By Dayo Johnson, Akure
The story of Ondo State deputy governor, Alhaji Lasisi Oluboyo, can be likened to that of someone brought from the back seat of a moving vehicle to the front seat . Just like a dream, he was catapulted to the number two position from his portfolio as Commissioner for Agriculture. In this interview, Oluboyo speaks on issues in Ondo and the governorship election holding in the state next year.
What is your relationship with Governor Olusegun Mimiko in the past few months that you have spent as deputy governor and would you like to succeed your boss?
I want to thank God for the privilege of serving the state in the capacity of deputy governor. Some months after my inauguration, I can only say it has been very challenging and interesting. One feels great working with Governor Mimiko. He is a leader that develops leaders and for this I owe him a lot of appreciation. On the succession question, I have no such ambition. I became the deputy governor to discharge my responsibility which entails supporting him, being loyal at all times and being committed to the greater goal of bringing development and growth to our state.
A deep study of the governor will reveal that he is a visionary leader. Long before he made me a Commissioner, I have maintained a dutiful, loyal and committed relationship with him. He has also respected and related with me in that direction. My prayer is that we leave behind a member of our party, the PDP, to succeed Mr. Governor. Secondly, competent people from our party are showing interest and many more are yet to show interest. I am not among the lot jostling for the post.
Whoever emerges as the candidate of our party as supported by Mr. Governor will automatically be my candidate.
ls it possible for the PDP to retain Ondo State considering the federal might?
There is no federal might as far as this issue is concerned. It is the people of Ondo that will choose who will serve them and I want to assure you that, with the achievements of the PDP in the state, I don’t see any party coming up to give us a serious fight. PDP has done a lot on the development of the state. We enjoy overwhelming support among the populace and we have lots of projects, most of them completed and many others that are ongoing with our eyes fixed on completing them before the end of this administration by God’s grace.
What is your take on this perception that deputy governors are spare tyres?
l cannot talk about others, but in my own case, I see the deputy governor as a partner in progress. I see the deputy governor as somebody to assist his boss, as someone to stand in for the governor when he is not around. Mr. Governor has been fair to me in this regard. Within this short period, I have presided over Executive Council meeting more than nine times where key decisions were taken. I have represented the governor and our state at the National Economic Committee meetings. I have represented him at the Governors’ Forum meetings and many other places like that. The perception of spare tyre depends on whether you have a capable, reliable and agile personality who can deliver as your deputy governor. The deputy governor ought not be seen as a spare tyre but an able lieutenant or a helping hand.
Also, Governor Mimiko is a man that has assumed national prominence in terms of achievements and political acumen. He is the Chairman of the Governors Forum of our party and this has added some responsibilities to him.
He is looked at by many outside our state as a distinct voice worth listening to on issues of development and growth of our country. On account of his foresight, vision and leadership style, he is appreciated within and outside the state. All of these attract added responsibilities. This means also that he needs somebody who can stand in for him and I think I have been able to do that with the help of the people of the state.
The fear is that with all these things that you have mentioned that the governor had done, how do you think they can be sustained?
Let me appreciate God and the governor for the transformation in the state. Let us call a spade a spade, he had done a lot in Ondo. I can assure you that it is not over until it is over. He still has a year plus. He has promised to work for the people and he is still working. That explains the apprehension about a worthy successor because everybody wants the legacy sustained. We want these good works to continue and that is why we need prayers. We need prayers because we do not want a situation that someone will just come and say the mega schools are turned to something else or cancel the free shuttle buses. And if you look at all these programmes, you will know that they are people-oriented. They touch the lives of the poor and the rich, and our people appreciate these developments.
The next governorship election is less than a year from now. If you look at the camp of the PDP, there seems to be an unusual silence and the APC appears to be and bragging that it will win the state. Do you think the PDP is not too silent over the issue now?
I like you for being sincere, because you said they are making noise. I am a political scientist, it is not making of noise that matters.
Some of us are silent politicians. I don’t make noise because I don’t know how to make noise but I win elections. I have been in the game since 1979. Let me go down memory lane. Ahead of the 2007 polls, Mimiko did not come out until November 2006 and he defeated a sitting governor who had federal backing; we uprooted them and the people voted for us. I want you to know that Ondo is very unique and we cannot throw that one aside. The people are educated; they compare and contrast, so if somebody is running from pillar to post now making noise, fine. At the federal level, let them show us what they have done, what is in their manifesto?
In the 2011/2012 gubernatorial election, they made more than this noise but where are they? You can see the margin that we used to defeat them. I want to assure you that in the 2016 election, you will see what will happen and PDP will also win by the grace of Almighty Allah.
When you go down memory lane, all the three senatorial districts in the state had produce governors. Now, it is an open secret that the PDP is popular all the South; APC in the North, and in the Central 50/50. So, where do you think the PDP should pick it’s candidate?
I am not sure of the correctness of your calculations. I can assure you that in the next election, we are going to deliver Owo and Ose. We will win in Akoko North East and North West. Akoko South-East is also for us. It is only in the South-West that we had some problems but let’s just ask to just wait and see. What we want is free and fair election. If it is violence free, and INEC is able to maintain its integrity and neutrality, I can assure you that the 2016 election is going to be won by PDP.
Our achievements will speak for us. Look at the Dome; they criticized Mimiko when we started the project and Akure Shopping Mall where Shoprite is located. And don’t forget that very soon a five-star hotel is coming the state. The people of the state will continue to appreciate Mimiko because he is a visionary leader.
On debt and unpaid salaries, loan and what have you, do you share the view that Mimiko is leaving the state in huge debt?
Those people saying so do not know anything about this administration. We have the least debt profile in the South-West if not in the country. If some other states are owing over N100billion and are neck deep in salary arrears, then we must appreciate the creativity that Mimiko has entrenched in the management of the finances of Ondo.