Wednesday, September 5, 2018 3:27 pm
Otunba Iyiola Omisore, a Nigerian businessman and politician, a former Deputy Governor of Osun State between 1999 and 2003, a former member of the Nigerian Senate between 2003 and 2009 representing Osun East, and the governorship candidate of Social Democratic Party, SDP in the forthcoming Osun State governorship election, spoke with Gbenro Adesina about his programmes for his people.
You contested the Osun governorship election in 2014 and lost. Do you think that what made you lose then has been removed and what has changed to boost your chances now?
First, let me tell you, we believe that the election you mentioned was rigged and that was why we went to the tribunal. We challenged the result. It was discovered that we were massively rigged. Having said this, we need to examine what has happened in the last four years. In the last four years, I don’t need anybody to tell you that the economy of this state has been terribly battered. Things have gone from worse to worst. Things have not changed for better in the last four years. As at 2014, workers were owed about 11 months and now they are being owed 36 months. Pensioners and gratuity money were less than about 10, fifteen years, now going to 30 years now. The roads that were not good that time have gone worse. Everything name it; water, roads, economy, governance, accountability, transparency, civil service, health and others has gone bad from 2014 till date. People are fed up and they want a change of government. Now I’m re-contesting so that when I emerge as the governor of this state, I can restore this state to normalcy. I want to bring our pride back to us. People have lost their pride. They don’t have sense of belonging and nothing actually belongs to them. In 2010, Osun State was 5th and 6th in NECO and WAEC, but now we are struggling for 31 and 32. Education has been destroyed. What we have in Osun is mega buildings not mega schools. We have schools without teachers, laboratory without chemicals and equipment. Things have really gone beyond repairs. We want to assume and everybody has agreed in this country that Osun is the worst run government in the last few years.
During campaign, candidates have the habit of running down whosoever is in power and paint a picture that they can do it better. But when they get to power, they will claim that they are overwhelmed with the problems inherited hence, they cannot do much. Will the story not be the same if you come to power?
I have done my own work very well. I have my figures. I have my facts. So, there will not be an excuse for me. I will start to work from day one. I was a deputy governor in this state 20 years ago. I know what I left and I know what is on ground now. I know the civil servants and they all knew me. All my workers have become permanent secretaries today. They knew my capacity. I am not new to them. I have done it in the past and I will do it again and do it better now. I was younger then and now I am more experienced. I have more energy and agility to deliver to them out of experience. I will not give any excuse for failure because I will not fail in the first instance. For instance, we have done what we call artisans cloud on Google, i.e. we know all the artisans in this state, we know where they are, and we know what is hampering them. We are doing form for all graduates; OND, HND and degree holders. My manifesto is very clear on what I want to do. I know the debt profile of this state and I know how much they owe. I know how much they are taking from Abuja every month and I know where it is. I know the water we are producing in the state and I know how many galloons we need in a day. I know the health status. I know the ratio of doctors to nurses, nurses to patients by USA standard. I know the ratio of physiotherapy, pharmacy to patients by standard and I know what is in Osun today. Osun has two gynaecologists in their employment. There is no single hospital with medicine in this state. They have become mere consulting rooms. The economy has gone to comatose. Nothing for anybody. All our money has been taken to Lagos, capital flight. They have rendered our professionals, nurses, technicians and others useless and jobless. These are the issues. I will not make excuses at all. I am going to do what is called local contenting in empowering our people here.
Any job that can be done by indigenes will not be done by outsiders. If a job is given to outsider, we are going to scrap the local content there. Let me give you an instance. If I give a building work to a contracting firm, I will say that the component of mixing, component of bricklaying, carpentry will be given to Osun indigenes. There is nothing we don’t have in Osun state today. That is how you can empower people not by sharing money or giving N5000 to OYES. I don’t want slaves. I will give graduates pensionable jobs. Train them for employment. As we speak, we are doing graduate employment downstairs. We have 11 technical colleges in Osun State, they are useless. All graduates have the potential to be trained and be empowered and make them self-employable. I know the state of thing in Osun State. I know how many roads that are bad. I know where the water is not falling. I know where everything is in comatose. Our debt is about 413billion now. These are huge problems that can only be handled by somebody who is experienced like me. There is no candidate in any party in this election that has ¼ of my experience in governance, in public service, in academics, anything name it. So the truth is that I want to serve my people at this time. I am passionate to serve and make life worthwhile and better for our people. I want to bring out our people from the recklessness of this government.
