Taofeek Olayinka Ayinde, an engineer, is one of the aspirants in the 2018 Osun State gubernatorial election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress. In this interview with Femi Ogbonnikan, Ayinde talks about his ambition, and other political issues
You are among the aspirants interested in the 2018 Osun State Governorship race. What are you bringing to the table?
What I am bringing to the table is hope to the people, responsibility and power to the people. Apart from that, I have programmes that I have tagged four-cardinal points, which are totally different and unique. A situation whereby workers would work and they are not being paid as and when due would be a thing of the past if I become governor. A situation whereby our teeming young graduates are unemployed would be over in Osun State. And these are the things that I am bringing to the table, a unique and a totally different kind of governance that has never been experienced before in our state.
Do you have the financial resources to contest in the race?
The governorship election is a collective decision, which a single individual can’t finance or do alone. So, it is a collective responsibility of everybody that has interest in my aspiration. I know that, if I have people, I have the resources. In Osun State, human resource is our major advantage, and I am counting on that. If my people support me, the financial resource will not be a problem. It is something that I will be able to raise and it is something that can be made possible.
If the governorship is to be rotated on a senatorial district basis, is it the turn of Osun West where you come from?
Yes! It is the turn of Osun West to produce the next governor, because Osun Central has had its fair share of the seat and Osun East is currently enjoying the seat. And within Osun West, it is even my community, Iwo that has a stronger claim to the seat because right from the inception of the progressive days of old, Iwo has been marginalised. I am from Iwo and I just have to let you know that Iwo has suffered, being the home of progressive elements. We have practically worshipped and practically followed all other aspirants elsewhere, and until today, we have never produced somebody or a person either as an administrator or as a governor of any state. There is no community that is as big as my community that has never had that kind of opportunity. So, as it is now, Osun West, under which Iwo falls, has a stronger claim to the next governor of Osun State.
Why are you contesting on the platform of APC and not a party like PDP?
I have been in the struggle for years, beginning from the birth of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). I have been there. I worked for AD. In Delta State where I reside, I had been the Publicity Secretary of the AD in Uvwie Local Government Area. I was a delegate from Delta State to elect Abdulkadir as the National chairman. It was the death of Chief Bola Ige that actually made me lie low, because I was an ardent follower of the Cicero of Esa-Oke. When he died, the thing really affected my political interest. And so, I had to lie low and restricted my participation in local politics only to my ward level. As far as party structure is concerned, in Osun State, APC still stands a better chance because the party is still very much on ground. No factions and no divisions. If there is any division at all, it will only be based on individual aspiration, and the governorship election that is coming up very soon. And by the special grace of God, and if we are able to resolve that, the party will still be stronger. The fear of what happened during the last Osun West Senatorial District election was as a result of some kind of selfish forces which worked against the party within the state. It was what caused the problem. It doesn’t mean that APC is weak and can’t win any future election. And apart from that, my community is the stronghold of APC and I can’t leave my people. I still have to remain in APC and make my people comfortable.
How close are you to the grassroots in order to win their support?
I am a product of the grass roots. I am always with my people. I am always with the youths. I have organised many empowerment programmes that have cut across many segments within my community and its environs. I have been contributing to the development of youths in my community. Right from the time I was growing up, I have links and connections with people within the community. There is no political front in my community that can claim they don’t know me. There is no particular unit within the community that would say there is no area I have never touched, in a way, in my life. There is no area within Iwo community that they would mention my name and somebody would get up and say, he does not know me or that, I haven’t identified with the community. No! And right from the time I have been eligible and attained the voting age of 18, I have always been voting in my polling unit. I used to mobilise my people, for my party and for our interest at all times.
How do you intend to harness tourism to improve Osun State’s revenue, instead of waiting for federal allocation?
If a country like Togo or Republic of Benin can exist as a country with the little resources that they have, I do not see why a state as responsible and responsive as Osun State would not be able to survive. Osun State has, apart from those tourist potentials, abundant human resources. We have historical resources. We have religious resources. In Osun State, you can’t travel for five kilometres without getting to one community or the other that are not connected. Thus, the communities are densely populated. Based on that, we have resources that can sustain the economy of the state. There is tourism, as you have just identified, and what about mineral resources? We have them. What of human capital development? We have them. And go to the city of Port Harcourt, go to Abuja or Kano, Sokoto or even Cote-D’voire, Lagos, Osun has substantial population of its citizens living in these cities. So, if the state has a responsible and responsive governor and programmes to turn around the economy of the state, Osun State’s economy will be better-off because we have all the resources that can make Osun a better state in Nigeria.
Do you have a political godfather that is backing you in this race?
You know, it has always been like that. But for now, I have no political godfather. And even the so-called political godfathers are not willing to physically identify with any aspirant because they know that their identification with any aspirant may jeopardise the ambition of such person. So, no political godfather is even directly or indirectly willing to identify with any aspirant. Just like you have said, I would rather tag them as stakeholders because the use of the ‘godfather’ is a coinage in the political circle, and the stakeholders will naturally evolve. When the chips are down, they will be able to manage the situation in order to move the state forward.
Osun State politics presents a comical context where voting seems to go along with personality. How acceptable is your aspiration and pedigree in the race?
Just as I have said earlier, I still remain a neutral personality in such a way that, if I want to describe it now, I would say, I have all it takes to be the governor of the state. I have worked for it. I have contributed my own quota to the development of the youths. I have paid my dues, even when I was growing up. I have made it a kind of personal responsibility, my personal liberty, to make sure that people whoever is close to me or know me, will grow together with me. It has always been like that within my community. If anybody can follow or understand my line of development, he or she would actually know that, and say that, this person is qualified to govern them, because I have all it takes to become the governor. I am the general coordinator, Centre for Productive Leadership, and with that NGO, I have used it to add value to the national dialogue. Communities that are not mine, for example, Abuja, Kogi and across all other states, I have taken youth empowerment programme to better the lot of these communities. Even some communities have been calling me to come and organise such programmes which my community, Iwo, has also benefitted from. It’s not only that, there are other measures, and contributions that I have done, closely with traditional rulers within my community and with youth organisations too. We have community-based organisations. We have religious-based organisations which have added value to the inhabitants of these communities. If coming to office as governor is by sacrifice that one has made to the people, I think I am qualified and I have what can be called pedigree to become the servant of the people that is ready to sacrifice his privacy for the benefit of the people. I would be happy if people can look into that and consider me worthy for the job, as the Governor of Osun State.