Hon Adekunle Akinlade is the governorship candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) in Ogun State. He spoke to GBENGA AKINFENWA, on his blueprint and chances in the March 2 election.
What are you bringing on board?
For me I believe very strongly in this state and I have very deep passion for our state. I have lived in the U.K, I have travelled wide across the world and I have seen so much and has come to the realisation that no matter what you have, no matter how much you have, no matter what your status is, you’ll always be a visitor wherever you go.
Even currently, I live in Lagos and Abuja, but the feeling of being from Ogun State is there and that I believe resonates with everybody whenever you go back to your home or your state.
There is a passion that I have developed even much stronger-you’ve heard our state anthem ise ya, ise ya, omo Ogun ise ya-it’s not just about reciting the song, when you take your time to meditate on the wordings, you’ll understand that there is a deep passion about the state, about the people, about us as a people and once we have that passion, it defines you that when you are given the opportunity to serve. You’ll always want to give something back, to leave a mark that when you look back you’ll say I did my best, no matter what anybody says about you.
Coming back to your question, we will make sure that we develop a state that anybody from the state will be proud of, in terms of infrastructure, employment for our youths, in terms of growing our economy, and building up our rural communities. That will be our major focus. We need to open up the communities and make them economically viable and that one I know will be sustainable into the future.
Ogun West, no doubt, has been marginalised by successive governments. What is your Marshal Plan to frog-jump development in these areas?
If you look at the way Ogun State is structured, Ogun East are predominantly traders, Ogun Central more like educationists, while Ogun West are farmers. I am just telling you what I have observed. And because of that there has been this notion that for you to invest money or borrow money to construct a road for example, you’ll need to prove that the road is going to add some economic value to those who will be putting the money down.
People used to think that you need to first make sure that there is industry or investment taking place before you now put facilities to get there. The challenge has been which one comes first? Do you put infrastructure in a place and hope that development gets there or you put an industry or investment before you put a road to get there and that is misleading. Let us put infrastructure round, then it will attract the necessary investors and investments.
No matter what you do, there is no way you can satisfy everybody. So, what you need to do is to make effort so that at least you are lifting the state and you are lifting everybody, and that is what we are going to do. It’s not because I am from Ogun West extraction and suddenly I embark on developing the zone because I am from there. There is a-25 year blueprint for development and it covers the whole state.
The longest road this administration is working on is the road that started from Yewa North-Eggua to Ilase in Ipokia Local Government, traversing four local governments, that is the longest road.
On Sango-Akute-Ajuwon road still under construction, this is an area that no government had ever attempted to do because of the cost of developing that road. There is need to build minimum of five flyovers there. One of the things we did in 2011 when I was with the State Internal Revenue Service (OGIRS), as Special Adviser on Taxation and Revenue was that those communities bordering Lagos are where people who work in Lagos live. And the law says clearly that you pay your tax where you live and not where you work. And that was what we did by carrying out enumeration and other things.
I don’t have the right figure but I think government needs over N100b to build standard road and five bridges that will link Sango-Ota to Berger in Lagos State.
What the governor is doing is executing it in phases and I think two of the bridges are ready and the third is near completion. We must give kudos to Senator Ibikunle Amosun because he took the bull by the horn to start the road and what we are going to do is to continue with that project to ensure it is completed by God’s grace, within the shortest possible time.
My deputy and I have agreed on that, except where there is natural disaster, like collapse of a bridge, which may need to be constructed immediately, we will not embark on any new major road projects until we complete the existing ones because these are in the blueprint. It’s 25 years blueprint, Amosun can only do eight of it, by the grace of God I will do four or eight. And that is one of the areas we are going to focus on because once we open up that area more people will migrate there and it will assist our IGR.
Considering your eventual defection to APM, did you ever expect a rancorous guber race of this sort?
I will say yes and no. Yes in the sense that we have our leader Chief Olusegun Osoba, who in 2015 left the All Progressives Congress with his group for the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and came into the election with six House of Representatives members, two Senators and some House of Assembly members and they lost all, none was returned. That crisis continue till a week into the last year primaries. If you look at the process of how they came back it was through the normal process, they were in Bourdillon in Lagos, where the peace move was made, then Amosun went to visit him at home and they all came back, and we said let everybody come back for us to have a bigger 2019.
Immediately they came back they were making demands and for those who could see, they’ll tell you clearly that there will be crisis. Some people remained in the party in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and some people just returned overnight demanding to take over elective positions, of course there would be crisis.
But why I said no was because the level at which it was, I didn’t see that coming and I didn’t feel that anybody who genuinely love Ogun State and have the love of the people at heart will collude with anybody externally to try to bring our state down like what they did in the governorship primaries on October 2, 2018.
It is clear that no primary took place on October 3, 2018. I have video evidence; they showed it live on the television that the primary of October 2 was authentic. The same primary and the same process took place in Lagos, the same way that the National Working Committee rejected Lagos primaries, the same way they rejected Ogun and overnight accepted the one done by Lagos executives. There was a script, a very clear script of what they wanted to do here, but where they got it wrong was the fact that this is Ogun State and not any other state.
I said yes because we knew there could be challenges based on what we saw at the point they were coming in, and no because we didn’t know it will get to this extent.
Will you return to APC after you become governor?
As a Muslim, even in Christendom, we are not God and cannot predict what will happen tomorrow. Even in Ondo State, former Governor Segun Mimiko left his party and defected to Labour Party (LP) and won. The projection then was that he will return to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), but then he built the party and other states started adopting Labour Party.
I can’t tell you what will happen. If we do this election as it is going and our people vote and we win and the people are convinced that we have something, the people will tell us where we are going. It’s about the people, do I even have money to run this, but it’s goodwill. Like we have been telling our people, when we win, we’ll sit down and we’ll look into it and that is the confidence they have in us.
What ought to be an affirmative action of sort for Ogun West has been tampered with the division in APC, as well as emergence of Gboyega Nasir Isiaka (GNI) of ADC. The race will be tough for you on all zones. How do you hope to win majority of votes in the zone?
No, APC is not divided in Ogun West. I enjoy with due respect the full support of the APC in the zone. I ran for the governorship primary in APC and won. The full compliment of the APC is with me. This is a platform; I ran on the APC and won the election across board, across the state. That is why I said it is about the people.
The people are not changing; the same people that voted during the primaries are the same people that will vote during the general elections. Exactly what the people did for Abiola during the annulled June 12 election is what the people are planning to do for me. APC has not changed and the people have not changed, what I have that GNI doesn’t have in Ogun West is this-all the House of Assembly aspirants that won the NWC conducted and announced primaries, who were not given their tickets, they are ready and their people are ready to vote for me.
The Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Suraj Adekunmbi won his primary, whose mandate was given to another person, the people are ready to vote. And let me tell you something that I have come to learn, the fact that you aspire for an office two times doesn’t mean you have the experience or anything on ground, it doesn’t mean that.
When you are talking about experience and acceptability I think I have that. I serve currently, I am a sitting member of the House of Representatives, I have the full complement of the APC as a structured platform in Ogun West, that is why Dapo Abiodun cannot do anything in Ogun West, he cant even hold one ward there. So, take it from me that there is nothing divided in Ogun West, just wait till march 2, 2019 date of the governorship election.