*Says chances of picking PDP ticket bright
By Yinka Ajayi
Dr Akin Ogunbiyi is unarguably the frontrunner among those jostling to pick the ticket of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the governorship election in Osun State. In a session with select journalists in Lagos, Ogunbiyi was optimistic about succeeding Governor Rauf Aregbesola.
Some people believe you are not qualified to run for the PDP ticket ahead of the Osun election because, according to them, you just joined the party. In fact, they said there is a rule banning people like you from contesting for the PDP primary?
I am not a new comer in the PDP. When you are in business, you have your own sentiments, friends and associations. I have associated with the PDP since 2003. And as a major stakeholder in Osun State, I actually became very active because of what I saw as injustice and bad governance. I, consciously, in 2015, joined the PDP to become active and partisan. And it is on record. You can check. As far as the state is concerned, I became more involved during the battle for supremacy that almost grounded the party. And I did everything within my reach; used my resources, contact and goodwill to bring peace into the party and, today, we have peace.
So what was the attraction in the PDP? What made it the party of choice?
I am happy to be on the side of the majority. PDP is a party of ideology. Until our great party came to power and gave democracy a meaning, military dictators constantly intercepted Nigeria’s democracy. It was our credible party of ideology that gave democracy in the true sense of it and brought stability, economic progress and lots more to the nation. I joined PDP because of my conviction that it is a credible platform for democratic governance.
What has been the attitude of the Osun people to your aspiration?
This time around, Osun people are getting it right. They are supporting my ambition. Everywhere I have visited, as if it was more than a rally, people trooped out, showed love because they want true change that will bring positive development to Osun and give hope to the hopeless. These are what I have brought including quality leadership, service to my people and people-centred development. The Bible says when you have a righteous man in government, the people rejoice. So, I am not looking for wealth. I am not looking for money. I am just out here to serve and bring meaningful development to the state. The challenge of leadership is the same everywhere. Politics is not dirtier than business. They are both about problem solving. I have been a successful businessman for years. I am not coming into politics because I am chanced. For the past 6-8 years, I have been preparing myself for this assignment of leading Osun. I retired from the corporate world to join politics. So I am ready to give quality deliverables that people can feel and touch.
Let us talk about your chances of picking the PDP ticket for the Osun election
Of course, any of the 11 of us cleared by the PDP for the race can lead. We are all qualified people who actually can lead given our respective profiles. But my chances are bright. If you conduct an opinion poll today, based on realistic and practical profiling of all the aspirants, you would know that Ogunbiyi comes first because people are looking with discerning eyes and are concerned about who has a practical demonstration of achievements.
Now moving beyond party primary, how confident are you that you will emerge the next governor of Osun?
By the grace of God, I am going be the next governor of Osun. We are going to work with everybody. I am happy with the responses I am getting. Our party is blessed. I have reached out to every aspirant. We really need to work together, harness our skills and form a formidable team. We are going to optimise every available expertise within the party to give good governance, leadership and create value to make life better for the people of the state.
How do you see the Osun situation today?
The biggest challenge facing Osun is not debt. It is leadership. You can talk about unpaid salaries, the health sector, the education sector, the debt burden among others but, above all, bad leadership is the greatest problem. Of all the states in Nigeria, Osun is highly endowed and blessed with resources. So, having good leadership who can identify, create and deploy values is crucial. Osun needs the right leadership, which I represent, and, by the grace of God, we will put everything in proper perspectives and the state will rise again and become a model for other states.
I know what it is for people to work or retire and not get paid. Even the Bible says the labourer deserves his wages. Recall my background, I am into insurance. So, I am going to ensure that pensioners get their entitlements when due. By the special grace of God, civil servants and others’ salaries will also be paid when due. We will look at the debt profile and whatever needs to be done, will be done. I am an administrator to the core. The people of Osun will know that they have a governor.
Can you give us an insight into the background of Akin Ogunbiyi; how he rose to become what he is today?
I am a true born and a major stakeholder in Osun. I am not a foreigner, not Lagos based. I am a true son of Ile Ogbo. I was born in Ile Ogbo in Ayedire Local Government Area. I attended Ansarudeen Primary School (1969 – 1974). I went to Kuta, Ile Ogbo Modern School (1974 – 1975), Luther King’s College, Ile Ogbo (1975 – 1980) and proceeded to the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife (1980 – 1986). I am a village boy to the core and I live in my community. I am not just living in the community. I built a mansion in the community. I donated boreholes, give scholarships to indigent people and organise talent hunt in my community and elsewhere to the tune of 50 million naira yearly. I even named the university I am promoting the University of Ile Ogbo. Newcastle and Oxford are small villages too but they became popular because of the universities located there. I have 2, 000 hectares of farmland along Gbongan – Iwo Road that employs hundreds of indigenes. The little blessing God has blessed me with from my business exploits, I have brought it back to benefit my community. I built many churches and mosques. This is not something I did overnight. I have been doing it for the past fifteen years.
My contributions to the community are there and I have lived in Ile Ogbo for the past ten years. More than 50% of what the grace God has given me was invested in Osun. In fact, if you see me on my farm, you will not be able to distinguish between me and my workers.