Folarin Steps Up Campaign to Unseat Makinde
Kemi Olaitan chronicles the campaign activities of the Oyo State gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Teslim Folarin, towards dislodging Governor Seyi Makinde, from Agodi Government House
Within the last few months that the campaign activities for the 2023 elections started, the Oyo State governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Teslim Folarin, has been in the news in the pace setter state, selling his candidacy to the electorates through rallies, town hall meetings as well as informal meetings.
With his emergence as the governorship candidate of APC, the first task that the three-term Senator representing Oyo Central senatorial district who is running for the Agodi Government House for the second term the first been in 2015 when he contested under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), set for himself was reconciliation which saw him and his team transversing all the 33 local government areas of the state appealing to aggrieved members to join the fold and work for the victory of the party.
This effort by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Local Content, was to yield great results as it led to the dissolution of a major group within the party, the Unity Forum, under the leadership of the Chairman, National Lottery Regulatory Commission, Alhaji Fatai Ibikunle, which was popular in the Oke Ogun and Ibarapa areas of the state.
While setting the stage for rallies across the seven zones of the state, two events namely the unveiling of his running mate and inauguration of campaign council indeed showed what the people would expect from Folarin.
At the unveiling of his running mate, Dr. David Femi Okunlola, he revealed some of the key initiatives and innovations in his blueprint, stating that he was out to focus squarely on proffering solutions to the enormous downward trend standing in the way of the prosperity of the state as he was more than prepared to be elected as the governor.
His words, “I am delighted that the long-awaited season of electioneering has begun at full throttle.This window offers us the opportunity to traverse the state and lay bare our plans and agenda to empower the populace and build an all-inclusive better Oyo State, where all sectors would witness massive Growth and Development.
“On the ballot with me, as my running mate, is the cerebral academic of repute and agricultural development expert, Dr. David Femi Okunlola, from Saki West Local Government Area. This all-important decision was made, because of the need to bring together a team of talented individuals who, by dint of diligence and exceptional track records, are great managers of men and resources.
“Dr. Okunlola ticks all the right boxes: His outstanding leadership and administrative qualities gained over the years will complement our lofty vision for the state.
“Our campaign objective is not to engage in mudslinging or by invoking abrasive and petty sentiments, rather, our campaign will focus squarely on proffering solutions to the enormous downward trend standing in the way of our state’s prosperity, in spite of our potential.
“Some of the key initiatives and innovations that we have highlighted in our Rescue Mission for Growth and Development Blueprint are, a Sincere and Holistic Agricultural Reforms, Strategic Urban Regeneration Drive, Employment and Entrepreneurial Opportunities with focus on Youth and Small Medium Enterprises (SME) through innovative ideas, First-Rate Healthcare Service delivery and High-Quality and Quantitative Education System. Ours is a government that shall be driven by Information Technology at all levels of governance.
“In this all-inclusive Project, I will continue to lead members of my party in interacting with the youths, students, civil and public servants, labour unions, pensioners, traders, artisans, people with special needs, traditional institutions, religious groups and all other critical stakeholders on ways to bring about the positive growth and development that we earnestly crave for in the pacesetter State.”
Folarin during the inauguration of the Campaign Council headed by the Deputy Executive Secretary (Services), Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Dr. Isiaka Kolawole, and 3,332 other members, assured that his administration will not give flimsy excuses to justify failures if elected, stating unlike the incumbent administration in the state, the APC Government, under him, would transform education, health, agriculture, security, environment and other sectors of the state economy.
“I use this opportunity to allay the fears of Oke-Ogun people that our administration will not insult your sensibilities.We won’t turn the agrarian zone of the state to a destitute and beggars’ centre as captured in the manifesto of the present government in the state”, he said.
The governorship candidate added that he would bring growth and development to the zone, noting that agriculture was the panacea for sustainable growth and development and promised to leverage on the agricultural potential to grow the state economy, address food insecurity and create massive employment opportunities for millions of unemployed youths.
“I want to restate that I am not seeking the mandate of Oyo State citizens and residents to rule, but to serve the state. Our mission is to move Oyo State forward for Growth and Development and to restore her dignity and pace-setting status”, he said.
Kolawole, in his remarks, said he accepted the appointment because the party was fielding its best eleven as presidential, gubernatorial, senatorial, House of Representatives and House of Assembly candidates for the elections.
“Everyone knows Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his qualitative leadership and track of excellent performance as a public administrator, he will undoubtedly reposition Nigeria for the betterment of the downtrodden. I am convinced that Senator Teslim Folarin, as Governor of Oyo State come 2023 will be the best thing to happen to the Pacesetter State. Let us work together to achieve electoral victory in 2023 for the betterment of the masses”, he said.
The campaign flag-off to return the opposition party back to Agodi Government House with Senator Folarin as governor, was held at the Oba Adeyemi III Arcade in Oyo town, with massive crowd of party supporters within and outside the state present.
