The only good thing Ajimobi did

Immediate past Senate Leader, Senator Teslim Folarin was a two time senator who rose to become the Senate Leader between 2007 and 2011 during which time he was the highest elected office holder from the Southwest. Senator Folarin’s drive for public office, according to him, was stimulated by the relative efficiency of service delivery he saw during his fourteen year stint in the British public service.

In that direction, he was recently adopted as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP for the forthcoming governorship election in his native Oyo State. In a session with newsmen in Ibadan at the weekend, Senator Folarin gave an insight into his policy, plans and the political permutations that put him in good position to win the forthcoming election. Excerpts:

By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor

It is perceived that your party in Oyo State is enmeshed in crisis and that would be a disadvantage to you in the election.

I totally disagree. Can you tell me which party in this state that is not in crisis? The APC which is the ruling party has lost all its senators, literally lost most of the House of Representatives members and everyone is leaving the party but no one is talking about that.

Politics is a game of interests and that is why the battle for the control of the soul of the party has been very fierce.

Yes, some people have left, but some people have also come into the party. This season is like the transfer window among football clubs, there is a merry go round, people are going out, people are coming in.

We are very sad to see people go, but they exercised their fundamental human rights which we respect. Yes, we are also making moves towards reconciliation and I can tell you that it is going very, very well. We plan to call a stakeholders’ meeting next week, to carry people along, to let them know that it is a project for everyone and that it is not a Folarin thing, but a PDP thing.

There is a perception that with the crisis that you now have to compete with Rasheed Ladoja, Seyi Makinde and the governor for Ibadan votes while Alao-Akala would be left to harvest the Ogbomoso votes. Are you worried?

Teslim-folarinnYour assumption is wrong. Sometimes in politics, two plus two doesn’t give you four. Sometimes it gives you ten, sometimes it gives you zero. With all due respect, in Ogbomoso zone who left with Governor Akala? It is not just about names, you must have followers.

There are two members of the House of Representatives in Ogbomoso Zone, the House leader and Odebunmi, they didn’t go with him. The House of Assembly members didn’t go with him. The structure of the party did not go with him.

I was with the leader of the party in Ogbomoso, Dr. Saka Balogun, he didn’t go with him. I don’t want to talk about his move, but I think it is a miscalculation and I really do. But you will be shocked with what happens in Ogbomoso. Let me also note that my deputy is from Ogbomoso, a two time local government chairman and a very popular man. No one really went with him (Alao-Akala).

Why do you want to be governor of Oyo State?

It is something I have always wanted to do to change things. I lived in England for fourteen years and there you see how orderly things are done and you begin to wonder why are things not like this in my country and that was what drove me.

I was doing well in England and I have seen successive governments in Oyo State and for me, they have done nothing, because they didn’t come with plans, they don’t put people in the heart of their policies.

We have the recipe for change. As senator I could only attract projects to my constituency, I didn’t have a red pen, but as governor you could make things happen and make a difference.

One of the things I feel strongly about is education because if you fail there, you miss the boat completely. The other day somebody invited me to a party in a high school and you would think you were in a piggery. I couldn’t believe I was in a school.

We feel very strongly also on the issue of youth unemployment because that was one theme that resonated very strongly during my travels across the state. We have been thinking what would we do? We wont waste our time travelling the whole world looking for investors like previous governments have done.

Enabling environment

We would create the enabling environment, we would create a small and medium enterprises unit in one of our ministries that would focus on how to help small businesses, help the youths. We would also generate a lot of jobs in the agricultural sector.

In Oyo State today, infant mortality rate is one of the highest in the country and it is quite unacceptable. For a population of seven million we have about 135 doctors. So, I think if you ask me, it is down to the government.

Though you were discharged and not found guilty in the killing of Eleweomo, but don’t you think the issue could hurt your aspiration?

The issue of Eleweomo was something that used to make me very angry before, but not anymore. I just feel disappointed that we would stoop to this level where we would play politics like this.

The former governor (Akala) wasn’t inclusive, he excluded me and good people like Senator Balogun, Chief Adejo, Senator Ladoja and he drove Ladoja out of the party.

