Why I’m after Akeredolu’s job in Ondo —Adelami
Chief Owolabi Adelami, a retired Deputy Clerk of the National Assembly, is a governorship aspirant in Ondo State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview, he speaks on his determination to take over the reins of administration from his kinsman, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu. DAPO FALADE brings the excerpts:
What informed your decision to go into politics and why the choice of the All Progressives Congress (APC)?
It was not my intention to go into politics after my retirement in 2018. After retirement, I was invited by the presidency to help as the coordinator of the Ondo State Presidential Task Force during the last presidential election. It was a call from the APC to help reconcile and compliment the efforts of the leaders of the party in the state. The Presidential Support Committee (PSC) was the creation of the APC government; it was structured in all the 36 states and I was made the coordinator in Ondo State. That was my first exposure to politics. We coordinated all the 18 local government areas, especially to reconcile the aggrieved party members during the election.
Because we were relating with all the coordinators from the 18 local government areas, it was a big opportunity to have contact with the people. In our discussions, the people were really begging for intervention in the area of poverty eradication in the rural areas. After the presidential election, I started having a reflection. Even though I am naturally a philanthropist, I have been doing it in my small community in Owo. I had a thought that if I am privileged to run the affairs of the State I can do better than what is happening today. You ask me why the APC. It is a progressive party.
Some people believed the incumbent has done very well and should continue. What is your take on this?
He has done well within the limit of his capacity, but he can do far better than what is happening now in Ondo State. Talking about afforestation which I mentioned earlier, the focus should not be felling the trees for economic activities alone to generate revenue. When you cut a tree, it takes about 20 to 25 years for a new one to mature. But they are just felling trees and that is why each time there is rain, it is devastating in the state. I will come up with a policy that if you cut one tree, you plant 10 in replacement.
Don’t you think being an indigene of Owo, where the incumbent governor comes from, will limit the chances of the town to produce the next governor ?
As we speak, there are five aspirants from Owo and mind you, it is not only Owo vote that will produce a governor. The people of Ondo State will determine who they want as a governor. About 10 governorship candidates have emerged. It is an opportunity for the people to be able to choose the best from any of us. We are presenting the people of Ondo State with choices; so five candidates coming out from Owo will not affect the chances of the governor, if he is popular. Rotimi Akeredolu has been there for three years, while we have not been tested yet. If the people so love him, there is no way they will not return him. But if you look at all the nooks and crannies of the state, you will know that the people are not happy and that is why we want to bring fresh blood into the scene and do what other people thought is not possible in the state.
With the COVID-19 pandemic that is staring everybody in the face, it is not going to be business as usual. Therefore, Ondo State needs a candidate who can do a lot with the available little resources and turn its fortune around, without depending alone on the monthly allocation from the federation account. The state needs somebody who can think out of the box and create wealth and opportunity so that the internally generated revenue will, over the period, sustain the state. Our leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, performed that feat in Lagos State. We can do same in Ondo State because we have the human resources to do it.
What have you done for your people and Ondo State in general that would make them trust you with their mandate?
God created every individual to impact on our world; at any level we find ourselves, we are meant to impact on our world. I took it as a challenge. When I was in service, any opportunity I had, I make sure I impacted on my environment. We have a family foundation over the years, run by my wife. The focus is on impacting on widows and orphans and we have been doing this for many years. Every year, we gather people together and invite the federal medical teams. They examine the women and, at the end of the day, they give them health talks; we distribute food items and clothes to them. That is part of my drive and these are part of the things that propelled me to see what I can do at the state level.
Do you belong to any of the factions of the party in the state and what effort are you making to help restore peace in the party?
Right now, we have the Unity Forum; it is a group of APC members that are not happy with how the state is being governed. Many of them have made attempts in one way or the other to offer advice, but when your advice is not taken, you have no option than to speak up. By the grace of God, by the time we are there as governor, through the mandate of the people, we are going to ensure that there is party cohesion.
By the grace of God, by the time we are there as governor, through the mandate of the people, we are going to ensure that there is party cohesion. One of the ways to achieve this is through the local government; we have 18 of them in the state. We are going to work at the grassroots level; there would be party meetings at ward and unit levels, often. If there is any aggrieved member, we will bring them together; we will ask what their grievances are. The one we can fix, we fix it, the one we cannot fix we apologise. There is going to be a new APC and our party will be stronger to face any election, any day. The Unity Forum is very strong; we are about 80 per cent of the APC members in the state.
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