‘Democracy has stabilised Nigeria’
Dunni Opayemi is an architect and an aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the 2019 governorship election in Ogun State. He spoke with KABIR ALABI GARBA and SEYE OLUMIDE on why the best candidate should succeed incumbent governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun. He also dismissed the argument it was the turn of a particular zone.
Why are you contesting Ogun State governorship?
My name is Dunni Opayemi. I am an architect by profession and my desire is to serve my people and to bring to bear the wealth of experience I have had over the years in Ogun and Lagos states. I mean wealth of experience in terns of service to the people which I have done over the years due to my interaction with my people in Ogun – the grassroots and the down trodden. How we can alleviate if not all but most of their problems. That is one of the reasons I have come to wanting to be the governor of the state.
Lately, there has been debate over professional politicians and professionals in politics, where do you stand?
I will even redefine it because the definition is more of a technocrat in politics and I am a technocrat. There is nothing like a core politician. To be effective and responsible in politics, you need to have a steady source of income. This is when you can actually make contributions. You must have also served in various departments, like I have done and still doing in my architectural profession.
I have served on the boards of many committees in the institute of architecture and now wanting to go and serve my people. To me, politics must be you being able to manage your home very well. So when people say they are core politicians, I wonder because I was born into politics.
What has Ogun State benefited from 19 years of democratic rule in Nigeria? Is there gap that you desire to fill and how?
To start with, democracy has stabilised Nigeria because you have to be among the countries where democracy thrives before you can call yourself a nation these days. The era of the military intervening in politics is over and old-fashioned. Today, whether you like it or not we are still thriving in our democracy. We are still trying to ensure that things work well and every country has its own peculiarities in terms of politics. The politics that is being practiced in America evolved over a long period of time and the one in the United Kingdom (U.K.) where they have parliamentarian system also evolved over a period of time. The politics in Nigeria is still evolving we are still trying to get away from military Generals becoming president. Majority of our leaders except for the likes of late President Umaru Yar’Adua and erstwhile president Goodluck Jonathan are products of the military.
As far as Ogun State is concerned, 19 years of democratic rule has come a long way. We have a lot of good people coming into Ogun politics now unlike in 1999 when it was dominated by people of questionable character. Today, we are now having the real people of which I am one, wanting to come into Ogun politics to make impact. I must tell you that the politics of Ogun after 19 years has now emboldened people like us to want to participate to ensure that whatever dividends that are gained in the past years we improve on it and develop it further.
Because you belong to the ruling APC the stake is very high, what stand you out from other aspirants?
One, I have traversed the length and breath of Ogun State. I have been able to, since 2011 that I came out to mingle with the low, the high and the mighty, visit if not all the local governments, I have visited over 80 per cent of the councils. I have interacted with the party men and the elders of the party and the grassroots of the party and with the local government chairmen and also asked them what is peculiar about their councils, which vary from one to the other.
What I have been able to do is to put up all my findings in the area of needs of the councils, the people and the state into a booklet that will guide me when I get elected as governor in 2019.
What is your possibility of winning having come from Ogun East when Ogun West is saying it is their turn to produce the next governor being the only area yet to produce a governor of the state?
In the first place, it is not about region or zoning but about who can deliver and who can render services. I have said it many times, we should first and foremost understand that when talking about whose turn it is people should be free because we are running a democracy. They should be free to come out to contest and when doing that should also be left alone to decide who they want to govern them.
I wouldn’t agree with you that it is the turn of any of the three senatorial zones. My stake is, it is the turn of who is best suited to deliver the state and give it the best in terms of delivery.
Does the leadership of the APC share this your thinking?
When the incumbent governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun came in 2011, some people believed he came in when it was actually the turn of Ogun West. If we are to go by that because the other parties fielded two Ogun West candidates, which gave Amosun, who came from Ogun central an edge to win. And he successfully leverage on his achievements in 2015 to get second term and won. It does not really matter whether it is the turn of Ogun west; if Ogun west failed in an election, would you blame it on anybody? Even if you have 10 Ogun west candidates and one from Ogun East and the later is the most formidable and he wins, are you going to say he should not be sworn in? That shouldn’t be the case. It is whom the Ogun people want that matters.
Even within Ogun East, there are other factors that contribute to the emergence of a candidate. How strong are you in mobilizing those other factors in your favour?
When it comes to the basics of politics, there are various stages of politicking, there is a stage for presenting a candidate to represent a party and it is within the party that they will first of all have to select and not being mindful of how powerful they are in terms of wanting to be part of the process of selecting a candidate, you can’t push party people aside when it comes to that. But the bottom line is, in Ogun State as we speak today from the look of things, Ogun State is the most diverse state in terms of politics. We have the most enlightened set of people when it comes to politics.
We even have the grassroots dictating to you these days “this is the type of person they want in terms of leadership position, so it not left alone for the Ijebu’s to say we want an Ijebu candidate, whoever the Ijebu candidate is, am from Remo, if the Ijebu candidate matches the Remo candidate I don’t think people will say we must present an Ijebu candidate that is not up there in terms of intelligence, intellect and capacity to govern because that is key to govern a state like Ogun State. Ogun State is very diverse, we are talking of a state where you have the Ipokia people, the Imeko people, Ijebu’s and the Remo’s are there including the Egba’s. As a result of this diversity, Ogun State needs somebody that is diverse in terms of his intellectual capacity to govern and the current governor is doing a good job I don’t want to miss that out. We have been blessed with governors that are intellectually sound.
What would you do differently if elected as governor? How do you leverage on the proximity of Ogun to Lagos in the area of development?
That is my selling point. I am one of those proponents of why are we not leveraging on our closeness to Lagos State. For instance, if Lagos is generating an IGR of N30 billion every month, Ogun should be doing something close to that on monthly basis. We need to invite investors into Ogun State. We have the land. Lagos is choked up! We have sea, we have oil, and we have a lot of mineral resources. We need to start developing the state. We need to start having industries in Ogun State. We need to provide an enabling environment that will attract all these industries to tap into our human capacity.
We have a lot of brilliant people in Ogun State, which is our major and natural endowment. These are the things we want to work on. A lot of people are moving into Ogijo in Shagamu axis of he state. People are migrating from Lagos to Ifo local government, Ado Odo local government and more. We need to leverage on this. We need to match this migration with infrastructure and make these settlements comfortable so that when you ask them to pay taxes on their investment to generate income it will be easy.
Ogun is the fastest growing state in Nigeria today. It is the fastest growing state also in terms of proactive and progressive business ideas. I am the signpost of these ideas through which phenomenal growth the state has been witnessing these days can be sustained, consolidated and improved upon.
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