Senator Ademola Adeleke, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party recently spoke to a group of journalists about his plans and agenda for the state ahead of the July 16th governorship election. Excerpts from the interview are published below.
How prepared are you for the July 16th election?
Adeleke: Fully prepared. I’m ready on all front. I have been on the campaign trail for weeks now. I went round the local governments, meeting our people. I can tell you the reception has been marvelous. Every where we reach, the jubilant crowd of voters are overwhelming. I am the Peoples choice. You remember how I was rigged out in 2018. Our people are now prepared to vote for me again and defend their votes.
What is your assessment of the mood of the state?
Adeleke: I will say the state is energised. The incumbent has performed poorly. The lack of good governance is visible. Just go round the state. You will see clearly the failure of governance, lack of capacity and governance by propaganda. Our people are eager to vote out Oyetola.
Is your party really ready going by reported infighting within the house?
Adeleke: There is no infighting within the house. We had disagreements; It is all about democracy. But we are today one big family. PDP is stronger now than ever before. On daily basis, we are receiving defectors into our party. In the last one week alone, many top leaders of APC have joined us. Within PDP, we have all agreed to work for the party. Across the local governments, our people are working hard, mobilising the people. On the other hand, APC is not ready. Governor Oyetola is afraid of the people. So APC and their thugs have been attacking our supporters across the state. Hope you read our recent press statement? We had to petition the IG of police going by how APC go about unleashing violence on our people. Everyday, people are leaving APC to support me. The news is everywhere. So I am ready. My party is ready.
If you say you are ready, your manifesto will prove it. What is your agenda for the people of Osun state? We have not heard much of your plans and programmes.
Adeleke: Thanks so much for this question. I have a five point agenda widely circulating. They include the following: First line charge for workers’s welfare, salaries, gratuities and pensions; boosting state economy through business loans to market women, youth and artisans; Osun money serving Osun people through home grown infrastructure policy; People-focussed social policy through skill based education, affordable health care, state security and social security support; and Agro-based Industrialisation for wealth and job creation for youths and women.
Our readers will want more details. What in specific terms are we to expect?
Adeleke: Agriculture is to be the main focus of our administration for the creation of employment and eradication of poverty. We will create an agripreneurs programme. Here we will trained and financially empower at least 200,000 agric entrepreneurs on quarterly basis. We will reform agric mechanisation programme to expand access and affordability for farmers. I plan to capitalise on my experience as a businessman to facilitate export market for our farmers. Osun farmers will earn dollars through our agriculture export agenda. We plan to use agriculture as a major means of job and wealth creation. Another area I am passionate about is making Osun an ICT digital economy hub. We plan to provide the environment to generate jobs and wealth and fight poverty. Osun youth are talented. I will convert their energy to ICT innovations and digital economy. Let me also share this with you and readers. Osun economy is dry. I mean dry as there is no money circulating within the economy. I plan to boost the state economy by injecting state fund into the local economy. Our administration will empower the cooperative societies to channel soft business loans to artisans, iyalojas and babalojas. I will upgrade the Cooperatives and link them with standard financial institutions. I will work with Chambers of Commerce in Osun to empower businesses in Osun state. I will equally discourage capital flight from Osun. Osun money will service Osun through local patronage of local contractors. As a lover of youth, another plan for job creation is to expand direct labor policy. Our infrastructure projects will have more than 75 percent labour intensive activities.
But it seems you have no agenda for the education, health and even sport sector?
Adeleke: First, let me assure you that I have a detailed manifesto. We are conscious of the need of our people. For the education sector, our plan incude emergency repair and upgrade of school facilities to commence within 100 days in office; emergency provision of school learning materials to enhance students performance; strengthening of PTAs to address crisis of cultism and lawlessness across the education system; encouragement of public private partnership in the management of our schools; this is to bring in private sector support for the education sector; reform and expansion of a robust scholarship and bursary policy for Osun students; new state partnership with owners of private schools to expand education access and affordability; and creation of private sector supported College of Digital Economy for Osun state University to be located at Iwo. For the health sector, our plan include a review of ongoing support programmes for the primary health care centres, immediate provisions of water and basic drugs in our general hospitals ; immediate upgrade of facilities at our general hospitals and proper attention to the welfare and needs of medical workers. I am also a great sport lover, so I believe Osun needs a befitting integrated international stadium. There should be good stadium for each of the senatorial district. I will personally ensure that Osun is well placed in at least 10 sporting games.
