The senator representing Lagos West Senatorial District and a front runner in the race to replace Ibikunle Amosun as governor of Ogun State, Olamilekan Adeola, wants the governor to stop the witch-hunt against him and allow the people to elect who will govern them. He spoke with Tobi Soniyi. Excerpts:
Ogun State governor, Sen Ibikunle Amosun, has publicly declared opposition to your governorship ambition though both of you are in the same APC.
Governor Amosun and I have no issue. He is my governor. As the governor he remains the leader of the state. And like you have rightly said, we belong to the same party. His opposition to my aspiration does not mean I have offended him or done anything wrong to him but because what is different is our political ideology. To him, they claim I am coming from Lagos. And he asked, “how can I come from Lagos and become the governor of Ogun State”? It is a bit of challenge for him to comprehend and that has caused a lot of hoola-baloo and it has generated a lot of controversies. But come to think of it. Interestingly, nobody has governed Ogun State that was not from Lagos.
Chief Bisi Onabanjo who was from Kakawa, Lagos Island. Chief Olusegun Osoba, ex-MD, Daily Times Plc, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, MD, Kresta Laurel, Sen Ibikunle Amosun of the Amosun Chartered Accountant & Co., that his office is here in Lagos. So, if you look at this, it is so straight that Chief Bisi Onabanjo was from Ijebu. He came from Kakawa and he became the governor. Otunba Gbenga Daniel is from Remo and he is the MD, Kresta Laurel, Lagos and he became the governor. Chief Olusegun Osoba is from Egba and he was MD, Daily Times and he became the governor. Sen Ibikunle Amosun is from Egba, he came from Lagos and he became the governor. As we speak, he still resides in Lagos. So, why is it that it is the time or turn of Yewa and now he is saying the Yewa man who is also coming from Lagos can’t be the governor of Ogun State? I believe that should not be the prerogative of the governor but the prerogative of the people. The people have spoken that he (Sen Adeola) is our son and as such they are in support. We have got endorsement from here and there. He is our son and we are supporting him for Ogun State 2019. I believe strongly the governor sees reason in this line and not that we are expecting that the governor should support us because sometimes you will just notice that you might be thinking differently and others might be thinking this way. We are forging ahead and we are hoping and praying, that with the support of God Almighty and the good people of Ogun State, by the grace of God, come 2019 we shall be the governor of the state.
What should the people expect from you if you become the governor of Ogun State?
Let me start by thanking everybody who has supported me in this journey. It is my prayer that by the grace of Almighty we will come out victorious. I would want to look at our dear state from three perspectives; Ogun in the past, Ogun in the present and Ogun in the future. Ogun, in the past, is looking at what our past leaders from the democratic dispensation had done towards the development of the state. And when I refer to the leaders, I am referring to Late Chief Bisi Onabanjo, Chief Olusegun Osoba and Otunba Gbenga Daniel. In the present, we are talking about Sen Ibikunle Amosun. By and large, all these men, at least, have contributed their own quota towards the development of the state through various developmental programmes which they were able to put in place, to assist in driving development across the state. When we refer to Chief Bisi Onabanjo, who God had used largely to build and create a lot of institutions across the state and who in the area of infrastructure did well to better the lots of the state. Chief Olusegun Osoba, whose administration focused on rural development, also built roads.
He embarked on rural electrification and all other amenities with the intention that by the time he returned for the second term he would focus on urban development. Chief Gbenga Daniel administration which was a mixture of both the urban and the rural also contributed his own quota towards the development of our dear state. And the present governor, Sen Ibikunle Amosun who is on a mission to build, has also contributed his own quota and it is so evident majorly in the area of road construction across the state. He has equally done well and has tried his best to develop the state. We will build on the legacies of our past leaders. That is why we are going to offer a participatory government for sustainable development. An inclusive government. In the past, there has been an issue of successive administrations destroying each other’s legacies, all because they would like to create a platform to showcase themselves to those that elected them, that this is their own contribution towards the development of the state. We will complement whatever any government has done for the generality of the people of Ogun State. Our approach will be different from what you have seen. A clear-cut system of governance is what we are bringing to the table. A government where every average citizen of Ogun State would have his or her own say. A government in which all communities will be given a sense of belonging. A more focused and pragmatic kind of government. A government that will not abandon one sector for another. We will address youth and sport development, environment, transportation, works and infrastructure, agriculture, urban renewal and regeneration, poverty alleviation and women empowerment, physical infrastructure, financial re-engineering and positioning the finances of the state. A lot needs to be done to turn around the fortunes of our state in every sector. For example, we will critically look at the environmental sector.
Another area that we will be looking at is security. We will create a security trust fund. We will engage all companies, all industries operating in Ogun State, captains of industries, banks everywhere to be part of this fund. We are going to be major stakeholders too.