African leaders seem to be interested in power not because of the service they want to render for the people but for their own selfish reason. Will you not be guilty of this and will the resources be judiciously well-managed for the people of Osun State under your administration if you emerge the governor of this state?
The point is that when you are going to government, what are your antecedents? Look at the candidates of the political parties in the election we are talking about. What have they done in their lives? Somebody who has not turned one naira to be fifty naira before, somebody who doesn’t have a means of livelihood, who has been depending on one person or the other, either godfather or family or brother or sister wanting to become a governor of the state. These are rogues coming to government. Their financiers want to kill this state. They are doing business. When you invest on a cow, you feed that cow fat to have maximisation of the cow meat. Anybody that has a sponsor for governorship election is a rogue. Because the point is that they want to feed fat on the state money. Where is the money now? For you to be a governor of a state, you must have your own mind, your own conscience, your own way of life. People can donate money to you but it is not like you are expecting funders or spenders to put you through. These people are not father Christmas. We know their pedigree. We know where they are coming from. We are not strangers in this state. They see it as we are buying, investing and reaping. How can a state just plunge into that directly? Not even behind the cover. Even this one we have called Ajele, taking money to Lagos…..
(cut-in) You don’t have evidence of this Ajele you just mentioned. Is it an insinuation?
It is not an insinuation. How can you have a state and out of about 30 members of your state council, 14 are not indigenes? What evidence do you need? When by Thursday, they have left for Lagos, they will now come back to work on Tuesday. Contracts are not going to Osun indigenes. All these are not secrets. Now you want to go from a Lagos Ajele to a local Ajele. Lagos Ajele is even manageable, local Ajele is worse now. So, there is no race and there is no contest in Osun State, for God sake.
You seem to be so sure that you will win this election?
(cut-in). You should be so sure too. People don’t vote blindly.
What gives you that confidence that the forthcoming election is a walk over?
Among the candidates, I am the best. Electorates don’t vote blindly. They evaluate candidates and vote for the best and in this case, I am the best that have more than enough to offer people. We are not strangers to ourselves. After evaluating all the candidates, there is no objective person in this state that will not vote for the SDP candidate, Iyiola Omisore, except those that have been bought with money. Anybody who wants the goodness of this state, who want this state to survive, who want the better tomorrow for his/her children will not vote for anything less than SDP. There is no party in this contest that we don’t know. Look at APC, we call them Ajele. Again, the off-shoot of APC is ADP. You know the pedigree of PDP. The only party of choice, party of destination is SDP. Any objective person will go SDP way.
Are you absolutely sure that you will win this election?
God willing, I will win this election convincingly more than 70 per cent because there is no basis for comparison. You are a journalist. Who do you know has a pedigree in this election at this time? Even Aregbesola that we are complaining that he is an illiterate is a technician. He has a trade. Good enough, he manages himself. These guys contesting are jobless people. They have no job. Governorship is not an employment job. It is not for proxy people. Do you want to entrust your life into proxy people’s hands where there masters are there to milk everybody? They are so cheap and illiterate and they are embarrassing us. They are insulting my people in this state. They want to spend money, they want to spend money, are you for sale? We are going to buy vote? Things have changed. Where have they got their money from? We know ourselves in this state. I am a chartered engineer by God’s grace. My projects are all over the place and they are on the internet. I didn’t just get here today. I work hard every day of my life. What have they done? Let them come and tell the public.
In 2014, the Ekitis confirmed that though Fayemi was their best governor, better than Fayose, they would vote him out because he is an elite that is not relating with people. Do you think that electorates are well enlightened enough to vote for quality leaders in Nigeria?
Osun State by United Nations record has the most critical mass of educated people. We are the most urbanised state in this country. We are not like Ekiti or Oyo or Ogun states. We are urbanised and civilised. We will go for the best. Anything short of this will not work in this state. People are ready, they are aware. People have not been paid for the past 36 months, patients are dying. People will collect their money and still vote their conscience. People should learn to push their best forward in all circumstances.
What are your programmes for the people of Osun State?