Admin: Video OK
There is rural and grassroots poverty. What will you do to address this?
Adeleke: I read a lot about China and its anti- poverty policy. It was a huge success. But why was China successful in fighting poverty? Because its local government system is strong and functional. So to me, we need to restore the autonomy of local governments. There is no two way to it. Our local governments must be allowed to function. So as a Governor, I will strengthen the local governments. Adequate funding and monitoring.
You have so many programmes. Osun is highly indebted. How do you hope to fund it?
Adeleke: Yes. Osun is highly indebted. That is one of the legacies of Oyetola government. The problem now is that we don’t have the actual figures of the debt. As to your question, our government will first block all loopholes in the state finance. Secondly, we will be prudent, very prudent to ensure value for money. We will tap into donor and private sector support in the management of state finance. Our first 100 days programmes will set the stage for the financial recovery of the state.
Many Osun youth are complaining about lack of opportunities. How do you plan to address their concerns?
Adeleke: I can feel their pains. It is very bad to see a lot of young people with prospect left with nothing reasonable to do. This is one of the things our government will work to correct, making sure that vacancies in the government set ups are immediately filed. We must know that not everyone can be employed by the government and that is why we will be creating an environment for private sector to thrive and be able to create as many jobs for our youth. Within my first 100 days in office, I will explore my private sector reach to partner big businesses, both at home and abroad to Osun, and this will bring more opportunities for our young people. Remmeber our agenda which I earlier spoke about will alao create right environment for job creation and opportunities for our youth. I ealier mentioned innovation hubs, agropreneurs training and business financial support. All these target our youth and women.
The election is few weeks away, what is your assessment of things?
Adeleke: To be frank with you, it is only us that is planning for the election. All APC has been doing is to cut corners and ensure that the wishes of electorates do not prevail. You can see me going around, canvassing electorates. This is because I believe that in a democracy, the people should be the one who decide their leaders not otherwise. Our interest is to serve and nothing more. I want our people to feel a real impact of governance, not the propaganda that APC has used to make their lives miserable in the last 12 years.
You all know what transpired in Ekiti election and APC has been going around boasting about doing the same thing in Osun next month. If after 12 years, the only way APC think it can get Osun people to vote for it is buy votes, then, it is clear enough that it has failed. They wouldn’t need that if they have truly impacted our people. And the disturbing thing is, they are not even ashamed of it, boasting around, saying they will enjoy the protection of EFCC even if they share money in the open. It is just unbelievable. But we have faith in Osun people not to be easily persuaded by the pittiance to perpetuate their sufferings. In the campaigns so far, I can see the optimism that our rescue mission gave to Osun people and hope that they can resist the temptation of selling their votes.
That aside, I must implore the INEC to ensure that every eligible voters who registered before the December 20, 2021, can have their PVCs. The reports I am getting from our people across Osun is not palatable. Many people could not get their PVCs and election is just few weeks away. In some cases, voters will find their PVCs printed but names not on the Voter’s ledger. And some couldn’t find their PVCs at all. There are concerns that APC could be behind this problem but I do not want to believe the INEC will allow itself to be used to disenfranchise our people. We do not want any undue favour. All we ask for is a free and fair election, and Osun people choose who lead them for four years. Simple.
Another issue as we get closer to the election is the unleashing of thugs on our party members and supporters by APC. The manner which APC thugs freely unleash violence is a great of concern to us. Election shouldn’t be war. As a party, we have chosen to be peaceful and so, we are concerned that the APC choose violence. On Thursday, several members of our party were attached by APC thugs in Ilesa West. They freely use dangerous weapons, including guns and to our dismay, no effort was made by security agencies to stop them. This impunity should stop as it will not do anyone any good. The APC should perish the thought that they can intimidate us in this election. Yes, we are for peace but we will not allow our votes to be stolen as it was done in 2018. Let no one mistake our peaceful disposition for cowardice.