It can be very challenging tracking down Prof. Adeolu Akande at any point in time. This is because this suave and debonair young man is always on the move. You can’t blame him. He wears so many caps. His services are in high demand, and he consult for so many political players across the country. He is a politician. He is also a lecturer and a professor of Political Science, who has held two key political positions that has put him in good stead for him to understand how political office works.
He has an impressive profile that any politician in Nigeria will love to have. Apart from the fact that he studied Political Science at the undergraduate, masters and Phd levels, he teaches Political Science as a visiting Professor at the Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State. He has also had the rare opportunity of serving in the Executive arm of government as Special Assistant to Vice President Atiku Abubakar and as Chief of Staff to Gov. Abiola Ajimobi in his first two years. His area of specialization is comparative politics.
The big news is that this slim built politician from the Oke Ogun area of Oyo State is running for governorshipin Oyo State and he has already begun to consult widely. He has spent the last few months meeting with stake holders across the state and his chances looks good.
He is a member of the APC.
Two Sunday back, in the comfort of his Ibadan home. Professor Adeolu Akande shared with City People Publisher, Seye Kehinde his plans for the 2019 governorship race.
How do you see the political situation in Oyo State now?
The political situation is getting more interesting. A few days ago we saw on the Internet the meeting of the Oyo State governor with Akala and Senate Teslim Folarin. There are people who over the years have not been in the same political camp. What this suggest is that there is political realignment going on in the state.
We also saw the movement of Senator Ladoja and Engr. Seyi Makinde into the PDP. Definitely we have realignment of forces going on. As we move towards 2019, it is certain that there will be more realignment, especially with the realignment going on at the national level. We haven’t seen everything yet. There is going to be a major political contest more so when the incumbent governor is not going for re-election. We have 2 former governors who are interested, either they will contesting or they will be supporting candidates. It promises to be an exciting time.
It is also being rumoured that you are running for the governorship. Is this true?
It is not a rumour. Of course, I am interested and I have spent the last few month making consultations across the state with the critical stakeholders in the politics of Oyo State. My interest in the office stems mainly from my experience. I had served as Chief of Staff to the governor of the state and Special Assistant to the Vice President Science.
I specialize in Comparative Politics which is about: how do you organize government for the benefit of the greatest number of the people. My experience in combining all of these together is that Oyo State has great potential that we could harness, to make life much more meaningful to the highest number of our people. So, I have a passion for service. I have the capacity. I have the experience.
I have the academic background. I have a duty too. Over the years I trained as a Journalist. I grew up knowing the biggest social critics in Nigeria like the Tai Solarin, the Gani Fawehinmi. My experience has taught me that unless you deserved into the arena to also make your impact, criticism by the sidelines is not sufficient. I have what it takes to make the difference.
What has been the feedback from your visitations?
The response has been wonderful. My approach is when I visit people I tell them my own plans. What are my plans and how to generate money for the state, because I believe the No 1 problem in Oyo State in 2019 is: how do you generate money to run a government.
Oyo State has been one of the states that couldn’t pay salaries. This is not the problem of the state government, this is not the fault of the governor, it is a function of a dysfunctional federal system. That system has been there for years and we keep blaming the system.
We now have to move beyond that. That is why it is incumbent on whoever wants to be governor of Oyo State in 2019, to design out ways of generating money to run the government and serve the interest of the people. Then I will go ahead to talk about when we generate this money, what should be the focus in Oyo State of any government. I believe the No 1 problem is Youth unemployment.
In so many families, you will see young people who have become graduates but don’t have jobs, for about 10 years. We need to solve that problem and problem with out health care facilities. In Ibadan when people fall ill, they go to UCH for simple Malaria. We need to up our genre in the delivery of Health facilities.
The incumbent government has done very well in the area of security and infrastructure. The next governor will have to take off from there and look at other area.
The level of poverty in Oyo State is unacceptably high. If you go to parties you will see how people will be packing rice, yam amala and pounded yam in nylon bags to take home to warm to eat for the next day. That is not the kind of society we should encourage. People drop out of school because they couldn’t pay N1 naira.
How do we solve the problem of street trading?
Can’t we creatively tackle that problem like they did in the UK where they’ve created street corners for people who can’t afford shops to sell.
In Nigeria they will say you can’t do street trading but government do have provisions abroad where people who cannot afford to pay rent are given facilities in some street corners, an some specific days of the week. We have to design creative ways of helping our people.
We must address the issue of wide spread poverty which does not allow people to guarantee the education of their children. Even if government says don’t pay school fees, people have to buy uniform, they have to buy textbook. It is all of these that come together to place Oyo State in the 29th position in WAEC Performance Chat.
We need to redress all of these. I believe government has a duty to confront head long, the issue of widespread poverty in Oyo State particularly among our women, our mothers who are suffering and labouring everyday to bring up their children.
So, when I go round, tell them about my plans and they say, oh yes, we like your plans.
They also like the idea that young people are coming up to say they want to be governor. They think young people should come in with ideas.
One thing I have found out is that people don’t really talk much about political parties any longer. They will say look, forget about political parties, tell us your ideas. And even after you tell them how are we sure you are going to do all of these.
There is a lot of skepticism in the air that we need to address.
But the response, by and large has been very positive and encouraging.
What has been your relationship with the incumbent governor? People have said you are close, that he has anointed you, bla, bla, bla.. And that you are being tipped to succeed him…?
(Smiles) Haaa! I don’t know about that. But all I can say is that I have a cordial relationship with the governor. I served as his Chief of Staff in the first 2 years. And before I started going out, I went to him to tell him I wanted to run for the office of the governor. He said it’s a good development.
