Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala served as the governor of Oyo State between 2007 and 2011. In this interview with journalists in Ibadan, the Labour Party, LP, governorship candidate speaks about the April 11 governorship poll, the administration of Governor Abiola Ajimobi and other issues. KEMI OLAITAN was there. Excerpts:
The present government in the state has accused you and Senator Rasheed Ladoja of mismanaging the resources of the state while in office. What is your reaction to this?
The governor is talking rubbish. He doesn’t know what he is doing. Myself and my boss (Senator Ladoja) were not owning salaries when we were there. In fact, my own administration left a lot of money when leaving office. I learnt a few days ago that the money I requested from the Federal Government, which I used in constructing federal roads in the state while in office, over N18 billion have been released to him. What has he done with the money? He is not a good manager; it is as simple as that. He doesn’t know what he is saying about the economy of the state and has not managed it very well and that is why he cannot pay workers’ salaries.
On the accusation that the administration of Ladoja/Alao-Akala destroyed the economy of the state, I want to remind him that the same administration did not owe workers’ salary or contractors. What actually happened was that their administration operated on loans. Their lenders got in touch with the Federal Government, reached an agreement that the money be deducted from source. This is the reason they’re crying f meagre resources from the Federal Government. If you care to know, this is happening in all All Progressives Congress-controlled states. They’ve swallowed more than they can chew so their mouth is full.
While workers in the state are owed salaries, retired primary school teachers recently protested non-payment of their pension arrears and gratuities. What do you think is responsible for this?
When you are a bad manager of resources, that is what will happen to you. The man (Ajimobi) is a bad manager of our resources. It is as simple as that. I learnt that he’s taken quadruple (four times) in terms of federal allocation of what I earned when I was there, but he is not managing it well. That is why we are in this kind of situation. If you remember very well during my time, I had more than enough for the working class and pensioners as well. You just don’t give what you don’t have. The man there now hasn’t got the managerial skills to effectively govern Oyo State; if he has been doing that well some of us wouldn’t have come out to contest again. We cannot afford to stay aloof and allow him to ruin the state. For now, there is nothing we can do for the teachers and pensioners, they have to endure and manage the situation until we get there. By God’s grace, when we come on board again, together we will look at what we have and plan on it with all sincerity. We won’t be extravagant but consider our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) with the Federal Allocation and other sources of revenue and cut our coat according to the size of our cloth.
It was all over the social media recently that you collapsed on the staircase in one of the hotels in Ibadan. Is it true?
Social media again? I hope these social media people will not ignite civil war in Nigeria one day. Nothing happened to me and you can see me. I am okay and still very agile and you can confirm this with my schedule today. I’ve been all out with my team since morning on campaign tour, mounting podiums, walking, dancing and reaching out to people in Ibadan. Maybe, that is their wish; there is nothing they can do about that. They are not my God and if that is their wish, good luck to them. But nothing happened to me.
Do you see this as the handiwork of your political opponents?
Definitely, they are jittery and I think it is their wish to get themselves out of the way, not me. I don’t need to tell you that they regard me as their only obstacle and they are praying for evil to befall them and actually, not for me. The day of reckoning is fast approaching and reality is dawning on them. I’m not moved an inch at all.
What is your take on the health care delivery in the state, especially the Adeoyo Hospital?
Seeing the deplorable position of the hospital always makes me sad. I made the hospital to be a world-class during my administration. The hospital was abandoned since 1928 that it was built but during my time, I started fixing everything that had worn out there. I put a lot of equipment including two big power generating sets and two boreholes to ensure that water was running. I employed a retired consultant who will be permanent at the hospital to make sure the place was effectively managed and function as a world-standard medical outfit. But it’s unfortunate to hear that four years after we left, they couldn’t maintain the standard. Everything has gone bad now and I learnt that they are now using lantern in a hospital I installed two big generating sets? That is the situation we find ourselves and when you are not paying attention to what is happening around you, those are what you get. Health care delivery is what our people need most and that is why I was serious about it then. Let me also state here that before I left office, I awarded contract for refurbishing and re-construction and shaping up of the new Adeoyo Hospital at Ring Road, Ibadan. He didn’t touch anything and the hospital is at the same stage we left it four years ago. He has missed so many things; he didn’t get his priority right, unfortunately the time is up against him and we will fix them when we come on board.
What is your message to the people of the state viz-a-viz the coming gubernatorial elections?
They must make sure that come April 11 they change the government of this state. This man doesn’t have the interest of the people at heart and it is obvious. It is satanic for you to owe workers their salary, how would they eat and take care of their children? You can just imagine a family whose head is a civil servant and the wife is also a civil servant, what do you expect to happen to them? How would they survive in that house? It is satanic to owe salaries, when you owe teachers’ salary, what type of knowledge do you think a hungry man will impart? They won’t go to their various schools happy , it is when you are happy with your employer that you can put in your best but when you are not paid, there won’t be any motivation to teach well.. I hope people will not make the mistake of voting back these people. Let me tell you, everywhere we visited during the campaign, everyone complained because it is visible that people are hungry but they don’t know what to do. It wasn’t like that when we were in government. I was a deputy governor and later governor, it wasn’t like that. People were enjoying but now, everyone is suffering. How can he owe salaries for two months? In fact, before you embark on any project you’ll first of all think about the welfare of the workers or civil servants because they are the engine room of the government. Their wages and remuneration are the first thing I think of. If you don’t take care of people working for you, how do you want them to survive? You have to manage the resources very well; it is after you have paid their wages and other emoluments that contracts can come; contracts don’t come first.