Research has shown that the inability of majority of Nigerians to speak foreign languages such as French has resulted in their loss of inter-regional as well as international jobs, including ones statutorily allocated to Nigerians.
From YINKA FABOWALE, Ibadan
Mr Ayodele Adigun was the Secretary to the Oyo State Government under the administration of Rashidi Ladoja against whom he ran for the state governorship in 2003. The former governorship aspirant recently defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to Ladoja –led Accord Party.
In this interview, he explains the rationale for the move, even as he made blistering criticism of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) regime in the state, accusing it of misplacement of priority and flip- flopping on many of its programmes.
You surprised many recently when you defected with your followers from PDP to Accord Party. What informed that move?
I have always been a member of the PDP since 2001, but all along I found out that PDP is a much undisciplined party, much unorganized and always on perpetual path of conflict. Before I left PDP, I think there were five or four notable factions – the Akala faction, the Teslim faction, the Arapaja faction and the neutral faction. So in that kind of situation you cannot have any meaningful progress. So I decided to come to Accord, which is a more disciplined, organized and cohesive party.
But here was Ladoja you refused to follow out of PDP
When Accord was founded, we were all in PDP and I was not ready to leave the PDP then. But having stayed back for some time, I found out that what we were looking for in PDP could not be attained.
Opponents would say it’s because you don’t believe in politics of ideology
The PDP and the Accord party are doing the same in the main. You see the issue is not about ideology in Nigeria. And most parties in Nigeria don’t have that. Forget about the propaganda by some people.
The goal of every politician is to win elections. Would you say that decision of yours was well thought out, given that AP came third in the last election in the state?
It was well thought out. Don’t forget that I was on ground when Accord was founded. We always have known that there could be a merger of Accord and PDP. Don’t forget also that Accord was founded barely four months to the election. The Accord party was able to win eight of the House of Assembly seats within the short period. I am a serious politician. If not I would have maybe opted for ACN, or go along with the PDP, but I found out that if we work hard on the Accord Party, it would be more acceptable to the citizens. Don’t forget that I have been in this state since 2003 in the period of the patriots and Oyo State was on the path of Eldorado.
How would you access the ACN Government in the state?
The ACN government of the state has been wobbling and fumbling. The ACN government is not focused at all. Let us start from the educational policies. The educational policies are in shambles. The health care facilities are in shambles, you’ll recollect that a couple of weeks ago, the governor, after 18 months in office, took a visit to the nearest hospital to his house, the Adeoyo Hospital. There he was lamenting the death of facilities in the hospital. If it took him 18 months to visit the hospital nearest to his home, I wonder what the situation would be in Kishi, Saki, Igbeti, Igboho and other parts of the state. Of recent, the government wanted to embark on the floating of N50billion bond and I had cause to criticize this. When I inquired from the publications they informed us that they wanted to use the money to build a housing estate. In this part of the country, people are no longer very keen about buying houses. If you look closely, the Lam Adesina administration built some houses on Egbeda road about 10 years ago.
The houses are yet to be fully occupied. Also the Ladoja regime built some houses on the way to Abeokuta, if you go there now, you will see that they are also yet to be fully occupied. So, if a government now says it wants to get a bond to build a housing estate, you should know that is infantile and puerile. The government also said it wants to build agricultural silos to store grains. If you will agree with me, in this part of the country, we don’t produce enough grains. For example, they are roasted by the roadside. You hardly have enough to store. Also in Oyo, federal government has silos there. There are also silos in Ayete, Iseyin and Kishi. Now it beats one’s imagination to learn that the state government would embark on the same project.
Also they intend to build circular road. The idea of the circular road was mooted by the Ladoja administration and I was part of it. When we wanted to build the road, it was on a BOT arrangement (Build Operate and Transfer). So that will not stress the government. The contractor will build it, operate it and transfer maybe after 20 years. That was our own projection. The government would not expend any money. The contractor would manage and transfer after about 25 years. Toll, if collected, the government will take its own portion of it. So maybe from N100 the government will take N20 from the investment, which is a better way of approaching the issue. Also the government intends to build a hotel along the Ogunpa River, very near Premier Hotel.
