Temitope Kuyebi, a native of Imasai, in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State, is one of the governorship aspirants in the race for the number one seat of the state. In this interview with Femi Ogbonnikan, the 43-year-old aspirant bares his mind on his ambition, and why he is best for the “wizkid” Governor Ibikunle Amosun, is scouting for, as successor come May 29, 2019. Excerpts
What informed your interest in the Ogun State Governorship contest?
As a young boy, I grew up in my home town of Imasai, in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State, from a very humble background. I am from the grassroots and I understand the pains, the struggles, and the yearnings of the common Ogun state citizen across different areas and walks of life. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon. I worked hard and I am passionate about everything I do. Just like me, there are several smart and hardworking Ogun State indigenes, both young and old, who never had that opportunity to break forth like I experienced.
Ogun State inhabitants deserve a better standard of living, better life opportunities, standard social amenities and infrastructures and policies that wouldn’t just give them a better life but also create life-changing opportunities for them.
My desire to run for the Ogun State gubernatorial election is borne out of the yearnings and aspirations of the people and my desire to contribute my own quota and dedicate my experience, youthfulness and passion for excellence to the upliftment of this great state to the true Gateway State of the Nation.
What are those things you want to bring to the table if God tarries in your bid?
It is often said that ‘the Voice of the People is the Voice of God’. However, I believe that if it is the will of God that I emerge the next Governor of Ogun State, my key priority will be to improve the economic viability and rating of the state and the standard of living of the citizens across all facets of life. We will achieve this by supporting and improving agricultural capability of the state to make it more profitable and less cumbersome for farmers; by exploring and optimising the oil production potentials of Ogun State in order to ensure that the state is listed amongst the oil producing states in the country; by creating an enabling business environment and policies that will give room for existing and young entrepreneurs to sprout, grow and compete favourably within the state and beyond; by opening up the state for international investment opportunities with clear regulations that will allow for the growth and development of the state and mitigate against exploitation of the people and our resources. Also, massive youth empowerment programmes and supports; improved health care delivery system; provision of affordable housing schemes; rural and Urban infrastructural development; workers welfare review and improved standard of educational opportunities, among others will be paramount during my administration.
Do you have the financial muscles to prosecute this ambition?
It is indeed a known fact that, seeking any political position in Nigeria could cost a fortune. It is also interesting to note that, in recent times, ‘politics as usual,’ is no more the order of the day. Gone were those days when money bags dangle carrots before the electorates to buy their conscience, only to end up mortgaging their future. Electorates are wiser and smatter now. If you look at the current trend of elections held in the past, electorates now vote for candidates they believe will serve them in whatever capacity and then ensure that their votes count.
With the very heavy grassroots support that we are enjoying and with God on our side, we do not need to break into bank’s vaults to achieve our goals like some others. Whatever resources we deploy in, will be more than sufficient.
The number of contestants from Ogun West, a district that has never had a shot at the number one seat of the state since its creation in February 1976 is on the rise. Don’t you think that the growing number of the aspirants from Yewa/Awori axis may not jeopardise the chances of the district from producing the next governor?
The Ogun State governorship race is always competitive as many aspirants will surely indicate interest in the position. I believe that the more, the merrier, and it will only give room for the people to have a well-rounded pool of aspirants to pick from.
I also do not see Yewa/ Awori people jeopardising their chances of producing the next governor, rather I see Yewa/Awori people making the best decision with regards to picking a candidate that is not a political prostitute nor a candidate who has already dented his political image as this could be the major limiting factors.
Let me add, my political career began during the active days of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). From AD to the Action Congress (AC) then, soon the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and subsequently to the current All Progressives Congress (APC), the party I have remained relevant with, moving with the progressive elements and also loyal to the party leadership in the state, especially the incumbent Governor.
I believe that this is now the time for me to pilot the affairs of state and I will consolidate on the achievements of Governor Amosun in ensuring that Ogun State remains at the top among the comity of states in the country.
Again, I believe in loyalty and especially in the leadership style of the sitting governor and now that he has come out to say it is time for a younger person from Ogun West and it is a whizkid then, I am certain that I perfectly fit the description. I believe that it is God that chose me. Whizkid is someone who is highly intelligent, someone with a clear vision, someone with a clear goal and when I was telling you about myself, I told you that in my career, I started with the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and till this moment, I have been in Oil and Gas sector.
I want you to know that when talking about Oil and Gas, I am in the mainstream, where I have been privileged to have both local and the international training and it’s my prayers that God would grant me favour in this struggles.
Looking at where we are coming from, I am perfectly the right person, and I believe this is my time, looking at my persistence and sincerity to the leaders of the party, because it was not easy to contest in 2011 and they said ‘go and sit down’. Again, I contested in 2015 they said ‘go and sit down’, yet you still believe your time will come. So, these are great attitudes of a good compatriot and I know my time has come.
Like I have said earlier, I am just 43 years old and I have learnt a lot in politics. I have toured all the 20 local government in the state; I respect all party leaders, by giving honour to whom honour is due within the party hierarchy, irrespective of the zones. Sincerely, it has not been easy, but I know that I was learning through the whole period and I am fully ready for the task ahead.
Why did it take you long before you could publicly declare your ambition?
I believe that my declaration to run for Ogun state Governorship in 2019 is timely. As a gubernatorial aspirant, the interest of the people surpasses any individual’s political aspirations. Before my declaration, I ensured that I intimated my family of my ambition which they gave their blessings and approval. Several consultations and deliberations took place with my people at the grassroots (communities), which cut across different strata of key political stake holders and above all my God.
A resounding approval from all was also received before my declaration and this alone gives me more confidence and credence that all will be well.
Amosun continues to reiterate his commitment at various public fora to hand over the baton of the state governance to a wizkid of Ogun West extraction. Do you think you fall in this category of wizkid the governor is insisting on picking as his successor?
Governor Amosun is a visionary leader and his words are as credible as his integrity. I am confident that I am the wizkid the governor has continued to reiterate that he would hand over the baton to, after his tenure in office in 2019. His description of the personality of the Wizkid is a perfect fit of my attributes. I was just 35 years old when I met for the governor in 2011 for the first time, and at that time, I was also vying for the same position. I was obviously the youngest on the race at that time. Despite all odds, I was the first consensus candidate that was presented to contest for the position by the entire people of Ogun State West. However, the party leaders prevailed on me to step down due to my age and experience in politics, and that Amosun was the best for the governorship race and a ripe candidate for the position at that time. They also made it clear that the vision of Amosun and mine aligned as he is a man of great virtue.
Since then, I have diligently and patiently waited, learnt the rope the more, grown politically, and my continuous loyalty and respect for the leadership style of Governor Amosun and other party leaders across the 20 local governments I toured before makes me the perfect option.