Ade Adeogun, a retired security expert, is a governorship aspiranton the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State. He speaks with HAKEEM GBADAMOSI on the security challenges facing the country, his current political ambition and other issues. Excerpts:
AS a security expert, how do you think the sundry security challenges confronting the nation, especially, the herdsmen/farmers’ clashes and the resurgent militant activities in the Niger Delta can be meaningfully tackled?
Poverty is at the root of all the security challenges we face in Nigeria, be it in the North-East, South-East, South-South or the South-West. Insurgency, militancy, herdsmen/farmer clashes, separatist agitations and other challenges are the product of poverty and unemployment. In a prosperous nation, cattle rearing would be restricted to ranches or grazing fields, rather than the nomadic movement characteristic of herdsmen in Nigeria; militia activities would be under control, because the underlying issues that breed militancy would be eliminated.
The solution to all these challenges is the elimination of poverty. Governments across the length and breadth of Nigeria and at all levels of governance must strive to provide good governance and create an enabling environment for sustainable economic growth.
There are over 40 aspirants for APC ticket from Ondo North senatorial district, which by the zoning arrangement should produce the next governor of the state. How do you think this will affect your chance and indeed the Northern zone?
In my interaction with delegates from the entire 18 local government areas of the state, it is obvious that what they desire is a youthful and charismatic leader, who has the capability to steer the state from its near bankruptcy state to economic prosperity. They do not care where that person comes from. My political aspiration is founded on the need to serve the state and restore prosperity to its communities and people. I am not a zonal champion, but one of the leaders of a state-wide political platform.
My chances are bright because my campaign is not based on zonal support, but on the support of delegates from across the state.
I think the fear that votes from the Northern zone would be balkanised among the candidates during the primaries emanates from a premise that delegates would vote according to senatorial districts. The assumption fails to take into cognizance the different interests of the leaders and electorates across the state.
The Ondo APC Elders’ Forum is alleged to have endorsed one of the aspirants from the Northern zone? Or any hope for possible level-playing field?
The allegation that the APC elders have adopted a candidate is false. When I met with Papa Aiyegbusi, who is the leader of the Elders’ Forum, he assured me that there was no such thing. Pa Aiyegbusi is a man of integrity and I believe him. On the issue of a level-playing field, yes I do envisage one. The party is aware that the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), lost the 2012 gubernatorial contest because of alleged external interference and so, to avoid a repeat of history, Ondo APC, in collaboration with the national headquarters of our great party, is doing everything possible to allow for a fair contest this time around.
With the way things are in the APC, how prepared are you to support whoever emerges, if you do not pick the party’s ticket?
My involvement in this contest is not about me. It is about a people who have been denied good leadership; a people whose prosperity was wasted by sons and daughters, who were entrusted with leadership. It is about restoration. If, in a fair contest, I am unable to secure enough delegate votes to win the primaries, I will congratulate whoever wins and offer my hands of fellowship and support to ensure that our great party wins the gubernatorial election.
If you are given the opportunity to govern Ondo State, how would you bring about the Ondo State of your dream?
The Ondo of my dream is a state with a robust economy anchored on the intellectual property of its citizens; a state that serves as an outsourcing destination for corporate entities in the fields of Information Technology, engineering and manufacturing. The state of my dream is a state where the natural needs of citizens, such as food and shelter, are met and the people are given free expression to incubate ideas into businesses and contribute to the economic growth of the state in particular and Nigeria in general.
I dream of a state with green forests of cocoa and cassava farms, where the value chain of all natural resources are exploited to keep every citizen and resident productive and prosperous. I dream of a state which all sons and daughters would proudly call home and all other Nigerians would see as a place to do business and rest from the toil and hassles of other places.