Ahead of Osun State governorship election scheduled to hold this year, former Minister of Youth Development, Senator Akinlabi Olasunkanmi has declared his intention to seek for the PDP ticket alongside other contenders. In this interview, the aspirant insists he is the most qualified for the party’s ticket, flaunting his legislative and executive experiences. Daily Sun was there.
What is your reaction to the exchange of letters between former President, Olusegun Obasanjo and the incumbent, Dr Goodluck Jonathan?
You see, I have tried to say this that, as a thoroughbred Yoruba person, I don’t dabble into the issues of elders because as you know, Obasanjo is our Baba in Yorubaland and a national and international figure. Currently, President Goodluck Jonathan is the national leader of our party and as a Yoruba person, I don’t dabble into elders’ affairs. I am sure that they will sort out their differences, sooner than later.
Those people who should intervene are already intervening. The leaders and the elders of the party are already doing that and at the end of the day, they will use the PDP machinery to resolve whatever differences between them.
Let us talk about your aspiration: why are you in the race? What do you do in Osun State?
I am in the race for service, I am in the race, because the incumbent governor is polluting the political space of Osun State. Forget about what you read in the papers about his achievements, that’s sheer propaganda.
Those who are in Osun know that Aregbesola’s government in the last three years has been a monumental waste.
I have challenged him when he celebrated his second year in office that we haven’t seen any concrete thing that he has achieved, except what a local government can achieve: the tarring of internal roads of a city; that’s what a local government chairman can achieve.
In terms of concrete achievements, we haven’t seen any. Instead of facing the real job of governance and improving the lives of the people of Osun State, he is very busy impoverishing them, putting them into more misery by destroying their means of livelihood.
In the name of urban renewal, he has sent so many people into untimely death. We aren’t saying there shouldn’t be urban renewal, but whatever you want to do, whatever government wants to do, it must do it with human face,, there must be human feelings. But I don’t blame him because he doesn’t know us in Osun. He didn’t grow up in Osun. He is from Lagos. So, he really cannot have that human feeling.
In terms of road network, all the roads that he started, there is none that can be completed in the next three years and they are majorly federal roads. He is doing all these things in order to hoodwink our people that he has turned Osun State into paradise, that he hasn’t finished his projects, that he still has a lot of things to do. We will tell him when the time comes that government is a continuum. He should do his bit and let other people that will come after him do their bits.
So, in terms of education, he is a monumental failure. He said he wants to build mega schools. Number one, the concept of mega-schools in Osun is a misnormer, because it is a rural state. Osun isn’t Lagos, what Aregbesola is doing isn’t original at all. All policies and programmes of Lagos government, he is bringing to Osun, wholesale without any review at all!
The concept of mega-schools can only work in an urban setting like Lagos or Ibadan. In Osun, we don’t have shortage of land. So, when he came with this concept of mega-schools, what he first did was to destroy 3,000 buildings that he met on ground and he promised to build 170 mega-schools. In the last three years, he has only been able to build one. With less than six months remaining for him, tell me, how many mega-schools he is going to build?
Then, look at his concept of classification of schools. Tell me, can Osun be an island on its own? We have a Federal Ministry of Education even though Nigeria is a federal republic, but that does that mean we should be an island unto ourselves in Osun? No! So, all the noise he has been making is meant to right the many wrongs of his government and I am known for service, I had served in the Senate for four years without blemish, I had served in the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) without blemish. As a matter of fact, I used to say it, with all humility, I am the first person to serve 4 years, conveniently as a minister from Osun, nobody has done it. That means, I am really for the service of the people.
I just mentioned about two major programmes of Aregbesola and how he destroyed the lives of our people. I can talk about the health and agric sectors, I can talk about other social services. Everything that he has been saying is propaganda, but unfortunately, our people know better in Osun and they are determined to vote him out in this election coming up this year .
Still on your aspiration; there are some immediate challenges. One, within the PDP itself, you aren’t the only contender for the ticket.
If I may ask, what is your selling point? Secondly, there have been speculations over the existence of an anointed candidate by the Presidency. I want your reaction on that?
Thank you very much. Talking about my unique selling point, I have already said it. In terms of those of us who are aspiring in the PDP, I am qualified, educationally, even though I don’t have a doctorate degree, but I have my first degree and masters degree in Banking and Finance from a reputable and verifiable institutions of higher learning. In terms of my political experience, I had been in the Senate and I had been in the FEC. So, I combine both legislative and executive experiences at the highest level and as God would have it, I also served the late president, Umaru Yar’Adua and president Jonathan.
