Banji Alabi, a Lagos based lawyer and convener, Ondo State Eminent Group (OSEG) is a major player in the oil and gas sector.
In this interview with REMI ADEFULU, Alabi who was the Lagos State Secretary of the Akeredolu Campaign Organization during the recent Ondo State governorship polls, speaks on why the Action Congress of Nigeria, (ACN) lost the elections, vision of OSEG, its contributions to Ondo State and more.
Our aims essentially is to preserve and promote the dignity and fundamental rights of every citizen of Ondo-state. To achieve social justice, foster the economic and social development of the state, strengthen the cohesion of society and enhance tranquility, as well as to create a climate that is favorable for peace.
Our aim is to promote a genuine partnership between men and women of Ondo State in the conduct of the affairs of the society in which they work, in equality, and complementarily, drawing mutual enrichment from their differences.
Achieving the commitment of every citizen of Ondo-State to peace and development of our state and we believe that the strengthening of the democratization process and representative institutions will greatly contribute to attaining this goal, and promote democracy. Democracy is founded on the rights of everyone to take part in the management of public affairs; it therefore requires the existence of representative institutions at all levels and in particular, a legislature in which all components of society are represented and which has the requisite powers and means to express the will of the people by legislating and overseeing government action.
Our aim is to promote democracy as a form of government. Democracy is the best way of achieving these objectives; it is also the only political system that has the capacity for self-correction.
Contribution to socio-political development
Ondo State Eminent Group is the most influential and politically connected organization whose membership is made up of brothers and sisters from Ondo State who are captains and barons of industry; professionals; academics and eminent citizens who are resident in Lagos. It is an organization that is dedicated to the advancement and progress of Ondo State and her people. Over the years, OSEG has played such vital roles in the political life of Nigeria and in the political life of Ondo State in particular. Our efforts in a way have helped to usher in a better and brighter future for the people of our state . The future of our children and their children is most assured. Our aspiration is to put the feet of our leaders in the three tiers of government to fire in order to run a government that will be second to none in Nigeria. A government that would be dedicated to the creation of wealth and the building of a solid middle class. It is about moving away from a consumption economy to that of production and manufacturing based economy. Ondo State is blessed with abundant natural resources. We have huge reserves and deposits of crude oil, granite, kolanut, palm oil, glass, etc.
Agenda for Ondo’s natural endowment
The poverty of Africa is the poverty of the mind and not that of resources. Africa is just 10 per cent of the world whereas 40 per cent of the resources of the world is in Africa, therefore it is not the natural resources that create wealth but the resources of the mind. Our problems has never been lack of ideas but the courage to implement the ideas, Baba Awolowo had a blue print from education to agriculture to petroleum development so all Mimiko should do is to pick up the document and implement it.
Today, the people of Ondo-State are economically dependent, we are a consuming society. We consume what others produce without any of our own. It is about moving away from a consumption economy to that of production and manufacturing. Ondo State is blessed with abundance of natural resources. We have huge reserves and deposits of crude oil, granite, bitumen, kolanut, cocoa, palm oil, glass.
Ondo-state is better in terms of Natural resources than any state in Africa, and if properly harnessed, the State will be richer than Lagos and Bayelsa State put together,
We have the finest crude-oil deposit in the world, what stops us from obtaining a licence establish a State refinery through Private and public partnership and create some twenty thousand jobs.
Why not create a seaport at Olokola and take half of the revenue from that sector from Lagos-State and in the process create some 50,000 jobs? We have the finest glass, granite for making marbles and tiles, and of course the cocoa and Kolanut industry. The tourist attraction of idanre hill, Igogo festival of Owo
And then the bitumen.
The Bitumen deposit covers a regional belt of about 720 sq km, and spans across Ondo and Ogun States, Southwest of Nigeria. Chemical analyses show that the bitumen contains about 76 per cent of heavy oils, 19 per cent of middle oils and 5 per cent of naphtha gas. Thus, the products can be used in; Road Constructions, Petrochemical Companies, Electricity Power Plants / Generation and Fertilizer Plants.
NNPC is speculated to have shot some 12-fold coverage of 2D seismic data in 1987. It is very important to evaluate the potential of the Bitumen Deposit, using all available seismic and well data in the area, to constrain the size and recoverable reserves for economics, investment and technical partnership purposes.
The Kolanut industry is another area the government should explore for business opportunity in Ondo-state.
Kola nut is a fruit widely consumed all over the country. It is popularly consumed by the Hausas of Northern Nigeria. Kola nut is used for drugs, wine and dye. The popular coca-cola drink contains kola nut. Though the fruit is seasonal, it is available all through the year , Ijare town in Ondo-state is a major producer of kolanut it has great potential as foreign exchange earner
Reflection on Ondo polls
Dr Mimiko, is our brother; our leader and Governor. Those of us in Ondo state eminent group have tremendous respect for him and our first lady Mrs Olukemi Mimiko.
Mimiko will go down in our history as the best politician we ever had in Ondo-state and in Yoruba Land as a whole. He is the iroko of Nigerian politics, as we recently discovered. His popularity has grown in geometrical proportion since the last elections and if there is another election today in Ondo –State he will score 95 per cent.
Mimiko prepared to be governor more than 30 years ago, cultivating friendship all over Ondo-state. Today, there is no street in Ondo-state where Mimiko will not have at least a very close friend. During the election, I found myself fighting on the other side of the divide—Apart from our initial campaign material disadvantage; the volume of material delivery to the war front “in all the local governments had been intermittent and unsuitable for sustaining the titanic battle against Iroko. We had begun to feel the impact of the brain-drain as a result of the mass exodus of political giants and generals from the fold as a direct consequence of the selection of our candidate. In fairness, Aketi (Akeredolu) remains the best of all the candidates, with his intimidating credentials, but he is more of a technocrat than a politician. He is bold, honest, strong, reliable and uncompromising, a trait that is very scarce in Nigeria today
The arrival of several political heavy weights on the side of IROKO brought newer and more sophisticated strategy and propaganda which our troops had no answer.