us as we have done our homework well ahead of time, even before he decided to contest on the platform of ZLP.
Again, we paraded the best political actors today in the state. All the strong political gladiators in the state are solidly behind the reelection of governor Akeredolu. All the aspirants who contested for the party’s ticket with Akeredolu have all pledged their support for Akeredolu. Chief Olusola Oke, Engr. Ife Oyedele, Chief Bukola Adetula, Amb. Sola Sola Iji, and a host of others. These great men shelved their personal interests for the party, and gave room for reconciliation. They all put the interest of the party and the state above personal interests, and have been working tirelessly for the same course. They believe that governance is about service delivery. Remember, APC is the only party that is focused on the welfare of the people.
So, Agboola Ajayi cannot be a threat to us in this election. We know him; and very familiar with his political capacity.
Are you not weary of former Governor Olusegun Mimiko’s support for Agbo? He has been his political backbone, and moving around canvassing support for him.
I want to repeat that ZLP is a party without structure. In this state, and at this particular moment, it is only the APC that be a threat to other political parties because of our intimidating credentials and bigwigs in our fold. So, for Dr. Mimiko’s support for Agboola Ajayi we are not scared at all.
Agreed, Mimiko is a great politician, and the leader of the ZLP, but I want to remind you that he was once the leader of Labour Party, and PDP, and for a man to be leader of three political parties within a very short time, you should know and understand what that means.
You should know that people can never be taken for a ride all the time. The people of Ondo State are well enlightened, and a politician of a three political parties within a year cannot be seen or taken as a serious politician.
Politics is about the people and if you want to lead the people you must be consistent and live by example. These qualities are what will make people to believe in you, and follow you.
Dr. Mimiko contested senatorial election last year but lost. That is to show you his influence and platform are weak. If as a leader you cannot win election for yourself, in just six local government areas, how can you win election for others?
I want you to understand that Ondo state people have their peculiarity; they can never toy with their integrity, and will not allow any politician to toss them around. We know our onions, and are politically matured. They took the people for a ride in the past, but not any longer. No, it can’t happen again; we cannot afford to go back to Egypt.
The State is just recovering from the debt they plunged us into. This administration inherited over N240billion debt; seven months arrears of civil servants’ salary, and someone is talking of supporting them to take over government in this State?
Before the current administration came on board, ours was the only State in the South West without a teaching hospital! Akeredolu led government deemed it fit to establish teaching hospital, and we are better off with it, less than four years after.
Few days ago, you promised that the state would witness a bloodless election, but many are wondering how this would be in the face of series of attacks and violence in the state. Do you still maintain that position?
I have made this promise repeatedly on the part of my party, APC, I won’t know what the other parties are planning, but I still stand by my promise. We have gone round the 18 local government areas, and what we preach is peace. The state belongs to all of us. I also think the APC is in better position to guide against violence. This is because we are the one with the eggs, and we must protect it, to protect our good image. Talking about violence, we have never recorded any, and we always preach peace
But, the opposition parties are always pointing accusing finger at your party…
It is left for you to do your findings. We have never been involved in any attack, and I challenge you to prove otherwise. The recent one that happened in Owo, where violence was unleashed on our members and members of the community, the police came there, went round to investigate but no APC member was found involved. The incident that happened in Idanre, some hoodlums had been arrested and are still in police custody. So they should tell us where we have been involved.
All the cry over attack by the opposition is to attract public sympathy. We all know their gimmicks, but I am telling you this will not work. We will not attack anybody or resort to violence because we know we have the public with us. We know they are voting for us on Saturday. All we have been doing is to sell our manifestoes and the party to the members of the public. Some parties resorted to image smearing, because they have nothing to sell, or present before the public; nothing to offer. They have been there, and what did the people of the state get from them? PDP has been at the helms of affairs before but left the State worse off.
Now, within three and half years, APC has been able to turn the State around, particularly in the area of of infrastructures and industrialisation. We have been able to attract seven industries to the state within the last three and a half years. All they boast of in their years of goverance in this state is the destruction and neglect of projects initiated by the progressives under the administration of Pa Adekunle Ajasin, and Adebayo Adefarati that established some of these industries in Ondo state. Such industries like Nirowi wood industry, Ifon ceramic, Oluwa Glass at Igbokoda, Okitipupa Oil Palm, and many others, did suffer under these people. However, the APC government under the leadership of Rotimi Akeredolu has revolutionised industries in the State. Efforts are ongoing to revive some of these industries. We are creating an enabling environment to attract investors to the State. Industries will create employment opportunities for our young graduates. And when they are gainfully employed, they would cater for their immediate families. So in terms of thuggery and violence, count APC out, we are a party with the core value of what Yoruba referred to as ‘Omoluabi”
But, violence were recorded in Oba Akoko, Idanre, Owo and Ipele, why do you think other political parties see APC as target?
This is simply: it is because we have a good product to sell, so they think the best way to demarket us is through these orchestrated violence against APC. All they are after is to provoke us, but we will not stop preaching peace, even though they have nothing to lose because they have nothing to offer, and this is the reason we refused to be provoked. You mentioned the attack in Oba Akoko, the incident and disruption of the peace of this town was orchestrated by PDP, the APC has been given clean bill by security agencies, who investigated the incident and other incidents that happened in other areas. We are determined not to be provoked in the face of these violence. Apart from this, we are enjoying the support of the good people of this state, who want us APC to continue with the developmental projects. They believe it is only through continuity that there will be room for development. Besides, it is not too good to change a winning team. The people of this state believe in APC, and we will never take them for granted. We don’t believe in deception, and we won’t play politics with the wellbeing of our people.
What is your party’s chances in the Ondo South senatorial district with Agboola Ajayi who hails from there?
Politics is about structures, party manifestoes, individuals and character. As at today, no political party parade the materials we have in the fold of APC in the southern senatorial district; I am talking about the quality of members and political leaders in the area. APC is the dominant party in the southern senatorial district, in terms of structures, notable and credible politicians.
In 2016, we lost Ilaje and Okitipupa Local Governments to Chief Olusola Oke, who contested under another platform, but he is now in APC and we are on the same page. So you can be rest assured that APC will not have any problem winning in these two local government areas, where Olusola Oke commands a lot of respect and followership. He has never lost in this area, and no politician from this state will contend it that Oke is grounded in the politics of the southern senatorial district.
He is a grassroots politician, who also understands the politics of his people from the area. So the party stands the chance to repeat the feat recorded in 2016 in the zone despite the presence of Agboola Ajayi in the race, because we have everthing working for us. I want you to know that the people of the south will choose who becomes their governor, not that a failed politician who failed this state for eight years will now come and appoint a governor for them. They will never take it, some heavyweight politicians from other political camps are even working for APC. Judging from the above analysis, I am confident that our party will do well in the southern senatorial district during the election.
There has been a gale of defections from other political parties to APC lately, what do you ascribe this to? Some have predicted an implosion ahead, do you perceive it that way?
Let me state here that in politics, the more, the merrier. To answer your question directly, I will see it as the outcome of good planning, and performance in governance. Like I said earlier, APC has a very good candidate who believes in the welfare of the people. Besides, this man has always been consistent, both in words and in actions; Akeredolu will not say what he can’t do. It is therefore not surprising that he has fulfilled most of his electoral promises, he made in 2016.
As a party, don’t believe in empty promises, just to deceive the people. We believe that service to the people is non negotiable, and the people come first in all our programmes. Although, for anyone to envisage crisis with the number of new entrants into the party is understandable, but I want to tell you that APC has enough rooms to accommodate all. We will remain a strong and united family.
What is your message to the people of the state ahead of the election?
The people should see APC as a consistent party that strongly believes in their wellbeing at all times. It is a party of ideology.
They should refuse to be deceived again. Before Akeredolu’s government, the state was very backward. There appeared to be a deliberate plan to halt its progress and development by those in government. The economy and infrastructures were literally gasping for breath.
With careful planning and uncommom financial management, Akeredolu has laid a solid foundation for those things that will make this state develop fast, and compete with states that are economically viable in Nigeria.
I therefore, want to appeal to our people not to give room for derailment again. The two other contenders in the race do not have capacity, or the requisite experience to take this state to the promised land. People of Ondo State should know that such issues as funding the education system, payment of salaries and pensions would not be a problem at all, once we develop other sectors of the economy. Akeredolu should be allowed to develop the economy through industrial development and Ondo Sea Port to bring unprecedented development to the state. With the Ondo sea port and the bitumen production, the economy of the State will become very viable.
It will also create job opportunities for our people, while some that are already working would prefer to change employment; it would give room for job mobility and career progression. These are what they should think about and not their immediate gain. I also want to assure you that, if re-elected, Akeredolu will not relax in his determination to transform every sector of the State. Many believe goverance is always neglected during the second term, but the Akeredolu that I know will not do that. He has been a consistent man all his life, and he wont learn how to play games with wellbeing of the people at this stage.
Chairman of the Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee (CENCPC) of the ruli...READ MORE
A member of Ondo Governorship National Campaign Council of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC...READ MORE