Ayo Karim is one of the leading governorship aspirants in Oyo State, running on the platform of APC. Last week he spoke to City People Publisher SEYE KEHINDE about his plans. Below are excerpts of the interview.
Can you share with us why you decided to join the Oyo governorship race?
Let me start by telling you a little about myself. Ayodeji Ismail Karim is an indigene of Ibadan, both parents. I have many reasons why I decided to run for governorship. One of it is that there are those of us who call ourselves the educated, the exposed, well travelled group but we don’t get involved in politics. But the people who are not exposed, not educated are the ones taking decisions to govern our lives. So, I fell I don’t get involved now, we would be doing ourselves a disservice to our generation and our country. So that is one main reason why I decided to throw my hat in the ring to run. If we do a quantitative analysis of what has been happening to our country the fact that the people who have the experience and the know how, trained to deal with issues are not the ones at the helm of affairs. That is why this country has been sliding for so many years.
The truth is: we need to get involved. The way to move this country forward is by getting involved. Thats number one. Then, the second reason for me is that if you are coming from Lagos and going to some other places like Kwara State, Osun, Ekiti and 75% of Ekiti State, you must go through Oyo State territory. Statistic show that about 20 millionn vehicles go through our territory on a yearly basis and we don’t get any revenue from there and we are still looking for money all over the place.
Then, for the love I have for my people, the people of Oyo State. I can’t sit by any longer and look at things the way it is and not got involved by throwing my years of experience, my knowhow and the love I have for the state, to try not to improve the policy and politics of our country.
How will you respond to critics who will say oh, Ayo hasn’t got the experience in government or politics. So how will he cope?
One of the things we must understand right now is that we can’t leave politics to politicians to be politicking with. I was trained in the Army. One of the things you are trained to do in the Army is to be versatile, to be able to improvise. If you do those things correctly you should be able to overcome.
I served in the armed forces as a young soldier and one of my training is to adapt, improvise and overcome. What makes anyone think that coming from the private sector you can’t adapt to becoming a politician.
Its about transforming yourself. Getting ourself ready. Preparation is key. You know what you are going in there to do. You know what you seek to achieve. I see it as a race, at the end of the tunnel is the finish line. And once you see it as a race, the best person will win.
You sound like one aspirant who has a clear idea of what he is going in there to do.
Certainly. I do.
Can you share with us key points of what you plan to do?
Before I start telling you what we want to do, lets start by talking of what we need to do first. What do we need now. First of all, we need poverty alleviation. That is the reality I discovered moving round Oyo State. People are hungry. We have poverty in the land. We need to alleviate that.
So, there is no point in me telling you all these fancy high in the sky ideas which are only on paper. So, lets start from the immediate. What is practical on the ground. What is actually on the ground. We need to look at short, medium and long term strategies. We are hungry. We need food. So food has to be on the table. One day my team and I went to Ogbomosho. I went to Oja Oba, the biggest market there and what I saw shocked me. 60% of those who gathered to listen to me speak on the podium had bowl in their hand for food. This was at 10am in the morning. They had the bowls in their hands because they are hungry. That made me know that I had to change my strategy. The first thing we must deal with is the issue of food. It has to be readily available. It has to be affordable.
So, the obvious thing to tackle is Agric business. How do we improve the food infrastructure in the state. For me, from research, we have to grow in scale, we have to be growing up scale by scale. First, we have to feed ourselves, feed our neigbours and feed the world. Oyo State is the epicentre of Yorubaland. It has the most fertile and the biggest arable land in Western region. We are sitting on a huge value some of us don’t know we are sitting on. Lets harness what we have. Lets take advantage of what we have and use it to our advantage.
So, the first thing to tackle, in the midst of all these lofty, fancy ideas that we have is food. Lets produced food. Lets get people back to the farms, lets provide the enabling environment for us to farm. Lets put in place the financial structure. We have done all of these before.
That was before we all urbanised ourselves. Lets go back to our first love. What we are good at. A lot of staff has to be put in place. I am a farmer myself. I don’t call myself a farmer. I am an Agri-Businessman.
Lets look at it as a business 2+2 is 4. That makes sense. Lets make farming attrative to the young people, to our farmers. Lets scale it up. Lets say we are the biggest producers of corn. Let people come to us to buy corn. Thats the way, we are headed.
You told me categorically at the start of this interview that you are in this governorship race to win. You sounded very confident. Whats the basis of your confidence?
When I look at the calibre of the people who have come out, with all due respect to others, with no disrespect to anyone, if I don’t get involved in this race, I will be doing a disservice to my country and myself. For me, I usually don’t start what I can’t finish. So we would see it to a logical conclusion. Ayo Karim entering the political landscape is a new beginning for all of us.
We are young. We are approachable. And we are very very open. Our campaign takes into account Women, Young people, old people and our environment. And our strategy makes sense.
We have a 6 point agenda I, S, H, A, P, E. In Oyo State, we need to build Infrastrucure.
The Vision and the Mission is this: If you haven’t come to Oyo State to invest, you haven’t invested anywhere in Nigeria. If you haven’t come to Oyo State to have a good time in terms of hospitality, you haven’t been anywhere. You have to come to Oyo State to receive quality education. Recollect that civilisation and developments began from Ibadan. That was just 70 years ago. So, how did we slide from being number one 70 years ago to where we are today.
So, lets bring the glory back to it. Let people begin to say to themselves: where is the safest place for me to invest my money? Lets go to Oyo State, where is the safest place I can live happily? Lets go to Oyo State.
That is the picture that I can see, that we need to provide in Oyo State. A place where people are happy to invest, and have a good time. Its all about planning and preparation. Its a lot of hardwork. I am not saying its easy but hay! We are not getting into this because we have a lot of ideas on how to achieve and implement these things.
Whats the message you have been telling Oyo State people as you move from one village and town to the other?
It is that they should not think about this coming elections in terms of the moneyy politicians will give them. Don’t allow people to give you a sliced bread and take away your bakery. There is a lot we still need to do for our people. When we went to Iseyin last week to meet with the elders of the community, we asked them what their challenges are to see how we can help. What are the issues they are contending with.
Our model is after you have told us that problem, we would now look at how it will fit into our general solution chat that we have. It has to make sense. It has to be financially viable. It must be something we can do financially and it must be something we can achieve within a short period of time that will have major impact positvely on the lives of the people. When we started talking to the people the old man said the school issue is the problem. I said how far away is the school. He said the closest school to them is 5km away. There is no road. There is no public transport so how do their kids go to the school and back.
“When I look at the calibre of the people who have come out, with all due respect to others, with no disrespect to anyone, if I don’t get involved in this race, I will be doing a disservice to my country and myself”
“Don’t allow people to give you sliced bread and take away your bakey