Under my leadership, Osun State will be liveable, prosperous again — Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi
In this interview, governorship candidate of Accord Party, Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi, discussed his agenda of how to transform Osun State and unleash its latent potentials for greatness.
What lured you into Accord Party, considering that it is very young in the state and what has been the reception since joining?
Accord is not a new party. However, it has record of performance. In the last governorship election in the state, it came third. What is the appeal? If you look at my antecedents in politics, you will see that it’s been peaceful all through. I am a man of peace. There is nothing that is worth dying for. My ambition is not worthy of the blood of animal, how much more that of human beings. If you look at the party I am coming from, it’s all about violence, money, corruption. Whatever negative thing you can think of, you will find it there. Initially, I endured it, but I asked myself, if you are dealing with people that never change, both at the state and national levels, and God has helped me this far, what do I do? That was why I decided to separate myself from them. There is no semblance of democracy in the party I am coming from. I am happier where I am now. Accord is about the cleanest party in all ramifications; there is no crisis or division.
Coming into Accord Party has given me voice, recognition and popularity. People now know that Akin Ogunbiyi and Accord Party are one and the same thing. My reputation goes beyond Osun, and I didn’t earn the reputation through politics, I earned the reputation through what I have been contributing to the Nigerian economy in my little way. Meanwhile, there are people who believe that if they don’t rule Osun, heavens will fall. So, I looked far and wide before settling down with Accord because it has no issue of factionalisation and or leadership tussle.
As for the response of the party members and the generality of the people of Osun, it’s been wonderful. We had a declaration some weeks back, which was strategic and symbolic. During the open declaration, over 100,000 new members registered with the party.
What are your chances against the two popular parties – PDP and APC – in the coming elections?
When you say the popular parties, it is all fallacy. People no longer recognise parties but individuals. The people are getting wiser by the day. They are looking for individuals with capacity, competence and empathy who ultimately deliver. You talked about the governor who has been in and around government for the past 12 years, please tell me one significant thing he has been able to achieve. What tangible improvement has he brought to education, healthcare, infrastructure, industrialisation and agriculture? They say Osun is the home of culture, what has he achieved in that sector. What has he done to promote youth development? Today, the only sector sustaining the economy of the state is the civil service. He is still owing salaries. Last May when he claimed he has paid all civil servants, many of them carried placards. Did you see what happened during his declaration at Ife? They all carried placards, saying if you could have money to organise this jamboree, please pay us our money. The civil service is the only sector that sustains everybody. Osun is not meant to be a civil service state, when we have an array of what can generate income for us. The human capital in Osun is capable of generating growth and development. Unfortunately, we don’t have a government that is thinking of positively making use of that goldmine. There is agriculture.
What did the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo use to sustain the economy of the Western Region? It was purely agriculture. He also gave everybody free education, which I benefited from. He built hospitals and higher institutions. His signature achievement is still there, Cocoa House – the first skyscraper in the country, which was built from agriculture. Today, we have lazy people ruling us. They don’t want to think. Anything about productivity is not their business. They just want to collect, and when they don’t get, they want to borrow without even getting the citizens informed and involved.
Are you talking this way because you are from the private sector?
Of course, I am proudly from the private sector. But is leadership not needed in the public and private sectors? Leadership is about results, beneficial results, whether you are in the private or public sectors. My experience and network in the private sector will be brought to bear on the rapid development of Osun state. My government will provide beneficial value in a sustainable manner to the people. There is crisis now; this man cannot do another four years, otherwise, Osun will totally collapse. I heard he said he hasn’t borrowed, but I have records that he has actually borrowed substantial amount of money. He claims he wasn’t part of Aregbesola’s government. How could someone who was chief of staff for eight years be saying that? The chief of staff is surely the governor’s closest confidant. Look at his brother, Tinubu in Lagos, was it not his chief of staff that was made governor. He should definitely not continue as governor.
Why do you think the people of Osun should hand over their destinies to you for the next four years?
