Effective local government system key to development, says Dapo Abiodun
Prince Adedapo Abiodun, who is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Heyden Petroleum Ltd, began his political career at a young age, having been elected as Senator during the transition to civil rule era on the platform of United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP). However, ever since he emerged as the gubernatorial candidate of APC, some powerful forces, which he displaced, have been trying to push back on his victory and limiting his chances of going ahead to win the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Ogun State. In this interview with KABIR ALABI GARBA, he speaks on his vision and mission to the Government House.
Since Monday, January 7, 2019 when you kicked off the ward-to-ward tour of Ogun State, what are the major challenges/issues common to all the places visited so far?
One of the commonest challenges to almost all the locations visited so far is the very poor state of intra-state and Trunk C-community roads. Whereas some are out impassable outright, many are barely manageable. This is a disconnect from the barely sufficient beautiful roads and bridges that adorn some of our big cities.
There is also the apparent infrastructural collapse of most public schools, especially at primary and secondary levels. Teachers in such schools also lack the basic teaching tools that are in tandem with modern times. Added to that is the derelict state of almost all community health centres, which are the only visible presence of health care system closest to the grassroots.
All these and many more are products of inattention to critical sectors, near total collapse of the local government system as well as wrong priorities in governance. This much my administration will address willy-nilly.
In what ways have those challenges/issues influenced your aspiration to lead Ogun State as governor?
The challenges seen on the field have further strengthened my resolve to see to it that things are done differently. Differently in the area of priorities, performance as well as an appraisal mechanism to gauge the feedbacks of the governed. I am more convinced now that our slogan ‘Building Our Future Together’ truly speaks to our situation and circumstances.
What specific issues would you consider as critical to moving Ogun State forward?
A rejigged, renewed, and revamped economic development agenda majorly. This will help drive every other sector in the state – education, agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, commerce, housing and many more.
Our Free Trade Zones at Olokola, Kajola and Igbesa are all key to this agenda. The port development in Olokola must commence immediately. The bitumen and crude deposits in the state will be prospected without further delay. The potential of the state will no longer be allowed to remain at the level of latency. We can actually do better than Lagos in terms of revenue generation.
Based on the outcome of the tour, which programme on your manifesto do you consider as most dear and crucial to you?
Effective local government administration is the most urgent. It will help to drive grassroots development that is almost nonexistent at the moment.
Can you do a quick run down on issues that defined your nomination as APC gubernatorial candidate?
An improperly managed succession plan, which possessed visible but needless evidence of exclusion of major stakeholders by the incumbent was the summary of the reasons behind the crisis that bedevilled the selection process. At the end, and by the special grace of God, I emerged. That’s in the past now. We need to move forward.
How much of reconciliation has taken place to ensure that the aftermath of the party primary does not hurt your performance in the main election on March 9, 2019?
Sufficient fence-mending efforts took place at various levels to bring on board all the faces that are today being seen in our campaign. More is still being done to accommodate others, including members of the other political parties that have been joining us in large numbers.
You don’t have the backing of the incumbent governor. So, where do you base your strength?
The people. The good people of Ogun State, who have demonstrated unconditional love, acceptance and encouragement for our campaign and programmes, are my strength. They have been our major source of strength. After God Almighty, our support base is the good people of Ogun State; they will remain our focus going forward. We acknowledge and can never take for granted the overwhelming support of Ogun people, which we have no doubt will transform to our electoral victory for Mr. President, myself and all our candidates.
Politics always interferes with governance. As such if elected how would you balance the two?
To the extent that there are lined up programmes of government that will be vigorously pursued at all times to ensure service delivery. The level of interference of politics with governance can be sufficiently managed and adequately reconciled, depending on who is at the helms of affairs. A clear example is President Muhammadu Buhari, whose political campaign did not hamper governance. We thank God that we have a trustworthy leader in Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is steering the presidential electioneering. There is without any doubt that politics and governance are indeed children of the same parents.
Which aspect of your background do you think will help you more in office as governor?
My humble and apparently disadvantaged background that should ordinarily have stopped my rise from the grass to grace. This reassures me always that something major can come out of our present challenges as a state. The will to succeed therefore will propel the envisaged success ultimately.
So far, you and Governor Amosun maintain a cordial relationship with President Buhari. What is the game plan to ensure that your governorship aspiration under APC is not compromised?
All that is doable within the ambit of the law to ensure victory at the polls will be done. I am sure you reckon, however, that the pages of newspaper are not a place to discuss details of strategies to win an election. We are, however, thinking outside the box. The president is an honest and transparent leader and loyal party man. He has maintained in public and private discussions that he will support only the candidates of APC.
What is your take on the general perception that Ogun State is yet to harness the opportunity of its closeness to Lagos State and how do you plan to address this?
I have touched on that earlier. Our economic development initiative must leapfrog from the level of the unexceptional that it is now to the first-rate level it ought to be. That, essentially, will make us contenders, touching on economic development and not pretenders, as we seem to be perceived presently.
What is your disposition to uncompleted projects, especially roads if you are elected and sworn-in as governor on May 29, 2019?
Every on-going project will receive requisite attention for completion. The underlining caveat, however, is that they will be prioritized. Government is a continuum and therefore we won’t abandon uncompleted projects.
We shall take the steps of President Muhammadu Buhari, who has been completing projects abandoned by previous administrations.
Some issues have been raised about your academic qualifications. Can you clear these doubts for our readers?
Those who raised the issues are already before a court of competent jurisdiction. To that extent, the court should be allowed to do its job. We will not be distracted. I can only add that I am academically, professionally, morally and constitutionally qualified to govern Ogun State. God will make it happen on March 9, 2019.
What should Ogun people expect in your first 100 days in office?
100 days is such a short window to assess a new government. I am, however, confident that as we will hit the ground running on May 29, 2019, after our swearing-in. by God’s Grace, every day will usher in a new lease of life and hope for Ogun people. Because it will gradually become incontrovertibly clear that really and truly, we are ‘Building Our Future Together!’
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