NNPP’ll dislodge big parties in 2023 –Oyo guber candidate, Popoola

The governorship candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) for Oyo State, Eng. Popoola Olukayode Joshua, wants the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to urgently address insecurity, economic problems and the strike action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union or Universities (ASUU). In this interview with OLADIPUPO AWOJOBI, Popoola, popularly called POJ, speaks on why he wants to take over from Governor Seyi Makinde next year. Excerpts…

There were reports of attacks against you and some others when you left the PDP for the NNPP, could you give us the details?

Alhaji Bisi Olopoeyan, myself and some others left the PDP and declared for the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) on April 12, 2022. The National Secretary, South West Chairman and some national officers of the party were there to witness it. The programme was very impressive and everybody was happy. We left the PDP because everybody wanted freedom. The PDP is more or less a party of imposition, you don’t have a say of your own. You cannot say that this is what you want except what some people in the party wanted you to be. I wanted to run for the governorship position of Oyo State. We had our own Congress in the PDP last year. We did our own congress at Jogo Centre, while Governor Seyi Makinde’s faction did their own at Adamasingba Stadium and the issues there have not been resolved till now. That made those of us who wanted to contest to leave the party. If we did not want to contest we would not leave the party, but we wanted to contest. Under NNPP, you are given the opportunity to contest. That was why we left the PDP to join NNPP. They were not happy that Alhaji Adebisi Olopoeyan left the party with me. After the declaration, some thugs came around and started shooting. One of them was caught and handed over to the police. No life was lost, but the shooting was so intense that people ran helter skelter. Thank God no life was lost and our leader, Alhaji Adebisi Olopoeyan and myself, were not hurt.

Governor Seyi Makinde would be completing his first term next year and it is natural for him to go for second term, why did you want to take over from him even under the PDP then?

I want to take over from him because what he is doing in Oyo State is not what the electorate that voted for him, expected. For instance, there is a lot of insecurity in Oyo State. People find it difficult to move around freely whether in the day time or at night. People are being terrorised, so many people have been killed and properties have been damaged. Apart from the infrastructural deficiency in Oyo State, insecurity is high. Those are the reasons that made me to say I want to contest for the governorship position of Oyo State in 2023. By constitution, the place would be vacant because it is four years single term. If you have done well for the first term, people can vote for you again, but if you have not done well, they would vote you out. That is why you see myself under NNPP coming out, Governor Seyi Makinde also wants to come out, and some other people are coming out too because the place would be vacant in 2023.

NNPP is relatively new in the country; the PDP and the APC have been around for some time, so how do you hope to get that popularity to defeat these two parties in 2023?

NNPP came to Oyo State less than four months ago. We started organising the party in the state around March, if you see the number of party members that we have now under the NNPP, you would be surprised. That is an indication that people are tired of the PDP and APC. Why are they tired, the PDP was in power at the federal level for 16 years and the APC would complete eight years by 2023, what have they achieved? They have not achieved anything, which is why everybody welcomes NNPP. The leaders of the party are men of integrity. They are people that have been tested, someone like Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, he was the governor of Kano State. Today, Kano State is the safest in the country, which is due to the foundation laid by Senator Kwankwaso. He was a senator and he started from the Federal House of Representatives. That is why people that are tired of the PDP and the APC now look at the leader of the NNPP and decided to join the party. By 2023, the party would spring a surprise and take over the leadership of the country at the Federal level.

What programmes do you have for the youth, women and others in Oyo State?

Youths would not be relegated, they will be carried along in government activities. The mistake people make is that everybody should go to farm. It’s not everybody that can go to farm, it’s not every youth that can do farming because of unemployment. Farming itself is a profession, if you want to go into farming, NNPP government in Oyo State will encourage you, we will assist you and give you farm implement and cash to make sure you succeed as a farmer. If you are not interested in farming, there will be skill acquisition to train auto mechanics, electricians and others. All these are the things people can do.

