Chief Adebayo Adelabu, former deputy governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in June 2018, resigned from the apex bank to seek the governorship of Oyo State in 2019. He is the APC’s candidate.
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He speaks on the chances of his party at both the state and the national levels.
The 2019 election is here, what are the issues and personalities that you envisage will determine voting patterns and why, putting into consideration the recent alignment and realignment across political parties in the country?
Our nascent democracy is fast improving and maturing, which can be testified to by the recent events, which saw people determining where they will pitch their tents and what interests they are going to protect, and the ideology they really subscribe to. This is now telling us that no mediocre candidate can hide under the umbrella of any party again. Veils are being lifted on the identities of the candidates. Electorate in the coming general elections will be more interested in the personalities, in the profile and in the track record of the candidates beyond party affiliations.
As it is in Nigeria today, our attempt at democracy since 1999 is just 19 years old. You cannot compare this to what other developed countries had experienced. Democracy that is older than a century and multiple of decades. So, there are no clear ideological differences among our political parties, which is why it is so easy for one politician to move from one party to another party, because parties are just being seen as platforms for them to contest elections. It is because we have not matured to that level, electorate are not looking at ideologies of the parties.
It is easy for people to come and make noise, and make empty promises because talk is cheap. But our people have started asking questions. Now, they know better. They will ask you, beyond these your empty promises, and for the promises to carry credibility, you need to tell us who you are, where are you from, what have been your track records, how have you contributed to the development of your immediate community, how have you impacted your people, what has been your sojourn in academics, what has been your exposure professionally, do you have very sound educational background, do you have credible professional ensure, what success have you made of your own family, before you can say you want to offer yourself for service. Almost all the candidates will pass through a lot of scrutiny, and thanks to social media. So, I believe that 2019 general elections will be based on personalities.
Don’t you think that vote buying will play a major role too?
I think we are fast moving beyond that. Electorate will still articulate their decisions, irrespective of whether you give them money or not. It is going to be secret ballot. Whoever is planning to buy votes to make his way through electoral success this time around, I believe is deceiving himself. Our people now know better. Gone are the days when you would give them peanuts and they would put you in positions of authority, and from day one, you will forget them. Our people are no longer selling their future.
Some gladiators have been saying President Muhammadu Buhari should not go for a second term because of some certain factors such as insecurity, killings, terrorism and lack of capacity. What is your take on this position?
Without mincing words, I am telling you that as of today in the political cycle, there is no alternative to Buhari. There are certain leaders you need at a point in the history of every nation. In the history of Nigeria today, what Buhari started three and half years ago, we must allow him to finish it, by allowing him to re-contest for another four years in office.
While I will not say that among the population of Nigeria, Buhari is the best that can always rule this country, but among the available options in the political cycle today, I have not seen any that is aspiring for presidency that is better than Buhari. I am talking to you from an insider’s knowledge. I worked at the CBN for over four years, and I know the love, the patriotism, the nationalism, that the person of Buhari has for this country.
When he came in the other time, he based his administration on three things, security, economy and corruption. If I am asked to mark our president in economy, sincerely he has scored far above average because I know what he did through all the organs of government, including my former working place, the Central Bank of Nigeria. I know what we were able to achieve within the short period that Buhari came in. We can only allow him to conclude the rest of the journey, and we will start to see the impacts on the economic prosperity of an average Nigerian.
On corruption, sincerely the first thing, for you to fight corruption, is attitudinal change, which this man has brought. I am not saying corruption has been eradicated 100 percent. But I can tell you that not only that the corruption has been greatly reduced, our people are already changing their attitudes. Whoever is even corrupt today cannot flaunt it, unlike before when you have proceeds of corrupt activities and you would go all over town, flaunting money, spraying at parties, partying at Dubai and London, buying houses in America, London and Dubai, without anybody accusing you of corruption.
But, you cannot find that again. It is the beginning of attitudinal change, and societal values. Our values are fast changing towards corruption. I believe that is a major achievement of Buhari. Two, you cannot prosecute everybody at the same time. All you need are just scapegoats. Those with clear cases of corruption start their cases from the beginning and see them to the conclusion. Two former governors have been jailed, which is a clear sign that Buhari is ready to fight corruption. These are big men, who ordinarily in the past administration would have bought their way through the judiciary, through the powerful executives, through the legislators. But Buhari said no, the will of the courts must prevail. The fact that two governors were jailed is record-breaking, an achievement in anti-corruption campaign.
But to say that Buhari would come and in four years, or in eight years, would eradicate corruption to zero percent, we will be expecting too much, and we will be deceiving ourselves. He can only reduce it. Then, subsequent governments will come and continue from where he stops.
