Why I Want To Succeed Fayose - Oni

In this interview with select Journalist, the Deputy Chairman of the All Progressive Congress and Governorship hopeful in Ekiti State, Chief Segun Oni, explains why he wants to run for the most exalted and coveted seat in the state, the former Governor also touched on some national issues especially the ‘misgovernance’ visited on the nation by the President Goodluck Jonathan led administration, with a verdict that all those who participated in the government should be made to lie on the bench at eagle square and subjected to thorough flogging!

ROTIMI OJOMOYELA brings the excerpts...

You were once a Governor in this State, what was your experience like?

It was very interesting, the reason I contested for governorship was because I had ideas that I wanted to try‎ out and so I was very excited that I had an opportunity to try out  those ideas,  they worked and I'm very grateful to God for that. 

If given the chance to be the Governor again, what would you want to correct?

Most of the ideas that we had, had been abandoned and the only thing that might need my immediate correction is the micro-credit scheme that we did but we are not going to bring micro credit back the way we did it before, but definitely we have to do something to give people access to credit, which is what that one was trying to achieve, I won't say correct, that scheme would go for complete repackaging.

What is important for me now is a new thinking, all over ‎the world, we have not given enough attention to young people.  We are bringing children to the world and their standard of living is much lower than our own, we are not bothered, we want to survive first, before we can think of our children, time is tickling, this is not an Ekiti problem, is not a Nigerian problem, it a problem for all us as humanity, that is why you see people out of frustration being trafficked, the trafficked , is first and foremost, a frustrated person, even when you tell them, don't allow yourself to be trafficked, a frustrated person wants a way out, if that way is unreasonable it is not the immediate concern, many of them paid to be ferried across the Mediterranean and they know the chances, not more than one in two would get to destination, some will even go through the desert, where they are exposed to extreme danger and some died in the process, but they are not bothered and if you check the age, the average age of these people who are making this desperate effort are below 40

So, it is a failure of our system, not only in Nigeria but the ‎world over, we must provide for this younger generation, even if you look at the so called Jihad terrorists, what is their age? They are young people. If you look at the one that will call home boy terrorist that nobody wants to admit to that they are really homeboy terrorists, the guy who go on his own enters a night club, because he is not linked to Al Queda bring out his pistol and decides to level up a few heads before he is over powered, they would say he's not a terrorist but has gone bunkers, the guy who all on his own drives into a crowd and he's not a jihad terrorist, he is definitely going to be a home boy terrorist. What is their average age, it must have suggested that they are people who are in their productive years but are frustrated.

The energy they would have used to serve themselves and humanity, is what they are diverting to do that. So, this is time for us to call for attention on the plight of the youth and we are not going to do that by singing on the pages of newspapers‎, we have to create an opportunity here to affect the youth, to make the youth a frontline agenda and to do our own martial plan for the youth, that for me is the most interesting challenge I want to go for, I'm not saying I know the answer but they are beginning to come from people I have thrown this question to and were challenged also that yes, we can solve this problem. That is more important to me than building roads. Nobody has built more roads than me in this state, I did the blue hospital, I did the best eye hospital in Africa here in Ekiti and in a few period that it operated it recovered many sights, both from within the South-West and all over Nigeria, some from outside this country. 

So, we have shown that we can do a simple thing than other people can do but we want to put our head on a new social and economic order. I don't have the answer but God will provide the answers, if we do it right and get the answers right, I'm sure other people will be encouraged to also do it.

People say former President Olusegun Obasanjo‎ imposed you as Governor the first time you came, what is the story behind your emergence at that time? 

When we were going to have the primaries or before the primaries, three years before the primaries, I was doing micro credit. I started a free jamb forms and lecture in this state, every year, I was giving qualified people free jamb form and 15 weeks of coaching in every local government, I was paying and if you do your arithmetic, you will discovered that it run into millions. So, before they came they were coming for primaries, I'm sure the delegates must have picked my name‎ and goodwill, after the Jamb, I started scholarship scheme, because many of them were doing well in jamb and they needed to go to the University. 

