Why odd is against Akeredolu, Ajayi
By Dayo Johnson
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the October 10 governorship election in Ondo State, Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, in this interview spoke on a number of issues including his plans for Ondo people, his chances and the odds against his major opponents.
On the absence of most PDP governors during the flag off of his campaign, which indicates problem
There was no problem. All the PDP governors were also busy in their respective states. We had to shift the date of the flag off for a week and every one of them was notified. Our plan was to hold the campaign on September 5 but we had to shift it to September 12.
The Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, and Governor of Sokoto, Aminu Tambuwal, was there representing the other governors, who were not able to attend. The Chairman of the Campaign Council, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State was also there and we had former governors, like Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and Segun Oni; former deputy governors, former ministers, National Chairman of our party, Prince Uche Secondus,
National Organising Secretary, the full components of the National Working Committee, most of the aspirants, co-aspirants. Eddy Olafeso was on ground, Dr Ayorinde was also there, we had Sola Ebiseni, and Erewa.
So, It was a full house as far as I’m concerned.
On his campaign challenges
We really don’t have much challenges except some incidences of threats and violence from APC, particularly. We have had incidences of removal of posters by the APC. We have had frequency of attacks on our people, seizure of our campaign cars.
We have restrained our people not to fight and that they should concentrate on how to vote on the day of election no matter the provocation. I think it is equally fair that they should defend themselves. So far, we recorded a great success in our campaigns.
Having contested in the 2016 governorship election, some are of the view that you’re only interested in the money
I have conquered greed and I have also conquered conquest for power. All we are interested in is to bring new dimensions into governance and demonstrate transparency and honesty in governance.
His plan for Ondo people
I am not moved by the grandeur of the office. I am interested in the welfare of the state. Secondly, I also believe that we can build the economy of the state and when it gets to that level, I am anxious to have people take possession of government and I am also anxious that we involve our youths in governance and through business of the economy in Ondo State.
I will be a happy man, two years down the line, if Ondo State attains some level of sufficiency in cash-crops: for instance rice, yam, tomato and cucumber production. These are basic things that will grow our economy. These are farmers’ delight. Once we do that, we have food security in our state.
I am not pleased with the over-reliance on yam from our neighbouring states, we can grow yam. I am not pleased with our over-reliance on maize from other states, we can grow maize, I am excited by the fact that our farmers can grow tomatoes for all of us to eat. I am excited that we can grow cucumber and do well there. I am also looking at added value and the value chain of outcome of all these things and serving our food industries.
Some of us will like to see corn factory, yam flakes, plantain chips in decent environment to ensure food security. Some of us will be happy if these products will be translated to providing jobs for our youths. We want take a shot at establishing glass industry, take a shot at establishing an industrial base for our marble in Supare Akoko and other places. We will be pleased to sustain some of the old industries
that can be resuscitated. Those that cannot be resuscitated for some reasons, we will bring investors to offer us some replacement in an environment that is conducive for investment.
We will also look at our education sector and provide free access for our people to go to higher institutions because there is no way they will be able to compete with those who are outside if you don’t open your doors of universities to your own citizens. We will be pleased to have a reduction in the fees of higher institutions to democratize education in our higher institutions.
Even in the health sector, we are looking at providing free maternal health service. All that we require on the average is about N400 million in a year to provide free maternal services to pregnant women across the state.
We are also going to develop our infrastructure, which is basic. We are going to concentrate on roads, township roads and feeder roads. We are going to concentrate on growing the economy using private investors so that we can have industries.
I am anxious to have two major industries. We are going to do it through partnership with our investors taking as little shares as possible because our focus is not about using public service to participate in industrial growth. no, It is about using private investors to be part of that growth so that they can provide much needed jobs for our youths and pay taxes to government.
We are looking at revenue that will come from these private investors every month and every year. We are not going to pump the funds that we have into industrial activities without the partnership of private investors. We have examples of what we have done before when we were in government and we will replicate that and improve on them.
What is your relationship with the former governor Mimiko?
Mimiko is in the Zenith Labour Party and I am in PDP. It is legitimate that each and every one of us can be in any political party that is registered. Mimiko’s party is registered. The PDP, which I belong to, is also registered. As far as I’m concerned, it is cordial.