I have a blueprint and the manifesto of the party which I will upload for you. If we should go in there, in the next 10 hours we are still on this interaction. One, I have identified that our major problem in the state is human capital development, man power development. This state over the last four years has been ruined by the lack of it. Civil service/civil servants have been destroyed. Gross mass unemployment everywhere, traders don’t have anything to trade with, no medicine in the hospitals, let us just bring the past glory back to them. Let them be trained, and be retrained. Let us give civil servants and young graduates proud jobs not job of sweepers and jobs that lower their integrity. Do you ever pray that you will send your children to the universities to come out and be sweeping the streets in the morning? It is not done in anywhere in the world. You are destroying their psychology. You are not only affecting them but you are affecting the children unborn. If you see a university graduate sweeping, what is the need to go to the university again? Students now drop out of schools. The amount of drop out we have in the last eight years has really doubled because school supposed to be closer to you by UNESCO’s standard, but they are now taken to a far off and the parents cannot afford the transport fare for their children. Our education has gone from 5th position to 32nd position. We are now ranking with some states I don’t want to mention.
Education is our pride in Yoruba land but that has gone with Aregbesola’s government maybe because he is near illiterate himself. Two, look at the commerce of this state, nothing is moving because there is capital flight. Money is taking away to Lagos and beyond. Immediately Aregbesola came, he gave a funny thing he called ‘Opon Imo’. He spent N8.9b on ‘Opon Imo’ project which has turned to a scam because it is a failed project. You will not see any of these tablets in any school today. He promised us 150 tablets, we didn’t see anyone.He brought some samples. When you open any of these samples, you can’t find mathematics or physics or graph in them. When you open geography in it, you will be reading history. It is so bad. People are not intelligent at all. I really pity them. When you open chemistry, you will be reading Mansa Musa, Songhai Empire in chemistry syllabus. That project was driven by the money they want to make through it, finish. About N9b went down the drain on ‘Opon Imo’. Look at the school mega building project. The cost of the mega buildings he built for schools were inflated.
The school buildings that supposed to be N400m was awarded at N1.2b. He inflated the road contracts. The road project of Gbongan junction to Sekona, I put the budget, I was the chairman of the appropriation and I paid from Abuja N4.8b, Aregbesola inflated it to N43b. So, where are we in the state? All we see is that he infiltrates contract. At different times, government staff embarked on strike since he came to power. So, as soon as I come to power, I must address all the issues in all the sectors; health, education, commerce, agriculture and mass unemployment.
How will you resolve LAUTECH issue?
The burden is much. I am praying to God to help me to drive this state to stardom. I want you to take me up in another four years as regards my promises during campaign.
I want you to be specific on what you will do to resolve LAUTECH crisis because there was a protest today in Osogbo and Ibadan where members of ASUU protested base on the state of the institution?
We are used to protest in Osun State. There is no day that there is no protest from different professionals against the government. Very soon, wives will be on strike, husband will go on strike. Where there is a will, there will be a way. As a deputy governor in 1999, I was part of the Afenifere members that resolved the problem of Ondo State University, Ado-Ekiti within two hours. The owners of LAUTECH are APC governors and they are still fighting. Why this ego? It is rubbish ego. Toiling with the lives of the young ones who are the leaders of tomorrow is bad and destructive. Osun State has a university, Oyo State has. So, let us talk about this one and define our roles. We will end it immediately I resume office by the grace of God.
Is UN budgetary allocation to education achievable?
Very good question. The issue is that different world organisations for different sectors recommend budgetary allocation for their sectors. UNESCO recommends for education, WHO recommends for health and WTO recommends for trade and commerce. By the time you add them together, they are more than 100 per cent. This makes these recommendations absolutely impracticable but we should not be too far from these recommendations. Secondly, you can always augment. There is a number of teachers- students’ ratio, like doctors and patients ratio. Let us start climbing. These candidates don’t know the syllabus of governance. You can’t pass without reading with the syllabus. They are all just hungry to be governors. If they know the syllabus to governance, they will not venture into it. They don’t have the mental capacity, they don’t have the professional capability, they don’t have the experience and they don’t have the innate ability to run a government.
Are you saying that those things you mentioned are responsible for bad governance in Nigeria?