In terms of goodwill, I have never had any coma or dent in my ‎career, I worked in xerox  and many places, so if there is any screening about who will be the party candidate, I don't think I will fail it. But you will remember that the PDP has been embarrassed by the fact that it had to support the determination of the tenure of a governor here and they think that okay, we are not just going to do with primary, we would combined that primary with the assessment od individual. Chief Ropo Adesanya was the Chairman of the party at that time, unfortunately before the primary, he had a problem and he was on crushes and on the day of the primary, he climed the dias to address all the aspirants and he said it very clearly that the party has said he should addressed us that this primary is not everything, that the primary will be combined with the assessment of individual, before they can know who will represent the party.

So, 1...2...3 and after three, I think the next gap was more than five hundred marks between me and the next person who came fourth. If they exercised what they have told us about and they now pick one person, how does that become an imposition.  

I was there when they opened the ballot box, there were three boxes, and I had more than 40 percent and we were about sixteen contestants, I had more than 40 percent of the call in the first box‎ and they stopped, they met, I don't know what they discussed, but some of them are still alive. Immediately, I saw that I believe that they have made their decision. It was not local government voting, so you cannot say, delegates were not voting according to their local government, we had just three ballot boxes for the sixteen of us. 

You just drop your ballot wherever you like among the three boxes. By the time they resumed, the story change ‎and the guy who was representing me was very naive, he was not conversant with the procedure, he was not asking to see what was going on, he was just calling and calling and what I had was that that was there people did whatever they had to do, but I never complained and I did not say anything. So, I believe and I'm saying this now, that I didn't lose that primary. If I was not made the governor, I would not have also talked about it. Already, immediately, I was told the result, I asked my team to go inside our save and take N1m and give to the person who came first, because, it should be normal that the person who came is the one we are all going to support. 

The primary was not conclusive because to be conclusive you have to score more than 50 percent, none of us scored as much. Yinka Akerele ‎scored the highest, Professor Ojo followed and I came third, Oni from Okemesi  came fourth and I said they shuld go and give N1m to Akerele and I told my people to also give him two Buses, because I would say that we were the most prepared of the groups that were there. I also told my people to let us go round and thank all our delegates and tell them that this is the person you will vote for at the gubernatorial election. But eventually that was not to be, I think the lesson for me is that human beings can only strive, is only God that can strike and if he strikes nobody has the option. I'm saying this for the first time, I don't mind the controversy, but individual will justify their actions.

So, when i keep hearing that I was imposed it sound so annoying, because on rating basis, which of the candidate would have rated higher than me, whatever have they put into the lives of other people, young or old that would have made them rate higher than me. So, if I rated number one in goodwill and I'm number three by the result of the primary, what stops me from being number one, and I don't think I was number three but let us assumed I was number three, what stopped me from being number one. 

Let me also say categorically, until I became candidate, I was not close to Baba Obasanjo, people would just say all sorts of things, without being fair to the old man, he doing what was best for the party, so that party would not go and have a candidate that would the way of the previous person in future‎. I was not imposed by Obasanjo, anybody who wants to counter all have said now is free and we would talk. But in terms of goodwill, I was number one. Let us also not forget that primary is supposed to be an indication of popularity, because the party did not want to risk giving thier ticket to somebody who cannot win election and then at that time people of the state know who was in the best position to command votes. 

Over ten thousand candidates benefited from the free the free jamb forms and coaching for the three years the programme lasted, and also in our strategy room, we said every person is who benefited is eighteen and above, let us assumed that they would have parents, two, other siblings, two, so if you assume that five votes would come on account of one beneficiary, that is fifty thousand plus votes. The number of votes you needed then to be governor of Ekiti and is not much different now, is not up to two hundred thousand. So it means my personal goodwill was already worth more than a quarter of the votes, whether, I'm in party A or party B. So, people who decided this thing knew what they were doing. Ask any other person who want to query it, what was in the basket of the goodwill of any other person. 

I don't want to keep talking this way, because I'm quiet does not mean, what they are saying is true, it is not true. And if the party wants to take a decision again tomorrow, on this same issue, I believe that they would have taken the decision they took.

There is this story making the round that you are being back by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, how true is this?

