I don’t see any strong incumbency factor in this contest, says Isiaka
What is your assessment of development in Ogun State?
Ogun State since creation has been better positioned and launched on the path of economic development and socio-infrastructural transformation.
The state has through the modest achievements of successive administrations, secured the front seat in the comity of states in the federation, as an emerging state with great potentials, which is already being acknowledged even outside the shores of Nigeria and Africa.
Let me emphasise that each administration in the state, both civilian and military, had contributed its own quota to the general wellbeing and development of the state to the present envious level we have today.
I am confident that given the speed in the creation, adaptation and enforcement of relevant economic policies and through a continuous, energy-driven administration, which our administration intend to provide in the next dispensation, we shall succeed in promoting sound, competitive advantages for future generations in Ogun State.
The overall strategy of actualising this monumental vision is predicated on a multidimensional approach, which the administration shall inject into the system. People know my capabilities, the reason we are confident in winning this election.
What do you want to do differently?
Our administration shall actively encourage and supervise investments in key sectors of the state’s economy to stimulate rapid economic growth and development.
The economy would be efficiently and sufficiently driven by highly competitive variables of tripartite partnership economic policy as a way to broadening the internal economic base of the state and reduce the risk of over-dependence on federal allocation.
There shall be a deliberate effort by the government to create new industrial areas in the state within the ample opportunities nature has bestowed on us to further boost the industrial opportunities so that the economic frontiers of the state would be widened.
Most people say you are well known in political circles, but that your party is not very popular or to put it differently, that you are a strong candidate in a weak party. Can this win you the election?
Let me first of all correct the wrong impression that my party, African Democratic Congress (ADC), is not a well known political platform in Ogun State; maybe before now that statement may be necessary. But in the last couple of months now after our electioneering campaign, ADC has now become the fastest growing political party in Ogun State with great acceptance by the people.
Again, I want the people to also know that the individual coming to power is a more significant factor since it is human beings and human factors that drive political parties and political administration.
To God be the glory, I can emphatically mention here that the brands GNI (acronym for Gboyega Isiaka) and ADC are now prominently well known to the people of the state, as a leading candidate and leading party in this coming general election.
Are you not worried that incumbency factor will be used against your ambition?
As far as I am concerned, I don’t see any strong incumbency challenge in this contest except the use of state resources and logistics to favour their choice candidate.
Let me also mention that I have passed through the same experience before and one thing I’m quite aware of is that the choice of the people is not significantly dependent on incumbency.
The people know whom they want and who will be elected by their votes. I have equally considered the level of performance of the administration of Governor Ibikunle Amosun in line with the change mantra that brought it to power and, in my deductive appraisals of the various programmes of the government, I have come to the realisation that the administration has not performed well to deserve incumbency votes.
It is therefore my due understanding that there is no strong incumbency factor in Ogun State that could turn the table against a better alternative, which I represent.
Are you not concerned that there are two candidates contesting from Ogun West?
I don’t know why people always refer to this in isolation of the reality that there are multiple candidates in the East with dilapidating structures than we have in the West in this election.
What I would rather talk more about is that the people of Ogun West know who their choice is and I think this is much clearer from the activities of the different stakeholders from the West.
I’m aware of the concern of many people, who are of the opinion that the Ogun West should have produced a single candidate, but people often forget that this is democracy, with a multiple-party system and each party is expected to field its candidate for the election.
How did you get Ogun West elders and traditional rulers to endorse your candidacy?
I think our leaders and traditional rulers will better answer the question.
To my understanding, none of the candidates from Yewaland was invited to the meeting; I was not there but I am grateful to all of them. We know ourselves; they know all the contestants and, if, in the last 43 years of the creation of the state, Ogun West has not produced governor, then the zone must present his best.
What is your attitude towards many of the uncompleted projects in the state?
The noblest political service any politician can render to the people is to provide necessary social amenities for improved social services to the people and where the amenities are available; their proper maintenance should be of major concern to the government.
The people of Ogun State will want to see multiple clusters of roads construction and rehabilitation of existing bad roads, rural electrification projects, development of new housing units and estates, building of new blocks of classrooms and renovation of existing structures, renovation and building of new office complexes, renovation and upgrading of existing stadia facilities, construction and renovation of hospitals as well as provision of other infrastructure needed for enhancement of living standards of the people.
Ogun State, in the last eight years, no doubt, has witnessed road construction in some parts of the state and neglect of other socio-infrastructural transformation within the dynamics of modern state building.
Our administration in the state therefore would have a lot of challenges to contend with to really surpass the achievement of the incumbent administration in this aspect of physical development.
To this effect, an audit of all state facilities must be carried out to ascertain their availability, usefulness, state of being vis a vis the need for new ones.
I am convinced that supply of social infrastructure must always be ahead of demand in order to make our strategic planning for growth more realistic.
In addition to improving the existing infrastructure through routine maintenance by responsible government agencies, new projects should be conceived and targeted in phased reconstruction, modernisation, expansion, and redevelopment to add to the aesthetic value of the state.
All government agencies should be charged to nurture a development plan to accommodate expansion.
