Barrister Morohunkola Thomas,the Executive Assistant to Senator Abiola Ajimobi, the Executive Governor of Oyo state in this interview with Remi Oladoye speaks on the achievements of Senator Ajimobi in six years, expectations in the coming years and the plan for successor in 2019. Excerpts:
The administration of Senator Abiola Ajimobi in Oyo state is six years in now , as an insider in the government what is your honest assessment of the administration
We thank God i it is six years that Ajimobi was elected into the office as the Executive Governor of Oyo State and within the period of six years a lot of things have happened significant changes had occurred in many sectors , you know he came in and promise to transform and reposition Oyo state , he came with an agenda of reformation, restoration, and repositioning the government and oyo state as a whole and I think to a very large extent the governor has succeeded in this mission, if you look at Oyo state before may 29 ,2011, it was a state that was what the Eminent French sociologist Emily Duncan ,described as a state of anomie, Oyo state was in that state at that time when lawlessness was the order of the day, when the rule of law was an abnormality, when violence was a culture that has been entrenched in the system, it became abnormal for people to have a night life in the city of Ibadan especially, when some areas of Ibadan particularly Iwo road, challenge Molete ,ojoo became areas that were difficult for people to pass through but when he came in, he undertook a critical survey of the security apparatus of Oyo state and he brought about a very significant changes in that sector so much that he came up with an intervention in crime control formed joint Military and police patrol known as Operation burst which is very effective, he equipped them, he made provision for the welfare of operation burst and it became very useful and what we have seen is that unlike years proceeding 2011, we have seen the emergence and prevalence of peace in Oyo state, we have seen Oyo State as a peaceful state ,by and large, we have move away from the era of brigandage and we culture of violence that we have witness in the past.
I remember the general election of 2011, 2007 too I also remember the election of April 19 2003 those election were basically violence , guns machete, swords, knives were used freely ballot boxes were been snatched you cannot refer to those election as democratically credible because of the violent that went with them, but you saw the election of 2015, you saw that violence was on a very low scale, it is because of the intervention of governor Ajimobi administration, Apart from the peace, we’ve also seen a very significance development in term of infrastructural development, we’ve seen massive road construction in Oyo state , usually in the past road construction were concentrated in Ibadan but under the governor Ajimobi Administration we have seen that that is no longer the case, Ogbomoso, Oyo Iseyin Saki all are benefitting from the urban renewal program of the Ajimobi Administration, the massive road network in Ibadan that has been done and the one that are going to come is unprecedented in the history of this state, the only regime that has come nearer to what Ajimobi has done in this area is the regime of David Jemibewon, the military administrator who also constructed the Molete flyover and we have seen that the flyover in Mokola was done by governor Ajimobi, the road network from the express down to Podo to Efunsetan challenge, the one from Aleshinloye, down to Magazine road up to Onireke are something that we are all happy to see and the ongoing road work in Ibadan, Eleyele Eruwa- Ologun Eru road, the Agodi gate old Ife road to Alakia airport road and others are monumental road construction work that Senator Ajimobi has embarked on. When you leave that and go to the health sector, you will see that in his first year, Governor Ajimobi embarked on several health mission which at every occasion was torching about 1million people at a time providing free health care, as I speak to you now another health mission is ongoing which is targeting over 1 million resident of Oyo state. We have also seen rapid development of the primary health sector which is suppose to provide health care services to the people at the grassroots, Apart from that if you go to the education sector, you will see the gigantic model school that are being put up in Ibadan and Saki . by the special grace of God by the time the school resume in September the schools should be ready for the use of the student and you look at the new idea in school management that has evolved which involved all the stakeholders in the education in managing the affairs of schools, you look at the Oyo MESI programs targeting teachers, parents students, and everybody to ensure that education delivery to students is in perfect situation, if you go to the field of Agriculture what this government have done interm of Agric program a replica of shonghai farm is ongoing, people are already being trained in Agricuture, we are also establishing an Agric zone about 4000 hectares of land is available to farmers and funds are going to be available for them .Governor Ajimobi has said that he want to make Oyo state the food basket of the southwest and that is very possible .In the area of education, the establishment of the Technical University , is first of its kind, we have had University of Agriculture, University of Technology and others but this is the first time we are having a Technical University and that Technical University is opening in September for students and it is not an ordinary University, this University is for those who can pay their way to have technical education and besides the Technical University, we have the industrial park where we have attracted about 150 investors in science and technology and the students of the Technical University will be doing their on the job training, so the restoration of peace , the transformation is also taking place and the repositioning of Oyo state into its real pace setter status is ongoing, if you look at the political situation in Oyo state, the Governor has raised the bar of politicking in the state, this politics of rumour, lies, promising people of things that can never happened doesn’t happen again, the bar has been raised, the politics of Oyo state has become intellectual that if you are not sound, if you don’t know your worth, you cannot come and debate with us , so what I am saying is that Oyo state has been moved forward and is still moving forward under governor Ajimobi.