I'm being backed first by God, and let me say that very clearly, nobody could have achieved what w are seeing on the field now, if he does not have the backing of God, and I believed I will be backed, note my answer, I will be backed by Asiwaju Tinubu, I will be backed by Baba Akande, just as I know that I will be backed by President Muhammadu Buhari, and also by the Vice President and by everybody that wants the party to win and have a good run here. I'm not backed yet, but I will be backed and I'm working towards that, that I would be backed. But I'm not backed by anybody yet, I'm backed by only by God the almighty. But is it a very good run so far. 

You were known to belong to the PDP before and later you crossed over to the APC, recently there was this statement by someone that APC governorship ticket is not for somebody who does not have progressive background, which was a veiled reference to those who defected from other parties, what will be your reaction to this statement? 

My reaction would be to ask who has a progressive background, fortunately I have been Governor of this state, what is a progressive politics...Progressive politics is about‎ care and attention to the under-privilege. About equity and equitable distribution. When I was governor of this state, I was the first to start a scholarship scheme, there was no scholarship scheme before I came to this place, the state that was then called fountain of knowledge, I started the scholarship scheme. Bursary was the only thing the state was doing and I told the local government. To take over bursary and they were doing it. So in addition to bursary, we have scholarship.  

I introduced subsidy for parents in terms of nutritional subsidy for their children ‎, twice a week with chocolate tea and egg, yet I'm still not a progressive. I did free health care, I introduced quarterly free surgeries and we had more 2,000 people who underwent surgeries, who are today alive, who would not have been alive, yet I'm not a progressive. I abolished the practice of carrying bench and desk to school and I ensure that every has full complement of desk and benches, I ensure that every school had full complement of library, and not just that I ensure that free text books were given to students at Senior and junior Secondary. We opened the gate to ensure that the rich and the poor had equal level of access, yet I'm not a progressive.

I requited four thousand plus people one day into the civil service here and I said it must be by merit, I did not appoint one and I did not allow my colleague to do, I said everybody whose child has the advantage should take the advantage! Because I wanted equity, yet I'm not a progressive. I can just continue, things that meant subsidy, openness, fairness were and still my principles. 

If Baba Awolowo were progressive because he did education, education were virtually free here then, I was supplying free textbooks, free food and furniture other people who are progressive, what would they have done. And if anybody is a progressive and he's running for this election, we should show what they have done for the people, even before I became anything, I told you about free jamb, free coaching, scholarships, so let all progressive who are contesting show their credentials, what did they do, whether they were in public office or not. I did not respond because I think it was worth responding to. Bur then it was not because I don't have progressive credentials, I believe that without mincing words, nobody faults my credentials. 

In view of what people are saying concerning the Southern agenda agitation here, how are you going to overcome the mounting opposition to you ambition? 

Well, iI would say that, that agitation is legitimate and it is fair, because you cannot preach brotherliness when some people are feeling short-changed, but I want to say very clearly that every opportunity at contesting election in this state, I have never excluded any zone, it wasn't that people from a particular zone were asked not to contest, all the three contested before me and against me, right from when Otunba Adebayo contested, there were only three parties, coincidentally the three gubernatorial candidates came from the three zones. Otunba Adebayo from the Central, he won, Professor Adeniran from the North came second and Dr. Olowoporoku from the South came third and that was the first governorship election in this state. 

There has never been a time when any zone was excluded, but even then, I believe that it is our responsibility as leaders to prepare a Marshall plan to hel our brothers and sisters to have access to it, but for us now, as a party, as APC, most important thing for us is to win and take power, it is not to allocate power and lose it, if we allocate and lose it, God forbid, we would have done ourselves a very grave injustice, I believe that we should be looking for who can win for us, who can win for us, not necessarily where that person will come from. I will tell you that in terms of love for the south, those who are talking, including those from the south, would need to labour to prove their love for the South over and above what I have done. When I was governor, apart from Deputy Governor, the three most important position in this state were held at the same time by people from the South. The position of Minister, the position of Speaker of the House of Assembly and the position of Secretary to the Government. It has never happened, it didn't happen before me and it did not happen after me. . So, the people of the south would know that I'm indeed a friend, if I was born there, I would not do more than that. Apart from that, I was a member of the PDP and around 2012, I was informed that PDP survey showed that my reputation was intact and that I have tremendous goodwill, therefore  the party will find it more convenient to have me run for election for them and I told them, I said no, I would not run and they said why would you not run, and I answered them that you go back to Ekiti, ask for Adeyeye, ask for Bejide, ask for Aluko 1 and Aluko 2. They said who are these people? I said Aluko 1is the former Deputy Governor of the state, while Aluko 2 is a former Senator ‎, pick any of those four and I will back them. And I would work ruthlessly hard to deliver that person. 

