GOVERNOR Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo State is seen by many people from different angles. Some see him as being smart for grabbing a an opportunity in time to become governor for 11 months when his former boss, Senator Rashidi Ladoja was impeached until the courts overturned that, while others saw it as betrayal. But what cannot be taken from him now is that he succeeded in getting his own political term as governor of Oyo State, using the same machinery that his predecessor used.
In the conversation below, he said he never betrayed anybody, but that whatever happened occurred because that was the way God wanted it. Asked about a second term in office, since billboards are all over Ibadan, the state capital, announcing projects undertaken by his administration, Governor Alao-Akala said:
â€œI am yet to consider that because its too early for that. I still have about two more years to go, itâ€™s too early to talk about 2011. By next year, I would give it a thought and come up with a clearer position on that; but for now, Iâ€™m not talking about a second term.â€
The conversation then dovetailed into matters concerning the political structure nurtured by late strongman of Ibadan politics, Alhaji Lamidi Ariyibi Adedibu, and whether that structure is still intact, to the extent that it can play any meaningful role in future elections in the state. To this, the Oyo helmsman responded:
â€œThe Adedibu political family remains intact. We all here are products of his structure. Those who left the family structure now want to come back through the back door, and we are saying no to that.
Also, there is no crack in the PDP in Oyo State. We, the original PDP members in the state are still very intact. Those who left now want to come back because of our ability to render the opposition impotent. Those noisemakers who left due to their inability to clinch one position or the other are now prepared to return but it must be done through due process. When they do so, we would accept them as prodigal sons and daughters but they should do so quietly without destabilising us.â€ Excerpts:
The national headquarters of the PDP recently listed Oyo as one of the seven states that the party might lose in the 2011 elections. How are you preparing for that?
We cannot lose because opponents here have been rendered impotent. Unlike other states, we are not in any tribunal, we are not in court with anyone, and we are not afraid of anyone. We are bulldozers, we cannot lose. Oyo State is the only state in the South-West that is free because we are not in tribunal or court. Those who thought the PDP in Oyo State would collapse have been disappointed.
You see, the people at our national headquarters are listening to these people in Abuja, but they have no root here, they are not on the ground. That is why they would list Oyo as a likely state that can be lost. It cannot happen.
There are news making the rounds that one of Adedibu’s widows would be contesting elections in 2011.
I run a participatory leadership, when the time comes, if our political family allows her to run, so be it. I will endorse the candidate of the people. It is her right to contest.
Many people believe that to have achieved what you have on ground, you must be enjoying the support of your deputy, but in some quarters you are seen as a betrayer who betrayed his boss to become governor. How do you react to that?
My deputy governor is lucky because he is deputy to someone who has been a deputy governor before. So I treat him the way I had wanted to be treated as a deputy. I donâ€™t know what you meant by betrayal, I didnâ€™t betray anybody. A thousand Alao-Akala cannot unseat anybody. God giveth and He taketh power at His own will. Things happen the way God wanted it.
Politically speaking, if anyone in power does not take advice, that is thatâ€™s person problem. I donâ€™t want to open old wounds. Letâ€™s allow sleeping dogs lie. As a Christian, I take my actions with my utmost fear of God, so if anyone runs into avoidable trouble, that person is the architect of his trouble.
On some of your projects, completed and on-going, like the water project at Eleiyele, and the teaching hospital project at Ogbomosos, how did you manage the financing? Did your government borrow any money, if yes, how much for these projects?
I didnâ€™t borrow money from anywhere, we may borrow another time, but as I speak with you, we didnâ€™t borrow a kobo. I must not deceive you, earlier last year we borrowed, but this year we didnâ€™t because the wind fall of bank stock came and we have chosen to be prudent with the money by spending it properly. We cut our coat according to our size. One of the cardinal principles of my administration is that we wouldnâ€™t embark on any white elephant project, so we embark on those projects we would be able to finish on time.
What can you list by way of achievement in education?
Just recently, the Universal Basic Education (UBEC) adjudged Oyo State second in the country; we were surprised. They have video records of all the school structure with them. We are first in the south-west and second in the whole country without lobby and we were given N400 million. This proves that people are interested in what I am doing; unlike commercial awards where the person being given award pays out from his pocket. They gave us money and state of the art car. It was marvellous.
One of your colleagues, Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State has decamped to the PDP. Is decamping good for our democracy?
Ohakim was a member of the PDP before and so has returned; it is like returning to his ancestral home. Ikedi and Isa Yuguda of Bauchi have been with us. Let me give you some information: Before they rejoined PDP, I remember a meeting the governors went and we asked the PDP governors to wait behind after the meeting.
Surprisingly, the two waited until we reminded them that the meeting is for only PDP governors. So, we knew they would soon be part of us. Now that the boat is here, they have anchor their ship. The defection is allowed. The fear is for one party state, why not, if not. If it is not allowed, our President would not have been there to welcome him back to the PDP. My brother, it is allowed.