Some critics of Ajimobi are of the opinion that the governor has not really worked for people because the local government which is the closest form of government to the people have been made redundant and ineffective .
That is far from the truth, I keep hearing he is undertaking anti people policy and I ask them questions, I always contest that issue by saying, is establishment of a technical University anti people? is the construction of roads anti people?, is Oyo Agric program anti people ?, is the Shongai Agricultural Program anti people?,is the free health mission anti –people? Is the construction and maintenance of primary health care in various local government anti people?, certainly no, he has been working for the people, yes the Local Government are suppose to be working for the people, but even the state government is the supervisor of the local government and they have never been made redundant and I want to tell you that the local government have been very active, they have been carrying out one developmental projects or the other, in many of the Local Government, they have built neighborhood markets, there is a Local Government in Oke Ogun that build CBT centre on their own so local government are active for instance in Itesiwaju local government, which is an agrarian communities, the chairman Niyi Adeagbo has embarked upon Agricultural development in that area, they have planted cottons on a very large scale and they are working hand in hand with the farmers in that local government, they have mining site, the Local Government is working directly with the miners to ensure that the welfare of the people is catered for and job opportunities for people in the mining centre. So for any critics of Ajimobi to say Ajimobi has rendered local government administration useless, or ineffective is to be economical with the truth, this Governor is people’s friendly he is undertaking program on behalf of the people for their welfare let me also say one thing, a leader will take the people to where they want to go but a good leader will take the people to where they ought to be. Ajimobi is taking Oyo people to where they ought to be, so he is not carrying out ordinary program, his programs are extraordinary. if you go to some neighbouring state , you will see how there roads are but in Oyo state here if you enter major cities in Oyo state now you are entering through dualized road, the face of Oyo state have been changed and it will continue to change by the grace of God
Local Government election is one of the area where the opposition is picking holes in this administration and that is popularity of this administration is shrinking due to non conduct of local government election don’t you think this will also affect the chances of your party in the coming Election in Oyo state.
What is the big deal about local government election, I will love to say that here we have a Governor that has contested election four times, in 2003 he ran for the senate he worn, in 2007 he ran for governorship he lost to the court he didn’t lose in the field, in 2011, he contested again he won, in 2015 he contested election against two former governors and he defeated them including his own senior brother so why will that man be afraid of conducting local government election, the man is prepared to conduct Local Government election and that is the reason why he has set up the OYSIEC, there offices are ready he had released fund for them he has prepared for election until some people went to court and got an injunction restraining the government from conducting an election, what we have done is this, OYSIEC is ready as soon as the litigation is over they will conduct election, another thing is that we have initiated out of court settlement with the litigants , within our own system , it is our own advantage that the Local government election is conducted, but when the opposition comes around, where is the opposition to face us, is it the disintegrated accord party, majority of its members are already joining APC, in the next one month you will see the financial of Accord party officially declaring for APC at a rally, few weeks ago I was in Saki with some of our colleague to receive hundreds of Accord Party into APC, is it the PDP of Markafi or Sherrif that will face us, or the Labour Party that has already fallen down, with the exit of former governor Alao Akala, where Is the Labour Party again, there could not have been any Labour Party in 2015 if Alao Akala was not there and now that Alao Akala has left the place Labour Party is dead, I can’t see any opposition , when we run for that election it will be 63-0
And you don’t forsee any mega force to worked against APC during the election
While I agreed that 24 hours is too long in politics, but I know the principalities involved in the game here , they are irreconcilables, so it will be a marriage of incompatible if there is so called merger, who can manage the relationship we have in APC as we are doing now, no having a merger is a difficult political assignment that it only takes the likes of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to execute, how many Tinubu do we have in the system? So the opposition party will remain disintegrated as it is I prayed that they are able to come together because we are looking for people to trash politically.
There is this allegation that the state government has taken over all the source of IGR that is supposed to be generated by the local governments for development, which is not suppose to be sir, as a grassroot politicians and mobilizer, what is your view about local government autonomy.
