Prof. Kolapo Olusola is the immediate past deputy governor of Ekiti State. In this interview, he speaks on recent developments in the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his future political plans. Excerpts:
Your emergence on the Ekiti political scene was in an amazing fashion. What were you doing before the journey to the office of the Deputy Governor in 2014?
It is true God’s purpose for each of us is distinctive and this divine purpose can never elude us as children of God. I was born in Ikere-Ekiti into the family of Pa Joshua Olusola Ojo Eleka and Deaconess Eunice Olusola Ojo Eleka, under whom I grew up learning the rope of politics, but I must admit that my emergence on the political scene in Ekiti State prior the 2014 governorship election was principally birthed by divine grace. God worked through the good mind of my leader, Governor Ayodele Fayose to bring me on board.
Before I became the deputy governor of Ekiti State, I was a lecturer at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, where I was involved in 24 years of active teaching and research in Building Structures and Construction Materials and Technology at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
You have been described as ex- Governor’s Fayose’s stooge. How do you see this?
Democracy thrives on the oxygen of competitive and healthy opposition among the existing political parties in any society. Unfortunately, the nature of politics being played by the actors can be malicious and derogatory most times.
So, you should not be surprised if someone is tagged a stooge because of his personal decision to be uncompromisingly loyal to his leader or organisation. By my training and persuasion, I have been taught to always show gratitude to my benefactor.
First, God is the ultimate master, the number one benefactor. However, He works through men. So, ex-Governor Fayose was the man God used for me to attain the position of Ekiti State deputy governor between 2014 and 2018 and in becoming the candidate of PDP in 2018 governorship election. Hence, I see no wrong in being committed, dedicated and loyal to one’s leader and benefactor.
Becoming a deputy governor brought me into the office of a steward under a master who is the governor. I already had an instruction from God the ultimate master to be faithful; so why not? As a faithful steward, I’m bound to stay connected to my leader in season and out of season as long as the first master permits.
How true is the rumour that your relationship with Fayose has gone sour and what is your response on the claim that you are no longer his choice for the governorship in 2022?
We experience malicious and derogatory practices daily in politics. Nothing between us has nosedived.
That assertion is part of the malicious practice within the political space I earlier referred to. My leader, Dr. Fayose and I are not having any issues and nothing between us has nosedived. For the records, I have no issue with any leader in Ekiti State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Of course, there could be disagreements within a political party and this is not peculiar to the PDP.
Other political parties also have their own share of the peculiar crises. Interestingly, the reason for this cannot be far from the struggle of power and interest. In Ekiti PDP, ex-governor Fayose is our leader and we give him all due respect and honour. Personally, I am eternally grateful to him for giving me opportunity to serve under him as deputy governor. He remains my leader.
There is leadership crisis in Ekiti State chapter of PDP between Fayose and Senator Biodun Olujimi. Do you think this won’t affect the chances of your party in the state?
There are bound to be disagreements in politics, and crises are not peculiar to PDP. It is an internal challenge of the party. In the All Progressives Congress (APC), there is even more serious crisis to the point that they expelled some chieftains of the party in the state. The challenges can be resolved and our leaders are already working towards that. PDP in Ekiti will soon bounce back stronger and more united than ever.
What was your experience in mainstream politics before now; not many knew you before you became a deputy governor?
My father was a three-term chairman of Ikere Local Government Area, so I was born into politics. I was also actively involved in the activities of my professional body, the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB). The organisation has branches in all the 36 states of the country and I once contested and won election into the position of chairman, Osun State Chapter of NIOB. I became the body’s Registrar and later the Research and Development Secretary. I had also been a card-carrying member of PDP long before I became the Deputy Governor.
After the 2018 governorship election in Ekiti State in which you flew the flag of the PDP, what is your plan for the future politically? Are you contesting for the position again?
By the grace of God, I have intimated our leaders of my intention to contest when the window of opportunity opens again. However, in all these, may God’s will be done!
As a major part of the government of Fayose, how would you compare that administration with that of the incumbent, Dr. Kayode Fayemi?
Across all sectors in Ekiti State, ex-Governor Fayose’s legacy projects speak for themselves – the long elevated roadway, popularly called overhead bridge; the Oja Oba Market that was more than 90 per cent completed and sections of which were already allocated to traders before our exit; the Justice Ajakaye High Court building; Adunni Olayinka Women Centre, the new governor’s office, the transformed Government Technical College, Ado Ekiti, Gifted Academy, Afao Ekiti, renovation of palaces and many road projects including dualisation of Ikere-Ado road, among others were all delivered. Of unique mentioning is the performance of Ekiti State in the secondary school education sector, which I was assigned to superintend.
Very simple but focused and target-driven solutions were put in place to address the poor performance of our children in the external WAEC and NECO-conducted Senior School Certificate Examinations.
These include introduction of intervention lectures in English and Mathematics, procurement and free distribution of a compendium of six-years past questions to all SS3 students in public and private schools and continuous training of science, arts and commercial subject teachers.
We also embarked on a vigorous campaign against examination malpractices. Hard work and excellence were rewarded among teachers as a way of motivation. Best primary and secondary school teachers were given new cars. Best head teachers and best-performing schools were recognised and rewarded.
These proactive measures resulted in history-making and record-breaking performance of Ekiti State candidates in these external examinations. Ekiti State came first in NECO SSCE all over the country in 2016 (96.48 per cent); 2017 (85 per cent) and 2018 (90.61 per cent). The performance in WAEC SSCE moved from the undesirable 29 per cent in 2014 to as high as 71.83 percent in 2017. These are records that no one can deny.
In addition, Ekiti State took the first position in the national YONSPA – Young Nigerian Scientist Presidential Award (Best Science Student), JETS Quiz competition, STAN Science Quiz competition, all in 2016. Unfortunately, some of these good measures were jettisoned by the present administration in Ekiti State.
My recent findings show that Ekiti State has lost its leading position in NECO SSCE by 2019 just a year after all our measures were abandoned by the Fayemi administration, and the state is just struggling to remain within the first 10 positions. This is a clear evidence of retrogression. Let me leave Ekiti people to judge the other areas. I have spoken on just the education sector.