No worries, God’s might is with us, says Eleka
I am In Support Of Afenifere’s Decision On Ranching
Ekiti State Deputy Governor and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the July 14 election, Professor Kolapo Olusola Eleka unveils his plan for the state in this interview with KEHINDE OLATUNJI.
Can you spell out your agenda for the people?
Our administration would embark on what we call SHIELD, which is a continuity agenda that is designed to improve on what we have on ground, and make it better. S stands for security, sustainable man development and social welfare; H is for healthcare; I -stands for infrastructural and industrial development; E- stands for education and enterprise development, L-stands for leadership and governance and the last one, which is D has to do with development of agriculture and tourism.
These summarize my vision for Ekiti and the people. Speaking on education, we will continue to refocus on our pride in Ekiti, which is education. We have implemented student/pupil oriented teaching policy. A result of this is the current educational breakthrough of Secondary schools as the best NECO SSCE in recent times in the country.
However, more efforts will be placed on reinforcing the emotional stability of the teacher who is the brain behind the students’ success. We will provide and promote tuition free education from basic school level up to secondary school to ensure that no child is denied their right to education; and endeavor to provide motivation for classroom teachers to stimulate a better delivery of learning activity in healthy environments.
Beyond these, one area that I believe we should work on is the area of deploying ICT tools in learning to our primary and secondary schools. This becomes important because we cannot just be left behind in this modern age. The modern trend now is that students need to be taught at a very early stage of having access to ICT knowledge. Also, training and retraining of our teachers is very important in this regard as well. When talking about education, the tertiary is also important. For instance, in Ikere, there is a Teachers’ Training College, where the number of students being admitted is dropping at every academic calendar and this is because most students don’t want to come for NCE programs again. So, I believe a College of Education can be transformed to a university of education as it was before it was cancelled by one of the previous administrations.
For me, to sustain that institution, it has to be converted to a university of education, which they have been agitating for. More so, there is a technical unit there. So, technical and vocational education is what I will focus on. I want to thank my Governor because anything on education, he would always ask me one question and say, Deputy Governor, I hope you know what you are doing? Once I say yes, he gives approval. That was why today we have been able to achieve so much in education; coming first in NECO twice is not a fluke. Somebody was saying on air sometime ago that maybe our schools are miracle centers, I just laughed. So, every school in Ekiti is a miracle center and that is why we are able to come first and score 73.86 per cent in WAEC? Oyo State scored 59 per cent and they are celebrating. We scored 73. 86 but we are saying we have not arrived because we are targeting a minimum of 80 per cent either in NECO or WAEC.
There have been agitations on the need to restructure the country. What are your views on restructuring?
Power has been concentrated at the centre and this has left a vacuum in states and local government levels; a lot work is left undone in these two areas. I support those calling for devolution of powers from the centre to the states and local government. Come to think of it, even a man’s life needs to be restructured from time to time, how much that of a whole country. Where are we coming from? The current entity called Nigeria, how was it formed? These are questions we should ask ourselves. Was it formed on the basis of fairness? Look at the current local government structure; Lagos State has only 20 with its population, compared to Kano and Jigawa States, yet some are saying there is no need for restructuring. There is need to restructure because even a man’s life needs restructuring from time to time. So, let us go back to where we are coming from. Every system needs constant restructuring.
What is your blueprint towards securing Ekiti State, especially at a time like this, when killings are taking place across states?
Issues that have to do with security become very important because one cannot have a good arena for sustainable development if the environment is not secure. The security of lives and properties is a very important issue considering the current situation of the country. Security is first even before we start talking about development. The present administration which I am part of has been doing a lot in this regard and this will continue.
When I become governor come July 14 this year, part of our mission will be to embark on the acquisition of latest security Communications Technology that will track and monitor daily activities in the state. In the effort to consolidate on the giant strides of the present government, we are determined to build on the existing security super-structure and our government’s core objective is to protect lives and properties of the people from external and internal attacks.
The anti-grazing and cultism laws of the current government would be sustained in the face of incessant attacks by the herdsmen in neighboring states. For business to thrive, the issue of security becomes very important, we need to put in place measures that will effectively protect our farmers and what they are doing. I could remember last year, before the anti-grazing law, one of the investors lost over N40m, cattle destroyed all the cassava she planted and I was there to see the extent of damage. Right there I began to have a thought in my mind, I never knew that I would become the gubernatorial candidate. Ekiti State has been adopted as one of the most peaceful states and it is my determination to sustain this.
We have successfully dislodged miscreants who were into misdeeds in the state. If investors would come to the state, then they must have some kind of assurance that all will be well. To me security is very important and we are also going to deploy Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to tackle security.