What do you make of the alleged crisis in the PDP?
That is not true. For three and half years, Agboola Ajayi belonged to the APC. As I speak to you now, he is still serving in the APC government. Three and half years ago, he was not here. So, if you have stayed in a party for three and half years and left the party, stayed in PDP for six weeks and left, which one will it affect more?
Is it where he stayed for three and half years or where he stayed for six weeks? And you must allow him, you must give him his right to move from one party to the other. It is legitimate, it is right for him. It is left for the electorate to decide whether they want the continuation of the APC government in a new bottle as it were because all that we have gone through in the three and half years were things that were jointly done by Arakunrin Akeredolu, my learned brother and His Excellency Agboola Ajayi, who has been his deputy for this number of years, and who is still his deputy even as we speak. So, the odd is against them.
Is it true that you rejected the deputy governor as your running mate after the governorship primary hence his defection to another party?
I do not imagine that Agboola Ajayi will say I rejected him. It is not true. I will defend him on that. I don’t think he will say that. First, he came in to contest for the position of a candidate of PDP as deputy governor to an APC government and we went through election process and by the grace of God and support of the people, I emerged.
After I emerged, I was in his house, we sat down together. The first day I went there, he was not in. I tried to call him on phone, his line was not available and the following day when it was available, I went to meet him and we spoke extensively.
I sought his cooperation and said he should come along because we need everybody, the same way I had discussion with all the other aspirants. Apart from talking to them on phone, I met them personally and I sought their hands of support and fellowship in this business.
But you rejected him as your running mate because you are afraid of his popularity
The choice of running mate was done by all the stakeholders in the party and like I told you I met him, we had a private discussion in his house like I did to all other aspirants because we need everybody on board. It is going to require a lot of hands to remove this ,APC government. That is what we intend to do.
Even, as we speak, we try to get support of every person. I had even on one occasion asked Arakunrin Akeredolu to support my candidature, though he is in APC because he has some fine words for me as he calls me gentleman, that I’m a good person. I say he should demonstrate it by supporting us and the same thing I say to His Excellency, Agboola Ajayi. We need a change, we need a fresh change, new innovation in
Government House in respect of growing the economy of Ondo State and providing for the welfare of our people.
What are your chances in the Southern senatorial district believed to be the deputy governor’s stronghold?
l am not bothered . In the last primary, the people from the South voted for me. Do you know how many votes I scored? 888 votes. Do you know how many were cancelled from my votes? They were many. Do you know how many people that came after we had concluded?
They were also many. The truth of it is that these votes that I got from the primary came from the central zone, southern zone and northern zone. If it is from one zone, there was no way I could secure that number of votes. By the time you add the so-called voided votes to my 888, you will see that we are backed up.
What is your view on the issue of zoning of power in the state?
l am not aware of any zoning arrangement. When Ajasin won election, was it by zoning? When Agagu won election, was it by zoning? When Baba Adefarati won, was it by zoning? When Mimiko won in court to retrieve his mandate, was it by zoning? When I was defeated according to INEC by Akeredolu, was it by zoning? So, people should not be deceived.
You know something about politics, a lot of deceits come into campaign. The truth of it is that, even those who are contriving this manipulation are just taking the advantage of openness of our people to continue to feed them with lies . Are you telling me that Adefarati won because he was an Akoko person or Ajasin won because he was an Owo man or Agagu won because he was from Okitipupa?
It was just that people saw value in these people and the truth of it is that the same measure of transparency and preparedness that was used in judging our former leaders is going to be used in judging this election. It is not going to be where you come from. It is going to be what you are ready to do for the state. So, zoning is not in the constitution.
On security of lives and properties during the election
We have asked our people not to be provoked but they should defend their votes. Rigging and violence will have no place in Ondo State. Let me say this that we have history of resistance in Ondo State, a great history of resistance and those who are students of political history can check.
Are you not afraid of the repeat of 1983 crisis?
It won’t happen. There will be no violence by the grace of God. There will be no rigging because majority of our people are with PDP and I believe the election will be free and fair. We have asked our people, go and vote, protect your votes, leave the rest with us and with God. I also enjoin security agencies to be up and doing and INEC should ensure they provide level playing ground for all the political parties.