Adeyeye, Olujimi should stop complaining, they once enjoyed Fayose’s goodwill – Ekiti dep.gov

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Ekiti State Deputy Governor, Prof. Kolapo Olusola, in this interview with KAMARUDEEN OGUNDELE, talks about his adoption as the “preferred candidate” of the Peoples Democratic Party for the 2018 governorship election

How will you describe your emergence as the adopted governorship candidate of the PDP’s stakeholders as supported by Governor Ayodele Fayose?

I see it as a divine intervention by the Almighty God. At times, you don’t plan for things like this but you hope for the best. It is the Lord’s doing and it is marvellous in my eyes.

When you were nominated as the running mate to Fayose, did you imagine you could emerge as his likely successor?

I’m from the academics where I have lectured for 24 years, between 1990 and 2014. One thing I know in life is that whatever will happen will surely happen, especially if your ways are right with God. He has a purpose for everybody. I started lecturing at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, in 1990 and by the grace of God I rose to become a professor with effect from October 1, 2012. Every reasonable human being plans to get to the peak of his career in life. My coming in as a deputy governor was divine. It was my father that was considered as the running mate but he was disqualified on account of age. The leadership of the party asked Governor Fayose to look for a younger person. Two days later, my father visited the governor to thank him for nominating him even though he was rejected. I was in Ibadan when I called my father to ask after his welfare. I never knew my father was invited to Abuja when I placed a call to him. That was how Governor Fayose knew my father had a son who was a lecturer in OAU. The governor called me. That was how the journey began.

I was not a politician but now I’m a politician by the grace of God. I realised it was God’s plan for me. So, I made up my mind to serve the people of Ekiti State and to be completely loyal to my boss (Fayose). I have been trained to be loyal, whether in church or at the workplace. Loyalty is a core value that my leader and mentor cherishes so much. I made up my mind to be loyal. When I look back, I discovered that the governor had serious challenges with his deputies during his first term. Imagine, a man having three deputies within the space of three years. All the deputies, except for one who resigned, were unfaithful. It was a running battle. His exit also was in connection with the disloyalty of one of his deputies. So, I made up my mind that I would be different. More so that two of his former deputies are from my hometown, Ikere. I started with the mind of completing my four-year term with him and, after that, going into the next plan that God has for me.

I’m a pastor. I always ask God for direction. It was because I got His mind that I agreed to be Fayose’s running mate. My focus was not to become a governor but to serve faithfully and diligently as the deputy. Those are the principles that have been guiding my conduct in office. Because of his experience in the past, Governor Fayose said it openly and told me privately that he is not interested in a deputy that would play politics behind him. He wants a deputy that would leave (complete the term) with him. In the course of duty, the governor has at various times praised me for my commitment. This commendation has encouraged me to work harder. When your boss is praising you, you need to be more conscious and work harder. If you want to contest any office, you must enjoy the goodwill of your leader. By the inspiration of God, he was made to consider me a worthy successor. Who am I to say no to what God is planning? When God says ‘yes,’ no one can say ‘no.’

Senator Abiodun Olujimi and Dayo Adeyeye are not comfortable with your adoption as the preferred candidate. What do you think about that?

From the word ‘preferred,’ it means others are not excluded. By adopting me, nobody has violated the Nigerian constitution, PDP constitution or the Electoral Act. They (others aspirants) are free to contest in the primary. Majority of these people complaining had enjoyed similar favours in the past. Even some are currently serving in one capacity or the other. They had enjoyed same favour even when they were contesting against other aspirants. They were chosen because they enjoyed the goodwill and favour of the leader. So, if it is the turn of Kolapo Olusola to enjoy the goodwill and favour of the Almighty God and goodwill and favour of the leader, I don’t think they should complain. We love one other; we are not fighting. They have the right to aspire and the good thing is that Mr. Governor has not excluded anyone from participating in the primary. Some of them have been holding meetings with interest groups and we are not complaining. The primary will be open to all.

You are said to be chosen by the governor to succeed him so that you can be his stooge to cover his tracks. What is your reaction?

I want to correct one notion: the fact that one is loyal to one’s boss does not make one a stooge. By the grace of God, I’m a professor. I worked in the university for 24 years before coming in as a deputy governor. By the grace of God, I have supervised four PhDs, master’s and MPhil programmes, so they should know I have a mind of my own. Being faithful is not synonymous with being a stooge. Mr. Governor listens to and reasons with people. Those who are far away think he wants to impose somebody he can manipulate but Fayose is not a manipulator. He is an objective and principled man. When he sees something good, he would want to discuss it with his associates and get ideas from them. The result we are getting in education today is as a result of collective ideas under his leadership. It is not wrong to be submissive to your leader; it is biblical. So, what tracks does he want to cover? Let them bring the tracks he wants to cover that calls for imposing a stooge. The Bible says, ‘A servant that is faithful in small things will be considered for something greater.’ That is my story.

Ekiti came out tops in the National Examination Council Exams for the second consecutive year. But the All Progressives Congress claimed it was the product of the efforts made under Kayode Fayemi. What is your view?