We shall ensure equitable distribution of state infrastructure in such a way that no zone or division will suffer neglect or marginalisation as being witnessed under the present administration.
Our administration will embark on sustainable developmental projects that will have user value to generate employment, create wealth and transform the communities from poverty to prosperity.
Our vision therefore is to fully integrate Ogun State in the league of states where the citizens have good standard of living and a fair degree of contentment.
Having said this, let me note here that the singular error most Nigerian political leaders commit is in not finding anything good in what their predecessors have done. They rather prefer to start afresh which more often than not creates problems of policy inconsistency and a times violent reversals of policies and plans to the detriment of the system and various institutions of governance.
This, of course, was the serious predicament in which we found ourselves when the outgoing administration came to power in the state.
I want to assure you that many of the laudable projects in the urban renewal programme shall be completed and new ones will also be added where necessary, except the model school project that I have considered a colossal waste of state resources; even at that, the project shall be redirected as may be appropriate within the concept of our educational programmes.
Is it possible to improve the quality of education in the state?
Education is a key tool to transformative development; it enhances the quality of life and capability of individual for a sustainable livelihood.
In Ogun State, education is considered as our major industry through which we have produced generations of leaders as well as gifted men and women in all human endeavors.
This enviable legacy of active productivity has been sustained by successive administrations in the state since its creation in 1976 until recently when we began to have some challenges that seem to be relegating us to the background.
Our administration shall convoke an all important educational summit to identify the many challenges with strategic solutions in the education sector in line with the global objectives of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Our administration shall; ensure that all children have access to completely free and compulsory primary education of good quality regular payment of subvention to institutions of higher learning, carry out needs assessment in our tertiary institutions for strategic interventions, ensure payment of scholarship and bursary awards to students of higher institutions, expand and improve comprehensive early childhood care and education, provide free secondary education, ensure that learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life skills.
Also, we shall ensure 60 per cent improvement in adult literacy especially among women, address problems of affordable tertiary education with special reference to adequate funding of research and facilities, enhancement of teacher’s education through revitalization of teachers’ scheme, make learning materials and textbooks available, and provision of adequate infrastructure to aid effective and qualitative learning.
In what ways will you cater for youths if elected?
The biggest threat to sustainable democracy in our nation today is the issue of youth employment and poverty.
To me, employment issue is not only a social and political issue but also a key economic matter.
It brings to the fore the tension between the haves and have-nots; it creates self-respect and builds stable societies, strong families and communities.
While it is true that it is the responsibility of the government to take care of her citizenry it is not out of place for our educational institutions, in collaboration with financial institutions, to initiate academic and economic programmes that will create job opportunities for our young graduates in different fields of human endeavours.
By so doing we will be doing ourselves a great favour to secure our environment and create a lasting peace around us.
With the ways things are going, Youth empowerment transcends what any serious government should give cosmetic attention, as currently being witnessed in the state.
There must be deliberate efforts geared towards reducing the yearly inflow of our jobless graduates into the society if we must banish poverty and penury.
To this effect, if elected, my new administration shall look inward into the employment generation scheme of the incumbent administration with a view to benefit from its experiences, successes and challenges for us to work out a better option like the OGEGEP, OSAMCA, etc. The agencies responsible for youth development and employment generation should be given adequate attention. The government should come up with new programmes for development of human capacities and capital development.
Our state owned tertiary institutions must, as a matter of urgency, design entrepreneurial curricular with State government and financial institutions in partnership to create jobs and wealth opportunities.
I’m confident that with good funding, good leadership, and no corruption we shall impact some positive changes.
I have also found that about 40 per cent of unemployed graduates would prefer to go for further studies; the state’s scholarship scheme should therefore be expanded with greater funding to accommodate more students on graduate studies while the curriculum should be reviewed to accommodate practical experience that would enable most of the students be an employers of labour upon graduation.
There must be an understanding between the government and industries operating in the state to assist in employment generation through special schemes that will be introduced.
Against the background of a Mitros rice in the market as a signature project of the current administration’s stride in agriculture, which turned out a farce, what is your plan for agriculture in the state?
I don’t need to comment again on the Mitros rice, which you have acknowledged as a farce. I agree with you.
However, over 75 per cent of Ogun State population are farmers with exceptional opportunity of excellent vegetation good enough for large scale farming.
Ordinarily, agriculture should contribute to the economic profile of the state, but because farmers in the state still practice subsistence farming the economic potential in the state in agriculture has not been fully tapped.
My administration shall reposition agriculture with the aim of making it generally viable for both the farmers and the state’s earnings.
Our focus shall include, eradication of extreme poverty and hunger through self-sufficiency in food production, ensure food security, generate employment opportunities in agriculture through large scale farming, promote cooperative activities and loan facilities to categories of farmers and provide necessary infrastructure for rural development towards improving the living condition of rural dwellers.
Others shall include providing mechanised tools and improved technology for farming at affordable rates, encourage production of livestock/crops for farming for optimum output development and promote researches in agriculture, rehabilitation, and development of farm settlement with research activities among others.