I don’t want you to quote me for Nigeria. In my life, I have never put my friends above his capability. Anybody that does that is not helping his friends. I will not do anything that will embarrass my friends or my family or expose the hidden part of the family. We felt insulted in this state. You can help your friends but let him be well trained and have capacity for what you are giving him/her. About a week ago, I met commercial motorcyclists popularly known as okada riders. They are about 2000 and they have declared support for Omisore. They told me that half of them have OND. So, how can somebody who does not have a secondary school certificate want to be a governor and they are still pasting posters. They need to apologise to the public. What kind of leadership will such a person give? Such a person will give a kind of leadership he is taking over from.
But Aregbesola is not contesting with you?
What is the difference between Aregbesola and the man that is contesting? Is he not the extension of Aregbesola. People know me. I am not an hidden personality. I am a lecturer, I have students. I lecture online in some universities abroad. I have students that I supervise for PhD. I am an author because I write book. I lecture in classes. I lecture at OAU part time. I know the values of education. These jesters you are putting forward are not the match. They are jesters and clowns.
As an enlightened person, if you become a governor will people have access to you?
They have access to me already. They see me anytime. Let me tell you the secret. There is nobody in this country that people have access to like me because I grew up in a polygamous extensive family. When I was growing up in my family compound, more than 200 people grew up with me. Omisore today is the largest family unit in this country. So, I am used to people because it has been part of me. You can see that everybody is free here. I am with them. I eat with them. Two, I have the privileged to go to school and have leadership quality to govern people effectively.
Why did you leave PDP?
I will lecture you on why people leave PDP. Ronald Regan was a Democrat but became a president under the Republican. Two national chairmen of PDP, Barbabas Gemade and Audu Ogbeh are in APC now. Rotimi Amaechi was a PDP governor for eight years but today he is in APC. I have envisaged this kind of crisis happening in PDP about a year ago. We have seen moles in PDP. I only move to a credible alternative. Where I am now is a credible alternative not opposition party. I would have gone to APC is if I want but I decided not to go because I want a credible alternative party. I want to be in the progressive world and that is why I am in SDP. I am here to give leadership to people. I don’t want to be enmeshed in the local politics in the unprincipled politics of PDP in this state particularly where people will boast of money. I want to boast of my credentials, of my ability, of my pedigree not that we are going to spend money recklessly.
If you become a governor, will you ensure unity in the South West?
I believe in regionalism and regional integration. I believe in the devolution of power and principle of separation of powers and restructuring. People don’t understand restructuring. Restructuring is not taking power from anybody. It is giving what you have to yourself. Nigeria’s constitution is about restructuring. We only need to implement it to the fullest. We only need to allow it to work. So everybody will have his/her own state and we will now discuss at the centre. Everybody will be happy. It is not about any particular tribe. Some Northerners are fighting for restructuring as well. El Rufai says he is for restructuring. But people want to make it political as if it is Yoruba people alone that want it. We are only looking for Eldorado of governance. Let us follow the terms of the constitution. Let the rule of law rule democracy not rule of thug or rule of power and arbitrariness. The constitution encourages restructuring. Nigeria is a federating unit according to the constitution.
What will you like to tell the people of Osun State as the election is approaching?
I want to appeal to my supporters in this state to be patient that in less than forty days reprieve will come there ways. The sufferings of the past will become history. Workers will be paid, pensioners will be paid. I will pay the back logs the government owes them. Hospitals will have drugs. Schools will be refurbished. Laboratory will be well equipped. The technical schools will be reopened and there will be life in abundance. All will be taken care of. I am a leader of men. Interestingly, all the candidates contesting, I am their natural leader. I will give them leadership. I will not throw anybody away. I will bring everybody together and give fatherly role. All of us will be involved in the rebuilding of this state. People should vote for the best candidate in this election, you will not regret it.
You are a man of controversy, particularly on the death of Bola Ige. Will that not affect your chance again?
The issue of Bola Ige has stopped because people have seen the truth and they know that I didn’t kill Bola Ige. Nobody is using that against me anymore. Controversy is not on the issue of Bola Ige alone. Any no nonsense, or principled person will be controversial. When you don’t have godfather, sponsor or anybody that can push you around, you will be controversial. When people can’t manipulate you or cheat you, you will be controversial. Omisore is a man of himself, highly principled, highly educated and of proven integrity and pedigree of no mean status. Perseverance and experience is my benchmark. So the issue of Bola Ige has been put behind me. As a matter of fact, about a year ago, Chief Bisi Akande said that Omisore did not kill Bola Ige. Everybody kept quiet and people are ashamed to raise it any more. It has stopped flying. People now know the truth.