Dr. Olusegun Osinkolu, is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and Chairman, Buhari/ Osinbajo Campaign Council in Ekiti State in the 2019 presidential poll. In this interview with ADEWUMI ADEMIJU, he speaks on the Ekiti State governorship election in 2022, the insecurity in the country and the 2023 presidency, among other issues
Are you not bothered about the issue of insecurity ravaging the nation?
I am seriously bothered just like every other Nigerian. How can people be killed, kidnapped for ransoms, and maimed by armed bandits or terrorists and you expect me to be comfortable? All these nefarious acts are killing businesses in Nigeria and sending a wrong signal to the international community about the image of our country. No state is safe in Nigeria today, we are living in trepidation and no nation can grow under such an issue. I believe this country is ripe for state police. Let there be an arrangement where the governors can be controllers of security apparatuses in their states. This will encourage community policing and with this, insecurity will be tackled headlong .
The APC is still confused about where the 2023 presidential ticket will go. Where do you stand in this game?
I don’t want to believe that there is confusion. Don’t forget that APC was formed by the merger of about four parties thus: The CPC, ACN, APGA and ANPP at the outset and a lot of agreements, though unwritten were reached. Through the grace of God, President Muhammadu Buhari won from the northern part and it is just normal that 2023 presidential ticket should come to the south for justice, equity and stability of our nation. So, the presidency will automatically come to the South in 2023, I am only speaking for APC, I don’t know what the PDP will do.
There was this widespread belief that the ticket should come to the southwest. Is this just and fair?
Yes. The southwest remains the fulcrum and pivot upon which the APC rotates in the South if we don’t want to deceive ourselves. The south-west supported President Buhari at the most difficult time and it is just and right to reciprocate. But that doesn’t mean that other people from the south-south and southeast should be alienated, they will participate in the primary and the party members will decide at the primary. But the southwest angling for that ticket is not out of place, because the zone has really contributed to the party. The diverse nature of our country in terms of ethnicity encourages zoning of presidency along North and South lines, but I don’t support zoning at the state level. The states are too micro as entities to be agitating for zoning.
The 2022 governorship in Ekiti is around the corner. As a leader, what kind of successor are you expecting after Governor Kayode Fayemi?
I love this because it has to do with the lives of Ekiti people. This is not about the People’s Democratic Party or All Progressives Congress. It borders on the future of our state and its people. We are not disputing the fact that the Governors of Ekiti State have all tried their bits. The present governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi is trying his best. His predecessors, Ayodele Fayose, Segun Oni and Niyi Adebayo, all did their best to lift Ekiti up. But in my own humble opinion, we need a radical governor after Governor Fayemi. A governor that is creative and has the business acumen to be able to think outside the box and raise the standard of living of the people. If you look at the rate of development since 1999 in Ekiti, it has always been slow, because we relied solely on allocations from the federal with little or paltry internally generated revenues to shore it up. If we continue to do this, Ekiti people will remain like this forever. Let me say this, we can’t continue to do the same thing with the same strategy and expect useful results. We need to be innovative and develop our business interest, especially making huge investments in areas like; agriculture, tourism and education where Ekiti has comparative advantage. So, the kind of governor we need after Governor Fayemi is one that can think more like a businessman not like a politician that will wait for only federal allocation. We can’t continue to rotate within a circle and expect development.
Are you rooting for a technocrat with little political background?
Not really. There are people in APC who are politicians with vast business knowledge to create wealth for our people . There are people who know how to turn things around. Those who know how to explore opportunities in every resource available to them. We must look at whoever wants to govern us critically to ascertain whether he had faced certain challenges in the past and created opportunities out of it. There were people who started a business from a low ebb and developed it rapidly to national or international standard to create opportunities for himself and the people and that is the kind of person we want. Someone who will come to plough and not to plunder. The problem we have in Nigeria majorly has been that many of those being brought into government as governors ,lawmakers, at different levels and Presidents often relied on the resources meant to develop the people to even develop their own businesses as well. That was why we kept wallowing in abject poverty for several decades without a sigh of hope and this must change.
But the incumbent governor will feel the pulses of some politicians before bringing a successor. Don’t you consider this necessary?
As necessary as this seems to be, the fact remains that the larger interest of the Ekiti people must be put into account. No state can bring a docile governor and expect development, the world has passed that level. I am not disputing the fact that government used to play a lot of humanitarian roles, but the business aspect can’t be deemphasized and only the deep can call onto the deep, that is my point. In most of the states where technocrats are in charge, are they regretting. If we continue to fear the politicians,Ekiti will go nowhere. I am not condemning anyone here. I also respect the contributions of all our present and past governors, but how many infrastructure have been built that can make us proud as a state or say boastfully that we are enjoying dividends of democracy? How many people, especially the youth have been made through effective and efficient government policies? It is high time we thought about all these before it is too late.
What of the agitations by some politicians and other interest about zoning of governorship in Ekiti?
I am neither a proponent nor advocate of zoning. I stand for Ekiti, I stand for competence, I stand for ingenuity and resourcefulness and not the parochial issue of zoning. An average Ekiti man doesn’t care about where his governor comes from, he only cares about his welfare and once this is enhanced, he is at home . So , we should stop this parochial sentiment. What we need is someone who is capable and can do it well , even better than those that had ruled Ekiti in the past. This is the only thing that can bring joy to all of us. No patriotic person can be happy with the level of poverty among our people in Ekiti and poor Infrastructures, which I believe is the bedrock or a launchpad for investments. I know that our people from the Southern Senatorial District of Ekiti have played critical roles to make Ekiti great, but I believe they will be happier if they have a governor that improves their standard of living, regardless of where he comes from. That is the most important thing.
Are you confident that your party has the popularity to win the impending battle?
Yes, I am confident that our party can win the next governorship election if we do the right thing. The right thing starts with picking the right candidate the people can trust, making the process for the primary very free and fair and by allowing the popular will of the party members to prevail. Again, we must ensure that we start mobilising to change the APC waning popularity in Ekiti.
Except we are deceiving ourselves, the progressive party is no longer popular as it was in 2006, 2007 and up to 2015. There is a lot of disquiet within our party. Some said they are being sidelined, while some complained about their voices not being respected or recognised. A host of others complained about not getting enough political patronage .
Though, all these are expected in any political institution, but they have to be carefully handled in order not to affect the party’s chances. The most important thing to me is that, our party must work harder to gain the confidence of the non-partisan masses, this is very important, because they constitute the larger percentage of those that will determine our fate. If we can handle all these issues, then I project that the APC will have a smooth ride.
Do you think any primary can ever be free of manipulation?
Yes, if we are ready to be sincere. Free and fair primary is very essential and that really helped the APC in the last election of 2018. Governor Kayode Fayemi won the primary and it was clear to everybody that he won, which helped us to approach the governorship election with a united house. Despite this, we won with just 19,000 votes.
Let me tell you this, the APC would have lost if the first primary that was canceled had been used to produce the candidate, because a lot of people were not happy with the way it was handled and that caused the violence that led to its cancellation.