On the sideline of the recent inauguration of the All Progressives Congress National Campaign Council for the October 10 Governorship Election in Ondo State, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Chairman of the council spoke with journalists including Nseobong Okon-Ekong on the council’s plans for the gubernatorial election, and endorsements of the party’s candidate, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State by all the stakeholders
What necessitated such a large campaign council -104 membersl?
The large number of the campaign council is a reflection of the number of people who truly want to serve our party. It is a reflection of how committed our members are and how passionate they are to continue to serve the party at the national level. So, when you are called upon like this, I think it is not only a personal honour, it is also an honour for your state that you have been identified and you are willing to serve so as to deliver the election that we believe by the grace of God on October 10, 2020, our brother and friend, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) would be returned as the Executive Governor of Ondo State.
You are a first term governor with more than one year in office, why your choice as the chairman of the APC National Campaign Council for the Ondo State governorship poll?
Four years ago, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State was appointed as the chairman of the APC National Campaign Council for Ondo State. He was a first term governor and he was a little bit over one year in office at that time and he did a fantastic job. He was able to uproot the Iroko in Ondo at that time. So history has just repeated itself. He is here standing beside me with a wealth of experience and knowing all the terrains very well. It is in the same context that I have also emerged not because I am lacking in number of years as a governor but given the antecedent of what has also happened four years ago and given the pedigree that I am also bringing to the table.
Is your choice as the chairman of the campaign council, an endorsement of the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu on the candidature of Governor Akeredolu?
The endorsement was not only Asiwaju’s but a collective endorsement. In this endorsement you’ve seen Senator Ajayi Borofice. You have seen our brother, Olusola Oke, you have seen meetings where Isaac Kekemeke was in attendance and you have seen meetings where Dr. Olusegun Abraham was in attendance. After the primaries, they all came together even before our choice in the National Campaign Council. In Ondo State, they have all gone ahead to resolve their problems by themselves and all of them have said we are going together and we are supporting the candidacy of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu. So, it is a unified thing. They have made our work a lot easier.
But we know that the most critical thing is about the people in Ondo State. It is about good governance. It is about what the Governor or our party is doing and what we have said to the people that we will equally do. It is not an easy job but we believe in Governor Akeredolu. We believe that what he has started as a true progressive, he will not only take Ondo State to a higher level; people will see real governance and people-driven governance at the highest level. So, with the good job that he is doing, all of them on their own have endorsed that he should continue and the least we can do is to support that convergence and that is why we are here.
How do you see your emergence as the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Campaign Council for the Ondo State governorship election?
I am deeply honoured to be appointed as Chairman of the APC National Campaign Council for Ondo State governorship election, scheduled to hold on October 10. I am sure that the decision by the Chairman of the Caretaker/Extra Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee of our party, Governor Mai Mala Buni and other members must be a difficult one, considering a number of very eminent individuals and highly qualified personalities we have in our party.
It is humbling to lead a team of very experienced women and men who would be working with other colleagues and stakeholders to retain Ondo State in the coming election. This is a moment of personal honour for me, but also of deep personal responsibility. I do not take this lightly and I believe every member of this high level council feels the same way.
What chance does your party in the governorship poll? And do you think APC’s candidate and incumbent governor, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has done enough for him to be re-elected?
Today, our great party the All Progressives Congress has begun a march to another victory in Ondo State. I have described this journey as a repeat performance of what we did less than four years ago, when the people of Ondo State filed out in their numbers to elect my brother and friend, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (Aketi) as their sixth executive governor. The only difference in this year’s experience is that our victory will be a landslide.
Four years ago, the people of Ondo State affirmed their believe in progressive governance and today, that believe, the validation of our party, the APC as an assemblage of well-spirited Nigerians who are poised to serve the humanity has yielded positive results with several achievements recorded by the Governor Rotimi Akeredolu-led administration. The need for us to do more and because we know that we can do more for the people, is the reason why our party is confident of victory at the polls. The party’s confidence is further buoyed by the giant strides of Governor Akeredolu in different areas of human endeavours.
We know that since APC-led government of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu was sworn in on the February 24, 2017, Ondo has moved from her hitherto parlous state and has returned to a trajectory of growth and development. This is a major feature of our party. We pride ourselves as harbinger of peace, progress and purposeful leadership wherever we have our foothold.
So, you are confident that APC will win Ondo governorship poll…
Yes, the tasks given to us by the APC Caretaker/Extra Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee will be approached with the highest sense of responsibility. We know that the people of Ondo State cannot afford to return to retrogressive life after experiencing progressive governance offered by the All Progressives Congress. Therefore, all the 104 members of the APC National Campaign Council for Ondo State Governorship election will roll up their sleeves and work hard for the victory that we truly and genuinely deserve. Let me also use this opportunity on behalf of members of the National Campaign Council, to pledge our commitment, passion and dedication as we take up this national assignment to deliver Ondo State to the All Progressives Congress.
We are very confident of victory. No party in Ondo can defeat the APC. The people of Ondo were dissatisfied with Iroko’s eight years of motion without movement so they decided to give the progressives the opportunity and so far, Governor Akeredolu has done very well. He has impacted meaningfully on the lives of the poor masses, the middle class as well as the upper class in Ondo. In fact, his sterling performance has made our job a lot easier.
What is your message to the major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in respect to the Ondo State governorship election?
They should really not waste their time. But election is something that is not over until it is all over, so we are not going to take anybody for granted. We are going for an election and it is going to be issues based. We will ensure that we campaign on the platform for the people of Ondo State to see the need to continue with the progressive government that they have. He is doing very well, we have seen it but he knows that he still has the capacity and he has the energy to further advance what he is currently doing. That is why we are with him and we know he will do that.
What’s your message to other party members?
First, I will like to thank our great party, APC, for giving us this great opportunity to serve at the national level; it is a rare privilege and we will not take it for granted. We also thank the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led National Convention Committee for believing in us to retain Ondo State for our party. We wish to also send a message of assurance to the President, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) that Ondo will remain within the fold of the All Progressives Congress. On this note, I wish to invite all party faithful to join the committee to achieve this task that has been placed before us by the leadership of the party. We are on the march to victory in Ondo State.