Apart from the fact that ecologically that site is not suitable, because the trees planted along that place are to check erosion, if you open that place, it will give you environmental problem of unimaginable magnitude. Besides, the hotel you want to build, why do you want to crowd-up the central part of Ibadan when there are virgin lands around. If you need 100 hectares, you will find at Ajoda that is owned by government. If you say you want to build a hotel, it’s not a decision well thought-out. Premier, Kakanfo, Lafia, D’rovans and other major ones, are they not doing good? Do we actually need more hotels in Ibadan? And I belive even government has no business in business. So I think such investments like hotel is better for the private sector and not the public sector. So there is no sense in saying you are building hotel. We are not suffering from shortage of hotels. So, I don’t see why the government should bother itself about raising or using part of the places to build a hotel.
The governor’s spokesman has taken you up on your faulting of their plan to take a bond and saying that you’re wrong in equating loan with bond. How do you react to that?
One of the problems that we have in Nigeria is that we have illiterates in the hierarchy of government. Whether you call it a bond or a loan, what goes between the two is what we call debt. If you take a loan, you repay the principal and the interest. If you float a bond, you pay the interest and the principal at the end. The only difference there is that the bond would take a longer period, maybe seven years. The difference is the tenure, but basically they are both debts. The other time one of their spokesmen called me an illiterate, that I don’t know the difference between a bond and a loan. It will interest you to note that when Oyo State floated a bond earlier in the 80s and early 90s, Merchant Bank was keeping the money. I was the Secretary and assistant director expenditure/deputy director expenditure. I was desk officer servicing the repayment of the bond. For somebody to say I don’t know the difference is part of serious ignorance.
You spoke of the possibility of PDP and Accord Party forming an alliance. Do you still see this as possible as several moves had broken down?
At the moment, the Accord Party is the party of the moment. The people in Oyo State have tried PDP, which failed woefully. The performance of PDP was very abysmal; we have witnessed it in this state under the last regime. We are now trying the ACN. The morning will show the day. We have seen and we have observed that the ACN is incapable of running a good administration in Oyo State. The only option open to the people of Oyo State is Accord Party and that is why we continue to receive more members into our fold in Accord Party. More members are coming in from PDP and from ACN into the Accord Party. That is the situation on ground now; I am bold to say it. No right thinking person would want to join PDP now, because PDP as at now has broken into four factions as I have said earlier. So, which of the factions are you going to join? If you are in position to join a party now, if you pick PDP which of the factions are you going to join? One faction has a party executive; two other factions outside are there waging war against the one that has the executive. So PDP as at now is a no-go area. We have seen the performance of ACN. They are busy demolishing shops and stores, and impoverishing the people. I don’t see anything in either of the two parties. As I have said, Accord Party is where to go to.
Very strong in Ibadan, but not as such in other parts of the state
I can assure you that in Oke-Ogun, Ogbomoso, Oyo and Ibarapa, Accord Party is fast picking up. Within the next fortnight, we are going to have another mass declaration of people in Ogo Oluwa Local Government in Ogbomoso. They are ready for us at Atisbo Local Government, at Igboho they are ready for us, at Kishi they are ready for us, at Ibarapa Central, they are ready for us. So, we have this programme lined up for us. I made bold to say that Accord is the only party that people are joining in Oyo State now.
What should we expect of you in 2015?
The good lord is the giver of life. Nobody can be sure if he would wake up tomorrow or not. Everything is in the hands of God. So let us get to the river before we know how to cross it. 2015 as they say is still a long time in politics. Anything can happen between now and then. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and watch.
How do you see the delay in conducting the Local Government elections in the state?
Let me be very honest with you. The governor is afraid to conduct local government elections, because he knows that his party, ACN is not on ground. The PDP too has various factional problems in the state. It is only the Accord Party that is united. The PDP is not united. You recall that some days ago, ACN members were all over the streets abusing the governor. They went to the governor to protest against some of his decisions. ACN members are busy talking to us now. They want to come over to Accord. So if there is any election now, definitely Accord will sweep the polls. That is why the governor is afraid to conduct local government elections. I dare the governor to call for election; we will definitely beat him hands down. Very soon we will take the Federal government to court.
It is a constitutional matter. The constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria does not recognize unelected administrators in the local government level. It is wrong for the federal government to be releasing allocation to caretaker governments in the local governments, if elected members are not there.
So very soon we are taking federal government to court to challenge it, because caretaker government is not recognized in the constitution. We are going to get an injunction from the court to stop the federal government from giving allocation to unelected government. It is the shortcoming of the constitution. It should have stipulated the time frame of conducting elections after the tenure of one administration expires.