By Emmanuel Aziken
SENATOR Ibikunle Amosun, is the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN Gubernatorial Candidate in Ogun State. Amosun represented the Ogun Central Senatorial district between 2003 and 2007 in the Senate and was a pillar upon which the PDP came to renown in the State.
Senator Amosun’s bearing on the politics of the State is generally acknowledged as phenomenal and it was on that basis he was adopted as the ACN gubernatorial candidate in the State. Amosun in the interview below gives an insight into the condition of the gateway State and his plans to lift the State. Excerpts.
Congratulations for securing the nomination of Ogun ACN. But is the party going to the election as a united front?
Yes. We had our challenges, we have managed to unite and face the election. Our leader, Aremo Osoba has always been telling us that we cant afford to go to battle with any faction and that I can assure you we have achieved.
Some people have expressed mix reactions concerning your desire to contest in Ogun state in April; some said you are desperate for power. What really informed your desire to contest again after the 2007 disappointment?
Politics is a good platform to serve your people. If you want to serve politics is the way by which you want to reach them. Even before venturing into politics, I have had opportunities at different occasions; I’ve had reasons to assist so many people from my community, even those that I do not know and I am still ding it till today.
But after some years, I found out that there could be a bigger and better platform, and that platform happens to be politics. In a null shell, I consider politics as a better platform to better serve my people.
When people say I’m desperate, I don’t understand what they mean by that. Maybe they reason so because people go into politics for personal gains but at the risk of sounding immodest, politics takes a lot from me; it takes my time, even I‘ve lost what I call my quiet moment. It takes my money. You don’t even have time for your family any more; you only strive hard to create time for them.
I remember one day my son told me that you are no more daddy that we used to see as dad, but that we do not see Senator and that was when I wasn’t in politics. Of course they see me around more often, but these days, it is even very difficult for me to make myself available to them.
But I feel in spite of all those difficulties, at least I have some little time with them. So, if anybody should now consider my quest to serve my people as being desperate, I want to believe that they don’t know the sacrifice involved.
I’m somebody that when I believe in a course, whatever it’s going to take, whatever its going to cost me I give it. If I tell some people the prices that I’ve paid just for the quest to serve my people are enough for the light hearted to chicken out. But for me, I am more determined to ensure that Ogun state is on top in everything and the dreams of the founding fathers of the state are realised.
I don’t believe that desperation has set in or will set in, I’m just focused until when I think I reach that goal of serving my people and making Ogun the envy of all. We are close to Lagos ad we see how that state has been transformed we can do it here too.
So, what has been your source of inspiration?
It is the support that I get from my people. Even that support these days frightens me; It is fanatical. People look at me as the person that can solve all the problems Ogun is enmeshed in. The rot is massive and they see me as the one who can resolve it. I know God will see me through and that hope will be met.
The people of Ogun State, most of them, somehow, look at me as somebody that can redeemed them from the messy situation the PDP government has put them in the last eight years.
If it were to be about money, I don’t think probably I will have anybody still following me, because of course, we are not in government and I don’t have money or contracts to share. The little God has given to me, I channel most of it to this desire to serve my people.
What is your assessment of the situation in Ogun State today?
Indeed few years ago, one elderly person said that Ogun State is failed state and I was ashamed. But there is rot on all the facets. Talk about education, it is in total shamble, lecturers in tertiary institutions are not being paid, even the secondary school students are dropping out of school. I understand that lecturers at OOU, that is Olabisi Onabanjo University, the college of education and the ICT Polytechnics that they set up are not being paid.
Some of them are now on strike now because they are being owed up to eight months salary arrears.
In secondary schools, a class that should be just 30-35 is containing 100 students. Over 700 students are in a class in MAPOLY yet they want effective learning.
The road network in Ogun State is in terrible state. Just go through the entire length and breath of the state and you will see that we just don’t have roads. People in places like Sango_Ota, Mowe, Ibafo and adjourning towns are really feeling the neglect of government. No single passable road in Sango, yet that is the area that contributes the largest to IGR of the state.
