The Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, in an interview with journalists in Ibadan, the state capital, said the successes of his administration would guarantee his second term in office. Shola Oyeyipo presents the excerpts:
More than three years on the saddle, what has been your experience so far as governor of Oyo State?
My experience has been quite fulfilling, challenging and that of a mixed bag or a mixed basket of fruit, in the sense that we have had our successes in all the areas of performance indicators. Similarly, we have had political distractions in the sense that even when you have done well, you still see people who will look for fault in what you have done.
I give an example; we belief that Oyo State having been tagged the dirtiest city in Africa or in West Africa, should be cleaned up; first for environmental sanitations, second for health reasons, third for security reasons and lastly for welfare and investment reasons.
When you look at all those four areas it was what informed our decision to clean up the dirty parts of the state, which was regarded as the dirtiest, at least in Nigeria. In the process of doing that, we had to remove street traders who were on flood plains, who were disturbing the flow of traffic and sometimes when there are accidents, people are killed.
We are the only government that removed people from trading on the streets and provided alternatives. We provided shops to accommodate close to about seven thousand traders. We also gave them money to trade in some shops. We gave N20million but in total we have given close to N500million in helping our petty traders who were trading on the streets.
So the mixed bag came from the fact that we are the first government to do all these; to provide alternatives, finance for our traders, provide infrastructures in terms of toilet, water and clinics in these markets, built modern markets and yet opposition will come out and say you are removing people from trading on the street and I felt if not because of enlightment that we engage ourselves in, they almost turned our good intentions, our good programme against us.
Recently, one of your predecessors, Senator Ladoja said some APC leaders came to beg him to join APC so that he would be given the ticket; I want you to shed light on that?
He is lying. The man sometimes tells stories that are not true. Our leaders; Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, Chief Akinyelure, former governor Oni, they all met at Baba Obasanjo’s place and the purpose of the meeting was to get all Yoruba together and to appeal to some competing Yoruba to work together and my understanding of the meeting which I was not presence was confirmed by different people; was to appeal to Ladoja and some others like him – those who are in their seventies, who have been governors or senators before to play the roles of elders statesmen; to step down for the younger ones and that all Yoruba must be one.
That was the purpose of the meeting. At no time did anyone offer him gubernatorial slot of the APC and it will be crazy to do so. He has been there before, he didn’t perform well. I defeated him and I’m performing better. So, does it make sense to you to take an incumbent who is performing well and beg somebody who didn’t perform well and was defeated by that same incumbent to have the party ticket?
The Ibadan factor has always been crucial in every election, but in this election there are at least four Ibadan indigenes, yourself, Senator Ladoja, the PDP candidate – Folarin and Makinde also of SDP, how do you think the arithmetic will play out and won’t that affect your chances?
If you know Ibadan very well, we are very republican. We enjoy competitions and we have always been many whenever we are contesting. If you remember the last time we had many Ibadan that contested; I think about four or five and I still won and the beauty is that, that time I didn’t have the track record that I have now. It is no longer I will do this, they have seen what I have done, people are wiser and they know there are two main major parties and those parties have presidential candidates in Abuja
And lastly is the fact that when you look at the political scenario, you will see that like Bola Ige once said, five fingers of a leprous hand, PDP is there, you have Accord from PDP and Accord is romancing the presidency and you have SDP they are romancing the presidency. In fact, all of them were people who got dissatisfied with the PDP. So they are just the offspring of PDP and for me I see them as one and I belief that with the record that we have now we are in a very good position to defeat them.
Former governor, Senator Ladoja, said when he was in government, he constructed roads for N10million naira per kilometer and that Akala did same with N100m but that you are now constructing a kilometre with N1billion?
Those who are well informed and educated will know that the contract we have done in Oyo State are extremely cost conscious and cost effective. Comparatively speaking, anybody who knows anything about economics will not say the price of cement in 2003 is the same price now. So also are the different materials used and there is what we call replacement cost in Economics and that is that you consider the ongoing rates as at the time you are doing something. Before I became governor, car loan to workers was N200, 000 but today tell me which car you will buy for N200, 000? So, I increase the loan by over one hundred and fifty percent. I took it to N500, 000.
The car you can buy for N500, 000 today, belief you me, ten years ago you could get it for N200, 000. So I’m saying that the first thing is the prevailing market prices and the second thing is that when you are comparing prices or cost, you must compare likes with likes.
Those who are saying that should learn economics. The issue is that did we go through due process? Did people tender for the contract? What was the price people quoted for the contract? Are we saying that if all contractors quoted N100 per kilometer we have made it N150? No!
There have been allegations against your government that you obtained the bond you applied for electioneering purposes, how would you react to that?
The more I listen to some of these comments; I just look at them as mischievous comments. I’d Iike to believe that the people making those comments don't know better and I will like to believe that there are intelligent educated people who should know better but in case they have been mischievous. When did we apply for the bond? We applied for the bond three years ago and it was not approved. They kept asking for this and that.
So, at the time we applied, we could not get approval and we kept pushing and pushing and don't forget, we asked for about N30billion and recently they released to us N5billion out of 30billion. So, I like to believe that they are being mischievous as far as the bond is concerned and we are giving the SEC all the details required.
When you want to do the bond, they will ask what you want to do with and you must do them. So I don't know why they will say it is for election. We won't take money that are allocated for doing roads, for building hospitals, and all others and then start spending it for election, no! We will not.
Considering that there is the jinx that no one ever got a second term in Oyo State and what are your chances of winning the election?
There is always a first person to do something. I’m the first one that will break the supposedly jinx in Oyo State. And there is actually no jinx anywhere. Before, in some states, I think Kano, they never had the second term, Shekarau did it. In Borno, SAS (short form of Senator Ali-modu Sheriff) did it. So if in Oyo State they have never had it, Ajimobi will do it. So there is always a first time in anything. So I believe there is no jinx and I believe my chances are very high.
I think your other question is about my chance? Oyo State like all state in the federation, they are getting wiser. People are smarter and people are no longer easily deceived as it used to be. People now ask for your track record and once people see your track record, they vote for you. And more and more, you will see that many things that have never happen before are happening in Oyo State.
One of your opponents, Senator Folarin has promised that if voted he would work to actualise the creation of Ibadan State. How would you react to this?
They will still get Ibadan State, even with me. I was one of those that sponsored Ibadan State. I fought for Ibadan and I have done a lot for Ibadan but what we are talking about is Oyo State and if he wants to be the governor of Ibadan State, let it wait until we have Ibadan State. But for now we are fighting for Oyo State and we don't need a parochial governor.
We all want Ibadan State but we are not running for Ibadan State now. We are running for Oyo State and I’m saying we will continue to run for Oyo State and I can assure you that the way things are going now, everybody will vote Buhari in and you could see from the campaign, you could see from the endorsement and the question is: do we want things to continue the way we are?
Ladoja has maintained that the money he refunded was not his personal money?
Any money you have taken and you are refunding has become your personal money. You have government car with you; it has become your personal car. If you didn’t return it when you are going and they now come to say bring it back, who has that one? Is it personal or government?
For me, it is straight forward. The fact is ask Ladoja why was he arrested by EFCC? Why did they detain him? What is the position of the court, has the court exonerated him? And the fact remains, I have made my statement. You have read our publications. Make your decision. Read what we have said, are we lying or are the documents lying? He said he will take me to court, let him take me to court.