You don’t expect something that developed in the past 58 years of our independence, to give way overnight, it will not. It will take time. One government will come and play its roles and will go; another one will come, consolidate on that and before you know it, and within the next 10 to 12 years, our values would have changed completely. But we need this start now, and that is what Buhari is doing.
On security, how is it that Buhari has performed averagely well?
At any point in time in the history of any nation, there will always be threats, whether external or internal. Before Buhari came in, he told us he was going to put an end to Boko Haram, today he has done it. Boko Haram is no longer an issue. But threat to national security is like water. It will also find its level, when you block it through this way, it will go through another way, because some people are benefitting from this disorderliness, even internally.
After blocking Boko Haram, then herdsmen issue came up. You cannot stop it from coming up. The only thing is what are your plans to also eradicate the herdsmen issue? I can tell you that if Buhari killed herdsmen issue today, and those people that are fuelling this crisis are still at work, something else will crop up. You cannot stop problem from coming up, it is how you tackle the problem that matters.
I believe that Buhari and his government are putting everything in place to ensure that the problem of herdsmen is completely eradicated. I will score him averagely on that. So, if you put these three together, Buhari has performed well. He can only improve on them in the next tenure, when he is allowed.
You can see all the completed projects. The railway is working now. The roads are being completed. The airports are better. Agriculture is growing. We are substituting exports. We are reducing our imports. Dollar is stable. Inflation is coming down. Economy is growing at positive rate, which is the GDP (Gross Domestic Product). What else do we need? These are parameters for measuring economic prosperity. So, I will say that Buhari has done well and he can only improve on what he has done.
Some people are saying if you are associated with Governor Ajimobi, the electorate in the state may move against you. What can you say about the achievements of the current APC-led administration in the state that can actually make the electorate vote for another APC governorship candidate in 2019?
Governor Ajimobi has performed excellently well. I don’t just talk loosely if you know me. I am an accountant. I am a professional. I have got support for whatever conviction that I have. He has performed excellently well. But Rome was not built in a day. You will come and do your bit, and another person will come. What matters most is that are you in the right direction.
The only analogy I will give you here is let us go back to Lagos of 1999 to 2007, when Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was the governor. The work he did, was laying of foundation for a modern Lagos. Any structure, whether physical even in governance, what you need first us foundation. If there is no foundation, forget it, there is no structure you can build without foundation. Tinubu laid the foundation. We did not give him the accolades he deserves. But we started seeing his works more when Babatunde Fashola came and built on this foundation. Also, Akinwunmi Ambode came and he’s building on the foundation. So, everything is working well now in Lagos. So, that is what Ajimobi is doing today. We have not been so lucky in Oyo State for us to have that kind of leader since 1999, until 2011. But it is better late than never. Ajimobi came in 2011 and he started building a foundation for a modern Oyo State.
The first thing a government is expected to do, which is the responsibility of every government, is security. We knew how Oyo State was before 2011. It was an era of brigandage, hooliganism, thuggery, and killings. But Ajimobi came; he put the right structures in place. Now, Oyo State is peaceful. We have peace for over seven years now. Isn’t that an achievement? Two, look at the social infrastructure that he has been putting in place. Look at the roads; the qualities of roads that we see now, are they those we used to see before these politicians came in? For commerce to thrive, we need very good transportation system, mass transportation system, rail, good roads, and so on. Look at his reforms in education, he has established what we call the School Governing Board (SGB) and I am even the chairman of the governing council of the secondary school I attended, Lagelu Grammar School, Ibadan, which is the school Governor Ajimobi attended too. Go and check, you will see the impacts the boards have made in different schools. It is being used as a model for other schools. Even, other states’ governors have been coming to Oyo State to understudy Ajimobi’s model of SGB.
He has achieved a lot in his reform in the health sector. The commerce in the state is improving. He has also recorded significant achievements in the area of tourism. What we have never had before, during his tenure, we now have three branded multinational hotels. We have the Protea, Golden Tulip, and Best Western, during his tenure. They are three and four star hotels, boosting tourism. I am an operator in this industry and I know the impact this has made in the economy of Oyo State. Also, look at nightlife, you will see entertainment centres springing up. A lot of our youth now have work. People have places to go and relax, like the Agodi Gardens in Ibadan. It is just eight years. There is a limit to what one person can do. Within the confines of Oyo State here, Governor Ajimobi has performed excellently well.
But the most encouraging of his achievements is the fact that he has made politics attractive to professionals like us, which is why I am here contesting to succeed him.