Dr Bode Ayorinde, former member of the House of Representatives and a defector from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is a governorship aspirant in Ondo State. The founder of the Achievers University, Owo, spoke with reporters in Akure, the state capital, on his ambition and chances of the PDP at the poll.
Why are you vying for governor of Ondo State?
My interest has long been hinged on the economic situation of Ondo State. When I established Achievers University, Owo, we advertised for employment, we wanted to employ about 300 people as pioneer staff. Over 10,000 applied for work and that is over 15 years ago. For the first time, I developed high blood pressure. Various lists were coming from monarchs and net worth individuals. These people wanted to work in a private university that was not paying what the Federal Government was paying its staff at the universities as at that time. People just wanted to leave home. Few years after, the situation is still the same. My main aim to want to govern Ondo State is to tap from the natural resources, use my knowledge in the economic and banking to industrialize Ondo State so that we can provide jobs, we can create wealth and our state can migrate from being a civil service state to industrialized state.
Why did you choose Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a platform?
I was a pioneer member of All Progressives Congress (APC). I was a member of the constitution drafting committee of the party. I was a member of the National Executive Council (NEC), the highest organ of the party for four years. I served as a member of the House of Representative under APC. I knew that the APC as presently constituted lacks internal democracy. The internal democracy is the major problem of the APC. There is always a big man somewhere when you have run the race and you are about to win, you will be asked to stop. They will bring someone from the backseat to replace you. That is the major bane of APC. In the last congress of APC, the congress did not hold anywhere, there was not even consensus. People just sat down and wrote the names of the people that will administer the party at all levels and that cannot go down well with me as a lawyer. Nobody of sound mind who have integrity can flow in APC unless you are tied to the apron string of a godfather. Until you have godfather in APC, you cannot be allowed to serve the nation. But in the PDP which is the next major party in Nigeria, it is a leveler. The way you lay your bed is the way you will lie on it. There are leaders, but no leader can hold the party to ransom in the PDP, particularly in Ondo State. As I joined the race barely 100 days to the primary, if I run very well, I can overtake those who have been running. It is due to my ability which is not the case in APC. The major reason I prefer PDP to APC is because there are no masquerades in PDP that will intimidate you.
With APC as the ruling party, both at the state and federal levels, do you think PDP has any chance of winning the governorship poll?
The mere fact that the APC is at the national and at the state level does not stop a marketable candidate from winning election for PDP in Ondo State. This state is not one of the states that are educationally backward. We are vibrant and we have leaders that are intellectuals. Look at the example of Bauchi State. Before the last general election, 90 percent of people in that state was APC, but somebody went there and became the governor under PDP. We have many qualified aspirants in PDP, but there are some of us that if the people of Ondo State hear that this is the candidate of the party, they will say let us give him a chance particularly given the rumpus going on in the APC in Ondo State. You know APC is not in charge in Ondo State, the ruling party is Aketi Team. Ninety percent of APC faithful are out of reckoning, it is wrong to say that APC is in power in Ondo State. When I was among them, I told them; let us allow the party to rule, they rejected the idea. We are about getting to the reckoning time now. The truth is that the APC is the ruling party in the Centre, we knew how they got there, I am not particularly convinced that the APC at the National level is a legitimate government, but there must be peace and we must move forward. In Ondo State, every discerning minds know that APC is not in power, it is Aketi Team that is not up to one percent of Ondo State that is in power.
Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu is your kinsman from Owo. Don’t you think people will tell you to allow him complete his second term if people vote for him?
