I’ll transform Ekiti in record time —Oluleye, former PTDF secretary
Former Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) respectively, Dr Oluwole Oluleye, is seeking to govern Ekiti State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State. In this interview with MOSES ALAO, at his Efon-Alaaye home town, he speaks on his plan for the state, the zoning argument and other issues.
You declared your intention to govern Ekiti State last Friday and that makes one wonder why now? What is your attraction for seeking to be governor at a time when most states are insolvent?
The attraction is in the fact that I can make the difference and, of all times, now is the best time to make that difference. You also asked why I am seeking to be governor at a time most states are insolvent; well, I don’t think relying on federal allocations alone can make a state thrive. If you think we cannot generate enough IGR to run Ekiti State, I will show you the blueprint of a determined man, willing to turn the tides round. I have said it in different fora; in Ekiti, we have enough human and natural capital to propel our economy and make it buoyant. And these are what I will be doing if I am given the opportunity to serve my people.
Yes, monthly allocations from the centre are good; but they are only good enough for us to plan and stabilise, they are not good enough for geometric growth. We must, as a matter of urgency, look inwards and harness our resources for a better and prosperous Ekiti State, which is part of my plans. Look at what is happening between Kebbi and Lagos State as regards rice planting, packaging and marketing. Ekiti can achieve more. I remember the Igbimo rice in those days. We have the capacity to partner with neighbouring states for mutually beneficial projects. Given the opportunity, I have quick fixes and long term projects. Ekiti, I repeat, is not a poor state. I will generate enough without painful deductions from workers and without levying growing businesses to death. It is all about strategic thinking.
You said the federal allocations are not good enough for geometric growth, so how do you intend to raise enough funds to solve the enormous challenges in the state?
I have said it earlier. My motivation and challenge is in surmounting the challenge of the naturally inadequate federal allocations. To achieve this is actually not rocket science; I do not belong to the school of thought that believes that some states are insolvent. Even in the desert, you have the oasis. The ability to look inwards and do some critical thinking is what it requires. I have managed heavy budgets in the course of my service to the nation and I know what it takes to set priorities and be target-oriented.
You are contesting on the platform of the APC against the PDP machinery led by Governor Ayodele Fayose, who has boasted that his party will win the election. How ready is your party for the battle ahead, especially given the infighting in the APC in the state?
If Fayose truly boasted like that, let me tell you that he is not God. Only God can determine what will happen tomorrow. You know the best joke that can make God laugh heartily? It is when lesser mortals like us boast of tomorrow, when it is only He, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who knows what will happen to us within a twinkle of an eye.
The truth is that the PDP is actually making it easier for the APC to coast home to victory. You go out in Ekiti now and feel the pulse of the electorates and then form your conclusions as to whether our party stands the chance of defeating PDP or not. By the way, if the chances are not bright, you won’t find so many aspirants in APC coming out to vie for the position.
The infighting you described in APC is healthy. Where you have cross-fertilisation of ideas, there is bound to be arguments. But it is nothing compared to what is happening in the opposition. APC will emerge from these hiccups stronger. However, I am equally certain that INEC will ensure a free and fair contest and the will of the people will be done. If Ekiti people unanimously and legitimately clamour for change, they will get by God’s grace.
If you win the ticket of your party and elected governor, what do you intend to do differently from what the incumbent or his predecessors have done?
So many things will be done differently. For instance, I will right all the wrongs. Prior to this interest, I have moved round every nook and cranny of the state, visiting, consulting, observing, gauging moods and feeling the pulse of the great people of Ekiti State, both high and low. What stood out unambiguously is the people’s collective yearning for a meaningful, positive and impactful change. I feel the pains of the people. I know the desires of all the 177 wards, the 16 local governments and 19 LCDAs. I know where the shoe pinches within the APC and beyond. It suffices here to say that I have come with a blueprint to address those missing gaps and make our party and Ekiti State great again. Just wait for the Party/INEC guidelines on elections to be out, then I will reel out comprehensive plans of what the problems are in Ekiti, what we will do to address these challenges, both on a short term and a long term basis and our yardstick for measuring progress.
For quite some time now, the argument for and against zoning has dominated the political discourse in the state, with Ekiti South, which is yet to produce a governor in the state, making a strong claim. What is your take on this?
I am always an advocate of free will. I believe in the emergence of the best candidate. I believe power resides in the people, and they choose who they want to lead them. I do not think there has ever been a time when aspirants didn’t come from all the senatorial zones in Ekiti State. Eventually, a candidate must win. There is nothing wrong in agitation and agitating. There is nothing wrong also with any candidate from any zone showing interest in governing the state. At least, that aspect, zoning, is silent in our constitution. I stand for credentials and conviction. I stand for candidates who can deliver to the common good of all. Where he or she comes from does not matter to me. Must we sacrifice competence on the altar of zoning? This is also not to say that candidates emerging from other zones are not equally competent. It is for the electorates to decide who they are convinced can deliver. I wish we could stop laying emphasis on zoning and lay more emphasis on capabilities and competence.
You made reference to your experience; don’t you think there is a difference between PPPRA, PTDF and being a governor, with the latter especially demand that you mix freely with people, a hallmark that seems have endeared Governor Fayose to the people?
Specifically, I have had a fulfilled career, which spanned cumulatively over 33 years as both a public servant and a technocrat. I rose steadily in cadre and responsibilities from the National Productivity Centre, to the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), as the pioneer Executive Secretary and to being Executive Secretary Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), among other national assignments. In all of these assignments and duties, I have had cause to play politics to get things done and meet my targets. I am perfectly at home with administration. I am an adherent of due process. I have also travelled far and wide to enable me think global and act local, bringing to bear those experiences garnered over a period of 33 years.
After years of meritorious service to Nigeria, I returned to my home town, Efon-Alaaye as an entrepreneur. I run a poultry farm. By extension, the business has been able to provide income for over four hundred Efon-Alaaye and Ekiti State indigenes in terms of sales of outputs and proceeds from the farm. So, when you talk about administration, I can’t be found wanting. When you talk about business set up, I have also had my fair share of the challenges and opportunities. And when you talk about mixing freely with people; I can confidently tell you that I do not need to be pretentious or cosmetic about relating with people before I convince you that I am close to my people. I know where the shoe pinches them and I intend to bring all the experiences I have had to ensure good governance in Ekiti State.
You are over 60; if you are elected, you will be the oldest to govern Ekiti State since its creation. Don’t you see your age as odd, especially at a time the National Assembly is trying to reduce the age of aspirants for governorship posts to 35 years?
I can tell you that age comes with wisdom; it comes with maturity. Age comes with experience; it comes with the capabilities to handle complex issues and age comes with respect. It is actually an asset and not a liability. By the way, I play 18 rounds of golf almost four/five times a week. That means I have to walk about 10 kilometres any time I play; so I am physically fit more that people of my age. Age is no barrier for me; as a matter of fact, a lot of the things that other much younger chief executives will find hard to handle, I will handle them easily because I have had experience.
Source : Nigeria Tribune