“…It’s not about Yemi Olayinka really. It’s about the people saying they want quality people to represent them.”
Wole Balogun, Ekiti
A real estate practitioner and cleric, Pastor Yemi Olayinka, was an aide to former governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Segun Oni. A member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who has been involved in politics since 1983, Olayinka is seeking his party’s ticket to represent the people of Ado-Ekiti Federal Constituency 1 in the House of Representatives. He speaks on what motivated him to go into politics, the situation in Ekiti State and why he’s seeking a seat at the National Assembly.
Some people might wonder that a pastor is seeking public office. What is the motivation?
I have a passion for service. One thing that is lacking in Nigeria today is genuine and committed leadership. Someone to really stand up and say there must be a change. That is why I am running. In our country, there is this belief that politics is bad, that good people must not join politics. They forget that the bad people that you elect will make laws that will affect everybody, including the good people. I have been in politics since 1983.
There’s someone currently representing your constituency at the House of Representatives, why do you want to dislodge him?
You see, you feel so disappointed at the kind of representation that we in Ekiti are getting now at the National Assembly. Out of the nine of them representing Ekiti at the National Assembly, we can only talk of one person that has ever spoken in the interest of Ekiti people. It is painful. There are some things you see that you want to cry. We still have good leaders, but I don’t know how we got to the situation we
are presently. The man representing my constituency at the House of Representatives has never spoken on behalf of any constituent or his constituency. You don’t even hear him. And I’m not even talking about a bill. And he’s been there for three and half years. They’re almost rounding off. It’s unfortunate. We need to have quality people. Right now, many of our representatives cannot even address five or ten people. How are they going to talk at the National Assembly? Just because somebody somewhere has some money? We need to change this type of politics. That is why some of us are coming out. That’s why we’re saying, it’s time for quality representation.
You’ve never been in an elected political office. Some would have thought you would have started from a smaller position, maybe in the state House of Assembly?
I’m not new in politics. In 1997, I joined the Campaign for Democracy (CD). I joined Afenifere and we formed the Alliance for Democracy (AD). Then I went to Ekiti State in a bid to serve the people directly.When we formed the Action Congress (AC), in 2006, we had the primaries.
By that time, I already had a political leader that I was following. That’s Prince Dayo Adeyeye. The primary election of that year was not acceptable to the group, so some of us protested and went to the PDP. Then we later came back home, to the camp of the progressives. Twice I had tried to be chairman of Ado Local Government, but it wasn’t meant to be. I have been senior special assistant to a governor, and a special assistant to a minister. Now, my people are calling me to go to the House of Representatives. They say they want strong people to represent them because of the disappointment they have been getting from the current dispensation. It’s not about Yemi Olayinka really. It’s about the people saying they want quality people to represent them.
What should the people of your constituency be expecting from you if you get their nod and you get elected?
There is a road between Ado and Ifaki. It is a federal road. That road has been there for a long time. If I’m elected, we will talk to our colleagues in the National Assembly and see how that road could be extended to Kwara. That has been on my mind. There is another road from Ado to Ijan, Iluomoba and so on. We can also lobby people to get that project in the budget, so that that road, which is a federal road, can be dualised. Our people are passionate about education. I want to see education more developed. Because we have a very bad governor, the federal government gave out loans to states for agriculture. Ekiti is an agrarian state. It should have been the first state to liaise with the federal government on any agricultural project. There should be an agric revolution in Ekiti, and I believe the incoming governor will surely do. The kind of impact from agriculture is enormous. All we need to do is to tap into opportunities. The CBN is liaising with the states, giving out loans. As at today, my state governor, Ayo Fayose, has not done a single thing. He doesn’t even have a blueprint. We grew up knowing the Igbemo rice. Igbemo rice is virtually dead under Governor Fayose. The cocoa farms that our fathers cultivated are dying and there are no replacements.
The housing deficit in Nigeria is huge. And Ekiti is not left out. One thing I will advise the incoming governor to do is to have a new GRA in Ado-Ekiti so that people can come back home. Then there should be mass housing for workers and the masses. There should also be a mortgage system that would allow people to pay over time. The one-off payment we run in Nigeria is not good enough. Whether you’re a government official, or you’re a private business person, we should have a system whereby it would be possible for people to own houses without stress.
Before now, I was trying to have a housing project in Ekiti State in collaboration with the Ministry of Housing in Abuja. We are meant to build mass housing in Ado-Ekiti. If one is in government, such a thing will become more achievable. Already, I have a letter from the ministry. That’s what we’re trying to do.
What would you say about the recent governorship election in Ekiti?
The truth is, the election was won squarely by Dr. Kayode Fayemi. It was a free and fair election. Ekiti people know what they want. And unfortunately, we have a current governor that you cannot be proud of. You keep wondering how we ended up with such a man. Going to the market to fry garri is what the exalted position of governor demands? Is eating boli on the street the best that can happen to the governor of Ekiti State? It’s unfortunate. We are cultured and disciplined. And Ekiti people want to get back to that era of discipline and respect. I think that is why they voted for Dr. Fayemi.