By Dapo Akinrefon
Mr Akinyinka Akinnola is a governorship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Ondo State.An engineer with experience spanning over 30 years in building services, manufacturing and infrastructural development, Akinnola says all that should matter is for the next Ondo governor to be somebody who is able to get the job done regardless of where he comes from. He bares his mind on why he is the best man to occupy. Alagbaka House. Excerpts:
The incumbent governor has different ratings among different people. Many people do hail his health programme, among other things. What would you do about these programmes if you get elected? And what do you hope to do differently?
What we need to realize about governance is that continuity is the bedrock for growth. We’ll review all programmes we may inherit and certainly such programmes that are good and viable will definitely be sustained. We do not know the financial models upon which they are based but if these programmes are beneficial to the people and are financially viable in terms of sustainability they should endure. That is my view regarding that.
As for what I hope to do differently, my experience over the last 30 years has been in engineering, infrastructure and manufacturing and that is what I really bring to the table here. My own task is to embark on industrialisation of Ondo state on a scale never seen before in this country. Ondo state produces over 40 percent of the cocoa from Nigeria and of course we have timber and vast land for agricultural development. I shall concentrate the state’s resources first on these areas and ensure a calendarised programme that will encourage in-situ processing and thereby adding additional value to these items. Eventually raw materials taken out of Ondo state without any value addition will attract heavy taxation.
This will encourage the setting up of industries and the resultant creation of employment. We shall develop and deploy an efficient inspection and monitoring mechanism for this . Also, Ondo state has a comparative advantage for the setting up of location positive industries. What is meant by location positive industry is whereby the raw materials are domiciled within the state as a natural resource. We have the glass sands in Okitiputa, we have iron ore in the Akokos, we have granites in the Iwaro area and so on and so forth. We will seek for private public partnerships for the development of these resources also with the caveat of calenderised value addition.
As you are aware also, Ondo state has one of the longest coastlines in Nigeria joining up with the Lekki coastline. Traditional commercial water transport routes ( from the colonial era) to Lagos shall be revisited and developed as a means of getting produce out of Ondo more economically and safely. The whole riverine area is prime for a major commercial fishing and fisheries enterprise and sea salt production. These are just a few of the programmes we shall be looking at.
Your sister was the immediate past minister from Ondo. Your late father was a notable Ondo personality and indeed a former commissioner in the old Western region. And now you are also running for the office of governor. People are tempted to ask whether your family is the only one in Ondo State (chuckle).
My father was a commissioner in western state more than 45 years ago and had since been in private business but constantly contributing to the progress of the state. Apart from industries set up in Ondo state during his stint as commissioner for Industries in the western region, he was also the representative of Ondo state on the federal revenue mobilisation committee and pushed for the adjustment of our boundary with Edo state that saw more oil installations falling within Ondo State and thus increasing our revenue from derivation . My sister Omobola Johnson is a very accomplished technocrat . She was the Country Manager of Accenture in Nigeria and it was from there she was chosen to be on the Vision 2020 programme of the Yar’Adua government and she excelled. From there again she was called to be part of a presidential advisory committee with President Jonathan and it was from there she was selected to be minister. She is not a politician; she never contested for any office. She was selected on her merit and she performed creditably well. I, in contrast to my father and sister, am going in for an elective office along with about 20 other contestants to compete. So the platform on which I am going in is totally different from the platform through which Omobola Johnson or my father had served.
The theme of your campaign is ‘less politics, more governance.’ How did you arrive at this and what do you mean exactly?
As you rightly observed, that is the theme of my campaign. Less politics, more governance. The reason we get into governance is because of the electorate: to provide services to the people, security, social services and employment and so on. But we see that politics is given more time than governance. At a time government should busy itself with governance all you hear of is political scheming, re-alignments, camping and decamping, etc., etc. The amount of time that ought to be given to governance, relative to what it should be, is not so. Governance is about the executive and the legislature coming together to work for the people. All actions ought to be geared towards governance.
Over 20 aspirants are jostling for the APC ticket. Many of them are not from Ondo axis. You come from Ondo West like the incumbent governor Mimiko. Will it be logical to have the next governor from Ondo when another Ondo man is just concluding a two-term of eight years even though he is in another party?
The man on the street is less interested in where the governor comes from but more in what the governor is able to do to better the life of the common man. What is important is a passion, a commitment and the competence to do this job. Too many times we have been short-changed by the politics of placement and positioning which insinuates that there should be a direct benefit from the people of a particular area because the Governor comes from there. But the fact is that a turn by turn approach to governance doesn’t give us the best the state deserves. Let us look at it. There is representation for the wards at the local government , and for the local governments at the state House of Assembly. The governor does not represent any ward or local government. He is the Governor of the entire state and is not mandated to represent any group or area, thus his origin is of no importance.
The level you are now is that where the delegates are the kings. From experience these delegates often don’t believe in the best man for the job. They go for other criteria in most cases. What would you do to make them yours at the primaries?
First thing is that I am running on a platform that has democratic values. I mean my party the APC. The delegate system now being adopted gives a wider voice to party members as it is more inclusive. We are engaging the delegates. A lot of them we have spoken to and interacted with, and what I see is that people are beginning to understand that this is beyond a game of immediate gratification. Everybody has been pushed to the level where they cannot fulfil basic aspirations or take care of the family and they are realising that it is time to bring in sincere and appropriate people into government.
Still on zoning: some persons have said every part of Ondo has qualified persons to govern the state and so their zones should also be given a chance. What is your thought on this?
Ondo state is very rich in terms of human capital. From all over the senatorial districts we have very competent people . The question is do all these people always come into government and compete? In a competition – which this exactly is – I don’t think anybody should be saying anybody from here is good or anybody from there is better or it should be reserved for anyone. We should all come out and compete. The party (delegates) will decide who emerges at the end of the day and then the electorate will decide. Zoning, a lot of the time, doesn’t create an atmosphere where the best can be gotten. It doesn’t create healthy competition.
If elected governor, you will be coming in at a time revenue is at an all-time low. What would you do to ensure governance does not suffer?
First of all, success in governance, like any other human endeavour, is determined by the quality of people you have in charge. I will build a team of competent people with more experience and knowledge than myself in their chosen field of endeavour. We have all had experience in the private and public sector, confronting problems and proffering solutions . We are going to take our eyes off the federal allocations because that can hardly sustain us as it continues to dwindle, and concentrate on internally generated revenues through various activities and programmes.
Some persons have said that all Buhari is doing is waging anti-corruption war while neglecting other areas. What is your take on this?
Every government will have a primary focus. I do not see all the things that the president see and do not have all the information that the president and his ministers have. But let me say that corruption in this country is the single most destructive element to our growth and it needs to be attacked the way Mr President is attacking it. He has shown great courage and commitment by starting from his own historical base which is the army.