Election offers golden opportunity for a fresh start
Alhaji Fatai Akinola Akinbade, the gubernatorial candidate of African Democratic Congress (ADC) for the Osun State poll, in this interview says that after September 22, 2018, the state would begin a fresh start in governance. He spoke to LEO SOBECHI
What are the crucial things you want to bring on the table if elected governor?
We have to start by making corrections in various sectors. Our education has to be properly redesigned to bring back the standard way of education. Then, the health sector is nothing to write home about today in Osun State.
Honestly the most important thing we need to do through our programmes is how to provide employment for our youths that are roaming the streets doing nothing, and who don’t have hope for tomorrow. Whatever we want to do, we would do it in a way that so many youths will be engaged productively. How do we do this?
We have to go into massive agricultural mechanisation that would give us a lot of openings to other things. We would be able to develop all our rural areas. Secondly, we will use the means to provide a lot of employments; we will also make raw materials for our agro-allied industries. It is one of Osun’s capital programmes; it is another means for providing employment, we want to as much as possible, industrialise Osun. Industrialization will enable us not only to develop Osun, but also the people, bringing them from low-level class of living to middle level.
Recall that the late Obafemi Awolowo made education the cornerstone of Southwest, between education and industrialisation, which would be priority?
When we talk of industrialisation we need education as well. We are going to develop a lot of people in technical education. When you start industry you don’t need academics there, everything in industry is either on mechanical, chemical, electrical or civil, and most of these things are not just done by illiterates. They have to be educated people. We are making the industrialisation to be comfortable for everybody in the state; the government will assist them.
Do you consider the guber election coming up on September 22 as a referendum on the administration of Rauf Aregbesola or an opportunity for Osun to make a new start?
I think it is an opportunity for Osun to make a fresh start, because as it is, people are already fed up with the government in power. From their expression it is obvious that the people are no longer interested, as it is today, people are yearning for a new government.
The power of incumbency, security vote and in this era of see-and-buy, how much influence will money play in your election?
We are trying to inculcate in our people to lay less emphasis on money. Look at Osun, for eight years there is nothing to show for federal allocations and internally generated revenues. We don’t know how much Osun is indebted to, but Osun electorate are well educated, they are sophisticated too, they are aware. I want to assure you that they will take their money and not vote for them. There are a lot of us that have what it takes, but when you put the decision on merit and so on, you then know who is the best. And honestly everybody knows the best; I want to assure you that they will vote for the best candidate.
Throughout the last eight years, a lot of people talk about umbilical chord of Osun being tied to somewhere in Lagos. Where would that of your government be tied?
I’m independent. And honestly I don’t have any godfather, I have been around for sometime and the kind of leaders supporting me are not the types that play godfathers. Leaders like Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, are godfathers, but role models. I believe my record in governance and public stands me out.
Is there a conspiracy or gang-up in the Southwest to throw up ADC?
People have been grumbling, reluctant to issues, now they see new platform, like minds coming together and this will continue for some time before politics will be stabilized. A lot of people will be scared to join because they will know that ADC is a no nonsense party, it’s not only going to be in Southwest, but the whole country.
It is not based on in-house discussion; it’s purely nonperformance of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Can you imagine a government owing civil servants 35 months’ arrears of salary and yet comfortable doing projects? Definitely you want to owe them perpetually, for life, and to most of them that’s the way, looking at the project they are talking about, doing a kilometer of road for over N1billion. How won’t you owe salary? Because what you’re looting is already attractive to you rather than paying salary.
Do you think the election would be free, fair and credible?
Definitely, it is going to be a hotly contested electoral battle. As it is today, it’s the same people that are protesting that would vote. I mean you can’t take that part out, if you don’t win election you are not doing anything. People are waiting for the election to hold.
If you were to count the sins of the APC government in the past three years what would they be?
I think they are supposed to be in the public domain. If I should start counting I may not be too accurate, but as a candidate, it shouldn’t be for this purpose, but to think of any sector of government they have failed and they are aware of it. I wouldn’t know how they funded the 2015 election, but it’s annoying. Things they are supposed to do aren’t being done and most of them are not doing these things through due process, no advertisement, they only award contracts through their cabinet office and that’s all. Anything that doesn’t pass through proper process is fraud in government.
What would be your attitude towards security vote and local government joint account?
When you talk about the local government joint account, the way we operate it then is different from the way we operate it now. During Oyinlola’s period, we went into it because of some urban local government. There are some urban local governments where the teachers’ salaries are so heavy that even the entire money going into their accounts from the federation account is not sufficient to pay the teachers. It is not because they have more of them, but because of the urbanization. While in rural areas we can have 15 to 20 schools, in urban areas 50 with more than six arms of classrooms. With that we agreed to do a joint account. This joint account is not between the local government and the state.
When you talk about security vote honestly, it doesn’t make any sense having security vote that is more than 50 per cent of the total staff salary. I think some of these things can be attended to as it comes, not carting a particular amount of money. Do something that the people will remember you for a lifetime.
What do you think about wage bill of Osun State?
You will be surprised that starting from December this year; we will continue to pay full salary for the serving civil servant and even the retired civil servant, and the arrears being owed them. We will ensure that we pay them within six months to one year. What would you do as a mother if you come home to see and hear your child crying? You would want to pay attention to the child first before anything. The civil servants are like that child, they shouldn’t ignore the civil servant because of a project, and the governance should have a human feeling. From December they will be getting their full salary.
Do you think democracy is on trial based on upheavals in the polity?
I have the hope and I believe its still on trial, I believe there’s no way anybody can truncate this democracy, whatever anybody does democracy will continue, though its facing a lot of challenges, but at the end of the day democracy will continue to thrive.
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