Alhaji Gboyega Nasir Isiaka (GNI) is an easy going politician. He is clean, urbane and almost unassuming in his conduct. He is also a brilliant technocrat and a 1st class material who stumbled into politics close to 20 years ago when he served in Otunba Gbenga Daniel’s government. He has grown over the years.
In Ogun State right now, all eyes are on GNI who is the governorship candidate of the ADC. He is the politician everyone is talking about right now because he is a very strong candidate for governorship. And he is in a party that is rancour free, unlike Ogun APC and Ogun PDP. There are strong indications that many of the aggrieved parties in both parties are threatening to vote for him, to teach some of their political godfathers a very big lesson.
That was why City People went after him last week to get him to talk, to get him to reveal how prepared he is for the 2019 guber elections.
Getting GNI, for an interview wasn’t an easy task. For the past
I was glad. That was it. We were lucky. At long last GNI was going to talk about his journey so far. A lot has happened over the past 2 years or so.
What kind of questions would you ask this easy going politician who is very popular across OgunState.
He has contested for governorship twice now. He ran in 2011 and in 2015. And on both occasions when he ran for governorship, he made a great showing, on the platform of PDP.
He later left the PDP and joined the ADC. He is now the flagbearer of the party.
A few weeks back, City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE spoke to him about his ambition to rule Ogun State. The interview took place at his Lagos home. And how he believes he is the most eminently qualified, out of all governorship candidates in Ogun State.
It is a rich interview, vintage GNI. Below are excerpts of the interview.
How do you see the political situation in Ogun State?
It is just a few days to the governorship elections and everything seems set. The situation now is that about 3 political platforms are there on the front burner – the ADC, PDP and APC. You also have the SDP and a few others.
The gubernatorial and the key elections is likely to be a 3 way straight fight. I am one of the key candidates. In other platforms there are still some militating issues that they are trying to resolve. All the other elections, the candidates are fully known. I think everything is set for an epic battle as it were for the control of Oke-Mosun. In 2019. We are battle ready for that.
What gives you the confidence that GNI is ahead of his other competitors?
Well. I started much earlier than any one of them. In the first instance, I contested for this same position in 2011 and 2015 meaning that I have traversed the 236 wards of Ogun State at least twice if not thrice. All the other people that are contesting have either contested at the senatorial level, secondly, even for this 2019 elections, I have been in it since 2016 when some of them were still undecided. That was when we launched the Believe Movement, which was the NGO and the mass movement that we are using prior to joining the ADC.
During this period too, I have been everywhere. I have also participated in the running of the state before. I was part of the governing of an agency of the state. I have been involved in the running of Ogun State government, right at the middle of the governance of Ogun State. Among all the people that are contesting, there is nobody that has been involved in the governing of Ogun State before.
And what was I doing then? I was managing the Investment of the state. And before I can manage the investment of the state I have the responsibility to market the state. You cannot market what you don’t know. So I know Ogun State. And I am able to talk to investors outside the state.
I have been in the state since 2004, when I joined the immediate past administration. So, I have been around. And I think in terms of closeness to the people, I can also boast that I am closer to the people throughout the nooks and crannies of the state, because there is hardly any weekend in all of this time that I am not in one function or the other with the people.
So when you talk in terms of experience, I want to believe that I have the experience, having been in government before. And in terms of closeness to the people, I want to believe that I have more of it, having also been around people. In terms of identifying with the people, being close to them and in terms of the power of recall by the voters, I think I also have it, having contested before. And I didn’t just contest for contesting sake, I contested very fiercely, in the 1st election and the 2nd election. Since then, I have been there, I thank God that in all of these, we have given a good account of ourselves. We have displayed a reasonable level of Omoluabi and a reasonable level of understanding with the people, and closeness with the people and I think all of these put together makes me to have a strong feeling that I have an edge over any other contestant or candidate.
In Ogun State, there was so much talk about the senatorial zone where the next governor should come from, whether it is Yewa in Ogun West or Ogun East. What do you make of all the debates and controversies?
What I keep telling people is that my contest is not based on where I come from. My contest is based on my capacity and my experience and my knowledge and my vision and my passion for the people of the state. That primarily is what my contest is based on. And I think I have a reasonable level of that. That is the 1st point I need to make.
But when we have people talk about the senatorial zone where the next Governor should come from, of course, the people of Ogun West are demanding, they are requesting. They are saying that this state had been created for the past 42 to 43 years and none of their son and daughter has occupied the No 1 slot in the state before and therefore I think it is reasonable for them to say that look, someone from there should have it this time around.
I happen to come from there. So I take that as an advantage over others. But like I said, that is not to say that is the primary reason I am in this contest. So, it is quite reasonable. When there is no Justice and Fairness there will not be Peace. On that ground, I think it is reasonable that where we have 3 senatorial districts and 2 of the senatorial districts have been the one governing the state. They have produced 2 governors, apace, in the history of the state, I think it is only reasonable and justifiable as well, and for the people of the west to feel that yes, this time around, one of their sons, or daughters should be the next governor of Ogun State. Like I said, that is where I come from. I share that view. I share that opinion and I stand solidly behind the people of Ogun West in doing that. But like I said, I am not predicating my contest on that. That is just coming in as an advantage.
Some people have said we should go back to history that Ogun State was divided into 2 political zones, and not along senatorial zones. What do you make of that.
I think those people should also go back to when the country was created, when there was just one country. We can begin to go back and begin to go back. I think the bottom line is that as we stand today, in the Constitution we are running today, there are 3 senatorial districts. That is what the constitution recognises. That is it. Anybody that wants to go back can as well go back to when we were running Western region. Anybody can pick an argument from an area that satisfies them. The important thing is that there are 3 senatorial districts in Ogun State and one senatorial zone has never been governor before.
It is slightly immaterial whether it is for this reason or it is for that reason. The important thing is for us to be fair. Let them do it. It is not that they don’t have people who can do it. All those arguments put forward by others are self-serving.
Like I keep saying I have based my contest on the fact that Ogun State can go higher and greater and we want greater, greater Ogun State. There is no part of Ogun State that does not have its own Comparative advantage and Competitive advantage that can we can all explore to make the state better for all us.
And I believe that I have what it takes to do that. And that is what I am putting forward. We shouldn’t deny one area from producing the governor because like they say we have 2 divisions in the state is begging the question.
The right issue here is that the Constitution has divided us into 3. Then 2 areas have been the ones producing governors rotating the governorship among themselves. Now, the other side also wants to produce the governor. And I think it is right. It is proper. It is justifiable. It is fair for them to have it.