A former Peoples Democratic Party governorship candidate in Ogun State, Gboyega Isiaka has warned those counting on deep pockets to win the state in 2019 to back off, arguing that voters are now more discerning than before. He spoke with Tobi Soniyi and Femi Ogbonnikan. Excerpts:
What is your assessment of Ogun State at present?
Well, the way I have put this lately I wish I would still put it is that the full assessment and all of that is still ongoing. But clearly, I think the state, from the totality of what we have seen, seems to be putting emphasis on infrastructure, particular roads and urbanisation of the state capital. This is not bad on its own, Abeokuta is our capital city and no state government or state governor would not want to make the city look good. But I think the area that the state government should have looked at the more is spreading these projects across the state and also, in terms of the pace and setting the priority right. I think despite all that you do on infrastructure, we would still have to know, at the end of the day, it is human capital development that is going to determine who we are in the future. But I will still believe that, a lot needs to be done in the area of that, particularly in the area of education and health which would add up to who we are as a people and what the future holds for us as a state and as a people. Our founding fathers have given us a lot of head-start in the area of education and I think we should do everything to make sure that we protect this and defend this because at the end of the day that is what determines us as a state. That is the area that I think the state government still needs to do a lot more than what they have done presently. Yes, we can see some bridges being constructed here and there and that on its own is not what we can wish away. But quite a number of localities or local governments within the state still need some basic roads that can make life a lot better and a lot easier for them than we presently have. The state government should have set its priority right in this area. But by and large, like I said, at some point in the future, the full details of our impression or opinions about the state government will be made known to the public.
You made two attempts to be the governor of Ogun State, do you still have that ambition?
Yes! Yes!! I am still in the race. I still want to govern the state. I still believe that the reason and the motivation for me during that 2011 is still very much there, even if not more now. And I still want to be given the opportunity to do that and I still want to give it a trial in 2019, In Sha Allah.
Do you have the finances to embark on this campaign?
There is nobody or no person that spends all the money that require for this thing. It is for people that believe, in you. And in any case, Ogun State is not for sale. So, we are not necessarily looking for that person that has the deepest pocket. If you go back to the history of Ogun State, even since I joined partisan politics, there are quite a number of deep pocketers that have not made it, in one way or the other, even in election for the House of Representatives level or even when Sen Ibikunle Amosun was contesting in 2011, he was definitely not the one that had the deepest pocket. And there are a lot of examples in that area. For me, I have a message, I have the vision which I am trying to pass across to the people, that are part of what we are doing, either putting their energy into it, their financial support into it, they are working into it, and I believe if we put all of these things together, we will be able to get there. So, when you talk about that, my answer is that, yes, if we know, we would not be able to take it then, we would not start it. But I also know that, this thing is not for sale. Whereas I know that quite a number of resources are also required, in terms of how that will be done, I have no problem in doing that. I am not sure Ogun State people are looking for the person that put the highest price tag on them but rather, they are looking for the person that will take them to the next level and I think, I have what it takes to do that.
Ogun West has not produced a governor for the state and there seems to be a consensus of opinion that the governorship should come from the district. Do you subscribe to this consensus opinion?
Definitely, with fairness and equity in order to have a unified world and a unified environment, so I believe that, in the interest of equity, fairness and justice, in that part of the state, which is Ogun West now, comprises of five local governments, should be given an opportunity to have a slot at the governorship of the state. That is my opinion but of course, I have always said that as a person, my running for the governorship is not solely based on that and that can best be an added advantage. I want to run for the governorship because I believe I have what it takes to run because I have a prerequisite experience, a prerequisite knowledge and the prerequisite capacity to govern the state and to take it to the next level. And that is basically what I am putting forward. Of course, having come from Ogun West, that would come as an added advantage and I think, I will be willing to take that advantage as part of my criteria, if given the opportunity to run the state.
We want to assume that you will be running under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is that correct?
Well, I am in PDP and I am a member of the PDP but in all of this, in the history of our country, in the history of our state, you can’t begin to put your hands or fingers down on what would happen down the line. So, I wish and I pray that is the thing but we will have to wait till that time before we know precisely which is going to be. But as we speak, I am a member of the PDP.
Being a member of the PDP, do you think that the party stands a better chance of governing the state?