Some states are already caving under pressures from the Federal Government to drop the anti grazing law and make land available for ranches or colonies; how would you handle the matter?
Well, there is a difference between ranching and colony. The word colony itself is irritating. What are they colonising? But ranching is an internationally accepted approach and there is nothing wrong with cattle ranches. We are not saying no to cattle ranches and I want us to establish that. What we are saying is that there should be no place for colonies. They should not deceive Nigerians by playing with words. There is a difference between establishing a ranch and a colony. In a colony, you take over the whole place and say it is your own, but in a cattle ranch, Yoruba can be there with the Hausa and Igbo; anybody who is interested in animal husbandry or wants to rear cows can all be in the same environment. So, the land does not belong to any particular tribe. They can be given a space to operate and it does not have to be the Fulani alone. So, I am not against cattle ranches. As a governor, I can go ahead and support the establishment of cattle ranches, but not a colony.
I am not in support of the Federal Government’s approach to ranching, because they are being deceptive. If they are going to do cattle ranching the way it is done internationally, there is nothing wrong with it, cattle ranching should not be for Fulani’s alone, they should not see the land as their base. I am totally against the situation where you concentrate Fulani’s in one area, and they will call it ranching whereas it is a colony. We are not going to take that, they are just trying to play with words. The Federal Government’s idea of cattle ranching is different from the way it is done internationally. I am in support of Afenifere’s decision on ranching.
There is what is called Federal might during elections. Are you afraid it might be used against your party come July 14?
INEC is expected to conduct credible elections, that is the expectation but sometimes we have seen that what we expect is not what we see. That is why we are not sleeping, we have been sensitising our people, telling them to watch over their votes and if they are taking it to any collation centre some select people should follow them. Federal or no federal the might of the Almighty God is there and it is the greatest; don’t forget the power of the people cannot be underestimated. Ekiti is not like Ondo State or any other state. If they have done that in Edo State they cannot do that here. The people are ready to resist any form of fraudulent ac; they know what they want. The power of the people is greater than those of us in power. We expect the security agencies to be impartial, whatever happens we know that God is on our side. The God factor cannot be ruled out. When God says yes, no one can say no.
How do you intend to combine academic endowment with grassroots relevance, as well as avoid being arrogant?
Men of good character will not be proud; men of good character will not be arrogant; men of good character should be able to humble themselves to the level of interacting with the so-called masses. I used the word, so-called because we are all human beings. If you are going to govern and the people wouldn’t have access to you, then you are already a failure. So, accessibility is very important. The fact that one is well read does not mean he should not be accessible to the people. I still relate with my age group in Ikere; I hold meetings with them. They call me by name, though they would want to respect me now as they call me His Excellency. We talk together and we eat together whenever they come to my official lodge. Because I am a deputy governor now, does that mean I cannot come down from my car to talk to that woman? That is arrogance. We were not taught that way. I am an Ekiti man and if I want to govern the state, I have to be an Ekiti man; not like somebody from abroad. Somebody else can be arrogant, but Ekiti people are not arrogant. So, coming down to the level of my people is not difficult.
There are two other governorship candidates from your town, Ikere. What gives you assurance of victory?
There are players and there are pretenders. Three factors determine whether you win and they are very important in an election. First is the platform that is the party, is it a well-known party? Is it a party known just in one corner? PDP is a party known all over Nigeria. Some people are running on some platform known within the corner of their bedroom. So, the platform is very important. Then, the personality, and, of course the people. Forget about them.
How do you intend to improve on the economy of the state?
There is what we call sustainable manpower development in my agenda. ICT is one of the key factors in driving this goal. This calls for training and retraining of workers. If we are to consider new set of workers, ICT is one of the factors that will be considered. I believe that a vibrant civil servant is one that is trained, equipped and empowered. Most of our training centers are becoming inactive, to me these are areas we need to focus on and ensure they are transformed.
Social welfare is one of the core objectives of this administration, which we are going to adopt. A lot of people are making jest of stomach infrastructure but we are going to be doing that in the next administration. The reason is because there will always be the poor and the less privileged among us, everybody cannot be riding big cars or be living in big houses, this is Ekiti State, we understand our problems and situation, this is a state that is just developing. What we have here is more of government’s businesses, we have very little of private investment and so because of this the level of poverty is understandable. There are many people living below the poverty level and at the same time we have the duty to take care of them. That is where the issue of social welfare comes in; this also covers the disabled in the state. These are people that need to be encouraged.
Stomach Infrastructure is not just about giving rice and money alone; empowerment is part of it. Anything that can give you the opportunity to get food to eat is a component part of Stomach Infrastructure. Anything that you do to create wealth is also a part of Stomach Infrastructure, but people don’t understand this. It goes beyond giving rice and money, it deals with wealth creation.