Former Chairman, House Committee on Defence, Hon. Oluwole Oke, spoke to some journalists on some of the political developments in Osun State and his bid for the governorship next year. Ademola Adeyemo was there. Excerpts:
Recently, you announced your intention to vie for Osun governorship on the social media. Why is this?
First, I chose the social media because of its reach and immediacy; it is the largest means of information dissemination across the globe without boundary and majority of our youths even the elderly ones are hooked on the internet. So far, so good, it has been very interesting. As a matter of fact, my declaration was borne out of the demands made by my people. In history, there is no where an individual has anointed himself as a governor or even as a candidate.
I can tell you that it has never crossed my mind to contest an executive position. I had been in the parliament as a member of House of Representatives. I have always loved to be a parliamentarian but faced with the kind of situation we have in Osun State, the state needs to be re-fixed and that is why I acceded to the request of our people to run for the governorship position in Osun State.
You can see that this state has been mortgaged. For the next few years, it will require a financial engineer, a financial architect like me to fix the problem. I have prepared myself with my degree in economics, master’s degree in financial accounting, master’s degree in tax law and I am currently doing my LLB at the University of Buckingham. Besides, I am a teacher; I have the institute’s certificate and I have a master’s certificate in basic education. I have been a member of Orgasnised Private Sector in the last 25 years and I am an entrepreneur catering for over 1,000 workers. So, I understand what it takes to govern. I am used to deceit or propaganda which the opposition employs as their potent weapon.
So how long did it take to make up your mind and what exactly do you think is wrong with the incumbent government?
Judging from my eight years’ stay in the House of Representatives vis-à-vis my achievements and what I brought home from Abuja for the benefit of my people before we had the Court of Appeal judgment that brought Aregbesola into government, the contest for gubernatorial election in 2011 was very hot in Osun State. I was called upon to come and run but I told them I was not interested in running for governorship of Osun State because I have leaders, people I deferred to, people that I respect in the party that would have run and probably succeeded the then governor.
I was preparing to go back to the parliament so I never bothered to answer them. But when our party was thrown out of government in 2011, and now towards 2014 election in Osun State, the same people, party leaders, even people from outside the political circle, youth associations and cultural associations, among others came out talking to me and they advanced reasons why they felt I should run. They alluded to my performances in the House of Representatives- the empowerment I gave, the institutions I brought home including the Armed Forces Base, the Armed Forces Game Village, the Armed Forces Physical Institute and coupled with quality representation I gave at the parliament. People were impressed that they could entrust their destiny in my hands.
What do people stand to benefit if elected governor?
The state would have a very sincere, a very honest, a very trustworthy and an upright governor that would not steal their money. Osun State would have for the very first time, a fulfilled, contented leader that is not scampering to keep body and soul together. Osun will have an established person. Osun will have a serious minded leader. Osun will have a caring and a loving governor. Osun will have a governor that is exposed, a governor that has traversed the globe, a governor that is equipped with the knowledge, not a governor that will have to go and beg somebody to write a memo or speech for him.
The state will have a governor that is endowed with the knowledge of his people. They will have a governor that is well endowed with the history of his people. They will have a governor that is born as true son of the state, and they will have a governor that is pragmatic. They will have a governor that will be able to deploy the comparative advantage of the state maximally; a governor that will drive the private sector to eradicate unemployment and poverty.
They will have a governor that will care for and love the underprivileged in the society. They will have a governor that will care for the women, the governor that will take the health of women into consideration, a governor that will look at our hospitals and make sure that they are functional and not paying lip services to health sector. They will have a governor that will imbibe the maintenance culture and not a governor that will be demolishing schools.
I will be a governor that will not take side in term of religion, because my parents were of the two religions. My father was a Christian while my mother was a Muslim. I will be a governor that will re-arrange the finances of Osun State. You will have a governor that will exit Osun State from bondage. There is nothing wrong in taking loans but you must take a functional loan, people must know and agree with what you are doing with the loan. You will have a governor that will not inflate contracts, a governor that will deploy the human capacity that is abundant in Osun State. I will not go and hire people when I have experts in abundance that can do the job.