Well, I think at the end of the day, it is about the person and it is about the circumstance. As at the time Senator Ibikunle Amosun won in 2011, the 236 wards in state were under PDP. The 26 House of Assembly members were under PDP. The nine representatives and the three senators were under PDP. But the circumstances at that time provided or gave the ACN the opportunity to win the state. Of course, his own person too, we can’t overrule that. So, to say that, whether the party has a chance, and it is the party and the candidate that make up electoral victory. Yes, I don’t see any problem with that but it has always depended on the person who is flying the ticket or that is carrying the banner or symbol of the party, as at that time we would also see. I think these are all the things that make it up. There is nothing wrong about it and it is not impossible. I believe it is a possibility.
PDP seems to be enmeshed in some internal crisis in the state. Are there moves to resolve this internal crisis? And don’t you think that the crisis will work against the party?
Well, there is no party of note today in Ogun State or in most parts of the country that doesn’t have its own issues. All parties, all of them do. Even the ruling party, APC, has its own internal issues which we are all aware of. Even the smallest ones that are not the major ones they also have their own issues. PDP has its own share, may be, more than a fair share of that. But I know that this I have said a couple of times, the PDP that we have today is better than the one we had about six weeks ago, when we even had two national chairmen. I think today, there is only one national chairman of the party. Attempts have been made now to go into congress and conventions. As for Ogun State, yes, I am aware there is quite a number of attempts as reconciling these various groups. And I think that they have a good chance of doing that. My hope and prayer is that, the people that are involved are also very sincere about it. Once we have the sincerity, why not? And then, let that now provide or produce the right kind of candidate of the party that is acceptable, not only by the party executives but also by the people of the state in terms of the right person they are looking for and coming from the right part of the state. I think if you put all of these together the party can still carry the day. Like I said, all the other parties have their own issues and it is for is to wait for another a couple months or more than a year and then, we will now know the shape and the nature of the parties or the kind of candidates they want to vote for. And I think that is where we are to determine who carry the day.
How truthful is the rumour that the leadership of the PDP in Ogun State plans to zone the 2019 governorship to Ogun East district?
Well, the leadership of the party has not made that pronouncement, but an individual did. In any case, the leadership of the party today is in the hands of a caretaker committee. And that caretaker chairman is not even from Ogun State. He is from Osun State. And it is just now that they are trying to put together a congress that will now produce the leadership. Even if anybody is speaking now, he is speaking in his own personal capacity. And of course, everybody is entitled to his own opinion. So, it is their own opinion. But God forbids, if that comes up, of course, individuals also have right to take their own destiny into their hands. Like I said, I am not aware of such a decision. The recognised party executives of today is in the hands of a caretaker committee and that is the thing. And any other thing outside that I am not aware of.
If you become the governor of Ogun State, what are you going to bring to the table?
We have emphasised what we termed life-more-abundant. Because we believe that we have to look at it holistically on how to make things better for our people. And that is why our emphasis is actually on human capital development, that is education and health. But of course, we also know that, we need to look at our employment generation as a state. We have quite a number of young men and women, just like in most part of the country too, who are not working because we need to create an environment by deliberately creating opportunities for them, by inviting the private sector to make the kind of inputs that are required. And of course, we intend to utilise the opportunities.
As a former Group Managing Director of Gateway Holdings Plc, we did quite a number of these, by inviting and attracting investments to the state. I think, we need to do a lot more of these, while government concentrates on areas of developing human capital. Of course, developing our infrastructure, rationally, in a way that will be in line with the development of the state. But all in all, our emphasis is actually in the areas of education and health, human capital development and employment generation, by bringing the private sector into it. We have done quite a number of these in the past. We will also give a lot of emphasis on the weak in the society, by deliberately going into some social development projects that can be targeted, particularly at the women and our elderly in our environment. I think, these are the summary or the area of the things to be done. Over and above these, or the summary of all these, is the sincerity. I think there must be sincerity of purpose in all that we do.
We do know that a government or any government can not have all the resources that it needs to turn around the state for good within a space of four years or even in eight years but at least, whatever that is available must be used sincerely, judiciously and taking into consideration, the priorities, those things, that will meet the better of today and the best of tomorrow for our people. I think those are the things, that we really we want to put into it. And also it depends on the person that is there, either for one reason or the other.
There is no party of note today in Ogun State or in most parts of the country that doesn’t have its own issues. Even the ruling party, APC, has its own internal issues.