In this interview with Shola Oyeyipo, the pioneer Executive Secretary, Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency and former Executive Secretary, Petroleum Trust Development Fund, Dr. Oluwole Oluleye, who recently joined the Ekiti State governorship race spoke about his ambition, how he intended to manage the state if elected and was of the view that Governor Ayodele Fayose would have no influence on the outcome of the election. Excerpts:
Why did you join the Ekiti State governorship race?
Whatever height I might have attained in life, my roots cannot and will not change. The glory of Ekiti land is our collective glory and the shame of our heritage, a collective failure. I chose to step out so that history and the coming generation will be kind to me and absolve me for not taking action when I have solutions to the current challenge in Ekiti State.
Governor Ayodele Fayose rode on the back of ‘stomach infrastructure’ to attain power. How would you say the people have benefitted from the government and the stomach infrastructure?
I have taken pains to passionately review the events of those moments. I am sure Ekiti people now know better.
Why do you think your people bought into the stomach infrastructure agenda?
I think it goes beyond food and gifts. If you know Ekiti people very well, you will know that we are proud people. We are people of integrity. We are people who want to be respected. We are people who want to be heard. We are highly opinionated people. I do not think food alone, or money was a determinant of their decisions. By the way, I am sure you know the results of that election are still in dispute. So, we cannot be too sure that the result of that election actually reflected the collective wish of the people.
Ekiti is surely not one of the biggest earners in what is coming monthly from the federation account, added to the global drop in the price of oil, what options are there for an administrator in such circumstance?
Beyond oil, agriculture is the new destination in investments and yield. Nigeria is blessed. Indeed, Ekiti State is blessed with good, fertile land suitable for planting rice, maize and other food crops. In my farming business in Efon Alaaye, for instance, we do not have enough supply of maize for our feed mill.
We encourage local farmers to plant maize so that we can buy off them yet supply has not been able to meet demand. Up till now, we go all over the place to buy maize to produce our feeds. Imagine if we, in Ekiti, chose to plant maize in commercial quantity, I can assure you there will be ready buyers at all times. This applies to all other farm produce.
Remember, we used to have Igbimo Rice in those days. What happened to it? We will find out and bring back the lost glory. Agriculture will be the mainstay of the Ekiti economy. The fortunes generated will galvanize and propel other industries, speeding up the process of industrialisation in Ekiti. With our resources, we have no business being poor.
As a seasoned administrator, are there things you think could have been done differently in Ekiti State?
It suffices here to say that I have come with a blueprint to address those missing gaps and make our party and Ekiti State great again. Just wait for the party/INEC guidelines on elections to be out, then, I will reel out comprehensive plans of what the problems are in Ekiti, what we will do to address these challenges, both on a short and long term basis and our yardstick for measuring progress.
What do you think should be the defining factors in the choice of who succeeds Governor Fayose?
The defining factor for the choice of the next governor will be the degree of transparency of the process and the intention of aspirants, truth, keeping faith with one’s promises and reaching the grassroots. Certainly, it won’t be power of incumbency.
Nigerians have been groaning under the present administration. Poverty seems to be on the rise, though all thanks to recession. But how long do you think Nigerians should wait to get out of the woods?
We are gradually getting out of the woods. The indices are encouraging. The good news is that government is looking at revenue beyond oil. Government is taking steps to ensure that we are back on our feet in appreciable time. I will urge Nigerians to be more patient and wait for the scorecard of this government. I have faith in the policy plans of this government as regards economic recovery.
What do you think the President Muhammadu Buhari APC-led government should do to quickly ameliorate the sufferings of Nigerians?
The government is trying its best. But are the people doing their part? I can write volumes on how people can assist government in governance. I can write about how the society encourages bad governance. I remember the common cliché of “don’t wait for what your country can do for you, do what you can do for your country”. Like I said, the work of ameliorating sufferings is made easier with the co-operation of the judiciary, executive and the legislative arms. I believe this government will, from time to time, review its strategies, own up to some flaws and re-direct its steps towards the common good of the people. One fact remains, I emphasise, this administration means well.
Do you think Nigerians should continue to put their hopes in the APC government to bring about the much expected change?
Yes. The leadership is sincere and genuine. They are not unmindful of the discomfort this revamping process is causing. But we need to go through this storm to be able to anchor well. I know the level of impatience from Nigerians. It is understandable. I plead that we allow them more time to right the wrongs. Some of these wrongs are fundamental wrongs that will require painstaking efforts to right. Let Nigerians keep faith.
What is your position on the sustained clamour for restructuring in Nigeria?
The potential of every region must be acknowledged. Each of these regions should also benefit from the wealth generated from their region. We can then harness this commonwealth for the growth of the nation. Restructuring to me, means that no region should feel short-changed in governance and administration of the country. So, on this matter, I want to align with the school of which postulated that “for all forms of government, let fools contend. Whatever that is best administered is best.”
I feel the pains and agitation of the South-east people, but I believe more in dialogue than violence. Nigeria is best united than divided. If there are issues of marginalisation, we should come to the round table and resolve our differences. A whole is better than part of a whole.