All these people talking, how many of them would be offered a governorship of a state on a platter and he would look away, I looked away, because I felt. We should go in there but I learnt a lesson which is ‎it is only what you have in your hand that you can give out  otherwise you waste it and this is why I'm doing what I'm doing, I'm doing this put of conviction. I don't want us to waste this opportunity and so I believe that if I run I would win, I don't know of any other person. 

There is this insinuation that ‎you are planning to defect back to the PDP?

Let me say this, it is good that all these questions are coming in but if I were the one they are telling outside, I would ask how did they know, did you attend a meeting with him, where he planned the evil? People who are saying are exhibiting what I would call low intellect, because they should have know, if there are questions, how did you know? Why will‎ I be trying to go back to PDP, did I owe PDP money? That I have to go and pay to them? Why will I be going there? I have been here, we fought the PDP out of power, with everything we have got, conscientiously. 

Many of these people who are talking were either bystander, people who didn't believe in the agenda of President Buhari and who are now trying to find ways of rubbishing people who believe. let me tell you, wherever I'm, is where I'm. . I'm a member of the APC and by the grace of God Deputy National Chairman, I don't know any other party. People had asked me, they have come to me to say, these people who are trying to tarnish you image image, why don't you show them where the people of Ekiti are by leaving this party, pick any party, we would support you and said to them, don't come here to insult me, I said honour is the greatest virtue, I said if I don't pick this ticket, I would not go to any other party, I don't have a plan B, they would say leyts have a plan B, me I don't have a plan B. My plan A, APC, my plan B, APC, if there is a plan C, APC. 

I said, that is me, because I'm not desperate, why would I be desperate, I know that honour has no equivalent. So if anybody say, he will go to the PDP, the question you should ask is, did he tell you, did you hold a meeting with him.

Do you have any romance with Governor Ayo Fayose? 

Romance? How can I have a romance with a Man! I don't have any political relationship with him, but I regard everybody as a brother, I don't have enemies, one of the things people see in my politics is that I don't have enemies, I tried as much as possible to affect people positively, because of that access to me is very simple and easy, even by my opponents, so, if anybody is talking of me having a romance with Governor Fayose, that is not true. 

You are the most attacked aspirant in APC, are you comfortable with this or what do you think is responsible for that? 

If I were not the most attacked aspirant, I would be afraid, because I'm the leader, I'm the one in front, you want somebody to be throwing stones backward as we are running? He would be throwing his stones forward, whoever is in front of him, he would throwing his stones at. So, I'm not surprised, I'm not discouraged, that is the way it should be, I should be attacked by everybody coming behind, throwing their stones at me, trying to malign me, trying to lie against me and so on. It's only me who has a responsibility to show maturity. I should not attack anybody, infact, other than clarifying issues, I should not throw stones at anybody, I should not malign anybody‎, I should not throw stones, who would I be throwing it at? I'm not surprised, I'm not angered by it. Except that I can always take time to explain issues away, so that they don't become facts, that is why I'm even saying some of these, because when falsehood becomes translated into different languages, it's fast becoming facts and you must curb it. That is why I have taken time to respond to the issues you have raised.

If given the APC ticket, how do you hope to overcome the influence and  power of incumbency of Governor Ayo Fayose‎?

Let me say this very clearly and i also would challenge you Journalists to go out there ‎and talk to people, the people of Ekiti state have made up their mind on what they want and they are saying it very clearly everywhere, beer palour and all public places, go and find out. If you conduct a short survey in  Ado-Ekiti, Ikere amd all other major towns in the state you would know what people are saying, that would tell you how difficult or easy it could be. That is the reason I decided to give in to the pressure to run. I dint want to but I know that if I didn't come or answer the people's call, I would have been the man who was responsible for your defeat, God forbid. 

