Femi Ogbonnikan in Abeokuta
The governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State, Mr. Dapo Abiodun yesterday disclosed that if elected, he would run a government with focus on the masses and rural communities in the state.
Abiodun, Chief Executive Officer of Heyden Petroleum Limited and First Independent Power Limited, promised to bring the state’s internally generated revenue (IGR) close to what Lagos State is currently generating.
He gave insight into his governance blueprint during an exclusive interview with THISDAY in his Iperu-Remo residence, noting that he would run a government that would focus on the masses of the state and not on the elite.
An eight-man electoral panel set up by the National Working Committee (NWC) had penultimate Wednesday declared Abiodun winner having polled 102,305 votes to defeat five other aspirants in a governorship primary election conducted in the state’s 236 wards and 20 Local Government Areas (LGAs).
Alhaji Muhammad Indabawa, who chaired the electoral panel, noted that the five governorship aspirants namely; Mr. Jimi Lawal polled 51, 153 votes; Mr. Abimbola Ashiru polled 29, 764; Sen. Gbenga Kaka 17,771; Mr. Abayomi Hunye 9,110 and Hon. Adekunle Akinlade 23, 443.
Abiodun’s declaration did not go down well with the camp of the governor which held its parallel congress earlier on Tuesday and declared Hon Adekunle Akinlade, the incumbent lawmaker representing Yewa South/Ipokia Federal Constituency, as its standard bearer.
The Chairman of Ogun State APC, Chief Derin Adebiyi claimed that Akinlade polled 190,987 votes to defeat five other governorship aspirants, though the NWC rejected the outcome of the parallel primary election.
But speaking on his governance blueprint yesterday, Abiodun pledged to focus on pro-people programmes, which according to him, would be geared towards ameliorating the living conditions of the people of the state.
Unlike the Amosun administration, Abiodun said he would bring the state government closer to the masses of the state if elected Governor of Ogun State in February 2019, assuring that he would a mass-centre government.
He said, “I will be more inclined to execute projects that will directly affect the masses than projects that will focus on the elites. I will focus on how to improve on rural areas because our people are traders and farmers.
“I will equally develop rural areas across the state so that they can help facilitate bringing of goods or agricultural produce to cities and towns. I will ensure that the people can conveniently come from their various hinterlands into the towns, so that they can trade their goods,” he explained.
He, also, promised to create jobs for the indigenes of Ogun State, noting that he “will look at the other sectors of the economy apart from agriculture to create jobs. I will invest a lot of time in ensuring that each senatorial district is self-sufficient because Ogun State enjoys proximity to Lagos.”
Specifically, the governorship candidate observed that there was no reason the Internal Generated Revenue (IGR) of Ogun State “should not be at par with that of Lagos State. Every functional company in Nigeria berth in Ogun State.
“I will ensure I have a one-stop shop. I will deliberately and consciously encourage investments in Ogun State by offering incentive to potential investors so that we can make Ogun State a choice investment destination. The fact that we are like New York to New Jersey, there are options.
“We have vast expanse of land. We have gas network running from the East all the way to Agbara. We can really have industrial hub in Ogun State where you can actually go, including electricity. If you have all these things, you are springing up employment generations,” Abiodun said.
He commended the incumbent governor for transforming the state “to a choice investment destination with consequent astronomical increase in the IGR. Amosun is very hard working. There is no doubt about that. You may not like him. You may have divergent views about him.
“You may differ in his style of governance. The truth is that all of us have our own shortcomings. That is why the positions of governor and president are tenured. When a governor leaves, another person takes it up from there.
“I think his antecedent in the private practice has equipped him for the job he has done in the state. So far, he has made giant strides in Ogun State. There is no doubt about that. Ogun State IGR has probably increased by about 300 percent from where he took over, before he can into office.
“Obviously, his accounting background, more than his experience in revenue generation, has helped him in increasing the state’s IGR to N7 billion from N800 million. I believe Amosun has added a lot of values to the stats in the last seven and half years he has been governing.
“Do I believe there is more to do? There will be more to do. Do I believe he has done better? Of course, he has done better. Do I believe in everything he had done? Possibly, I do not disagree. Every person has his own style of governance. If I am elected the governor, will I not do things differently? Definitely, there are some things I will do differently.”
Disturbed about the intrigue that preceded his emergence as the APC flag-bearer in the state, Abiodun underscored the imperative of merit as the only requirement for picking candidates, regardless of elective political offices.
Abiodun said, “It is not all the times we are privileged to have successful entrepreneurs in government because most of them will have shied away. We have just a few of us. It is not oftentimes, that they are given a chance because they are easily discouraged.”
He lamented that electorates “are often deceived and their votes are bought by those that are unfit to be council chairmen, let alone governors and senators. I think it is high time we began to ensure that merit counts.
“People do not vote based on merit in Nigeria. But we need to begin to change this perception. You cannot plant maize and harvest beans the same day. I believe God has been good to me. I do not need to raise funds to finance my election.
“I am not a contractor. I did not take any contract from Ogun State. However, Amosun is my friend and our friendship is not for any pecuniary reasons.
“Now that I have emerged as the governorship candidate, I am going to convince the good people of Ogun state and APC members to vote for me. I have no doubt that we will redefine governance in Ogun State if elected.”