By Razaq Bamidele
IN preparation for the governorship election coming up in Ondo State in the last quarter of this year, no fewer than 21 aspirants have sprung up on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Among these gladiators is a 42 –year-old accountant, Akinrinsola Odunayo Oyewole, who enthused that he would be the next governor of the Sun Shine State in this interview. Excerpts:
What gives you confidence that you would emerge as the APC’s governorship candidate in Ondo State?
By the Grace of God, I will emerge my party’s candidate at the primary. I am a politician and a technocrat. I have been in politics since the days of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP), Alliance for Democracy (AD), Action Congress (AC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and now APC. I have always been with the progressives. I have been passive in terms of seeking elective positions until now.
But I have been actively involved at the grassroots level contributing my quota. I am in-between being a politician and a technocrat.
However, if you look at it, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) governed Lagos State excellently for eight years, and now Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is also administering the state well now. If you look at their antecedents, you will see that they are not politicians to the core. Fashola’s legacy and blueprints of his administration in Lagos State are still there and the state is seen as the economic hub of Nigeria. Ambode is another technocrat there now making waves. Don’t forget that being a technocrat is a plus for me because I know people that can make things work in the state. I know people of like minds that can rub minds together and bring about the needed change in our state through creation of enabling environment for the socio-economic transformation of the state. We will explore all mineral resources in Ondo State apart from oil, thereby diversifying our economy. We have bitumen, rubber which a multi-national company is already tapping into it. So, being a technocrat is an added advantage for me.
What exactly is your experience during your consultations on your ambition with your people and the party leaders?
I have a conviction, having gone far and wide, consulting with the leadership, followership and major stakeholders in our Party, about our mission and vision for our state, from the feedback and reception we have received thus far, that our ambition is in line with the clamour of our people. The feedback is encouraging
The take away from our consultations thus far is that public administration and governance require a different approach; that there is a need to bring in business principles and values into public administration (i.e. Corporate governance) and that business administration expertise as well as experience is imperative for successful administration in the face of dwindling fortunes and decline in federal allocation.
These ideas, I believe, are my added advantages over other candidates. Managing government business is different from managing private business. In a private business, there is no allocation from anywhere, you have to source for fund, and work to pay staff salaries and get business going. You have to continuously innovate, and strategize to stay afloat and remain in business.
Managing government business is different because you have regular federal allocation, no matter how meager. So, having been able to manage my business well, it would be an added advantage for me to manage the business of the state in a way that it would be beneficial to the state and our people.
You recently met with the former national chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Chief Bisi Akande. What was the reception like?
The reception was wonderful. Chief Bisi Akande is an elder statesman, father and consummate administrator. Akande is a man of immense political stature in Nigeria. His contribution and sacrifice for the development and growth of APC as a party is indelible. You know, he was the chairman of the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and pioneer National Chairman of APC.
He said that there would be no imposition of candidates in the party and that a level playing ground, which gives every candidate the opportunity and platform to canvass for votes, share their ideology and test their popularity in the quest for the party’s ticket, would be there. And the party’s ticket is there for me to clinch by the special grace of God. He made it clear that there is nothing like imposition or favouritism.
At the last count, there are 21 aspirants jostling for the party’s ticket. What assures you that you would be the choice of the delegates at the primaries?
What characterized Ondo State politics in the past was moneybag syndrome and pauperized democracy. But now, our people have realized that they need to examine the candidates that would deliver. So, we have been embarking on wide consultation and high level visitations and meetings with all stakeholders across various sectors and strata of our state. We consulted within and outside our state.
We have articulated our plans, mission and vision for the state. We have received feedback from far and beyond, and we have analyzed the setbacks we have encountered in the course of our quest. I can assure you, we are on the right track. We are making progress and headway. And with the support of our people and their prayers, slowly but surely, we will clinch the ticket-victory is ours.
As a successful entrepreneur, my hope and strength is in God. I trust in God, I believe in my ability and capacity, and I rely on peoples’ support.
With all these in place, we will not only succeed at the primaries, we will also succeed at the general election. We will surely succeed. I am not intimidated by sheer number of the aspirants. The more, the merrier and the better for our party. As a progressive party, our party does not hinder any one from expressing his interest and aspiration.
Although, we have 21 gladiators for one seat, I would say I would emerge as the candidate of the APC for the state at the primaries eventually. I am the youngest aspirant for the governorship race for Ondo State under the APC. And if you look at David in the Bible, he was the youngest child in the house of Jesse, and nobody reckoned with him, but he became the king. The same applies to me, Odunayo Akinrinsola Oyewole. I strongly believe I would emerge the winner at the primaries and eventually become the next governor of Ondo State by the grace of God.
Power rotation issue is there in Ondo State. People of Akoko South want power and there is Akure Agenda. As a politician from Ondo South, what is your reaction to this agitation? And how can you avert post-primary crisis in the APC with about 21 aspirants for the governorship race?
On sectional interests, politically, the state is divided into three senatorial districts; people of the South, North and Central are agitating for power. Don’t forget the fact that the party does not believe in zoning. It is not in our agenda, we only want a credible candidate. Now, every district has the right to agitate and everyone has the opportunity to aspire but what matters most to the party now is to present a well acceptable, marketable and credible candidate that can stand out and win the state for us in the general election.
What is paramount is the party. The party supersedes any agitation. I am sure the process will be democratic, transparent and open with level playing ground for all spirants. Once this is in place, every aspirant will be satisfied with whatever is the outcome of the primaries.