Ifeoluwa Oyedele, an engineer, is vying for governor of Ondo State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He speaks with Deputy Editor EMMANUEL OLADESU and TAJUDEEN ADEBANJO on his ambition
Why do you want to be governor of Ondo State?
There is a need for us to rebuild our party in Ondo State. There is a need for us to unite our people and to ensure rapid economic development for sustainable livelihood.
I’m not sure that there has been any meaningful development in Ondo State in the last few years.
I, therefore, think that there is a need for a man who is prepared to turn around the situation of the people of the state, blessed with so many natural resources and most of all, abundant human capital resources that is comparable to anywhere in the world.
There is a need to have a man who has the pedigree, who is competent, who is capable to harness all these resources for sustainable development towards ensuring that the people have a livelihood.
How united is the party ahead of the election?
Look, people would want to make a capital out of this issue of unity. I think democracy is all about proliferation of ideas and that is why those who invented the kind of democratic practice we have in Nigeria make it possible to change players and managers every four years.
If you are a football addict for instance, or in sports, you see that players are changed in the middle of the game; players are changed at the end of the season; managers are changed mid- season; managers are changed at the end of the season.
So, the fact that some of us think that we need a new manager doesn’t mean disunity; the fact that we expressed different opinions, ideas and views of the state of development in the state and the performance of the current manager, who is the governor of the state, doesn’t imply disunity.
That is all part of democracy and I’m sure that after the primaries, members of the party will be united. After all, when the current governor contested in 2016, they were many contestants, they were many aspirants, some of them were disgruntled, and some of them left the party; that did not cause any problem.
At the end of the day, those who remained got together and we ensured that he was elected as the governor of the state. So, I think we are now a united party.
Why is difficult for the Unity Forum to endorse a consensus candidate?
It is all part of the process. I’m sure that when the time comes, they will come up with a consensus candidate. We lost the presidential election by I think 53 per cent to 47 per cent but that was because some of the key players of the party supported another party.
Principally, you know that some sections of the party were accused of supporting and fielding candidates under another political party – the AA. And if you add the votes of AA to what the APC scored, you know they were far higher than what PDP scored.
In any case, you know that when we had our state House of Assembly By-election just two weeks after, PDP was nowhere to be found.
The same thing is going to repeat itself especially when the kind of candidate that the entire state is looking for emerges as the candidate of the party. I have no doubt that I’m the candidate to beat in that coming election.
Why is reconciliation difficult in Ondo APC?
I am not sure we are talking about reconciliation. I said when elections are near like this, people begin to jostle for position, some just want to be seen as active members of the party. Some want to vie for something and it is natural.
It is a human process and therefore, I don’t think it is a matter of reconciliation. In any case, the matter of reconciliation comes up when you talk about the current governor who keeps stalking about not wanting to meet the conditions laid down by the leaders of the party for him to unite the party.
That is why there is a need to change the manager. The conditions are very straight forward and simple. You have to bring the majority of party members into the mainstream of the party and that’s what we were looking for.
What is your position on zoning?
Zoning is a natural thing in Ondo State and I am not sure that there is any state in Nigeria that practised the kind of seamlessly zoning that we have in Ondo State.
Therefore, we have a way of rotating positions in Ondo State and there is no disagreement about where the governor should move through this time around
What is Governor Rotimi Akeredolu doing that you think you can do differently?
Oh, so many things, for instance, I don’t think I won’t break the party. I won’t have an Ife-oyele Team. I will rebuild the party as a united organisation.
I will ensure that all sections of the state enjoy equal development. I will put in place a developmental plan that everybody can see and measure and I will run a transparent government. I will ensure a quick and rapid economic development of the state.
I will ensure sustainable livelihood for the people. Look, today we haven’t felt the impact of government in the construction of roads, employment, for instance, Ondo State is today number 19 in the scale of ease of doing business.
That is not acceptable to us. Today even in agriculture, we are no longer number one. Our forestry reserves are depleting everyday and there is nothing to show for it.
Look at the cocoa sector, why are we not number one in the production of the cocoa? Why are we not number one in the production of palm oil? Why are we not number one in rubber and cassava? Where are the cottage industries?
Where are the industries built by our past leaders? Why are we not at the forefront in sports anymore? Today, I’m not sure that there is any citizen of Ondo State, breed in Ondo State that is a football star even in Nigeria anymore.
I challenged anybody to contradict the fact that even the Sunshine Football Club does not have the majority of its players as citizens of Ondo State.
Not that I want to discriminate but we can produce football stars, swimming stars, table tennis stars; we don’t even have a stadium in Ondo State. I will ensure that we have a stadium. In Akure, the stadium in Akure is completed.
I will ensure that we have a stadium in Okitipupa. I will ensure we have another stadium in Ikare. I will ensure that we have portable water in virtually all the homes in Ondo State. Recently I saw what the governor commissioned as a water dispensing facility where you put in a card to dispense, which is shameful in 2020.
The Seaport in Ondo State is ready and should be built rapidly. There should be abundant security for the citizens of the state. Education should return to its pride of place in Ondo State.