Oyo 2015: Alao-Akala has no business contesting —Olaosebikan
By Angela John
Alhaji Kehinde Olaosebikan is a governorship aspirant in Oyo State under the umbrella of PDP. In this interview, with Angela John he stresses why he is the best candidate the party can present in 2015. Excerpts:
YOU recently made known your intention to vie for Oyo governorship. Do you think you can make any effect at the poll?
I can and, by His grace, will make great effect at the polls. It is not an ambition that I am just nursing; it is an ambition that God has adequately prepared me for. In making it, I will bring about the much needed change in governance in Oyo State and Nigeria in general. This is the time for us to have a complete revolution in the way we do things, particularly how we govern, so that Oyo State resumes its pacesetting status in the country. The time is now to give back power to the people, its real owners, when the interest of the downtrodden masses will be accorded top priority as against what is obtaining now, where the rich are getting richer and the poor getting poorer.
How sure are you of the ticket of the PDP for the election?
If you look critically at those of us jostling for the ticket of PDP, you will realise that I am the best positioned for the ticket. You know I have been in the game of politics longer more than any one of them. This has made me to have genuine friends and associates across the state, across parties and accepted in all the zones. The only thing most of them have more than me is money and I can tell you without any hesitation that the role of money will be almost zero in the primaries.
The likes of Alao-Akala, Seyi Makinde, Folarin, Femi Babalola, Hazeem Gbolarunmi are in the same boat with you. How do you plan to upstage them and others?
For former governor Adebayo Alao Akala, our leader whom I have a lot of respect for, has no business contesting for the governorship position. Though he is yet to formally declare for the race, I think doing that, for him, will be akin to the late Olusola Saraki fighting for governorship post in 1999 with the late Muhammed Lawal and co; akin to Alhaji Balarabe Musa struggling with Ahmed Makarfi and co in 1999; Chief Emmanuel Nwanyawu slugging it out with Achike Udenwa and co for governoship position in 1999 and Chief Tony Anenih going to war with the likes of Igbinedion in 1999. These eminent Nigerians took respected position and they stay respected till today.
Alao-Akala is, so far, the most successful politician in Oyo State, having served as a local government chairman, deputy governor and governor. He is currently holding the record of the longest serving governor in the state. To me, Alao-Akala has risen beyond that level. The best thing for him is to look beyond the state. Automatically, he should be the natural leader of PDP and the eyes of the Federal Government, not only in Oyo State but the entire South-West. Alao-Akala led us in 2011 to get the best result for PDP in the entire region. He led us to the election as our leader and the sitting governor, but now as a mere aspirant, he cannot be the leader. Precisely, the best thing for him is to pilot us as a leader and the PDP is sure of a minimum of 75 per cent victory in the state.
By that time, he will have double confirmed who the true leader of PDP in the region and the greatest politician devoid of money influence in Yoruba land is. Certainly, he would be accorded all the dues of a regional leader, not a state leader. That is the level that I, as a true and loyal follower, want him to be. It is more dignifying, respectable and rewarding for him and the state. Oyo State needs big players at the centre.
At present, the state is being shortchanged because our leaders are concentrating too much in local politics. They need to move out of their comfort zones and fight for the state and its people.
But what if he insists in contesting?
Do you want me to answer that? .
I am in the race to win and I have every confidence that by His grace, I will get the PDP ticket and ultimately win the gubernatorial election. And as for the other aspirants, all of them would be adequately carried along in the administration of the state. One of the major problems bedeviling our democracy is the winners take all syndrome. In PDP, with the level of evolution in the party, things would be appropriately settled, even before the election. We are all brothers.
Do you think you have the grass-roots supports and financial wherewithal to fortify your ambition?
