‘My understanding with Amosun’
By Daud Olatunji
The governorship candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) for Ogun State, Hon. Abdulkabir Akinlade, explains, in this interview, why he stands out among the candidates jostling to succeed Governor Ibikunle Amosun in Saturday’s elections. Triple A, as he is fondly called, also speaks on the events which led to his exit from the All Progressives Congress (APC). Excepts:
The governorship election is around the corner. Tell us about what happened so far and your expectations.
You all know how APM came to be after the October 2, 2018 governorship primary of the APC in Ogun State which I won. That is history today. What we did from January 22 was a ward-to-ward talk and that is one thing I learned from the political structure in Ogun. You need to get to the people at the ward level and that is what we have done; we have been to all the 236 wards in the state to sell the APM brand and picking the cassava logo is strategic and that has worked very well.
APM and APC, we are one; we didn’t import anybody from outside Ogun. The same people in APM today voted for me during the APC primary and when that injustice happened, they said “let us look for another party to achieve victory”. We agreed that Mr. President has to win; we want the projects he started to be completed. Yes, some of our candidates may have won or lost in their various constituencies and that is because 2-3 days to the presidential election, we had to come out openly to campaign for Mr. President.
I personally came out to campaign openly for Mr. President, telling our people to vote APC in that election and thank God he won. Governor Ibikunle Amosun had told us that if we come out openly for Mr. President to win, they in return will come out openly for us and make sure they deliver APM on March 9 and, true to his words, when he came back from Abuja, we had some meetings; I have met some of his lieutenants and we have signed an understanding that he is going to come out openly regardless of what the APC might do to him. It is painful that we lost some constituencies but when we compare what we lost with what we stand to gain, I think it is strategic for us. Everybody is ready; everybody is charged; Ogun West is ready; Ogun Central is ready; I am also confident about Ogun East.
The figures are there to show. So this election is going to be a landslide victory for us by God’s grace. I have pleaded with the President and all I pray for is that my votes should count and be protected, and that has to do with the electoral umpire and security agencies. We are restarting our campaign; we will campaign as we have never campaigned before; we are going to reach out to everybody.
What should youths expect from you, if elected?
If you understand the demography of Ogun, you will agree with me that we have a high number of young people because we have the highest number of educational institutions in the country. We have the highest number of industries too, thanks to Senator Ibikunle Amosun in the last eight years. What we hope to do going forward: Education is a priority for us. I am from Ipokia, Ogun West and one of the challenges our young people face is teenage pregnancy. We are going to focus on educating our people and make sure they are employable.
Agriculture is one of the things we will use in Ogun; we will create more than 25, 000 jobs within the first two years; we have some of the best agro lands in the country; we have rail and other things that we can harness. We want to take government to the people in rural areas; the present government has done so much in urban areas. My major interest is in the area of IGR. If we can generate more revenue, we will not have issues with paying salaries. We have a blueprint already of what we want to do from day one and we are going to focus on it. When people are making money, they are going to pay tax. We are going to educate our young generation on how to do business in rural areas. I need more plumbers, more carpenters, more electricians. If I want to build or renovate a school in a community, I will not go and bring carpenters from Ibadan or any other place; I will employ local carpenters in such community. The pressure on government will be reduced and there will be jobs for people.
Last week victory of the APC in the state, don’t you think that could cause a bandwagon effect at the governorship poll?
The people who voted for me on October 2, 2018 are APC members, the same people, out of the conviction to prove that the injustice of June 12 will not repeat itself in Ogun, are ready, Ogun people are so enlightened politically even in the villages. After we told them the injustice we experienced in APC, the people sat down on their own, and said they would vote any platform regardless of what is happening at the centre. If I tell the people to vote for Mr. President, they don’t care about the party of Mr. President, they voted, but come March, bandwagon effect will not affect our chances.
Actually, it will be so good because our people will want to prove that they voted for their conscience because some people are trying to take credit for it. They will know that the people voted and it was not some circumstance that made them vote for APC, but conscience.
What about your programmes on sport?
Sport is not just about the physical act, there is a commercial perspective and that’s what we are going to promote. We would be interfacing with the private sector. And I will tell you categorically that one of the things we have is to build recreation centres in all local governments. The major challenge we have is that if you invest or you tell people to come and invest in sport, it will not really touch the lives of our people. We would take the commercial aspect of sport to our rural communities; there are a lot of talents in our rural communities that you can’t even get in the cities. All they know in rural areas is sport; go to primary schools, you will see children during different sporting activities. We are going to invest in raw talent.
These centres that we would build in each local government would discover people and engage them. Once the minds of young people are engaged, you will discover that there is a lot they can do. They would spend time doing something that would add value to their lives. For us as a government, what we intend to do is to focus so much on young people so that they can have better things to do with their future. We want to make our government all inclusive. Like I tell them everywhere I go, the future of the country is in the hand of youths, we need to give them opportunity in governance.
What makes you think you are better than other governorship candidates?
Let me put this straight, I will be the first that served as an appointee, and that endeared me into the hearts of civil servants and the pedigree is there. People that I served with know me very well and most of them are now directors. In kindness, I stand out among workers. I am from Ipokia local government. I am a sitting member of the House of Representatives. I have chaired House committees and that has given me the experience to understand the workings of our dear state. I interfaced with some institutions when I was SSA on IRS. I interfaced with MDs and CEOs. I was Chairman of the House Committee on insurance and that made me interface with almost everybody and all the agencies in that sector. None of the other candidates has the wealth of experience that I have both at the state and national levels. I have same vision with Senator Ibikunle Amosun and you can look around Ogun and see what he has been able to do. I know no one is perfect, but he has done the best he could and I believe very strongly that it is the same drum that would be beaten. But I will interpret the rhythm and our dancing would be different.
Amosun interpreted the rhythm the way he could and he did his best with it. I have a very clear mind and vision for our people; we are well positioned with our proximity to Lagos. It is clear that for you to get anything from the sea like Apapa, among others, to other parts of the country, you have to go through Ogun. All we need to do is position our state for the responsibility.
That is is the wealth of experience I am bringing that none of them has. My area of competency is revenue generation and even Amosun is a web manager, he is an accountant. I generate money and I understand very clearly that you need to run after market women, but if you don’t have those skills, you won’t be able to do that.
You have to be creative, you have to have capacity and you must be able to do what others are doing to take money and you have to create wealth to do that. I have sat and read a lot about many of them and I discovered that none of them has the kind of competency I have. Maybe 10 years ago, they may have done well or maybe some 50 years to come, they might have gathered that experience, but not now.