Bamidele Akingboye, is a governorship aspirant in Ondo State. He wants to run on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and says he is prepared to unseat the incumbent governor, Rotimi Akeredolu.
Ondo 2020 is still a year away. Why did you declare your interest to run, this early?
I have been in the race for a long while now. I came out first in 2004. In the course of this, I have contested the governorship election once and this is my third time. This race is not what you can run just like that. I need to let people know how serious I am to take away the mantle from Akeredolu. That is why I started very early. If you must know, I am checking him. I read something in the papers, recently. Because I invited the Muslim community to my house, recently, to break fast, he did same thing just few days after. He invited the same people to break fast in his house.
What are the indices and sentiments that will shape the next governorship election in Ondo State?
Ondo State was formed in 1976 and the truth is that all the people that have been coming in as governor are not business minded people. We have been giving the mantle of the state to teachers, lawyers, doctors but governance is about business. There are a lot of minerals resources in my state and I am going to be exploring all that. I will just put the right peg in the right hole. I will give you a little example. Today, the southern senatorial district of Ondo where you have Okitipupa Local Government has the second largest bitumen in Africa. What Canada has used to transform the country to what it is today is bitumen. Ondo State is second in that and you have it in my very own local government. A cubic feet, a barrel of oil has not been taken away from that part too. Venezuela is number three. If my state can sit on that and from analysis, they discovered over 43billion barrels of oil, yet no single governor has been able to explore that. As I speak, I have signed a pact with the Chinese government. My personal company has signed a pact with the Chinese government to come and work on the eight blocs that we have. I will tell you something. I was the first person in Nigeria that was given a licence to operate as a pilot company on the bitumen project there. Also, Ondo State gave me that letter but due to bureaucracy, they killed that project. I have my plans for that already, the day I become the governor of Ondo State. Number two, as I speak, I am spending my personal money to do the area survey of Ondo State, and it is costing almost a billion naira. My first target is to map out the 7km shoreline that we have from Ijebu Waterside in Ogun State to Shekerewu in Delta State. That is the largest coastline available in any part of the world and it belongs to my state. We have a free zone licence, the deepest in Africa where you can turn out resources without dredging. There is the projection of Olokola project that is worth N15billion. Dangote came with the refinery but because of the type of government that we have in Ondo State, Dangote took that project to Lagos. But in every disappointment, there is a blessing. There is nothing to worry about. I have a company that is coming to build a refinery that will produce up to one thousand barrels per day in Ondo State. I have been doing all the survey with my personal money. If I can take the waterfront and create the shoreline, the better for us, after all, is this not what the government of Dubai is recreating and selling in billions of dollars per square metre? If I can even build a seven-star airport to fast-track that, I will be challenging Lagos State. By the time I finish with Ondo State, my IGR alone will be more than 100billion naira in a month.
How would you assess the administration of Governor Akeredolu in the state?
As far as I am concerned, he is doing well. I say that because his brain is only limited to what he can do. I cannot blame him. I won’t want to compare myself to him. As far as I am concerned, what you don’t have you can’t give.
What will you do different from him if you ever become governor?
I have three key agenda to tackle in government. I won’t campaign with water, light, road. These are paramount necessities that the government of a state should do. My first point is to convert Ondo State from a civil servant state to, if not an industrialised state, to an SME state where small scale businesses will thrive. Secondly, I am going to focus on education which is our bedrock. I have told my people that you don’t need to have 1,000 schools. I know what it takes to have very good schools. I am going to build standard schools within every five kilometres radius in Ondo State. Every parent can take their kids there. When I say standard, I mean standard because everything will be there. The third one is security. I have heard about herdsmen invasion, banditry and the rest. We are going to pass a law that he that kills by the sword shall die by the sword. Nobody can come and mess up my state for me. Security is important because if you must bring your investment to the state, security is paramount.
If you invest a billion naira in each senatorial district for road construction, that cannot be completed in one month. But because of greed, successive governments would only think of investing where they came from. That won’t happen in my government. The abundant resources in Ondo must be evenly distributed. If we have to focus more on certain parts, there must be a reason. For instance, the southern part of Ondo is where you have a lot of the resources feeding the state. So, we may have to do more. Every indigene of my state will be part of our plans for development.
What strategy do you have in place to win your party’s ticket?
Among the lots for the ticket in the PDP, I am the oldest in contesting. I have what it takes. The only thing I am agitating for is a free and fair election and I will beat all of them fair and square. If it is the money, I have it. If it is the boys to support me, I have them. If it is about influence, they know me and they know I will perform better. Why should I have any sleepless night? Look at it again, among the lot; I am the only entrepreneur among them. What do they know about developing a state? Governance is a business. Come to think of it, I am from the north and my mother is from Owo in the northern part of Ondo. So, we are simply taking it from Akeredolu and giving it to his in-law in the south. There is nothing to lose.
What if you lose your bid to pick the ticket?
Even if I go to “Zero Party”, I will still win. People want me. You should go to the state and see what is happening. People want me. I am sure to get the party’s ticket.