Local government autonomy? Are the state autonomous, I am a sociologist and there is what we called the socialists theory in sociology , the society itself is an organic entity in which the different part function to make the main organism function well, that is organic theory of the society and to that extent I look at the federal system of government , even the federal government is not totally autonomous because the state even work hand in hand with the state government to drive the system, to that extent the state government is not totally autonomous , there are some regulation from the Federal Government, for instance look at the area of ecology, the Federal Government have some intervention they do, look at the area of primary education, the Federal Government take the money directly from the source and give to UBEC commission and from there the money comes to the local government to the extent that the system is working harmoniously you don’t need to ruptured the system, when people talked about autonomy, I laughed because how much money is the local government able to generate on their own, now coming back to the issue of the IGR, the local government must thing outside the box, the state government is doing it, I give credit to people like Niyi Adeagbo who have been able to see how they can generate money through agriculture , if a local government like Ibadan North West is not able to generate money as a commercial nerve centre in Ibadan then something is wrong, then something is wrong, if Ibadan North is not able to generate sufficient funds from the fact that they have huge resources they can tap from the market in their area and with all the estate located within Ibadan North, they should stop thinking that the state will spoon-feed them the state is generating its own revenue , in an aggressive manner, they should also think be aggressive and in their aggressiveness they should be mindful of the law. It’s not a situation where you go to the road and start throwing nails and harassing people, people must think outside the box , this is 2017 and not in 1917
Sir you earlier mentioned Technical University of Ibadan as one of the achievements of Senator Ajimobi, already we have Ladoke Akintola University of Technology ogbomoso, why is the replicating same concept
It’s not the same concept, a Technical University is different from University of Technology, the courses that are being offered by the Technical University are totally different from the ones being offered at LAUTECH, and don’t forget LAUTECH belongs to Oyo and Osun and this Technical University is not solely a property of Oyo state Government , the government is just mid-wifing it at the end of the day, other stakeholder will take up the University and our stake will be minimal, out take is that we want an institution that will train people to manage a technical aspect of our industrial development
Meaning that the University is meant for the Fat Cat
There is no fact cat, a number of people are sending their children to Ghana, they are even sending their children to Benin Republic,not even the ones going to UK, America, others, they do need to do so anymore, they can get it cheaper and better in Ibadan, that is what we are saying, instead of people sending their children to go and study engineering and technical related courses abroad, they can come to Ibadan. The University is working in partnership with Technical University of Texas where the student will eventually go and spend some years before they graduate, so it is suppose to provide high level man power who can drive a technical knowhow, a technical services to the economic system of Oyo state .
Away from that sir, is it true that there is crisis in APC
Crisis, I can’t see it there
Some people are accusing the governor of not running an all inclusive government, that party-government relationship is not cordial as it should be
Who are the people in government here, are they not party member, you want to talk about the SENACO ,LAMISTS which is a figment of peoples imagination, people use that to corner things for themselves in this government which governor Ajimobi is a leader, the so called SENACO and LAMIST, they have their members here but when people don’t get certain things they said they don’t give him because I belong to SENACO if you are not popular within your local government, if you are not hardworking within the party and you are not recommended by your people, you may never get anything .The governor will never appoint somebody without due consultation and involvements of the leaders in the party , he is always waiting for recommendations of the leaders, take for instance the newly appointed local government caretaker chairmen, the governor set up a selection and appointment committee made up of leaders from all the seven zones, this were the people that sat down to take nominations from the various Local Government and made their recommendations to the governor , Many of the local government chairmen that were sworn it were never known personally by the government so you have to go back to the Local Government, you have to work in your wards and local government, forget about whether you are SENACO or you are LAMISTS, those things don’t work again, what is LAMISTS , those people that said they are following Lam Adesina,you don’t follow a dead person, and what is SENACO, they said Senator Ajimobi Campaign Organization, is Ajimobi a Senator ? he is a governor now so there is no Senator Ajimobi campaign organization again, that organization existed in 2003, the man stop being a Senator in 2007, he is a governor now and the governor has said this issue of SENACO, LAMIST is the creation of lazy people in the party, people who don’t have intimidating credentials that will make way for them, within the system and now have under the fact that I didn’t get it because I am SENACO, or I got it because I am LAMISTS, that is not true, those era of LAMISM, SENACOISM is gone in our party.
What about the claims that the governor is not in tune with majority of the party executives and members.