In a race like this, nobody can claim to have everything. But to a large extent, I am very close to the grass roots. I have been involved in politics since 1981 when I was just 18 and in the present dispensation, I have been an insider since day one. As a former CPS, former PRO for a presidential campaign and a two-time local government chairman, I have good contacts across the state. I am known across the state and across the parties. In fact, the moment I get the ticket of PDP, I can assure you that majority of members of the three other parties, APC, Accord and Labour, would defect to PDP. Even those that are in the cabinet of Governor (Abiola) Ajimobi would team up with me. I am not exaggerating. I have firm assurances from many of them and their leaders.
One thing in Oyo State is that we know ourselves very well. They all know that I have the capacity and competence to govern the state. In addition, they know that my passion for the growth of the state and care for the masses is uncommon. Above all, all of us in Oyo State now, including the elite, want a governor that is humble, egalitarian and accessible. They know me with these virtues and that is why I was able to serve and function effectively in all the governments in the state since 1999, except the government of Ajimobi, which I deliberately stayed away from.
Were you ever invited?
Senator Ajimobi invited me before he started. But I know him quite well. He used to stay in my office when he was trying to join politics each time he came to see the governor, Alhaji Lam Adesina, then. He is not the kind of person I can work with and I am happy that all what I said to those persuading me to join him have been confirmed. I am sure you know the story of Lyrics, the recreation centre I set up when there was none in Ibadan. Just because I refused to join him, in the most vicious manner, he seized the place from me. I have put that behind, me.
PDP, as currently constituted in the state, is still being riddled with a lot of crisis.
No doubt, we have some challenges in our party which are caused mainly by the leadership and ambitions. I can tell you that they are being handled and I believe very soon, things will be straightened out.
Will the party be able to wrest power from the incumbent, even if you emerge the candidate?
The issue of wresting power from the present government is the easiest thing to actualise now. Oyo State people are already tired of Ajimobi. They are tired of deceits and lies. They are tired of retrogression.
The Oke Ogun people, the people of Ogbomoso, Ibarapa, the masses in Apete, where the bridge had not been done for three years; the masses in Oluyole, where their bridge in Ayegun has been subjugated for three years, are all fed up with the Ajimobi-led government. The people of Ona Ara, Egbeda, Lagelu, Akinyele, Ibadan North East, Ido where all their bad roads have been neglected for the past three years, are all counting days when they will have a reprieve from a government that has completely abandoned the masses and everything about them.
What do you think you want to do better than the current administration in the state?
Everything! From preparation to prioritisation and implementation. The present government got it wrong and that is why the government is unpopular among the people.
All your ideas are laudable and populist, but how are you going to execute them with the crunch of money being faced by the government?
Like I said earlier, the fundamental thing for a governor to do first is making the people to key into his vision. By this, they would have clear understanding that all what the governor is doing are in the best interest of the people. Once there is ownership, the problem is half solved.
On the issue of fund, I want to say without any fear of contradiction that Oyo State can afford to give its citizens those basic necessities of life free. Our major problems today, though not limited to Oyo State, are corruption, indiscipline and wasteful spending. I will eliminate all forms of corruption, indiscipline and wasteful spending in government. You know I have been in government since 1999, but permit me not to go into details right now, for obvious reasons. I want to assure you that all these are possible and in achieving them, I will attach road maps to all the goals and they would be realised promptly.
Why contesting for governorship, instead of other positions, including the House of Representatives or Senate?
I am not contesting for House of Representatives or Senate because I know I will be more useful for the people of the state as their governor. What we really need in Nigeria, particularly Oyo State, are good people in government. Our problem is not about legislation, it is about leadership. There is corruption because the leaders are encouraging and promoting it. There is indiscipline because the leaders too are indisciplined. Today, we don’t have leaders that are role models. They can’t really be emulated in any aspect of life. They act arrogantly, display wealth with disdain and use power like tin gods. Nobody is mentoring the young ones again.
So, I want to be the governor in order to provide the right leadership in Oyo State. A leadership that would ensure justice, fairness,, equity and sincere care for all. A leadership with good understanding of governance that would carry the people along in achieving a well defined and clear vision of making Oyo State self sufficient in a record time.