Those at the event included former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro; former Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Jelili Adesiyan; the state party Chairman, Hon. Isaac Omodewu; the DG, Campaign Council, Dr. Kolawole; Deputy DG, Asiwaju Yemi Aderibigbe; Chairman, Media and Publicity, APC Presidential Campaign Council, in Oyo State, Alhaji Kehinde Olaosebikan, and other political heavyweights.
Folarin in his speech which drew applause from the crowd, lamented that under the present administration in the state education has gone comatose, hence the need for holistic intervention of responsible and responsive government which he said his administration would do if elected as governor. He maintained that his agenda is to take the state to the next level with the dividends of democracy delivered to the people.
His words, “Under Governor Seyi Makinde-led PDP administration, Oyo State ranked 33rd in external examinations and recently, 50 secondary schools were blacklisted and delisted by WAEC. The sad developments are unprecedented in the history of Oyo State.
“The most worrisome aspect of PDP government in Oyo State is the continuous leadership failure characterised by maladministration at all levels as a result of incompetence, state-sponsored insecurity, crippling of local government administration, poor state of infrastructure, consultancy policy in tertiary institutions, growing debt profile, dereliction of duties, among others.
“I am poised to invest in policies that will drive economic development, provide a sea of opportunities for the teeming populace, improve healthcare, agriculture, education and infrastructure, so that our state can be an investment hub and a preferred destination for industrialists. All these will be clothed in human face by our administration, which will be people-driven.
“My aim is to form a pact with the good people of Oyo State through an invaluable blueprint that is anchored on a mission to move Oyo State Forward for Growth and Development.
“Our government shall be established on a mission that will prioritize functional and qualitative education for all school-age children, productive mechanized agriculture, efficient and affordable healthcare delivery for all, irrespective of age, gender and status; massive industrialization, strongly supported by expansive agricultural value chain; employment generation with emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation; urban renewal and rural infrastructural development.
“Our government shall secure Oyo State, where every lawful citizen shall have no reason to fear or fret. According to Rosalynn Carter ‘A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go but ought to be.”
He lauded the efforts of Senator Femi Lanlehin-led reconciliation committee, stating that the presence of notable chieftains of the party at the event was a testimony that their efforts have begun to yield dividend. He then assured members of the party of an all inclusive government as this is the only way to salvage the present situation in the state, vowing to work with critical stakeholders in the state to deliver 85 per cent of votes in the state for Tinubu-Shettima, on February 25.
Apart from campaign rallies, Senator Folarin has also met with virtually all the groups, bodies, associations, ethnic, faith, students and youth groups in the state. One of such groups that played host to the APC governorship candidate was the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), with Folarin being the first candidate to visit the men of the pen profession.
While answering questions fired at him by the journalists, he said with the presidential candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Tinubu on the ballot, the coast is clear for the party to retain power at the center, describing his emergence as the icing on the cake for APC in Oyo State.
Folarin said, “It is a wise decision to market Tinubu instead of myself. If Tinubu makes it, I know it is over. His emergence is the icing on the cake. When you have him, you are going to use him. We know Tinubu will win. We want to maximise that. He will get 80 per cent and between 1.5 million and two million of the total votes in Oyo. Our National Assembly members will win.”
On the fallout of the APC primaries, leading to the exit of Accord party gubernatorial candidate, Chief Adebayo Adelabu and many others, he said there was no primary election that people would not complain about, maintaining that if the APC primaries or congress were held 100 times, he would still win.
Speaking on security challenges in the state, Folarin vowed to have minus zero tolerance for insecurity, promising to disband the state’s Park Management System (PMS) as the body was not known to the law.
His words: “Security is key to developing the economy. The late Governor Abiola Ajimobi operated with zero tolerance to insecurity. We are going to operate minus zero to insecurity. The stage-sponsored thugs will be rid of the state. PMS is alien to the law. That will go”.
He also vowed to declare emergency in the education sector and prepare the state for post-oil Nigeria, saying “I will declare a state of emergency in the education sector. It is only in Oyo that motor parks are better than schools. It is unacceptable to us.”
For political watchers in the pace setter state, it is undisputable fact Senator Folarin, has been around politically for long as he was first elected Senator in 2003 at the age of 39 years. However, the race to dislodge an incumbent governor may be an uphill task for the Ibadan-born politician.
But what would count for him is that he has adequately proved that he is a thourough-bred grassroots politician (a disciple of Molete politics) with profound interest in the welfare of all. Indeed, for political watchers he is no doubt a man of the people who has ran one of the most visible campaigns and seen as a politician who has empathy for the people as he is always the first to visit scenes of incidents to commiserate with the victims and also rejoice with them when celebrating.
With the governorship election less than a month away, political analysts are of the view that time would tell whether the former Senate Leader would this second time around clinch victory to occupy the Agodi Government House for the next four years.