James Sowole holds a conversation with the African Democratic Congress candidate for the October 10, 2020 governorship election in Ondo State, Mr Dapo Adelegan
Who is Dapo Adelegan?
Dapo Adelegan is an Ondo State indigene. My father is from Ijebu Owo and my mother is from Ajowa-Akoko. I have been in business for 32 years.
Why did you decide to run for the governorship of the state, particularly, when the incumbent, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu is your kinsman from Owo?
I am in the race for two reasons. One, the kind of grace I received considering the fact that my entrance into business was an asset of fortune 32 years ago when I was 25 years old as a Youth Service Corps member serving in Lagos State.
The Lord led me to discover Lekki for the establishment of Lekki Sunsplash. Five years later, God led me to pioneer revolutionary changes in the outdoor services. I have organised several exhibitions all over the world and later became President of the Nigeria British Chamber of Commerce. The grace we received compelled the need to pay back because we know with this kind of grace, God wants to send us an errand. I have been very much involved in social economic lives of Ondo State and I recognize the fact that we have spent almost 30 years playing politics with the lives of our people without governance. We now say we should put our leg into that race, to offer our totality to our people and that is first reason.
The second reason is to restore the damaged pedigree and heritage of Owo, my fatherland. You should remember that the gold standard of politics in Ondo State and governance was an Owo man, Pa. Adekunle Ajasin. He was governor and in four years, he set up a university, set up Owena Bank, built about seven major industries and even the secretariat he built in Alagbaka not one block has been added by any government or governor and we still have an Owo there again, my brother, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and he has spent four years now basically fighting his party members, fighting opposition, and basically not achieving anything significant for Owo, Ondo north and for Ondo state at large. The major thing that comes out of Ondo state is the volatile politics and the combative nature of the governor and that itself cannot be attractive to investors. So the condition is that we have no job, our boys are being frustrated, we have the situation whereby students cannot pay their school fees, we have no water, no roads, no hospitals, we have no industries. Those are the principal reasons for my emergence.
If you are elected as the governor what are the programmes you intend to execute?
In all fairness it is basically difficult to explain the programmes. However, we will immediately set up about three things. One, social welfare package for our people. Loan will be available for our students that met the criteria and we are working on the structure to ensure that two years after NYSC they can begin to pay.
Two, we will change the curriculum of our education. We will move about 60% of our educational budget into technology education because the future is about capacity in technology. We intend to do transportation across the length and breath of our local government areas. Our people must be provided an effective transport system within our state.
We have no health facilities. We will equip our health facilities, build a teaching hospital in each senatorial districts to provide First Class training. In the area of industrialisation, we want to declare Ore as our economical monument. We want to make Ore our Chicago and improve our economy. Ondo State has geographical advantage and we are going to use that advantage. In the area of tourism, we are going to globalise Ondo State so that t would attract international investment in tourism. We will make sure within the two years, there will be water, good transportation and we will glamorise our agriculture.
You mentioned some things that your brother, Akeredoou did not do well. Was there any time you approached him to advise him on how to do certain things, which he refused?
At the time Akeredolu became the governor, I was President and Chairman of Council, Nigeria British Chamber of Commerce, Chief Gbento Farotimi from Ondo was the President and Chairman of Council of Nigeria America Chamber of Commerce, Yemi Akeju from Ijare was the President and Chairman of Council of Institute of Directors.With the three of us, 65 per cent of Nigerian economy was in our hands. In terms of capacity, the governor did not even ask us for lunch or dinner to discuss how we can assist. When he was setting up his economic council, some people suggested my name as Chairman but instead, Akeredolu made himself as the chairman. As a matter of fact, there are prominent people, Obas, who mentioned my name to Arakunrin, I even met him at a book launch of Gen. Alani Akinrinade and I went to greet him. He even gave me an appointment but it never happened. So it was clear to us that Arakunrin was not interested in bringing capacity and knowledge around himself and we left him. But the most important thing is that Ondo State has political culture that every senatorial district will produce a governor. Dr. Olusegun Mimiko of the Central Senatorial District did eight years. After him, it turned to North, Owo. Owo has not had two terms, and its quite unfortunately that about 10 people from Owo rose up to contest agaiinst him. He lacks human relations. Our first major issue is to ensure that North, Owo and Akoko should have another four years to complete their term. Since he has not been able to, we will ensure that we take that back from him and develop the North, Central and the South and restore the credibility and heritage of Owo and build on the legacy of Ajasin. So we are fighting as two brothers and Owo is very lucky to have children on the two platforms.
If I have the opportunity to meet him today I will wish him well and I will tell him too to wish me as well.
Can’t you work with him to ensure the power remains in Owo?
We are working together. It is a strategy. If two of us are on the different platforms, it is better than on the same platform. He was given an opportunity, He is not the best Owo person, he just has the grace and if he has mismanaged that grace, I am ready to take it from him to complete the eight years term of Ondo North.
Should they put it to you that you should just spend four years, will you accept?
The four years is the constitutional term. The second term is just a grace. No governor can give himself the second term. If the people are now saying you should go it would be very clear that they do not want to give you the second term. But if you became desperate that you must have the second term, it means you failed in the first term. Four years is what we have and that is what we are going to spend.
In terms of performance, how will you score the incumbent governor?
A man cannot give what he did not have, I think Akeredolu has done what he could do within his capacity. He should voluntarily allow another Owo man who has the capacity to take over from him so that Owo can have a beautiful second term. He should allow us to develop and provide good leadership for this state and give hope for the future and to bring a political culture that Ondo State is open for a business rather than being economically volatile state.
Nigerian politics is money consuming. In view of the resources available to APC and the PDP candidates, can you match them?
I will rather say it in two ways. When Dr. Olusegun Mimiko was contesting, we had a very powerful governor then, Late Dr Olusegun Agagu. It was the platform of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) that brought him into forefront of the governorship of Ondo state. People sold their land, cars because they believed it was the time for change and another revolution was about to happen. Some are saying now that Akeredolu cannot be their governor again and that whatever he wanted to spend they will collect it because this is about their future. We are not going to win this election with money. We are not going to bribe our people. We will go door-to-door, sell our vision, show them the future, what is coming and explain our capacity. I don’t have the money but I have God on my side. Wait and see what will happen on October 10, 2020 and you will see the hand of God manifest.
Before you emerged the ADC candidate, you were once in APC. Why did you leave APC?
With the 12 aspirants then, with a lot of crises, at the state and national level, it was clear to many of us one month to the primary of APC that we did not stand the chance, that the governor may likely emerge the candidate of the party through the indirect primary and indirect primary is a gift to any governor because he owns the excos. The reality is that darkness has gone, while light has come.
The people of Southern Senatorial District, have been complaining of neglect over the years, how would you address this?
I have talked to our people from the south and I still tell them that I will be the first governor in the state that will develop the Southern part of the state. One of our first projects is to declare Ore as state’s economic hub. We will create a Chicago at Ore. We will work very hard with the Federal Government to develop our port, we will invite back the international investors.
What plans do you have on insecurity and other issues?
If there is no job, there is no security. The first thing is to give jobs to our people, provide them the skills that industries are looking for. Our education will be rejigged towards technology. For example, we have University of Science and Technology and what we will just do is to convert Rufus Giwa Polytechnic to University of Science and Technology. We will skill our educational policy. Once you can give skills to our people, things would be okay. We need to encourage our youths to go into farming.