I will not enslave citizens of Osun State in the name of one programme or the other because a labourer deserves his wages. I will not put my children in a functional system and be enslaving others. I will not pay graduates N10,000 a month. There will be articulate planning; I will not start a project that I cannot finish. When you are talking of a programme such as Osun Elder (O-Elder), well, we know the statistics of people who are within the age of 60 upwards in Osun State. But if they decided to pick 1,200 of them and give them N10,000 each maybe for one or two months and end it, for me, first of all, it is highly discriminatory and it is unjust.
So, I am going to give Osun the best leadership. I will offer Osun State the best leadership. I will turn Osun State around completely. I will deposit a programme of action with the electorate and they will be able to measure my performance. I have nowhere to go to, I belong to Osun State completely; I have got nowhere to run to.
But some people say you are actually interested in the office of the deputy; that this is a decoy?
I am not aspiring for the position of deputy governor; they don’t contest that, it is the candidate that emerged as governor that would pick his deputy. So, if I want deputy governor’s post, I wouldn’t even come out in the first instance.
Second, I know all the aspirants in our party and you can file us out and I will allow you to decide: Who is the best candidate? You can look at our pedigrees, you can look at our performances both in the public and private sectors; you can evaluate all the aspirants and decide who you think best fits that office. So, I am running for the governorship position of Osun State; I am not looking for deputy governor’s position. Certainly, I am not.
But is you failure to return to the House not an indication of rejection by the people?
Thank you very much. The court of Appeal in Akure said we lost the election, so I remain a law abiding citizen of this country because that is the apex court you can approach in terms of election into the House of Representatives. However, the matter is still even in court, using another court system which I don’t want to talk about. But if you go by the electoral contest that took place in the state, I was the only candidate in Osun state that won his ward. I also won my local government.
The INEC official that presented statement said openly in the court that I won the election, but the judiciary, the judges, that adjudicated said that I didn’t win the election. So, as a law abiding citizen, I accepted their verdict in good faith.
But we made the point that in the entire South-west, it was only me that gave the ACN a good fight. At that election, I ran against Aregbesola, I didn’t run against my opponent because given a level playing ground, I won that election. I am saying the gentleman is my brother and he remains so. Now, coming back to the governorship election, like I have told you, I can tell you that people have seen what ACN is doing in the state. So, Osun people would determine who governs them; who manages their destiny come 2014. But I can tell you that the state needs a functional and dynamic person that can manage its destiny well.
In what ways have you contributed to the development Osun?
When I was in the House of Representatives, I made sure that our youths were mobilised into the Armed Forces- Navy, Army and Air Force. I also assisted them into the SSS, EFCC, Customs, Immigration and Federal Inland Revenue Services, among others. I have those I sent abroad to study in the universities. I also have those I sent to universities locally. I was working on how to bring a Federal College of Education to the state before Aregbesola sacked me.
By now, we would have had Federal College of Education in Ibokun. Virtually, every state of the federation has a Federal College of Education but we don’t have one in Osun. I was working on bringing Federal College of Agriculture because we have none in Osun. It would have been in Ijebu-Jesa. That was part of what I was working on before I was sacked by Aregbesola.
You and Aregbesola are from the same senatorial district in the state, will that not impede your ambition?
That is even a factor. The fact that I and Aregbesola are both Ijesa is even a good factor for the PDP to pick me as their candidate. That was even the same reason our ex-governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola was picked. Our leader of blessed memory, Chief S.M. Afolabi, in his wisdom, picked Prince Oyinlola and by the special grace of God, Prince Oyinlola won the election. The same scenario has presented itself now. Really they should pick candidate from Ijesaland, otherwise Aregbesola would pack all the votes in all the six local governments in the land.