BY GBENGA OLARINOYE
Senator Olasunkanmi Akinlabi, a former Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a Senator representing Osun West Senatorial District between 2003 and 2007 is taking a shot in this year governorship race in Osun State on the platform of Peoples’ Democratic Party. He spoke with our Osun State correspondent Gbenga Olarinoye on so many issues. Excerpts.
How would you ensure that there would be no imposition of candidates in your party?
I think what matters most is the transparency of our party leaders. Like our party Chairman said, three aspirants obtained intention forms to contest for the governorship election this year, I think that is what matters most. And so far we have three aspirants that have signified intention to slug it out at the primaries level. I know that there would be equal opportunities for all the aspirants.
Am sure they will not impose any candidate on Osun people or PDP because our goal is the same. Our goal is to drive Aregbesola out of Government House in 2014. That is our common goal as far as Osun PDP is concerned. And our party will do everything possible to make sure that Aregbesola is out of that Government House this year.
Among the three aspirants, how do you rate your self?
I have said it several times that I believe that am the most qualified, having served at the both the highest law making body of the nation, that is Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and served at the highest executive level in this country.
Don’t forget that I was a member of National Executive Council from the inception of Yaradua/Jonathan administration. So, to a large extent, I think I am the most qualified out of the three aspirants.
What sectors do you think the current administration in the state under Aregbesola is not handling well that you may want to correct if voted in?
I don’t see any sector where he has excelled really, I can’t see any sector. In the road sector, tell me how he has excelled? He has opened everywhere projects that he cannot complete within the next two or three years. In the road sector, he has not excelled. He has messed up the education sector. Either you are talking of the school uniform where he said that all students should put on the same uniform.
I don’t know where that is done in Nigeria? Or is it through the education re-classification schools that you want to say he has excelled? Can Osun be different from other states of the federation? Osun cannot be different from other states. Or is it the mega nonsense that is called mega school that you want to say he has excelled? How many of the mega schools has he built?
Do we really need the mega school in Osun State? More so, the school feeding programme he is claiming as part of his achievements, Oyinlola actually started it, go and find out. Or is it the Opon-Imo that he has listed as his achievement for the past three years?
Go and find out how many tablets he has distributed to our students up till date? Is that an achievement? Or is it in the health sector you want to say he has achieved? I cannot see any sector he has excelled except his achievements on the pages of newspapers.
If you are actually elected as governor would you continue the projects of the Aregbesola’s Administration?
Let me say this that so many unpopular programmes of Aregbesola will be re-visited by our administration. We are going to re-visit many of his programmes by the grace of God if the good people of Osun State vote me in as their governor this year. We are going to re-visit so many unpopular programmes of his. Let me give one of example.
Religion matter has never been a problem before, but it was at the time Aregbesola came in, that all these crises started. We had not seen riot in Osun State as far as issue of religion is concerned in the state before until Aregbesola came to office.
For the first time, we have seen students protesting heavily around the state. I can assure you that we are going to re-visit that after thorough consultation with all the stakeholders in the state. We are not going to govern as if we are in the military era. Our administration is going to be truly civilian, like I always says, I am from Osun, I schooled in Osun, I went to school in Osun, I live here and after my university, I am back to Osun.
So what I am saying in essence is that I am familiar with the needs of our people here in osun and we shall do extensive consultations with relevant stakeholders before we introduce any new policy. Let me go back to the issue of education, the merger of schools, can you tell me that Aregbesola actually consulted stakeholders? I have seen some teachers complaining that the policy was imposed on them, complaining that Aregbsola did not consult anybody before he took the step.
Let me give you another example when Aregbesola came in for the first two years, we were battling with the issue of Osun State or State of Osun. How has that affected or improved the life of the people in the state? So, all these unpopular policies will be r-visited.
Can you shed more light on how you are going to rule the state if elected .
Yes, you see, my major focus in my first year is going to be education or what I will call human capital development, infrastructure development and employment generation. The first priority is human capital development.