By Dapo Akinrefon

Senator Kamar Akin Odunsi is the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, in Ogun State. In this interview, he  declares that he is in the race to win the Aprill 11 election.

You are a professional before going into politics. Why did you decide to go into politics?

Well, I decided to go into politics in order to satisfy the yearnings of my people. As you know, I have retired from advertising industry from 2003 to 2010. I had almost seven-year break. But the call from my people for effective representation became a very strident call such that I could no longer resist responding to their call. Of course, because I knew I had the time to spare and I have a second address I can always come back to, it was not a big risk for me. I came on board in 2011 seriously.

I have been at it since then. I believe the people of Ogun West needed effective and responsible representation in the National Assembly. I made up my mind from the moment I accepted to run that if I was eventually elected, I would serve my people and bring dividends of democracy closer to the people. So, I decided to go into politics in order to satisfy the yearnings of my people and provide effective and responsible representation.

Are you done with what you planned to achieve in the National Assembly? Or why the idea of governorship?

I have not actually done with the task of providing effective and responsible representation. I believe my governorship aspiration is to continue to represent the people of Ogun State at a broader or higher level. But let me explain why I decided to throw my hat to the ring for governorship. I am somebody, who believe in party supremacy.

•Odunsi: We in the SDP are very confident
•Odunsi: We in the SDP are very confident

Originally, I intended to stick to my senatorial seat and continue serving my people. But few things happened that changed my senatorial pursuit. As you know, I was elected on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in 2011. The ACN eventually merged with two other political parties and became All Progressives Congress (APC). After the APC emerged, certain things happened and changed the entire equation. Even when we were in the ACN after the election, what we planned for the people of Ogun State was not what came to pass. We expected that we would work together collectively for the development and progress of all sectors in Ogun State.

However, the Governor of Ogun State, Sen. Ibikunle Amosun decided to play the game according to his rules. In other words, he did not involve the rest of us, who brought to power at the state level. He ran a one-man show as it were to the exclusion of the rest of us that were elected along with him to the extent that he considered it worthwhile to meet and consult with those of us that represent other constituencies. He ran a one-man show. Every effort to make him work with us as a team fell on deaf ear.

In that situation, he did so many things about the input of other components of the state. I cannot truly begin to enumerate all things he failed to do as the state governor. But it was obvious to many of us that he was running a government to the exclusion of all of us, who represented other interests in the party and in the state.

You are competing against the incumbent. A lot of people may not know the inside story of your party. What they want to see is what the Amosun administration is currently doing. Are you in this race to win?

Eh! By the grace of God, you are speaking with the next governor of Ogun State. We are confident that we shall win this governorship election in Ogun State.

What is the source of that confidence?

Well, we have toured the entire state. We have gone round, speaking with people. We have reached to the people. What we are getting from the people of Ogun State is total rejection of this administration. The building of bridges and roads you see around is a pure façade because there is no development at all in the suburbs.

There is nothing to show and people are really unhappy with the Amosun administration.  We have virtually gone to all wards in Ogun State. We have not just visited in urban centres. We have gone to all the rural areas. We have found that there is no development in those places absolutely. There are no roads. We have seen a huge number of jobless people. Farming is abandoned. The health sector is in a state of comatose.

Like an interview I read, Amosun referred to our schools as “ramshackle schools.” Yes, our schools are ramshackle because that is the way he wants to leave them. He prefers to build his so-called model schools at the expense of the existing schools. He has left the pupils in the state in ramshackle. I can imagine a governor describing the schools in his own state as “ramshackle schools.”

What are you selling to the young people?

We have grand plan to provide employment for the young people through different schemes. We are going to open up farm settlements that late Chief Obafemi Awolowo established in the state. We are going to attract young men and women into farms because we are going to modernize agriculture. That is not all. We are going to build rural roads so that industries can also develop in rural areas and not just in the urban centres alone. We have to check rural-urban drift that has been causing a lot of trouble everywhere. We will ensure that there is employment opportunities for the young people, who are graduates on okada.

If elected, are you not going to build on infrastructure projects the Amosun administration has started?

We are going to review all on-going projects. We are not going to abandon the project per se, but we will prioritise our needs. For instance, some of those roads are inflated projects, even over-inflated. If you look at the cost of many road contracts in per kilometer in Ogun State compared with what it is elsewhere, you see what I am talking about. Most of them are over-inflated. When we get to power, what I am going to do is that we will re-organise our priorities. I do not even know how many of those roads have been completed. You came through Ilo Awela road here.

Towards the end of the road, the contractor has stopped working for months now. Whenever it rains, those who live on the axis are susceptible to erosion. We know some of those projects need to be completed. It is public funds. We can throw it away, but we have to re-prioritise them.

Which of the ongoing projects will you like to discontinue?

I am not going to discontinue any project. But we will look at all the projects and re-order our priorities. For instance, rather than build many of these roads, what we probably need is a road our cities. All we need is a ring road that can prevent many of the excessive roads that they are doing. If we build some ring roads, it will cut a lot of expenditure. Look at Iganmode road, for instance.

What we need in that place is not a six-lane road. The traffic that goes through that route does not require six lanes. What we need is good drainage in that place because we never have traffic jam in Sango/Otta. So, what is the point in the new roads they are building now? There is no point at all. In the end, you have destroyed heritage buildings and places of worship without adequate compensation. Those are the real issues.

Are these issues potent enough to defeat the incumbent governor in the April 11 elections?

I know I am more experienced than the man, who is there now. I believe I am a team player. I believe I have fear of God. Aside, I am a very successful person in various businesses that I have run. I have track records to show my performance. Even as a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I can point to several projects that I have executed across the Ogun West senatorial district.


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