Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Chief Moses Adeyemo, is in the race to succeed Senator Abiola Ajimobi as governor in 2019. In this interview with WALE AKINSELURE, he speaks on notions that he has blind loyalty to Governor Ajimobi, the clamour for Oke Ogun to produce the next governor, his selling point to become the APC gubernatorial candidate and his plans if he emerges governor.
The governor, on several occasions has referred to you as the most loyal deputy governor in Nigeria. What do you make of this praise, bearing in mind that deputy governors are regarded as spare tyres and bound to totally submit to the dictates of the governor?
Yes, it is true that the governor has, at several places, referred to me as the most loyal and most sincere deputy governor not only in Nigeria, but in the whole world. If he had said it of recent, people would have concluded that he is saying this to show support for my political ambition but he has been saying this since first term. The description of deputy governors as spare tyres was by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. By my interpretation, a deputy governor becomes relevant when his boss is not in existence, because a spare tyre becomes useful when the major tyre is punctured. I will agree because the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, section 19, states that the governor may give responsibility to the deputy governor. The word ‘may’ means it is up to the governor to decide to give responsibility to his deputy or not, so I don’t have to go after the governor asking him to give me this or that.
There are those notions that you have not shown enough capacity to make any difference if you become governor. Critics say you have not asserted yourself as deputy governor and have demonstrated blind loyalty to Governor Ajimobi…
I will not agree with people that see that I have not asserted myself on my position as deputy governor. Do they expect me to be fighting the governor or pulling his coat or agbada to show that I am asserting myself in my position? The Bible asks us to respect those in authority. Tell me, what end has befallen those deputies that have fought their governors? Even if one is a director in a private company and a manager is trying to prove that he is superior, what will be the end of such person? I have asserted myself on my position. The governor sends me to almost every function. He won’t assign me such functions if he doesn’t deem me competent. I have asserted myself and have shown that I am competent.
During this second term, the decision of this administration to venture into the review of the Ibadan chieftaincy declaration was greeted with controversies. If you were governor, would you have ventured into that controversial reform?
I will ask you to give me that privilege of not responding to that question. This is because the issue is in the court and it will be prejudicial for me to talk about it. If I were governor, I would have told tell you my mind on the issue but above all, I do not want to be charged for contempt.
The state boasts of between N1 billion and N2 billion monthly but some economic experts argue that the state can achieve N5 billion monthly. As a financial manager for many years before becoming deputy governor, which other areas, apart from Agriculture, do you think demand more attention to boost the state’s IGR?
We are yet to adequately tap into all areas where we can make money but we can borrow a leaf from Lagos State. People have to pay a lot of taxes in Lagos State. During the tenure of former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, his federal allocation was withheld for years but he was able to pay salaries, develop infrastructure and continue the business of governance. For example, I will make sure that every resident of Oyo State pays tenement rate. Majority of taxes are drawn from salaries and many big time businessmen do not pay taxes. Taxes are needed for development so people must pay taxes. People don’t pay water rates. Also, we have our minerals being mined across the state free of charge. The state government should make its own money from mining or get royalties from sales of those mineral resources. We must develop the interest of the people to pay tax. Anyone using government facility for anything should give a token back to government. Going by the state’s population, the state should realise at least N5 billion as IGR every month.
What do you make of the clamour by your people, that is, the people of Oke-Ogun, to produce the next governor of Oyo State?
There are so many factors. Truly, everybody knows the governor has the greatest power in a state. In many states of the country, governorship is shared among the senatorial districts. The Northern senatorial district does it one time, South at another time and Central the following time. However, this is not what is happening in Oyo State as governorship has been concentrated in the South. The only time there was a change was when former governor Adebayo Alao-Akala emerged and he got that opportunity due to the impeachment of former governor Rashidi Ladoja. Ibadan has produced almost all governors since the inception of the state in 1976 and I think it should be rotational such that the other two senatorial districts can produce governors. Oke Ogun has 10 local government areas though, its population might not be up to Ibadan, which has 11 local government areas, Ogbomoso has five, Oyo has four and Ibarapa has three. So, I think Oke-Ogun which is the second largest to Ibadan should produce the next governor and then it goes to the other zones. Chances should be given to other zones. Oke-Ogun has always been supportive and for the sake of justice, should also be allowed to govern. Moreover, the zone has capable human capital.
Governor Ajimobi has stated his desire for Oke-Ogun to produce the next governor. Does the body language of the governor match his statement?
I can’t determine that. It’s only the governor that can answer that question faithfully. He has made us to believe that he supports Oke Ogun to produce the next governor.
Having being in power for seven years, as deputy governor, others, especially your kinsmen, say you ought to allow other Oke Ogun sons, who have distinguished themselves as professionals, to seek the APC ticket. What do you make of this argument?
I am not aware of this position. The fact that I have spent seven years as deputy governor does not mean I should vacate my ambition. Anybody who wants to become governor should vie for the position. There are aspirants who have legislative experience but I have served in the executive for seven years and gained executive experience and the governorship is an executive position. I also come from a financial background and governance is about management of funds. I was a senior banking official for years. So, I combine governance for seven years with financial management for about twenty years. I am the most experienced having served in government for seven years, and that is important, because anyone who emerges will only build on what is existing.
Do you have a full grasp of your political base and can command the power blocs or are you relying on Ajimobi’s political structure to emerge as governor?
In Oke-Ogun zone, we won in 9 out of the 10 local governments there. I was part of those who did the job that ensured our victory there. Ajimobi was not governor when he came to power in 2011, so you must ask what his base was then. He contested in 2007 and did not win then. So, nobody can fully boast of a base until he or she gets to power. It is when one emerges that one can boast of a wider base. I am relying on myself and God. Despite the fact that I am from Oke-Ogun area, I have so many people in Ibadan who can vouch for my competence. If I was unknown in Oke Ogun area, I wouldn’t be picked as deputy governor. Six of us contested to be deputy governor and I emerged the best. It is only those who want to be mischievous that would not say that I am a man of integrity, a man of intelligence, a man of unity and a man who is reliable and dependable.
If you don’t get the APC gubernatorial ticket, will you be taking a bow from the political space?
I am positive man; I don’t think of negativity. But, if I don’t get the ticket, I will still remain an APC man, a progressive to the core. If God says I am not the one to get the ticket, I will be the first to congratulate whoever emerges candidate of the party. I will never go to court because I lost an electoral battle.
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