He encouraged me and said well, I won’t say you are my candidate, Go out there. Go and talk to party men. Go and make yourself acceptable to them. That is the way to go. I am going to support who ever the party wants. So, my relationship with him is cordial.
How have you seen his 6 years of running Oyo State?
The government has done very well in the area of Security. As at the time government came in 2011 Security was a major problem in Oyo State. Government has also done well in the area of Infrastructure.
Talking about 2019 race, what are the permutations, what do you think will determine the choice of who the next Oyo governor will be?
One thing I have realized is that the party affiliation is not likely to play an important role as it used to play. People say that every where. Each time I tell them I am running and on the platform of APC, they will say no, don’t tell us about the party, tell us about you and what you have to offer in terms of ideas and programmes and that the party you belong does not really matter, that politicians are the same, because they talk to us and when they get to office they do the same thing. So, tell us about your plans and give us the assurance that if you got there you are going to fulfill all those promises.
So, party may not play an important role as it used to play because there is so much skepticism and doubt among our people on the conduct of politicians.
The 2nd issues now is that people have begun to interrogate politicians. When you go and meet people now, they will say what are your plans.
As a political scientist, don’t you think calling for power rotation or zoning can be at the expense of good governance?
Some people believe zoning will hurt the consideration for merit in the race for the Agodi Government House in 2019?
That is not correct; Zoning and Merit are not necessarily incompatible. Yes, we want a governor that comes from Oke-Ogun but that does not mean we want it at the expense of Merit. If you look at the array of aspirants from the entire state and you compare those from Oke-Ogun with those from other zones, you cannot say people contesting from Oke-Ogun are seeking to be governor without merit. Some of them parade excellent credentials. So, you can marry zoning and merit.
There is this age-long belief that Ibadan holds the ace in the governorship race. It hasthe advantage of the population. Do you think Oke-Ogun can succeed in this effort?
Oke-Ogun cannot do it alone; we need the understanding of all the other zones of the state, especially Ibadan, who has 52 per cent of the zones. I believe we have friends, classmates, schoolmates, in-laws and so on who are from Ibadan. We have to explore all these channels to say that in the spirit of fairness and equity, let an Oke-Ogun man be governor. But we are not saying that Oke-Ogun can insist on it and have it.
Which party are you in and what are your efforts at securing the ticket of the party?
I am a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC). But I don’t think it is right to reveal the efforts I am making to get the ticket of my party.
However, I can assure you that I am taking all the necessary steps from the top to the bottom in order to come out victorious are being taken.
Why do you think it is Oke-Ogun’s turn to produce the next governor?
If you look at it, since the creation of Oyo State, an Oke-Ogun indigene has never become governor. And everywhere around the world, it is the belief of people that such position should be occupied based on the principles of equity, fairness and justice. If we want the progress of Oyo State and the peaceful co-existence of its people, every section in the state should have opportunity to govern the state. That is number one.
The second reason is that if you look at Oke-Ogun, we are being deprived of a lot of things and people believe that if an indigene of the area becomes governor, he will be able to do what is right for all zones including Oke-Ogun.
The third reason is that a lot of our youths in the area are currently unemployed and it is the belief of our people that if someone from Oke-Ogun, who knows where the shoes pinch the people the most and knows the great advantage the area possesses in terms of agriculture, will be able to set the right priorities that will ensure that an end comes to the menace of unemployment in the state.
Going by the number of aspirants from Oke-Ogun, why do you think the people should present you as the candidate?
I have the theoretical and the practical experience to make a difference. I read Political Science at the undergraduate, Masters and Ph.D. levels and I teach Political Science as a visiting professor at the Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State. I have had the opportunity of serving in the executive, in the Presidency, as Special Assistant to the Vice-President and as Chief of Staff to the Oyo State governor.
My area of specialisation is Comparative Politics; how you compare the experiences of how good governance can be put in place around the world, so I believe I have the theoretical and practical experiences to do well as governor. I also have good plans on what to do to move the state forward. So, I am persuaded by experiences and the insights I have had into the problems and the solutions we can use to solve the problems confronting the state.
When you tell them this is what I want to do in this sector they will askfollow up questions which means that the electorate is becoming more conscious and sophisticated. They will do their own analysis for you. They have all sorts of permutation, you will be surprised and you will gain a lot of insight from the people by listening to them.
They want a Government that has plans, integrity, one that is going to fulfill all the promises he has made to them. They don’t care much about the political parties. They don’t want god fathers any longer that will impose candidates. I believe that it is still an unfolding scenario, but those are the 4 lessons I have learnt in my consultations.
What role do you think zoning will play? Some say governorship should be zoned to Oke Ogun where you came from. Do you agree?
First and foremost, I believe that the most important consideration should be merit. The ability of whoever emerges as the governor to deliver on his promises and on moving Oyo State forward. We are in a situation where we have a lot of challenges. For those who became governor before now, the major concern was how we were going to manage the money that comes in from Abuja.
But now there has been a paradigm shift. The most important question now is how are you going to generate money to run the government? If you take out the Paris Bail Out, what comes to Oyo State is about N3billion in a month. But the state’s wage bill is about N5.2billion. There is a short fall of about N2.2billion, where you consider the Federal allocation. The IGI is about N1.5 billion. So if you put everything together it is not even enough to pay salaries.
For anybody who wants to be governor, the number one question you have to answer is how am I going to generate money to run the government of Oyo State. That is key. I believe if our people ask those questions, they should assess the candidate based on what they are able to give and how concrete and realistic their answers are.