Governor Ibrahim Damkwambo of Gombe State, on Friday, said the establishment of additional tertiary institutions in the state was aimed at addressing education imbalance between Gombe and other states in the country. Dankwambo, who disclosed this during interactive session with newsmen in Gombe, said the state government had secured licence to establish University of Science…
Mr. Muyiwa Olumilua is the son of the former Governor of Old Ondo State, Bamidele Olumilua. He hails from Ikere-Ekiti, the second largest town after Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State capital. Olomilua Jnr. is an estate surveyor, friend and goodwill ambassador of UNESCO, as well as Commonwealth ambassador, based in Abuja. He was nurtured in politics by his father, but had stayed on the sidelines until recently, when he decided to step into the big shoes of the ex-governor by joining the 2018 governorship race.
He hopes to contest on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In this interview with Saturday Sun’s WOLE BALOGUN and PRISCILLA EDIARE in Ikere, Olumilua speaks about his vision and programme for Ekiti, the APC government, ex-governor Kayode Fayemi and his empowerment/free healthcare programme in which 100 Ekiti women benefitted recently. Excerpts:
Why your interest in the governorship race, considering the many aspirants coming up in APC?
If I hadn’t picked interest I expect you to ask, why not? I have all the bona fides it takes, I have been in politics and have some experience as part of a government. I have that political maturity. I might not have contested for elective positions before, but that was simply because I didn’t want to share the limelight with my father. He is the political image of our family who is also, in all respect, the head of the political family in Ekiti today. Every political aspirant in the state, whether APC, PDP or any other usually consults my father on their ambitions. You don’t try to struggle with that kind of recognition. That is why I have remained at the background all this while. But now, Baba is going to 80, he can’t contest for anything and his energy level is dropping, so that is why I deem it fit to step in and do my own thing. It is not just because I am Baba’s son, but because before things can actually go well in Ekiti, we have to have a governor who has the desire and genuine interest in the people.
You know my father very well. He has no record of mis-governance. He was never detained for a day for stealing anything. He is free with everybody. Some people have said see how big his hotel in Ikere is, but do you know that my father sold everything he has to build this hotel. He sold every property in Lagos and Abuja to start building this hotel. It took us about 12 years to build it, when our father himself got tired, we the children had to come in to support him and complete the hotel. He had said that he doesn’t want to die and leave all of us to start fighting over the property, so he sold everything and put all of them in this hotel. That is what my father is, and that is my personality. I am not going to become governor of Ekiti to make money, but to impact on the lives of our people. I am not very wealthy, but I am comfortable. I want people to know and see that to provide good governance is not an impossibility. All you need is the political will and the desire to do the right thing.
What have you noticed in the current administration that is not right which you want to correct?
I don’t play politics of bitterness and though the person who is our governor now may not have come from my party, he still remains my governor and an elder brother.
I believe governor Fayose is doing his best as far as I am concerned, but I believe we would build on what he has been able to do and also do it better. Government is a continuum. We would try to see how possible it will be to pay salaries every month, as at when due. Ex-governor Fayemi achieved that and some governors in Nigeria today are still doing that. During the tenure of Fayemi, IGR was between N600, 000 and above. But now, a yet –to- be confirmed report say that it has now dropped to N250,000. We should be able to look at how we can shore it up to N600,000 and even higher. If Lagos can generate about N40 billion a month, I see no reason why Ekiti can’t generate up to N5 billion a month. If we can achieve that we won’t have to depend on the federal allocation to pay workers. We also see how we can improve on infrastructure and improve on existing ones and also health care. To ensure we even make healthcare free, especially for those within the age of 0 to five years old, and many others.
You served under ex-governor Fayemi, his administration is reputed to have done well in the areas of building infrastructure and developing human capacity, but scored low in achieving some level of fraternity with the masses, do you agree with this?
When Dr. Kayode Fayemi was governor of Ekiti State, I was his Senior Special Assistant on Project Monitoring, and later SSA on Integration and Inter-Governmental Relations. I am happy that you agreed that Kayode Fayemi did a lot in terms of infrastructural development, and human capital development and things like that. I would like to say that Fayemi, when governor of Ekiti, was a man ahead of his time. Ahead of his time in the sense that he had lived for quite a long time outside the country and had been used to putting things in place at all times. But you see, you cannot do all that in Nigeria without actually taking into consideration politics, especially the local politics.
In Lagos, when ex-governor Fashola was in the saddle, he was more of a technocrat to the core. But he had a super politician taking care of the local politics for him in the person of Baba Asiwaju Tinubu. But in the case of Fayemi, such a god-father wasn’t here. Fayemi wanted to do things the way it should be done, he was not really looking at the political side of it, and he didn’t have people who could handle that for him and handle it more effectively. That is where I think the apathy with the people started. Fayemi performed very well, and I don’t think any governor before and after him, has done as many projects as he did in as many towns and villages as Fayemi did.
What’s your free healthcare and empowerment programme all about?