What is in vogue now is ICT, we are going to encourage youths to be IT compliant. There’re a lot of jobs that can be created through IT. We will assist them with IT hub in the state and we will do it across the three senatorial districts so that it would spread across the state. Youth empowerment would be my priority in 2023 under NNPP. Elderly people from 75 years of age would be supported with stipends across the senatorial districts. We will provide a data base for this. We will provide the stipends on a monthly basis. In addition to that, urban renewal would be emphasised. Most places in Oyo State still look the way they were looking when we were growing up. Something has to be done to change that and we will ensure the modernisation of the cities across the senatorial districts in Oyo State.

You spoke about insecurity in Oyo State, how do you hope to tackle this because there are Amotekun and the regular police in the state?

There is Amotekun, there is Nigeria Police, Nigeria Army and even Nigeria Civil Defence. You will see that with the situation of things in the country, they are not enough and they are not as efficient as they ought to be. This means that something is lacking. All you need to do is to carry the people along. We have the traditional rulers. Some of these people live with us, they are the children of some people. So you have to bring the traditional rulers in, bring the parents in, work with them and strengthen the security of the state. It is not enough to provide gadgets, this would be provided; modern gadgets would be provided, but what of the people? They know all these criminals, by the time you carry them along it would be better. Everybody wants security of lives and properties. Bring them together, dialogue with them and see whether there would be positive results or not.

Would you support the creation of state police, restructuring and resource control in Nigeria?

State police is very necessary to provide security for the people. On restructuring, it’s long overdue, we have peculiarities in every section of the country and it should be an added advantage to each of the regions. We have tried to be together for long and we have seen that it is not working again, so restructuring should be encouraged.

What are the chances of your party at the federal level with Rabiu Kwankwaso as your presidential candidate and we have the likes of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Mr. Peter Obi for the APC, PDP and Labour Party respectively?

If you put the four of them on a scale, with the pedigree of Dr. Rabiu Kwakwanso, I think his weight is the highest among the four. He has served as a member of the Federal House of Representatives, he was governor of Kano State, the biggest state in the country as it has the largest population. He was able to govern the state successfully for two good terms, and after that he went to the Senate, from there he also served as minister of defence. You would see that he is more qualified than others. With all these you will agree with me that the NNPP has a better chance than others.

What is your charge to the INEC on the 2023 general elections?

INEC has been working well, they should continue like that. They promised that our votes would count and we have seen it in the recent election in Ekiti State. It showed that our votes would count. The people spoke and their voices were heard. That is why we rely on them that by 2023 our votes would count. When we were doing our primary, the INEC Electoral Commissioner in Oyo State was there and he said whoever would rely on rigging should go and find another country. He said it would not happen in Nigeria of today and he said people should go out and register. That is why you see people going out to register to get their PVC. So, there is hope and I pray it would be like that. I want to advise that INEC should test run as many machines as possible and see if they would work. I believe that the people’s votes would count in 2023.

How would you assess the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and what do you want him to address urgently as he is leaving next year?

You can see that most parts of the country have no electricity, the government keeps saying that national grid has collapsed, which is too bad. Exchange rate now is nose-diving, and the economy has collapsed. I will advise that President Buhari should look at those things now. What of the prices of diesel and petrol, and these are the things that affect the lives of everybody, whether rich or poor. They affect the prices of goods and services. Prices of goods rise every day, something has to be done about this. Our children have been at home for many months now because members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) went on strike. Any country or parent that plays with the education of the children is playing with the future. The government signed an agreement with ASUU, they should abide by it. I would advise the President, as a matter of urgency, to take action on that. It should be a presidential order not through any meeting.

Would you support the creation of more states in Nigeria as it is being agitated for in some quarters?

For now, I will not support creation of more states in Nigeria. A majority of the states have nothing to sustain them. They go to Abuja every time for support. It has never solved any problem. If you create more states in Nigeria, it would not solve any problem of ethnicity. We should concentrate on getting Nigeria back to normal. ASUU strike, economic problems and insecurity should be addressed. These are very cogent, and not creation of states.




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