Those in Mowe, Ibafo, Lambe, Agbado Oke-odo wont agree with you there is government in this state.
In Yewa, their roads there are in terrible state, Abeokuta roads are in bad state, the same with Ijebu Ode roads. It is potholes everywhere. It appears that probably there is no government in Ogun State.
Ogun State that produced the first medical doctor, Ogun State that produced the first Chartered Accountant, Ogun State that produced the first indigenous Chief Judge, Ogun State is known for many good things. But now, Ogun State is known for the wrong reasons: cultism, fetish things, oath taking, everything that is bad that is what Ogun State is now known for.
Can you imagine in this century, Ogun State, a very important arm of the government, the legislative arm in Ogun State has been closed for upward four months and all the PDP people that are there are doing nothing? People are even afraid to talk, we’ve never had it so bad.
Water that the United Nations rated, as one of the ways to measure Human Development Index is now a scarce commodity in the state. The PDP government met water flowing in 2003 but by 2010 no water for anyone to drink again. People are drinking from Ogun River now.
I remember in 2003 there were so much noise on farm settlement, but after their eight years it is all promises and failed promises. Ogun State has been taken over by those one would describe as locusts; they have eaten deep into all the fabrics of the state.
I remember so much noise was made of this Cargo Airport; the day they were saying is the Expected Day of Delivery was December 16, 2005 and this is 2011, nothing has happened; failed promises but siphoned money.
So what would be your priority as Governor?
What we want to do is to do a total overhaul of our educational problem; we want to bring back those good values. Of course, we don’t want to recreate only what Baba Awolowo gave us, but we will look out for those things that UNESCO prescribed.
I’ve always believed there is no reason why education should not be free up to at least secondary school level.
Then the second one is health sector, we want to look at what we call wealth creation. If you look at the insecurity in Ogun State I do not know if any state that can match or rival Ogun State in terms of insecurity. I know yes, there are some states that have all these ethnic related or religious unrest, you can talk about Jos, probably some other states in the north, may be Borno. But in Ogun State, these are avoidable issues.
I can give you about five instances, there’s no time that they will intercept firearms from any of those officials in Ogun State, the first thing they will say is that they are licensed gun. If Special Adviser is seen with gun, it is licensed gun, commissioner, it is licensed gun, local government chairmen, it is licensed gun. The last one was I understand they intercepted about 46 brand new AK 47 and the story we heard was that they had only one gun on the said local government caretaker chairman. The other time when the Chief of Staff went to the State House, they found a gun on him he said it is licensed. It tells you that all the officials of Ogun State government all have guns. What do they use gun for in government, do you use gun to govern?
Will it be your priority to probe the outgoing administration if you are successful at the polls?
I don’t want to use my good time and the good people of Ogun State what I consider good time to be chasing shadows. For me, anybody that has mismanaged Ogun State funds, is not my fund yes, whether I’m there or not should be answerable. But I will not make that as a priority.
Rather, I will want to focus on what I want to do and what we can do and how to go about doing it. I don’t to begin to waste my time and say we want to probe, we want to rationalize and all that. Of course, lessons will be learnt from what is on ground, where are we?
How do you hope to make a difference between the outcome of the 2007 general elections and the forthcoming elections?
We are going to be ready to defend our votes. Yes, it’s not something that an individual will do, but we’ve been sensitizing our people. They know what has happened in 2007 and all of them are ready now. So, we will just do more of educating them, sensitizing them to know that this time around the only thing between you and selecting your true representative is to protect your vote.
So, we have to enforce it, all of us in our various locations. So, for us in Ogun State, we’ve been talking to them let us enforce One Man One Vote, let us help INEC by everybody turning himself to what we call Vote Vigilante, we will be there to make sure that nobody mess up with our votes this time around.