Former Oyo Gov. Otunba Christopher Alao Akala is an interviewer’s delight any day. He is one man who is always ready to answer any question you ask him. He was recently our guest on City People TV Instagram Live Chat with City People Publisher SEYE KEHINDE and we asked him a lot of questions about his life and career in politics and answered everything. It was a No Holds Barred interview.
It was during the interview that he told us why he was called Oyato Governor while in office. He also told us how he got the nickname ATM when he was Governor of Oyo State.
Read on. Its interesting.
How are you finding Ogbomosho politics?
Why are you trying to localise me, I am not a local politician.
No, sir, you are a force to reckon with in Ogbomosho and a godfather…
There is no doubt about that with due respect to other politicians in Ogbomosho, you just have to be my candidate to win any election.
To God be the glory, we are in control of that place.
Why do people call you Oyato Gov?
Why people call me Oyato Governor is very simple. When I became Governor, I had a vision and the vision was to transform Oyo State, to do something different from what I met on ground. There were lots of changes. We physically showed it to the world there were changes and when they saw it that there was really a change, they started calling me “Oyato” That was not the only name they called me, when I was in power. They also called me ATM, why because all they need to do is to put pin in my mouth for me to bring money out. And one thing about me is that I know how to make money available for people.
Money came down to the grassroots during my time. You don’t need to see Akala before you get the money that time. We all got money from the government. You know the government is the biggest spender. If the government spends money wisely, it will get to the people. I was spending the money made available for me at that time and I made sure it got to the grassroots. So everybody was seeing and feeling how the government was spending the money. I coughed out a lot of money into the system. Lots of people enjoyed their businesses. That was what happened. You don’t need to see Akala before you get money and because the money was available to them they started calling me Akala ATM.
Since you retired back to Ogbomosho, how have you been coping?
I am still in politics. I also have lots of businesses; I own a very big farm, poultry, piggery. I have a very big Cashew Plantation. I am also the Proprietor of Parrot FM 101.1. Parrot FM is 7 years old now and doing very well. I am into Oil & Gas too, I have Oil & Gas station. I have the biggest petrol station as NNPC dealer in Ogbomosho. So I have been busy.
Which of the 2 parties are you most comfortable with?
I don’t know what you mean by comfortability. I am a politician. There is no way any politician can talk of being comfortable in any particular party. There is no ideology in the 2 major political parties in Nigeria today. Everybody just pretending to be this, to be that.
Generally speaking, we are yet to get there, by the time we get there, money will not play a big part in our politics as it is today.
Because we don’t have any ideology, everybody just needs a platform to play his own part. The only thing I enjoy in politics is that there is no permanent friend. Anybody can move to any party you like, or where you think you can achieve your aim. May God help this country because we are just trying. I am currently in APC and I am comfortable with APC.
What would you call the biggest problem we are facing in Nigeria in terms of leadership?
Lack of planning, let me give you an example. By the time we got our independence, we were in a hurry. We did not crawl before we say we want to walk, and when you do such there is a possibility that you will have polio. By the time we got our independence, we were not prepared. We pretended to be ready for independence. No 2. We were not patient enough with our leaders and because of that the British took over and messed the country up. Imagine if the colonial masters are the one managing our oil for us, they would have used the money to develop so many things for us. All the natural resources God gave us in this country we are not making use of them very well. The military also came to mess the whole thing up, they had good planning but did not make use of it. Every year NISAR in Ibadan were formulating policies for the government but they were putting it under the table. Mismanagement of what we have is the problem we have in this country. The whole thing is not going round the way it should go round. All these problems were caused by the Military. May God give us the leaders that will lead us right, so that we will leave a better Nigeria for the upcoming generation.
How do you cope with people who criticise you while you are in government?
Those people who were criticising me don’t know me. I forgive them because they don’t know me. In this life truth is constant. If anybody is criticising you just leave the fellow, people will soon know the truth and the truth will set you free. If you want to criticise you must avail yourself with all facts. When the facts are not before you, then why criticising?
Anyway, some of them have started apologising. For example, Festus Adedayo used to criticise me very well then, almost every week. Later, I gave him the privilege of writing the forward of my book, I also asked him to edit. So when he moved closer to me he was shocked; that, he has been criticizing this man for nothing.
People criticise God, so why will I be bothered if they criticise me. I always know that one day, one time, the truth will surely come out. People said I use waist chain, you can imagine, some even said I use Ankle Chain, I don’t know where they got that from. They don’t know me so I don’t lose my sleep because of that.
What’s your relationship with Senator Ladoja, have you reconciled with him?
We are not fighting. We have a cordial relationship with each other.
Truth has to be told, we must tell the truth. My religion doesn’t give room for a fight, I am not fighting anyone. I am a Christian and the Holy Bible has commanded us not to have a grudge with anybody and I am also commanded to forgive. I am okay.
What would you call your biggest legacy?
The legacy I want people to remember me for in Oyo State is that there was a governor who came, promised and fulfilled all his promises.
Evidence is there. There is no governor who has been able to beat my record. A governor who came promised the people of Oyo State, promised the people of Ibarapa, Oke Ogun, Oyo, Ogbomosho and he fulfilled all the promises. I can claim it as my legacy.