‘Why Amosun will lose to SDP in Ogun’
Governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Ogun State, Senator Kamal Odunsi, who is currently representing Ogun West senatorial district, is confident that incumbent governor and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ibikunle Amosun, will lose the April 11, 2015 election. He told journalists that the people are disenchanted with the incumbent style of administration.
My role as a lawmaker and the governorship aspiration
As a matter of fact I have actually not finished the task of providing effective and responsible representation for Ogun West. I believe my governorship aspiration is to continue to represent the people of Ogun State on a broader and higher level.
However I decided to throw my hat into the ring for governorship for some reasons. I believe in party supremacy. Originally, I intended to stick to my senatorial seat and continue serving my people. But few things happened that changed my senatorial pursuit.
I was elected on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) now All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2011. After the APC emerged, certain things happened that changed the entire equation. Even when we were in the ACN after the election, what we planned for the people of Ogun State was not what came to pass.
We expected that we would work together collectively for the development and progress of all sectors in Ogun State. However, the governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun decided to play the game according to his rules. In other words, he did not involve the rest of us who brought him to power at the state level.
He ran a one-man show to the exclusion of the rest of us. Every effort to make him work with us as a team fell on deaf ear. In that situation, he did so many things about the input of other components of the state. I cannot truly begin to enumerate all things he failed to do as the state governor. But it was obvious to many of us that he was running a government to the exclusion of all of us, who represented other interests in the party and in the state.
Competing against an incumbent
By the grace of God, you are speaking with the next governor of Ogun State. We are confident that we shall win this governorship election in Ogun State.
We have toured the entire state. We have gone round, speaking with people. We have reached out to the people. What we are getting from the people of Ogun State is total rejection of this administration.
The building of bridges and roads you see around is pure facade because there is no development at all in the suburbs. There is nothing to show and people are really unhappy with Amosun’s administration.
We have gone to virtually all wards in Ogun State. We have not just visited urban centres; we have gone to all the rural areas. We have found that there is no development in those places. There are no roads. We have seen a huge number of jobless people. Farming is abandoned. The health sector is in a state of comatose.
In one interview I read, Amosun referred to our schools as “ramshackle schools.” Yes, our schools are ramshackle because that is the way he wants to leave them. He prefers to build his so-called model schools at the expense of the existing schools. I can’t imagine a governor describing the schools in his own state like that.
Plans for the youths in Ogun
We have a grand plan to provide employment for the young people through different schemes. We are going to open up farm settlements that late Chief Obafemi Awolowo established in the state.
We are going to attract young men and women into farms because we are going to modernize agriculture. That is not all, we are going to build rural roads so that industries can also develop in rural areas and not just in the urban centres alone. We have to check rural-urban drift that has been causing a lot of trouble everywhere. We will ensure that there are employment opportunities for the young people.
Building infrastructure in Ogun State
We are going to review all on-going projects. We are not going to abandon the project per se, but we will priorities our needs. For instance, some of those roads are inflated projects, even over-inflated. If you look at the cost of many road contracts per kilometre in Ogun State compared to what it is elsewhere, you will see what I am talking about. Most of them are over-inflated. When we get to power, we will re-organise our priorities. I do not even know how many of those roads have been completed. You came through Ilo Awela road here. Towards the end of the road, the contractor has stopped working for months now. Whenever it rains, those who live on the axis are prone to erosion. We know some of those projects need to be completed. It is public fund, we can throw it away, but we have to set our priorities on them.
For instance, rather than build many of these roads, what we probably need is a ring road that can prevent many of the excessive roads that they are doing. If we build some ring roads, it will cut a lot of expenditure. Look at Iganmode Road, for instance. What we need in that place is not a six-lane road. The traffic that goes through that route does not require six lanes. What we need is good drainage in that place because we never have traffic jam in Sango/Otta. So, what is the point in the new roads they are building now? There is no point at all. In the end, you have destroyed heritage buildings and places of worship without adequate compensation.
Are these issues potent enough to defeat the incumbent governor in the April 11 elections?
I know I am more experienced than Amosun. I am a team player with the fear of God. Aside, I am a very successful person in various businesses that I have run. I have track records to show my performance. Even as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I can point to several projects that I have executed across the Ogun West. So, I am not a failure by any standard. I know I am honest. I do not lie. What we need at this stage is somebody who has the desire to serve the people and not to improve his/her own lot.
Conservatism and honesty
I do not know what you mean by conservatism. If being honest is conservative, I agree I am conservative. If being hard-working is conservative, I am happy to be conservative. If having the fear of God is conservative, I am glad to be conservative. What we need is performance. I have told you that my whole life is all about performance. Many of you knew me in my period of active business. If you say I am conservative, I am perhaps by your own definition. But it is the result that matters. If you deliver to the people and the people are yearning for the dividends of democracy, people are not interested in your flamboyance or your aggressive posture.
After 2011, everybody had the hope that there would be interconnectivity between Ogun and Lagos State. The people of Ogun State were looking forward to a kind of synergy that will change their lives seamlessly. But that did not happen. Lagos is contiguous to Ogun State. We know the problem Lagos has among other states. Lagos has limited land area. Ogun State is the next door neighbour, where they flow to. A lot of people now live in Ogun State and work in Lagos State. You cannot stop that kind of relationship. Because we have plenty of arable land, Ogun State should not just be bread baskets for Lagos and Oyo, we should be bread basket for South-West states because of the size of arable farmland we have. But what have we done to it? We have abandoned agriculture completely. I believe when we get to power, we will revive this sector.
Plans for communities like Ibafo, Arepo and Mowe that are complaining of poor government attention
We have pinpointed the shortcomings of the Amosun administration. There are growing communities such Magboro, Akute, Alagbo-Ile, Arepo, Mowe and Ibafo among others. The only road we have there is the road that is connecting from Ijoko to Akute and Alagbo-Ile, which is also abandoned right now. The teeming population in these areas are totally neglected.
If you know the number of people that are killed on daily basis on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, you will be amazed. All they need there is a bridge for the people to commute to either side of the roads. But this government has completely neglected the area. We believe communities along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway need a lot of government intervention. They hardly have light except for the intervention of some of my colleague in the Senate and House of Representatives, who have put in some measures of modern living in these communities. The state government is not looking there at all.
My vision for Ogun
We have developed a 7-point agenda. The agenda contains our programmes of actions for the people of Ogun State. It is our article of faith, to which we stick. The agenda comprise integrated rural development and agriculture; qualitative education for our children; integrated power project, employment generation; qualitative healthcare service delivery, sports and recreation for all as well as promotion of tourism and culture. Precisely, we will not tell stories about what we will do and what we cannot do. We have seen how politicians make promises that in the end they cannot come near what they have promised the electorate. We are going to put an end to that kind of behaviour in Ogun State.
Living up to campaign promises
It is pointless making empty promises. We know what we can afford to do, even before going into government. We know the things that are feasible based on the resources of the state. There are some we cannot make projection for until and unless we get to government and see the flow of revenues.
When we get to power, we will look at all tourism potentials in the state and begin a process of developing some of these potentials one after the other.
One is Olumo Rock, another one is the tomb of Queen Sheba. There are many tourism potentials.
Beyond that, we will also develop sporting activities and sports for youths. A lot of our youths have potentials to be world stars. But sport facilities are not appropriately designed in a way that will help develop the sport potentials of our youths
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