Don’t forget the APC government was there in 2013 and 2014 when the examinations took place.

For the West African School Certificate Examination in 2013, the performance was 29 per cent. It dropped to 25 per cent in 2014. That indicated that their government did not help the education sector. When we came in, Mr. Governor asked me to supervise the Ministry of Education. Let me thank him that for someone coming into politics for the first time, he allowed me to function in a familiar terrain. He believed that I’m from the academics and should be able to do well.

As of today, he has given me the opportunity to understand the dynamics in other ministries as well. When we came in 2014, we sat down and appraised what was happening in each ministry. When we got to the ministry of education, we discovered that the so-called fountain of knowledge had become a shadow of itself. The governor asked us to do a research on the abysmal performance of our students. We called a stakeholders’ meeting and decided to organise an education summit where the problems confronting the sector would be discussed. The summit took place in 2015. We also discovered that most of the students were not serious. We paid for NECO and WAEC when we came into office but we discovered that most of the parents were not encouraging their children to read, which brought about poor reading habits. The parents felt they had nothing to lose, even if their children failed their examinations because they were not the ones paying — it is government’s money. At the summit, it was agreed that government should stop paying for the Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations.

Starting from 2015, we started organising intervention lectures for the final-year pupils. When we did the analysis of the SSCE results, we discovered that our children were performing poorly in English and Mathematics. In WAEC- and NECO-conducted examinations, anybody that failed English or Mathematics had performed below expectations. They were doing well in other subjects but they consistently failed English and Mathematics. So, we started the intervention lectures for SS3 students from Monday to Thursday and Saturdays with proper monitoring of teachers and students because the governor directed that there must be adequate supervision. Parents were also put on their toes. These efforts yielded positive results for us. The following year, 2015, we improved from 25 per cent in WAEC to 36.5 per cent. We took the 11th position that year. We also organised many workshops and training for teachers in primary and secondary schools to build their capacity. We brought in many experienced WAEC and NECO examiners, some of them — retired teachers — to train the teachers.

In 2016, we moved to 42 per cent in WAEC and still maintained the 11th position. By the grace of God, in 2017, through a letter written to us, we moved to 73.86 per cent. In NECO, in 2014, it was 58 per cent under the APC. But in 2015, when we were already in office, our performance increased to 74.5 per cent and we came third. In 2016, (for the first time) in the history of our state, Ekiti came first in NECO – organised examination with 96.48 per cent — a record-breaking performance. Today, I’m happy to tell you that Ekiti again came first in NECO SSCE 2017 with 85 per cent. It showed that our performance last year was not a fluke.

If the APC under Dr. Kayode Fayemi is bragging that it laid the foundation, how can you lay a foundation of failure and you think anything built on it will not collapse? One of the things they have been saying is that they were the ones that brought core subject allowance, rural allowance and how-to-start-school allowance in partnership with the World Bank in 2013. Yes! But in their first year of implementing it, they left a debt of N430m even when the money given by the World Bank was more than sufficient. Only God knows what they did with the money. When we came into office, Mr. Governor went to the extent of borrowing money from the bank to offset the over N400m debt to encourage the teachers. And since then, we have been paying regularly because without paying that, we wouldn’t have been able to access the next tranche from the World Bank. You can see the difference. Someone was given more than enough money but mismanaged it and left a huge debt.

There is another who, when he came into office did not allow the misdeeds of the past government to hinder him from moving forward. He went to borrow money from the bank to ensure that the gap was filled. We have paid from January to August and we have started processing from September to December. We even paid ahead. You can see the difference. How would the teachers not be motivated? These performances were as a result of Mr. Governor taking interest in the welfare of teachers.

We know of a former governor who was waging war against the teachers. Do you think such will boost the morale of the teachers or dampen their morale? Then you have another governor who is teacher friendly; can you compare the two? Even with the recession, we pay the allowances regularly and on time. Very soon, we will hold institutional training for about 3,000 primary school teachers and 1,000 public secondary school teachers. So, if somebody is saying that he laid the foundation, it is a foundation of failure. What we did was to remove the weak foundation and we rebuilt our foundation in 2015 by introducing new measures to improve the performance of our students in external examinations.

From the academics to politics, how well have you settled in?

Whether in academics or politics, one thing is important: one needs to be focused and disciplined. You need to understand what you are doing. The procedure and structure may be different but the core principles are essentially the same. By the grace of God, I have settled in well under the leadership and mentorship of Governor Fayose, who knew I was coming into politics for the first time, and he put me in a familiar terrain which is education at first and started exposing me, gradually, to other aspects of governance. I want to thank him because he has given me the rare privilege to represent him at the National Economic Council and even at the (Nigeria) Governors’ Forum to gain experience. I thank him for his style of leadership.

What advice do you have for aggrieved aspirants and other PDP members?

I want to appeal to them that they should let us come together. We should not forget that the primary is still there. Nobody is excluded from the primary; we are following the constitution.

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