Ogundele: In Ogun, residents’ needs should define governance
Dr. Sikirulai Ogundele is the Ogun State Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He spoke to AZEEZ OLORUNLOMERU on Governor Dapo Abiodun administration’s alleged misplacement of priority, crisis within the major political parties and other sundry issues affecting the Gateway state.
Recently, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ogun State chapter put out some figures from the monthly federal allocation and also asked the state government to pay pensioners and be responsible in spending state funds. How did your party come about the figures?
The figures are in the public domain, they came from the monthly federal allocation and every Nigerian is entitled to it. We waited for the ruling party for two years for them to prove they are capable of governing the state but to our dismay, they have been governing the state with misplacement of priority. They have embarked on projects not needed for some sections of the state. Our reaction started immediately the governor marked two years in office.
The APC has been running the affairs of the state without a blueprint; strategic planning has been a problem for them and they don’t deem it fit to consult the people to know what their demands are and how government will ameliorate their sufferings. For a period of two years, the party has continued to exhibit executive insensitivity, and if this is not checked, the government of the day will take the state backward to the era of lawlessness. One would have expected them to be responsive in the area of health care service, teachers’ and pensioners’ welfare, and by extension, the higher institutions of learning. But today, no single block has been added to the existing structures nor have they erected new ones to improve on the structural values of state-owned tertiary institutions.
It is time we began to push forward for political positions, technocrats who can turn the fortunes of the country or state around. I must commend the people of Ogun State, and by extension, all Nigerians for going through this hardship with a high level of maturity, resilience and tolerance. 2023 is just around the corner and Nigerians should come out en masse to use their constitutional right, which is a civil right, to vote for candidates of their choice. Asking President Muhammadu Buhari to resign, as being demanded in some quarters, is totally uncalled for because he is a democratically elected president.
Nigerians, out of ignorance, specifically demanded for change and did not specify the kind of change they wanted. In 2015, all what they wanted was how to get rid of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, not minding the credibility of those seeking elective position as at that time. Unfortunately, the state of the nation today calls for sober reflection.
Don’t you think a little over two years is too early for anyone to assess a government?
Ogun state has been bastardised and it is worrisome that the glory of the Gateway state is fast fading off. Otunba Gbenga Daniel came and transformed the state to an economically enviable state but his predecessor came and took it backwards, below the level of civil servant states. Rather than his predecessor maintaining the momentum, he decided to do mere beautifications and projects that were unnecessary. For instance, look at the money he spent on modern schools; those structures are now being turned to Technology Hub Centres by this present administration. Many governors actually embark on elephant projects and roads constructions not in sync with people’s needs.
Some have argued that there is no opposition party in Ogun State. How has your party been helping to make government more responsive to the people?
As an opposition party in the state, we decide to give the government of the day enough room to exercise their constitutional right to provide the people with adequate social amenities. But for more than two years now, it has all been rigmarole; nothing achieved. So, as a viable opposition party, we thought there was need for us to give the All Progressives Congress-led government constructive criticism that will bring about good development for all and sundry in the state.
Figures were brought out on the amount of money they have collected from the Federation Account that was meant for local council development; they have not refuted those figures. As we speak, even with the Local Government autonomy law, no Council Chairman in the state can embark on a common borehole project without an approval or clearance from the office of the Executive Governor at the state level. If the Dapo Abiodun-led government said he has not touched the local council allocations, what development has the local council areas in the state witnessed in the recent times. It will interest you to know that all the major roads in the state have become impassable, yet the government has continued to embark on window-dressing of some roads. If the Governor’s claim on road rehabilitation is anything to go by, why did civil society organisations and the Labour Congress embark on protests in the Sango axis because of bad road portions and other places in the state also as a result of dilapidated roads?
To set the record straight, the roads the government claimed it is constructing – Ijebu–Ode-Epe Expressway, Agbara-Lusada, and Abeokuta–Sagamu interchange roads are mere federal roads, which are Trunk A roads. State roads (Trunk B) are begging for government attention just as local council roads (Trunk C).
There are other important things to be done with state taxpayers’ money rather than the executive mismanagement going on right now. Is the beautification of the interchange more important than the comatose healthcare service in the state or Teachers’ welfare? What is the essence of donating vehicles when there is no equipment to carry out minor operation and when nurses demand for their right and what they get are sacked letters?
But some bigwigs in People’s Democratic Party (PDP) recently defected to the ruling APC. What is responsible for that?
It has always been our prayers that those people within our party whose activities had caused the misfortune of the party in recent times should find their way out. Most of these people are political jobbers whose interest is what can benefit from any government at a point in time.
How has PDP been able to resolve the litigations within the party?
For now, there is no any litigation in Ogun PDP. There was a consent judgment that came after the Bukola Saraki-led reconciliation committee. Positions were shared and late Buruji Kashamu’s faction got their share and signed to that effect and we took that to Court to get a judgment over it and the judgment was passed. Since that day till now, there has never been any contending voice against it. As far as we are concerned, there was no single appeal over it until it got expired. The PDP is still strong and united as it was in the beginning.