It is about a programme of UNESCO called “Read and Earn’, I am an ambassador of UNESCO programme. UNESCO has now been placed under the ministry of education, they have another programme called Education 2030 which wants to ensure that by the year 2030 there would be education for all. Then we have the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) which has 17 different goals. UBEC is also involved in this project. There is something I have found out about Ekiti, the mothers are more concerned about their children. If you talk to many graduates they usually tell stories of my mother sold garri to sponsor my education, she sold pepper, this or that to sponsor my education. You won’t hear something like my father sold this or that, and then you now wonder, where were these fathers when it is only the mothers that are doing all these things alone? I have interacted with many local women in Ekiti and they tell us they are the ones carrying the responsibility of the home and I found that very unfortunate. This is why I brought the programme for our women in Ekiti, to see how we can harness the resources of these international bodies to help the women in keeping their children in school. To empower them and give them proper healthcare. What we are doing with UNESCO, UNICEF, etc is to provide free healthcare in the areas of cervical cancer, breast cancer, the doctors have done the detoxification and they are also giving them vitamins. We also incorporated another organisation, Hallmark Group, which is a financial consultant. They would train the women on whatever skills each of them like and also support them with funds to start business. The programme would be in phases. We have started with 100 women.
There has been this agitation from your senatorial district, the south, for governor, what is your take on it?
There is already a movement called Ekiti South Agenda for governor, I am a part of it. Let us be fair. Ekiti is homogeneous, yes. We all agreed and we are all one, but then why was it divided into three senatorial districts? It is for equity and fairness.
Ekiti State is now 21 years old, the North Senatorial District has had governor two times with Segun Oni and Kayode Fayemi. The central has been there three times with Adebayo and Fayose, first and second terms. The south has been left out. We believe that now, to ensure equity, we have to allow the South take it. But that is not to say that we are in this agitation because the south is weak and cannot produce a governor no! They should not misconstrue us. What we are saying is that we have people who are as good as those from the other districts. We should then be given a chance. We are not compromising quality for zoning. We should be able to remember this, after the death of Abiola in 1998, what the north did was to support a South West candidate in the person of Obasanjo in order to compensate the region for the loss of MKO. Everyone from all the regions agreed. If that could be done at the national level, why can’t we have such arrangement in Ekiti State? So, what we are saying is that for justice, equity and fairness, it should now be the turn of the Ekiti South.
Do you think Ekiti people would vote APC now that many Nigerians believe Buhari has not fulfilled his electoral promises at the centre?
A lot of Nigerians believe in a quick fix. But you see, instead of planting a maize that you have today so it could germinate and yield thousands of maize for you. Nigerians want the maize roasted now and eaten. We are talking of a country that was selling crude oil at $140 per barrel, but could not save a Kobo. Over that oil boom period, I read it on a reliable online medium that Saudi-Arabia saved about $900 billion. That was their excess crude oil savings. But instead of saving, we depleted our savings. We shared it all. Some said they gave me N1.2 billion to do documentary others would say they gave me N400 million to do prayers. They squandered $2.1 billion set aside to procure weapons to fight Boko Haram war. The recklessness was too much. It almost got to the point of insanity. You found money under bed, inside soakaway buried underground and so on. Right now, because of the BVN issue, we gathered that some banks have over $20 billion that have not been claimed because the owners are afraid to put their BVN on it. That is how bad it was. Now, we are just getting over that mess. Then remember also that by the time this government got into power, oil price crashed to $29 per barrel. Tell me, where is that country going to start from? How do you expect this government to do so many things? Definitely it will take a toll on us. The APC government has been managing this crisis. Can you believe that now our foreign reserve is now increasing and when you increase the foreign reserve, it has an improving effect on your foreign exchange. I don’t know whether you are aware that Venezuela has the highest volume of oil in the world. But right now, things are so bad for them now with the sharp drop in oil price and they are paying dearly for failing to save. There is now so much hunger and misery in the country, and that is what would have happened in Nigeria, if Buhari had not won the last election. I believe our people would understand that APC has been trying. You know, that it is not APC that is in government in Ekiti, but has salaries of workers been paid? I am very sure that Ekiti people would understand and vote for our party in 2018 and we will take over power in the state.
How hopeful are you to win the ticket of your party?
My former boss used to say that there is no aspirant, we are all mobilisers and to some extent I agree with him. Right now, we may have so many aspirants from APC, but remember no one has paid for the forms. I am sure that by the time the party asks aspirants to pay let us say N5 million for a form, the huge number would reduce by about 70 percent. You would see that a lot of aspirants are just seeking relevance. Many of them would rather align with a winning aspirant when the chips are down, so they could get political slots later. I believe people know quality when they see it. Our people have suffered a lot. Truly many come to throw money around, they would take their money. But they won’t take that money at the expense of their future. They would sit down and distinguish between an aspirant who is coming to lay down an enduring legacy for them and the one who just wants to feed them with Gulder and pepper soup. I believe God will help them in choosing right.