Ogun State uses to be known as one of the best in education but presently the state is doing poorly in WAEC and other examinations. How will you address this?
As you have rightly said, Ogun State, in terms of education, had done extremely well and I can tell you that, as far as this country is concerned, we are one of the best. When you talk about Tai Solarin, Wole Soyinka, Sir Adetokunbo Ademola and many other renowned citizens of the state who had done so much to put us on the world map, as far as educational excellence is concerned. I will declare an emergency in the education sector. We would be looking at the educational structure that exists in all our educational institutions; and we will be looking at the curriculum of the students, how often it is being reviewed by the government. Secondly, in the area of teachers, there is the need for us to train and retrain our teachers. Our teachers have been abandoned. Their morale is low. Their allowances are being held by the government, salaries are not coming as at when due. We are going to motivate them to deliver. Their salaries will be promptly paid. Allowances will not be withheld. We will give them opportunities to develop themselves. We will promote and celebrate our teachers.
Where exactly is your root in Ogun West?
I want to thank you very much and I think for those of us that have been following the political scenario being played out in Ogun State, for a while. Just last Sunday, the good people of my town came out enmass to give me their endorsement. They also declared their support for me. This issue of ancestral lineage is not much of a problem for me because I believe that whoever that is saying anything is just saying it to entertain himself or herself. I have chosen not to go into any kind of discussion with anybody because a lot has been written about it. We have chosen to remain focus, to remain calm, I don’t think I should be bothered about it. There is no time that I have ever denied my ancestral background. I have made it loud and clear and may be, the governor, yes he is the governor of our state, doesn’t understand the cultural heritage of our people. This has made him to continue to say that same thing which I believe by now he should have found out the true position. I am from Ago-Isaga Pahayi, in Ilaro. The Isaga people, as a result of the Dahomey war, scattered around. And 85 percent of the Isaga communities are in Ogun West. They are scattered everywhere. We even have Isaga in Lagos, in Lawanson (Surulere). So, Isaga is everywhere. But my own family lineage during the Dahomey war settled in Ago-Isaga Pahayi, in Ilaro since 1862 and they have been there. We are more or less from there. But you would find out that every Isaga person has his source and the source is Isaga Orile and that was where the war came and everybody scattered and everybody went around. That was why you could see last Sunday when Isaga people came out enmass and gave me their endorsement. Prof Akinosi, Chief Osayemi, a former Pro-Chancellor of FUNAAB, and other notable sons and daughters of Isaga in its entirety were all there. By now, every citizen of Ogun State should look beyond the issue of ancestral lineage because it has been resolved. When my father, Adeola Ayinde Ogunleye who was from Ago-Isaga Pahayi and my mother, Akinola Sunmbo at birth she was from Kenta-Oguntolu, in Abeokuta. So, as it is, if you are talking of my ancestral background, from my father and mother sides, I am a complete Ogun State indigene. I am a bonafide citizen of Ogun State, both from the father and mother sides.
Since the creation of Ogun State in 1976, Ogun West is the only Senatorial District yet to produce a governor for the state. Why is this so?
The problem that has been responsible for this, is what is playing out now. The good people of Ogun West should sit back and be sure of what they want. If we are waiting on somebody to give us the governorship ticket then, we are not ready to become the governor. Because nobody, nobody I repeat, gave the Egbas. Nobody handed over Chief Gbenga Daniel to the Remo people that, this is their governor. Nobody handed over Chief Bisi Onabanjo to the Ijebus that he was their governor. Nobody handed over Sen Ibikunle Amosun to the Egbas that he is their governor. Nobody handed over Chief Olusegun Osoba to the Egbas that he was their governor. So, why do they want to hand over somebody to the Yewa people or to the Ogun West people that this is your governor?
Yes, the good people of Ogun West want to produce the governor come 2019 but we will need to get our acts together. We need to be more focussed and dedicated more than ever before because this is our time. And for it not to slip from our hands all hands must be on deck. We must thank those supporting us including Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Chief Olusegun Osoba, Senator Ibikunle Amosun and others, But the fact still remains that the governor should not force any aspirant on us in Ogun West. He should allow the Ogun West people to decide who becomes their own governor. We don’t want a governor that will be remote-controlled. We don’t want a governor that will be looked after like a baby and be spoon-fed like a baby. We don’t want a governor that will not be independent – minded to carry out programmes, policies and objectives that will be state-driven. We don’t want a governor that will stay in office and will not ensure fair equitable distribution of the state’s resources across all the local governments. If we crave to be governor we must put our best hands forward, because at the end of the day, you are not going to be governor of Ogun West but the governor of Ogun State.
The governor should allow the Ogun West people to choose who among them they want to be governor