In this interview, caretaker chairman of Itesiwaju local government area of Oyo State, Hon. Niyi Adeagbo, speaks about some of the unprecedented achievements of Governor Ajimobi of Oyo State and some other issues of national significance. Excerpts:
The 2019 elections are not far away; do you think your party, APC, is doing enough to retain Oyo State?
The All Progressives Congress, APC, has no problem winning elections in Oyo State because those elected and appointed on the platform of the party are excellently delivering on their constitutional duties and social contracts with the people. Governor Abiola Ajimobi is the leading symbol of our party and I want to say authoritatively that the achievements his administration is recording in the second term are already eclipsing what he was able to do between 2011 and 2015. I am delighted to say that every positive-minded citizen of Oyo State can testify to the major strides of the present administration.
Can you shed more light on the statement that Governor Ajimobi’s second term achievements are eclipsing his first term in office?
Governor Ajimobi performed credibly well in his first term and that was why he broke the second term jinx in the 2015 general elections but the landmark achievements we are witnessing in his present second term are much more than that of the first term. The good people of Oyo State can testify that Mr. Governor is very serious about implementing transformational reforms, some of which include Oyo State’s partnership with Lagos State on Agriculture and regional integration, introduction of health insurance scheme, partnership with Hills Harvest Limited on the promotion of fruits and vegetable businesses to reduce post harvest loss on the part of farmers, successful organisation of the first-ever state council on information summit, re-inauguration of joint security outfit popularly known as Operation Burst, inauguration of Oyo State security trust fund, commissioning of Oyo State Technical University, ongoing constructions of model schools, soft loans and grants for farmers and anchor borrowers, establishment of Industrial Park, ongoing comprehensive renovation of Agbowo shopping complex, dualisation of entry roads to major cities in the state, flagging off of properties enumeration, electronic certificate of occupancy, home-owner’s charter policies, establishment of mobile court to sanction the state road traffic laws violators, establishment of low-cost housing estate and Polaris Pacesetter free trade zone.
I must mention that no other Nigerian governor other than Governor Abiola Ajimobi has paid 5 months owed salaries and allowances at once. The state government has disbursed over N13bn to all council areas and more than 70% of 33 LGAs are already paying average of about 5 months salaries owed local government workers and primary school teachers in the state. The money released includes pensioners’ arrears in the state. It is interesting to note that the present government in the state has committed N70bn to Ibadan Circular Road project after 15 years of neglect as well as official launching of the N50 billion HealthCare Endowment Fund, which attracted donations and pledges from international organisations, private sectors, government functionaries, traditional rulers and eminent personalities, for the restoration and transformation of government hospitals and health centres in the state.
Time would not permit me to highlight all the achievements of Mr. Governor since May 2015 but I must add that our government did not only distributed relief materials to schools affected by rainstorms across the state but also gave meaningful support to flood victims. Today, the labour unions in the state can verify that 16,000 Civil Servants have been trained in the last 6Years. Therefore, Oyo State is moving forward under APC government and the people are happy.
President Buhari has resumed duties after 103 days of medical vacation, do you think he is fit enough to continue the business of governance?
Thank God for the recovery of Mr. President and his safe arrival in the country. I pray that God will strengthen him to be able to continue to carry out the affairs of this nation. President Buhari’s return has indeed dealt a big blow on mischief makers and death wishers who rather than wish the president well wanted him dead or to resign from office. As per the fitness to govern, Mr. President looks healthier than before; besides, he is not a sole-administrator, he has a very brilliant and loyal vice-president as well other aides who will always give him the necessary supports to move the country forward. Our president is back, tension is doused, polity is beginning to stabilise and the serious business of governance must continue.
Which of Nigeria’s problems do you expect President Buhari to urgently address base on current situations in the country?
Peace and security are prerequisites to societal development. So, Nigerians expect Mr. President to mandate his service chiefs to device fresh strategies to end Boko Haram resurgence. Cabinet reshuffle is long overdue because we have many non-performing Ministers and this is not good for the change agenda our party promised Nigerians. Apart from diversification of Nigeria economy, which Mr. President must also be focused on; Nigerians are tired of waiting for the outcome of the investigations involving the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal and Nigerian Intelligence Agency boss, Ambassador Ayodele Oke. Uncompromising publication of the findings of the investigation committees will go a long way in assuring Nigerians and the rest of the world that the present government is truly determined to stamp out corruptions in the land irrespective of party, ethnic and religion affiliations.
Sir, how do you feel about the “not too young to run” bill?
As a youth, given an opportunity to serve in public service, I am greatly fulfilled and I must commend the Nigerian Senate for passing the “not too young to run” bill. The move is one of the legislative giant strides attained by the national assembly since 1999. The passage of the bill shows that our lawmakers truly want the Nigerian to be in tune with global political trend. Many countries of the world have removed barriers that limit youth and women from actively participating in governance. Honestly, the passage of this bill is timely and essential to the growth of democracy and I am confident to say that we (youths) have the capabilities to move this nation forward. To this end, I strongly urge the State Houses of Assembly to key into the vision by domesticating the bill. Now that Mr. President is back to office, I hope he will give the bill a speedy assent.
Do you think restructuring is workable?
Frankly speaking, restructuring is the only action that will keep Nigeria together. Every geo-political zone of Nigeria is agitating for one thing or the other. So, restructuring Nigeria covers everything that concerns Nigerians, which include governance, equal status, equal state creation, and resource control. When it comes to the military and police, the entire region must have equal men and resources. A situation where a particular region dominates the rank and file of the armed forces and police is marginalisation.
What is your ambition for 2019?
First of all, I must thank Gov. Abiola Ajimobi for giving me a great privilege and opportunity to serve our people in his government, I can never thank him enough. Having given honour to whom honour is due, as far as I am concerned, the job at hand is what is important to me. What I have been given is an opportunity and I don’t think I am near delivery yet, not closed. I have a great challenge to prove my worth and that’s my priority. It took me serious hard work and several years to get here, I must not disappoint my benefactors and my self, 2019 is not in my agenda. My 2019 ambition is to accomplish my mission and vision for Itesiwaju LGA. My council area is on steady progress since my appointment by but there is room for much more. Therefore, my scorecards is my ultimate goal.
Your message for Nigerians as Eid-l-Kabir knocks the door?
The growing rate of hate speeches among the major ethnics in the country calls for concern and portends dangers for the unity of Nigeria in the sense that we have seen it happened in other parts of the world. We have seen it happened in Rwanda; it was the hate speeches that ignited the genocide in Rwanda. So, hate speeches are not in our best interest at all; we are human beings and we need to treat one another with dignity. What those behind hate speeches should know is that when the problem starts, it will consume everybody including themselves; it is like a wild fire that consumes everything, not looking at who is who. To this end, the Federal and State Governments should go after those behind hate speeches and bring them to justice so as to serve as deterrent to others. I wish Nigerians, the good people of Oyo State,the great people of Okeogun and the ever progressive people of Itesiwaju a happy and crisis-free Eid-l-Kabir celebration in advance.
Finally, how is Itesiwaju LGA coping with the current financial situation in the country?
As a council, we still face unprecedented reduction in our funding from the federal purse, but we are doing everything we can to minimise its impact and find new ways to deliver the quality services we all want to see. We are determined to continue investing in the local economy especially in the area of agriculture and building a better future for the good people of Itesiwaju LGA.