When I was appointed into the FEC, I was posted to the Federal Ministry of Youth Development. That has put me in a vantage position to know the major problems confronting this country and I want to deploy that experience and exposure to better the lots of Osun people.
To your second question, I think Mr. President has debunked that insinuation several times; he has said that he has no anointed candidate. Only about three days ago, he met with all the aspirants from Ekiti State, during which he told them that he has no anointed candidate. I must also say that I worked with Mr. president for four years and as a person who knows him very well, I know he is a democrat to the core and that he will never anoint a candidate. He has been saying it; he faced a tough presidential convention in 2011 and he came out first. So, knowing his pedigree, knowing his character, I know he will never anoint any candidate.
Again, talking about myself, my character, my humility, my personality is my unique selling point. I am coming to this race without blemish, not a baggage and I believe if PDP wants to win Osun State, they will look at all the aspirants.— We are now three, they will look at all of us, put us on a scale and put forward the person that can send Aregbesola packing . I am sure that if they put us on that scale, Osun PDP will put me forward.
Looking at the configuration of the South-West now , the APC is in power in virtually all the states with the exception of Ondo State.Considering the crises that have bedevilled your party in the South-west, do you think the PDP would be able to match the power and supports the other APC states would galvanise for Aregbesola?
Yes, thank you for that question. Let me first of all tell you that Osun State has never been an APC state, or ACN or whatever they called themselves because the people never voted for them.
I want you to recall that Aregbesola became governor through the instrumentality of an appeal court judgment and that could have even spurred him into performance but unfortunately, he is messing up the chance.
But to come back to your question, Osun state isn’t an APC state and Aregebesola has even spoiled their chances. You know their stock-in-trade. When we had an election in Ondo in 2012, it was alleged that apart from Aregbesola spending billions in that election, he also sent Osun people as thugs to Ondo state then. I am sure you can recall his role in the recent Anambra state governorship election, where 183 Osun indigenes were apprehended through the vigilance of INEC and security agents. So, that tells that APC has never really won election, especially in the South-west.
I will give you the analysis of the South-west election. In Ekiti and Osun states, they won through court judgments and I am sure you know what happened to the court of appeal people that were involved in that dubious judgments. In Oyo and Ogun States, they won because of internal wrangling within the PDP then. I only pray that we put our acts together in those two states, so that the people of the South-west can come into the mainstream of governance where we had been since 1999 so that we can enjoy what other zones are enjoying.
So, Osun has never been an APC state and our people will never vote for APC. I want to send this signal to Aregbesola: we will not allow his rigging machinery to be effective during this year’s election because that’s the only thing that they are known for. We will not allow it.
If you were to rate the performance of the Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola administration and the incumbent governor, how will you assess the two?
Well, as a matter of fact, there is no basis to rate the two. None at all, because the programmes of Prince Oyinlola in infrastructure, road development, hospitals, education they are there for all to see.
It may interest you to know that that was what Aregbesola first destroyed when he got to office, especially the school buildings. I have told you that he had destroyed 3,000 structures, the major buildings were those constructed by Oyinlola’s administration. I am sure that almost in every school in Osun then, you would see Oyinlola’s structures that were built through our people in the state House of Assembly then. But in order to erase the legacies of Oyinlola, that was what Aregbesola did: He used public funds to destroy public structures, 3,000 of them!
So, you cannot compare Oyinlola’s administration with Aregbesola’s administration. Aregbesola is only noise, propaganda, but what Oyinlola did then were still visible for everybody to see— in terms of water supply, in terms of building of health care centres and hospitals and physical structures in schools and even employment. Even this feeding programmes in schools that Aregbesola has been counting as part of his achievements, Oyinlola started it. So, you cannot compare them.
On a final note, what is your take on the agitation for the removal of the national chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, coming from certain quarters?
Well, I want to say that the national chairman came in through a process and I believe, if he is going to be removed, it should be through a process. I am not unaware of some of the reasons that some of the governors are canvassing for the removal of the national chairman. But as a believer in due process and rule of law, we should follow the normal process.
We have a constitution in our party, we shouldn’t say because we don’t like the face of Bamanga Tukur, then we would want to subvert the rule of law and our constitution. If the national chairman isn’t doing well, let us follow our constitution. Whatever the Constitution says, but so far, I cannot see the reason for the removal of the national chairman, especially since he hasn’t breached the constitution of our party.