Senator Gbenga Aluko represented Ekiti South senatorial district in the fourth senate in 1999 as the only Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) legislator from the south-west. Now a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), SGA as he is fondly called wants to be governor of Ekiti State to do things differently in the state he said has not made progress in the past 40 years.
He has a blueprint for industrialising Ekiti through solar and modular power generation. He also says the herdsmen matter is blown out of proportion and capped with sentiments because President Muhammadu Buhari is Fulani.
You want to be governor of Ekiti State. What informed the interest?
I have been in the field since January 22, 2016, that is technically for two years now. I was in the Fourth Senate, 1999 to 2003; I am an old hand in the senate. Regarding why I want to run for governor of Ekiti State, I entered Form 1 in a school called Christ School Ado Ekiti in 1973. While I was in Staff School University of Ife, majority of us wanted to go to Christ School because it is a very reputable school. It is amazing that Ekiti State has not changed generally since then. I entered Form 1 at age nine, I’m 55 now so we are talking about 46 years ago and the city of Ado Ekiti has not changed. It is terrible and makes people like us upset that a state reputed to be one of the educationally advanced states is so backward; no power, no good roads, no industries and no jobs. The education we claim to be leaders in, is in dilapidated state, everything is in shambles and we have had democracy since 1999.
There is lack of proper leadership that will improve Ekiti State. We must put in a standard where Ekiti people can start from. I don’t want to start running around for elections when I’m 70. So I’m giving it a last shot to develop my state appropriately. I have already shown it by example. I own the only industry in Ekiti State whether government or private that is producing. Maybe the only other one will be the bottled water plant located near the water spring but they are just bottling what God created. So I’ve shown by example, not just by words but deeds that we can establish industries in Ekiti and create jobs. I haven’t been on public power for the past eight years, I use generators and it’s not a profitable process but at least I’ve shown example and I can only get better.
So what will you do differently if you are elected governor?
One of the few things I intend to do as governor is to generate power. I’m going to change the grid of Ekiti State. I’m going to run power generation and distribution through the use of solar and modular gas-powered power generating plants. I will take the grid of Ekiti State out of the former NEPA. I’m looking at running the power situation in Ekiti that when people in contiguous states to Ekiti see what is happening that we have power 24 / 7, they will ask their leaders if Ekiti can do it how come we are in darkness. We have a plan and it will be implemented in four years. We also intend to do 1,000 kilometres of first class roads, 250 kilometres every year and we are talking about standard roads that the contractor will give us an assurance that in 25 years those roads will not deface or collapse. Of course there will be the normal wear and tear but there will be a maintenance clause in the contract that will kick off immediately the road is commissioned.
We will do this, we will do that. Those are all we hear from politicians all the time. What assurances are you giving that these are not mere rhetoric?
We all have our frustration why Nigeria is the way it is especially for those of us that has travelled wide. You can only hold a man accountable to what he says he will do. In politics if a man says he will do XYZ and in four years he has not done them you have the power to vote him out. The people of Ekiti know the kind of family I come from; they know my track record and pedigree. They’ve seen me do things. In my local government, when I wanted to acquire the land I used for my factory some people were sceptical that it was one of those ploy where someone comes to say I want to do this, then acquires the land and does nothing. But in my case I’ve converted a land that was a traditional cemetery into a first class factory.
Talking about your pedigree, some argue that you rely more on the clout of your father…
(Cuts in) unfortunately, my father is late so I don’t see how I rely on the influence of a dead man but my father is my father and I have no apologies for being the son of Prof. Sam Aluko. It is his blood that runs in my veins and in the veins of my own children. In fact I’m very proud of him in life and death. I owe no body any apology. If Ekiti people have respect for my father, which I know they do then they should measure me on the fact that I come from a respected family. That is what pedigree is all about.
Both PDP and APC have ruled Ekiti State. Why is it that as you say the state has not developed? Is it the fault of the party or the persons that ruled the state?
Political parties don’t run themselves, individuals run parties. APC is a party of so many people from various parties and it is the same with the PDP. The problem is really about the personalities. People talk about progressives but I can tell you that no party is more progressive than the other. A man like President Buhari will remain Buhari in any party he is and that is why people like us follow him because he carries a personal characteristic that is transparently honest, like my father. In 2003 when he contested with Chuba Okadigbo as running-mate I was one of the few people from the south-west that were in his campaign. That time it was not the trend for you to be Yoruba and root for Buhari over Obasanjo.
Former President Obasanjo recently made some statements that Buhari has failed and should not contest again in 2019. What do you think?
The presidential team has responded and their response is enough. Obasanjo is an elder statesman. Even if he had made errors you want to be as respectful as you can. Obasanjo has so much reach and access to Buhari who was his junior in the military. Obasanjo could have written to Buhari and say I want to see you in Abeokuta and Buhari even as President, will make time and see him. On whether Buhari should run for a second term, I believe he should for one major reason. Nobody in Nigeria can say that the profligate nature of government in the past administration is the same thing as we have now. The profligacy under Jonathan was legendary. So we need the president to stem that misbehaviour for at least eight years.
The general impression is that security and welfare of the citizenry, the primary essence of government is on very low ebb now. The Fulani herdsmen are killing. What do you say?
I’m glad you said it is an impression, impressions are not always right. I want to appeal to those who are in the business of providing facts to the society to really provide both current and historical facts about security especially on this Fulani herdsmen issue. The only reason this has come to the head is because we have a Fulani man as president. This thing they’re saying about the Fulani herdsmen is the biggest fallacy. I’m one of the few people that don’t fly within Nigeria. Anywhere I go within Nigeria I go by road and I encounter Fulani herders. These are nine, 10, 15 year old boys who carry sticks that are even taller than them. Are they the ones purportedly carrying AK47? It is the biggest fallacy in Nigeria today.
But we have seen their pictures carrying…
(Cuts in) some of these pictures you see on social media are actually pictures from Rwanda, of the Tutsi and the Hutu. Social media is the biggest vehicle of fake news. There is insecurity in Nigeria but there is also insecurity in America where we hear of people walking into a school and shooting. We have had kidnappings in the Nigeria for the past 10 years but do we call them Igbo kidnappers or Benue kidnappers? Now when anything happens they say it is Fulani herdsmen. It’s not true and we have to inform the public because if you don’t know the problem you can’t solve it.
How would you rate the administration of Gov. Ayo Fayose?
I don’t like assessing a governor I want to replace, but Fayose can only provide governance to the limit of his ability. I understand the history of Fayose’s first and second coming. His first coming was done almost 100 percent by Obasanjo and the PDP structure led by Bode George that needed a foothold in the south-west by all means possible. Fayose is a direct beneficiary of that; he did not win because of his political dexterity.
In 2014 Ekiti election, which was the first before the 2015 general election, Goodluck Jonathan was desperate not to lose Osun and Ekiti states, he said we should have a consensus candidate and I got the consensus ticket but the PDP took it and gave to Fayose because he fit the character of the person they wanted in their desperation to win. They said I was too clean. So when Fayose says I defeated Kayode Fayemi 16 – 0, I laugh because I know what happened, we were in the same party then.
Fayose has anointed his deputy to take over from him…
(Cuts in) I don’t want to comment on what the PDP has done, I’m concentrating on being the candidate of the APC. But I tell you that once I get the ticket the PDP will lose that election. We don’t know the deputy governor he’s anointing. He is the son of the original 83-year-old who Fayose picked to be his deputy. The PDP told him he can’t have an 83-year-old as deputy so that 83-year-old nominated his son. But like I said I don’t want to talk about the PDP.