Well I don’t know about that, the party executives were elected into office at a congress 2014 and by 2018 their time will be up, you have to come re-election has this governor remove anybody from the executives? he hasn’t and some governors has dissolved the executives in their state, but governor Ajimobi has been magnanimous enough to do that, remember this executives that was in place now he was not the one that put them there, he had the opportunity of changing them in 2014 but he did not do so, so there is no problem when the time comes for the new executives to be put there, if you are interested you can take a nomination form you run for the election, if the people elect you so be it, Ajimobi will not be party chairman, he is the leader of the party
Some party members are worried about the new concept of Directorate which seems to be alien and against the norms of the executives running the party
There is nothing not alien about that, if you read the constitution of APC very well, it makes serious profound clearly stated provision for the establishment of Directorate in the party, as a matter of fact, the constitution state very clearly, unambiguously that the directors ought to run the party , its only the party secretary that is supposed to be running it with them, all other members of the executives should be coming once in a while, so what we are running now is not a constitutionally provided situation, it is the convention a tradition the constitution says a director should be there . let me tell you something, late chief Owoade was the Director of Finance and Admin in the party, if there is a desire now to have more directors in line with position held by chief Owoade, what is wrong with that don’t forget also when we were in AD Opeyemi Bamidele was our Director of Publicity in AD that timed even though we have a National Publicity Secretary, it was from there that Opeyemi Bamidele becomes commissioner for information in Lagos state, go back to the UPN days Chief Ebenezer Babatope was the Director of Organization for the UPN even though there was an organization Secretary, and chief Ajuluchuckwu was he Director of publicity or the party so having directorate in the party is not alien, it is in the constitution, in the AD it was there, in the UPN it was there so if APC put it in the constitution it should be implemented.
Who are those eligible to be members of the Directorate?
That depends on the Leaders of the party but they have to be members of the party who are qualified in their field for instance if you want to be a director of finance in the party now you must be a qualified accounting officer and expert in financial matters, this is a modern party, we are not running NPN, we are running APC
A lot of people are interested in succeeding Ajimobi in 2017 and some people are already claiming to have secured Ajimobi endorsement, as a political adviser to the governor has the governor anointed any of the aspirants
Does it make sense for anybody in may 2017 to be anointing somebody that will take over in may 2019, you know he is in position, he is the governor, if anybody is saying that Ajimobi has endorsed anybody they are illiterate, those who says Ajimobi has thrown his weight behind anybody are political illiterate I say that with all sense of responsibilities that they don’t know what they are saying, Ajimobi has no anointed candidate, he has not told him, I have not seen it in his body language , it’s a level playing ground for everybody, many people will still joined the race
What are those things that who should succeed Ajimobi should posses?
Ajimobi has shown the quality for the kind of governor that will succeed him, must be intelligent morally disciplined, well exposed grounded in politics, a lot of people says Ajimobi is a politician and I let them know he is a politician, he was born into a political family, he became Senator in 2003, he just didn’t become Senator in 2003, from the inception of the AD, then in 1999, he has been in the system, I was in the apex committee of Lam Adesina Campaign organization and Ajimobi was one of the people who finance that election so if the man has been in the system since 1999 till now and within that period he has been Senator and he has been Governor twice that means he is grounded politically, his successor must also e grounded politically he must be as intelligence if not more intelligent than Ajimobi, he must tried to surpass the bar because, you can take away his intellect, he has demonstrated it , exposure is important, people know people see it, this governor is exposed, people know it , people see it that he has mixed with the poor and the rich, the aristocrat and the masses he has mixed with them too we need somebody like that, we are not looking for people who are coming from their high horse, so he must be an all round person, its not that I have been a billionaire for x number of years or I have been a politician, no exposure, nothing, whether one farmer in one village no, we want a well grounded person and an all rounder, intelligent, suave ,exposed professional, political grounded that he knows how many poling ward Units we have, he knows where people are voting and not that I have money and I am coming to contest people of Oyo state are expecting that the legacy of Ajimobi should be sustained and anybody who is coming after him should have a capacity and capability to sustain that legacy and surpass it
With these inexhaustible number aspirants eyeing the Agodi government house in 2019, how will you handle it so that it won’t create problems in the party.
Very easy, there are pretenders to the throne, there are people who are coming out because they want to use it to negotiate, its all part of politicking and I want to say that in 2011 there are about 11 people who jostle for the same seat with Governor Ajimobi before he got it so in 2019 somebody will get it, when we get to the bridge we shall cross it.