I am coming out as a substitute to complete the eight years constitutionally guaranteed by individual. We are brothers, we are both lawyers but I am a businessman and by the grace of God, I know how to turn around the economy of Ondo State. It is not by tarring roads that you run a government. I want to run a government that is all inclusive, I want to run a government that can employ about 5,000 in one Local Government. Before Achievers University got to Idasen, a plot of land was sold there for N10.000.00. Within three years of establishing that university, land move up from N10.000.00 to N250.000.00. Presently, you cannot get a plot of land for less than N500.000.00. That is what industrialization does to an environment. If I get the ticket of PDP, I will win the election and everybody will know we have won the election. By the time I speak to the people, youths and students and show them my plan to establishing six industrial estates, two in each of the senatorial districts, I will win the election. If you get to Oluyole Industrial estate in Ibadan, Oyo State, about twenty factories are working there. In the morning, you see sea of legs and vehicles moving towards that side. A situation where graduates ride commercial motorcycle is not acceptable. Everybody has become politician because they don’t have anything to do. A situation where young men and women want to be leaders of political parties is not acceptable. If they have something to do, who will remember politics? I am sensitive to the yearnings of Ondo Central and South that it is their turn to produce the governor. but I beg them to allow the North to complete its tenure. Once I pick the ticket, I will sign an undertaken that I will only spend only one term in office. On the day of inauguration, I will tell them whoever wants to be governor from Central or South should start campaigning. I shall pass through this place, not more than once and in four years, I will establish industrial base of Ondo State for the Nigerian nation to copy. Unemployment is the major challenge of Nigeria. With unemployment, other vices follow because the devil will find job for idle hands. But when there is full employment, all other things; urbanization, good health and eradication of those vices.
But, the governor said he has facilitated the Ore Industrial hub, which will lead to employment of many youths, what is your take on this?
I don’t know what effect the Ore Industrial hub has on the army of unemployed youths in Ondo State. What I know is that there is a difference between a strategic plan open to the whole state to know and for bringing in the private sector to establish six industrial estates. Within one year of good governance in Ondo State, there will be jobs. I said earlier that at the commencement of private university, our pioneer staff was 350. One company established in Ogun State has capacity to employ 4,000 workers. The issue is not cosmetic Ore Industrial hub where you don’t have 1,000 people working. What is hub in that?
What will you do differently in case you are elected?
I will run an inclusive government; that is; the party will have a say. The PDP will have a say in governance. There will be fair and equitable distribution of appointments for the whole 18 Local Governments. I am going to work with the House of Assembly to make sure the major political positions in Ondo State which are 120 are fairly distributed among the three senatorial districts. Every Local Government will be equally represented. I repeat, within two years of being a governor, Ondo State will be cynosure of all eyes as per industrial estates.
If you don’t get the ticket, what next?
I was a leading aspirant in APC in 2016 when Rotimi Akeredolu won the primary, although in controversial circumstances. I collapsed my structures to support him. In fact, on the date of voting, I was in the same car with him and his wife. I went with him to his polling unit where he voted. It was around 11 am that he released me to go and vote in my own polling unit. I moved closer to him because all of us cannot be the governor. Until Aketi Team chased me away, it was then I joined forces with R-APC to come to PDP. Ordinarily, by now, if I was not pushed out of APC, I would have still been there. If I don’t pick the ticket, whoever picks the ticket in PDP, I will move closer to him. I will sell idea to him on how to industrialize the state. Out of four million people in Ondo State, all of us cannot be the governor the same time, only one person that is ordained by God will be the governor. my own is to sell my manifesto. I am a lawyer; I have never dreamt of using extraordinary means to get to power.
What is your take on the state of the nation?
The current pandemic ravaging the country and the world is frightening. It will come and go but the Federal and State governments should learn a lesson from this pandemic. We must develop our health sector. We must not be caught pants down again. It is healthy citizens that can work. We need to upgrade our Primary Health Centers.
With this global pandemic, do you see elections taking place in Ondo?
Not exactly as planned, we should expect an adjustment to the INEC announced timetable for elections in Edo and Ondo States. The pandemic will soon be surmounted; it can not last beyond May. With the prayers of the saints and the concerted effort of governments all over the world, the pandemic will slow down in few weeks time and by end of May, 2019, we should return to normalcy. So, we should expect an adjustment of the timetable as election can still be validly held any date before 24th of November 2020.
You’re defecting from the APC to PDP at a time your former party is reconciling aggrieved people. How effective will your defection be?
I am not just defecting? I joined PDP with the R-APC members about two years ago. Go and check the results of the last general election, I won Owo/Ose Federal Constituency for PDP. I am comfortable in PDP and I am very optimistic that I will actualise my dream to industrialise Ondo State through PDP.