By Bartholomew Madukwe

Chief Segun Abrahams, an engineer and business mogul is one of the aspirants on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN in the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Ondo State. Abrahams who had in the past helped in enthroning the past civilian governors of the state in this interview, explains why he is entering the fray himself this time. He also explains the issues that would define the contest and explores his chances ahead of the party primaries. Excerpts:

How will you respond to claims that you don’t have sufficient political and administrative experience to manage affairs of a state?

When they say public sector experience, all my business was done with government, as a contractor. Secondly, I have been advising politicians over the years. However, public administration experience in Nigeria has been a colossal failure and even if you have that kind of experience, it is the experience of failure. They do not have what we call relevant and developmental experience.

For somebody like me, a technocrat bringing experience from the private sector that is called innovation, I have the kind of experience that Chief Awolowo brought to the Western Region. He was not in public administration before he became the Leader of Government Business in the region in 1952.

Fashola was not in public administration before, Tinubu was not in public sector before, I was not also in the public sector before. Those who are arguing about the need for public sector before are people who are content with failure, people who have been part and parcel of the system and that system has been failing.

How do you intend to increase internal generated revenue in Ondo state?
The people in government are used to taking money every month, so they don’t think how they can generate money. But, for somebody like me who knows very well that we cannot and should not solely depend on income from the federal government because it shows that we are all idle, we are going to turn around the state.

First and foremost, we are going to train our people, our youths, our professionals to the relevant needs of our environment because the first thing is that you must be able to conquer your environment to be able to survive very well. We shall not allow our environment to dictate to us.

How do you intend to plug the leakage points that breed corruption?
When the leader is good, the followers will tend to be good, that is the law of goodness. If the head is bad the whole of the body will be bad, and if the head is good, then most parts of the body will be good, so the little part of the body that remains will be able to trust them. The people I am going to appoint will be people of integrity, people who have the interest of the people in mind.

Engr. Abrahams

It is alleged that all the noise in Ondo is propaganda and that ACN is not on the ground in Ondo. How do you react to that?

Why did the chairman, deputy chairman, and other key officials of the Labour Party defect to ACN? People are trooping in to join ACN. So, if we are not popular, why are people coming to join us? Don’t forget that our party has been restructured, and members can be found in all the nooks and crannies of the local government areas of the state. Can you imagine that people are decamping from the government in power?

Why are they not decamping in Lagos and Ekiti? Why are they not decamping in Edo and Osun? So, if this government is popular, will it be losing its members to the party that is not in government, especially in a state where there are no industries and people depend on government.

Are you afraid that ACN may be its own enemy at the end of the day; that it is a divided House that may not stand after the election?

I normally use history for what is happening, to guide us. From past experience; we have never had a divided house in the ACN. In Lagos we did election there without divided house, in Osun there was no divided house, in Ekiti there was no divided house, in Edo there was no divided house, in Oyo and Ogun there was no divide house. As democrats, our members believe in the supremacy of the party; if the party leaders say these are the people that we choose to deliver the democracy, we will all support them.

Are you saying that the contest is unlikely to lead to exodus from the party? How would you personally react if another aspirant gets the nod of the party elders?

You don’t have to leave the party, and when you do that, it means you are not a democrat, that means you are just there as a gold digger, that means you are just there because of office. You don’t join a party because of office but because you believe in the ideology and the philosophy of that party.

So, those who have gone, we thank God we gave everybody a kind of level ground because we want everybody, at the same time, if you now leave because you were not given the position, that means you are not a member of the party Suppose someone is eyeing the post of a commissioner and he does not get appointed a commissioner tomorrow, does that mean that he is going to leave the party?

Someone wants a post of chairman of board and he does not get the post, he leaves, that shows that he is more concerned about his pocket. Whoever leaves is not loyal to the party. I have been serving the party, using my resources to serve the party, for many years and I did not leave, even the leaders of the party know me for that.

Are you saying irrespective of the process that may throw up the candidate, you will stick to the party?
Our process is very democratic, what people refuse to understand in the country is that we have brought innovation to the process of the emergence of candidates in ACN so that we can produce the best candidate.  The process that produced Fashola, Aregbesola, Fayemi, Amosun, Oshiomhole, Ajimobi will you say it is bad? Is the process employed in choosing the people who are arraigned for stealing billions a true process?

That is not a kind of process we are using in ACN, that they will say someone stole 58 billion Naira in Abuja, is that a process? There are so many criteria that we put forward before we eventually pick a candidate. It is not a process of making mouth around the street. No, there are processes that you must pass through before you can be finally picked as the candidate especially this time that the party is ready to deliver, to work and not ready for any godfatherism.

One of your opponents (not in ACN) said you are an Akoko foreigner, how will you respond to this?
I don’t know what the person means by Akoko foreigner, because I have house there, my parents’ houses are there, my brothers’ houses are there, my family house is there. I give scholarship to the people of Akoko every year and I have done that in the last 10 years. So this person who says I am a foreigner, can he tell me what he or his family has done for Akoko?

I set up businesses in Akoko so I don’t know how he is going to define Akoko foreigner, I don’t understand what he is saying, so he should let me understand what it means to be an Akoko foreigner. My grandfather’s house is very close to our other families. Who is Akoko foreigner? The only thing I can say is that the person must be a very local person who has never travelled out.

Most of Akoko people are not local most of them have travelled out one way or the other, or maybe I had travelled out that is what makes me a foreigner. I want to know the section of the constitution that makes me a foreigner here in Nigeria especially in my place of birth where I have contributed meaningfully, where they have given me awards.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.