You can only give what you have. I am a tested and trusted leader of men and resources. I am a successful entrepreneur. I also have empathy. I was trained in the best schools in Nigeria and the developed world. I know how to start from nothing and build up to something of great value. I know how to manage resources and pull talents together in order to achieve beneficial results. I have the capacity and competence to turn Osun around. I will set Osun state on the path of sustainable development. There will definitely be a paradigm shift, which will ensure productive transformation. I will be the champion of productive development not political grandstanding. We will ensure the industrialisation of the state. Citizens’ livelihood will be substantially improved and government system will work. I will generate and promote entrepreneurship, youth development, sports and skills acquisition. Osun under my leadership will become a liveable and prosperous state.
How are you going to manage the complexities of civil service like rule of law, bureaucracy, corruption and the like?
The civil service isn’t productive, and it’s not their own making. When you are not sure your salaries are coming at the end of the month, when you are not sure how much you are going to earn at the end of the month, what would be the motivation for you? Out of five days, the average civil servant manages to go to work for two days, why? Because he has to sort out himself. Somebody earning N30, 000 a month and not even sure of the N30,000 at the end of the month, may be he will paid N10,000 at the end of the month, how would he survive when he has bills to pay. Even the school fees in Osun state-owned higher institutions are exorbitant. So, for me to demand productivity from them, I must be ready to train and retrain them. There is also corruption. The best way to kill corruption is by going through rule of law. I will work with the state legislature to pass relevant executive orders. I will declare my assets and ensure transparency and accountability. When I do this, it is natural that others will follow. The character of a leader is essential and necessary in shaping overall outlook. Leadership must be deliberate, measurable and disciplined. It must set the tone. I will be a beacon of honour and integrity who will be caring and supportive. I will motivate people to do great things. Contract bidding will be open such that I will ask Osun people and those in diaspora to show value-adding interest. I am going out there to serve the people and I will do it by the rule of law. Transparency will be the hallmark of our government.
There will be job specification for the commissioners. I don’t care where each commissioner comes from, as long as he meets necessary specifications. He will also sign for me, service agreements. All we need to do is to ensure that there is an enabling environment. For any investment to come into Osun, the investor will want to know if the state government is serious and transparent. And again, we are going to operate a very lean government when we get into office. There is no flamboyant living anywhere. How can a governor be going out with about 15/20 cars behind him? We will be there to serve the people. The people must have access to us. Corruption will be reduced to the minimum.
What is your blue print on education, agriculture and health?
I am very proud to say I have a manifesto, which we have not had in this state in the last 16 years. Key areas of focus are education, industrialisation, agriculture, youths and sports, health and empowerment. Of course, I will give free and compulsory primary education.
We are going to employ teachers and train them. I know the Bible says every labourer deserves his wages. We are going to industrialise Osun state. I also plan to have free health care for children, pregnant women and people above 60years.
We have not had leadership that can put the necessary structure in place and ensure the state gets its due; it is like people are only concerned about their pockets. There is illegal mining going on in Osun on a daily basis, a common patrimony that few people are carting away illegally. Now, the Chinese are in charge of mining in the state. There are so many illegal miners there. Ask the state government to tell us the amount of gold mined in the state from January till date. Gold is now an international means of exchange. Miners have destroyed the land, all in search of gold, and the government is looking away. Osun river is being polluted and the government is looking away. And you want us to continue with this government?
If election was to be conducted this week, based on your campaign so far, can your party turn the tide against the incumbent?
I wish election would be next week. Be rest assured that we are winning this election, no doubt about that. Forget about PDP and APC. The people are tired of them. Both have doubled the woes of our people. There is nothing else they can give. We are all victims of their laziness and lack of purpose. The electorate has become wiser now. I appreciate INEC for the wonderful job done so far. But I also pray that they will ensure that all the materials that will be used, including the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) are functioning well. It is important that the materials must work perfectly. This is the last election before the general election. I appeal to INEC to ensure that the election is free, fair and transparent.