So, find out, feel free, talk to your people, find out‎ and I would suggest that as you are leaving here now for Ado-Ekiti, take different public transports, put your question to them and find out what people would say. That is what Ekiti people are saying at the moment. 

People say, Buhari's performance would make it difficult for your party to win the election, what is your take on this?

I disagree with that, I would say ‎President Buhari has performed excellently well, the economy that we inherited was prostrate, completely down, the pilferers and the thieves of the last government had taken it down completely, I'm sure if people remember where we were coming from, all they would be doing is clapping for President Buhari, even at the level the economy is today. There is no economy in the world where you would take so much money out, Dollars...Dollars as if we are running economy of America and where people would steal so much. They said they took 56 more buildings from somebody and Nigerians are even not talking, who paid for it, the Nigerian Economy and if they are taking all those money out and siphoning them to private pockets, do you think this economy would stay? What we inherited is a hollow shell, they have destroyed it completely and it is now the responsibility of President Muhammadu Buhari to raise it up. Is like, waking up a dead body. If you wake up a dead body and you are successful at waking it up, that body would not begging to run the moment you wake it it up. The people we should be angry with are the people who plundered this country so hard, People who when they stole budget and they were not satisfied, started stealing crude oil. Now expecting crude oil with zero cost of production top the far east and other places and when your cost of production is zero you can export at any price and they were now doing it and Nigerians were not talking about them. God forbis that they didn't continue, maybe they would have sold the reserve itself and then we would have nothing to even look at in future. Nigerians have to be very grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari for stopping that rot and for re- building the economy. You don't expcet the economy to do better than its doing at this moment now, it is doing very well. It was bottomed out and it is now moving up, no magic could have done more and if anybody wants to quarrel about the state of the economy he should bring the PDP people and flog them. 

Honestly, Nigerians should bring a bench to eagle square and asked the youths whose future they have destroyed‎,  to flog those who plundered the economy of this nation. 
You all know those who should go on top of this bench for thorough flogging. 

Ekiti is beset with too many problems and a poor economic base, what are your programmes that would lift the state out of this quagmire?

Wealth is also about productivity, when you have an entity where most people are productive, the propensity to poverty would reduce. What we are going to do is to make as many people as possible  ‎to be productive. When they are productive, gross domestic production would go up. And we would then begin to see light at the end of the tunnel. I said what we want is a new social and economic order, that means there must be an economic order that makes us as a state very productive. If we are more productive, our basic economic development indices would begin to show, it would help the young ones, especially to do well and when they do well, it is our state that is doing well. 

We would also try to bring investors, what we wanted to do last time was to llok the way of bio-fuel, you had us talking about green fuel, we were actually cutting a few deal for ethanol production and those plant would have turn things around so much. It would created a lot of employment, added a lot of commerce both the people working directly and indirectly. It would have meant that agricultural output is supported. One of the investors wanted to use sweet sorghum and we had ran trials and they saw that ilemesho soil was fantastic, it would have more than double the output they expected. By the time we do one or two things at the top bring investors, convincing them to come and by the time we also fix the lower end., getting the people to have confidence to invest in small and medium, the state would have moved out of economic doldrums. Also, the responsibility to ensure that small and medium scale would thrive is not government, it's our own as individual, our attitude and values have to change. 

The missing gap is what the people can do ‎and I want to keep appealing, we have to have a change of heart, if we must develop. All these stealing and stealing are just too much. Let us also as Nigerians beginning to tell ourselves, it is enough, how many people who ran down the other also survive. These are some of the sermons I expect our churches and other religious houses to be doing, rather than saying people would continue to prosper whether they do the right thing or not. People will prosper only when they do the right thing and our clerics should be begging people, if they say don't steal, it means don't pocket your employers' money. We should let the people know that taking a short cut that leads to nowhere by the time we doing this and people are getting convinced and people are having confidence to put something down and they are run ad small investments, Nigeria would be getting better. 

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