By Dotun  Ibiwoye

Former Governor Rasheed Adewolu Ladoja will definitely not fizzle out of Oyo State politics, due to several variables which he created and the ones he does not have control over. The first is that he has a large number of political followership in the state, thanks to his Accord Party which won seats at the state and national assemblies. The other factor is the ubiquitous challenges that former governors face in terms of performance in office. In this interview, he bares his mind on the orgy of violence in Oyo State, life at 70, governance in the state since he left office and his reasons for planning to come back to Agodi Government House, Ibadan having emerged as the gubernatorial candidate of his party ahead of 2015.

What is the dichotomy between leaders and rulers, which you highlighted as a major challenge and vacuum lacking in several segments of the country?

Ladoja

Well, have you ever seen people contesting elections saying they are coming to rule you? They will just say they are coming to serve but the fact is how many of them do serve? Most of them serve themselves, they do not serve the people. Even the new governors, how many of them go back to their old houses when they are through, even in Oyo State. Once they get to the office, they think where they are coming from is no more good for them. They either change it or expand it. And that is not the issue because what is most important is the service you give to the people. And we have been able to prove to the people that we are the “Oselu”and not the “Ojelu”.

People are the focus of our government, serving them is also our focus. And that is our issue with the present administration. We are not saying don’t build infrastructure or don’t take people off the street but create those places first and make it affordable for them. What is the essence of the new place you get for them, how are they going to fill it up after you have destroyed all their wares? And some of them even died in the process. The road side traders, they borrowed money from micro finance, the thing is so painful. Most of them died, most of them went into shock and they can’t come out. That is not the essence of government. That is why we are saying that we are coming here to serve the people.

So are you a leader who will bring something new as everyone claims to give a better life to the people.

I don’t call myself a leader, they call me a leader. They know why they call me a leader. The humility is just part of my life. I know that the essence of a leader is to be close to your people. That is when you can get the best out of them. If you meet someone and the person does not understand what you are saying, you are not communicating. So that is the situation. And in any case, if you are saying that you are the servant of the people, because if you are saying we are coming to serve you, that means we are not coming to lord it on you. So how do you serve people? In those days, when a civil servant wrote a letter, he would put ‘your faithful servant’ to sign off, but that is not so today.

Your party, Accord, does not have national spread. Why do you feel you will attract the people to your party?

Why we are different is that we localize our policies. You are responsible for what happens in your area. We don’t say it on the books only, we practice it on ground. When you are in charge, you are in charge and that is what makes us different from the others. It is the people that choose their candidates, the candidates they believe can serve them, so we don’t go there to say this is the person you must vote for. So, I am just a member of the party and that is why we are expanding quickly, because when others, who don’t have such system in their own parties come close to us, they are surprised and they join us.

So we focus on those areas where the people expect government to focus on: education, agriculture, social amenities and so on. People have seen us perform so they cannot doubt us because they know that we are performers.

Don’t you feel the people in state will be unimpressed with you coming back after governing the state before and now planning a comeback?

We only need to continue where we left. As I said, I would not need to go back to office if they had been performing. Our policies worked. Look at our schools, we said 39 students per class and we got it. And the achievements we made were ranked second in Nigeria. People saw what we did and recognized it. Also, our university, LAUTECH, was rated as the best state university in 2004/2005 and was also third on the Nigeria university list. So what is the position today which means it is possible to achieve that today with good leadership? If they had been performing, I would have loved to be part of their success but now that the people are suffering, Oyo State was 24th out of 36 states in Nigeria in the WAEC exams. All the southern states beat us. We are now ranking with states like Yobe, Adamawa that are ravaged by war and there is no war here. If we don’t train our children now, there is no future for the state. This is why I cannot sleep. We are not going to waste money building skyscrapers, we are going to invest in the people. We have land that is fertile, so we can plant. So there is nothing that we can’t do here in Oyo State. That’s where we are going to employ people.

We are not satisfied with the performance of the present administration and that is why we are coming back.

The first professor of medicine in Africa, Emeritus Professor Oladipo Akinkugbe noted your humility at the activity marking your 70th birthday celebration. How has it been?’

Very good. I give glory to God, He has done all I wanted for me. Working under people and working for myself has been great and I give glory to God. He has done for me more than I expect, so the only thing is to keep on thanking him. Not everybody will wake up one day and decide to become a senator and the people will gather round him. I feel fulfilled and the only thing I can do is to continue serving the people till my last breath. God has made me greater than my father. He (father) was a councillor.

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