And because of my position as the arrowhead of the opposition to him….and we were not asking too much from him, just include us and they came up with this plan to frame me. I thought it was very, very unfortunate because I was nowhere near the scene of the incident and I ask, as Senate Leader what was my business with NURTW thug? It just didn’t make sense, if you want to frame somebody do it in a more tidy way. In these days of telephone camera, not a single person has any evidence to say that I did it.

Secondly, they rushed to the press and said that I shot the guy and immediately the autopsy report came, they said he was stabbed. Do policemen stab people?

This government, you have to give it to them, when Ajimobi came to power, he called the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) and asked for the file and he, the DPP said Akala asked them to frame me up and he asked him to go and write the correct report and after he wrote the report, he (Ajimobi) sacked him and told him we don’t want to play this kind of politics in this state again.

Government without plan

I am not a violent person and even for my orderlies I don’t tolerate it when they harass motorists and they know it. I have never killed a chicken in my life. It was all a set up and they locked me up in Agodi Prisons all because they wanted to do their primaries.

Now you have cited the good side of Governor Ajimobi could you please tell us some of his other good achievements and then point out his failures?

I just said what he did about that unfortunate case, but I think that since then he has since completely missed the boat.

If you ask me, I will score him 1½ out of 10 because he came into government without any plan, without any clue of what he wants to do and you can see that all he does is travel to Lagos and when he comes back, he will now say Fashola has built one bridge, let me go and build one too. He goes to Lagos again and comes back and says, they are planting some flowers there, let us plant followers.

That is all he does. Look at critical areas of people’s lives, he hasn’t done anything. Go to our hospitals, they are not fenced, our schools are not fenced. Oyo State, the pacesetter state came 23rd in WAEC!

Even this infrastructure they are talking about, they got it wrong. I was the first person to raise the alarm and when I did it, it was with all sense of responsibility thinking that they will change and this government is so insensitive, lacks human face and basically they are clueless.

Poultry without chicken

I said it is basically like having a poultry that stinks and you say you want to get somebody to help you clean it up and somebody now applies, Ajimobi to be specific, and we say we will give you four years to do it and after two years, his supporters say if you go to the poultry you wont believe how clean it is and we ask what is the magic and we check, the poultry is clean but the chicken are not there!

The chemicals he used have killed all the chicken! But you cant have a poultry without chicken. He hasn’t paid compensation, he hasn’t provided alternatives and that is the truth of the matter.

What we are saying is that they got their balance wrong. He forgets all the time that being in government is about serving the people.

If you are going to plant flowers, yes, it makes everywhere look nice, but if it means that it is going to make some people unemployed, then don’t plant the flower.

Once you dislodge them, not only do you cause economic dislocation, you also cause social dislocation and that is the story right across the state and that is why everybody want him out.

Transport management

Even the bridge they built at Mokola, you get the impression that they only built the bridge so that they can say that Ajimobi built this bridge, but it has caused more misery to people living in that area when simple transport management would solve the problem. You are expanding all the roads, but go to England, they have narrow roads, they have traffic lights.

The point I am making is that you can do the right thing the wrong way. I have given you the analogy of the poultry.

You don’t have to use very strong chemicals to kill the chicken. There is nothing wrong with urban regeneration, in fact, it is something we will continue, but we will do it with a human face.

Do you see the incumbency factor as a challenge to your aspiration?

Incumbency in Oyo State has always been a minus! It means nothing in our state if you look at our history. In other states it is a big factor but in our state if you say you are the incumbent it makes it much easier.

Are you worried that Ajimobi could get on the coattails of Gen. Buhari to get to a second term?

What is our business with Gen. Buhari in the Southwest? All we care about is Ajimobi who has demolished our livelihoods. People are angry that Ajimobi has deprived them of their livelihoods, deprived them of their homes. Look, they have built bridges and all that but why haven’t they conducted local government elections? It is because they know that they will lose.

Are you worried that you would be confronting two former governors and an incumbent governor?

Let me tell you that PDP has the strongest platform whether we are in government or not. This thing you mentioned about the former governors, that is the advantage for me. I am going to tell the people that these people have done it before and they failed you, give me a chance.

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