In this interview with Ondo State Deputy Governor, Honourable Agboola Ajayi, speaks to HAKEEM GBADAMOSI on his chances in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primary, the gang up against him, his plans and vision for the state if he wins the governorship race.
YOU recently joined PDP in the state and entered the race for the party’s ticket. What are your chances of clinching the guber ticket of the party?
Point of correction, I didn’t join the PDP in the true sense of that word. I think we should agree that the appropriate word to use would be that I rejoined the party. We must not forget that I am a foundation member of PDP, when the party came into being in 1998 and I was there until 2015 when I went on what lecturers call ‘sabbatical level.’ Right now, I am back to base with my prospects. I refer to my prospects and wealth of experience as a former local government chairman, member of House of Representatives and sitting Deputy Governor of Ondo State. You see, I believe and I am convinced beyond doubts that PDP as a political party is tired of raising candidates every four-year democratic circle without winning election in the state. At the centre, over two election circles, PDP has been out of government and good governance has eluded the people of Nigeria. The same applies to Ondo State at the moment. Therefore, both the people and the party are happy that I have taken this decision to rejoin PDP in order to rebuild it to provide purposeful leadership in Ondo State. This is responsible for my popular acceptance by the party from ward level to the national. So, my chance of winning the gubernatorial ticket is very bright. There is no doubt that PDP has a brighter chance to win the forthcoming Ondo election with me as their candidate.
You seem to be a force to reckon with in this race, which explains the seeming gang up by other aspirants against your aspiration. Do you see other aspirants as threat to your aspiration?
That’s not really a gang up. Things are really more tidied up in PDP than the other parties. For instance, in APC, eleven candidates have signed a petition against the party’s preferred mode for the conduct of the primary, even in Owo Local Government Area of the state where the incumbent hails from, whereas I am the only aspirant in PDP from my local government area. Again, you must equally understand that some of the people making the loudest noise in PDP are being sponsored by the governor. We have seen aspirants who couldn’t live a comfortable life spending a whooping N22 million naira to purchase the gubernatorial form. That does not add up. You should then understand that aspirants in the aforementioned class are agents of the state government. Genuine aspirants in PDP constitute rich assets to the party because after the primary election, everybody would come together and work assiduously for the success of the party. Already, I have a formidable party man and grassroots mobilizer, Chief Bamidele Akingboye working with me.
If you eventually clinch the party’s ticket, how will you be able to manage the likely friction that might occur after the exercise?
This is not my first contest. I was an elected Ese-Odo Local Government council chairman. In 2007, I was elected as member of the House of Representative and in 2016 as Deputy Governor. So, that experience is there. You can’t buy experience in the market no matter how rich you are. What you simply reduced to crisis, we don’t call it crisis. In my political experience, it’s usually purely divergent interests and that will be taken care of at the right time.
You seem not to be deterred by the impeachment process against you. Do you see this affecting your chances?
The impeachment is dead on arrival from when it was conceived as a means to punish me for enjoying my constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of association. There are eleven procedural stages which must be followed religiously as highlighted in Section 188 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) for any impeachment to succeed and pass the standard judicial scrutiny. These provisions have to be followed in the impeachment process of the Governor or Deputy Governor. Ondo State is not a banana republic. We’re a trailblazer and must do things right. Thankfully, the substantive governor is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and former president, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA). The implications of a wuruwuru impeachment of his deputy should not be lost on him. I trust his sense of judgment and I believe he won’t want to end in ignominy regarding the matter. The most important thing now is that the process has been challenged in the law court and parties must respect that. Otherwise, it becomes contempt of court. The Chief Judge of Ondo State, Justice Akeredolu, has graciously and deftly pointed out to the members of the House of Assembly that the matter is sub judice. So, I remain focused and undeterred.
What are your visions, plans and programmes for the people of the state?
The first thing is to return government back to the people. When you allow the people to own their government a lot of things become easy. Right now, that’s not the case as Ondo State is operating familitocracy, which refers to the government of one man, his wife and family members or clan. Nepotism and wanton greed are the order of the day. This must necessarily change for the good of the people. My vision is to take Ondo State out of the woods.
I will put in place programmes to empower the people, who will own their own government. Education must be qualitative and affordable. Government policies will be redirected and programmed towards the total wellbeing of the people. The health of the people is another priority together with social security for vulnerable groups which include children, elders, the sick and physically challenged. Economically, I will take Ondo State to the world and bring the world to the state through a well thought out industrialisation and economic action plan.
YOU SHOULD NOT MISS THESE HEADLINES FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE