Hon. Oyebisi Alamu needs little introduction in Osun State politics. He is one of those who have played and still playing active role in the state’s politics, whether in or out of public office. Having served as Commissioner for Works &Transport and later Water Resources & Rural Development under a former governor, Chief Bisi Akande, Oyebisi could best be described as a chip off the old block. He is not just a politician, but one with a second address. He is a successful Chartered Accountant of over a thirty-one-year practice. That is why it didn’t come as a surprise to those who know his antecedents when he declared his intention to run for the number one seat in the state. He is one of the governorship aspirants jostling for the APC’s guber ticket ahead of the coming September 22nd election in the state. In this interview with City People’s DARE ADENIRAN (08055210472), Oyebisi Alamu spoke extensively on his guber ambition and his plans to turn the fortune of the state round if given the chance. He also talked about how he was introduced to politics by Chief Bisi Akande, years back and many other related issues. Below are excerpts of the interview.
You are one of the many aspirants jostling for APC Guber ticket in Osun State, what informed your decision to run?
My decision was borne out of the strong passion I have for my state. I want to contribute to the development and good life for my people, through my wealth of experience in both private and public sectors. I am a Chartered Accountant. I have gained experience in several areas of accountancy and I have also been in government for some time. So, you can see that I have what it takes to govern the state and bring about the desired development. And by God’s grace and with the support of my people, I am going to be the next Osun State Governor. I am more than qualified for the job.”
There is a strong clamour by the people of Osun West Senatorial district to produce the next Governor and you are from the zone, is that why you are more confident?
We are meeting, particularly those of us from the Osun West Senatorial district, and are agreeing to support whoever emerges as the governorship candidate of the party. We are meeting with others from other senatorial districts because we believe that they should not aspire to be governor again for now. For example in Osun Central, that is where my governor, Chief Bisi Akande came from.
That’s where Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola came from and he spent seven years and a half making a total of eleven and a half years. Osun East Senatorial district is where the current Governor came from and by the grace of God, on November 26, he would have been eight years old in government. Osun West produced the first governor of the state and that is the late Dr. Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke who ruled for only 22 months before the government was truncated. So we believe in equity and fairness and we should be given the opportunity to produce the next governor of the state and that is why all of us have come together.
We are all core professionals and we believe that the party leadership should be able to identify with one of us, who will carry out the ideals of the party and give him the nod to carry the party’s standard at the election. So, with my C.V, family and professional backgrounds and experience in both private and public sectors, I am more than qualified. That is why I am seeking the support of my party to get the ticket, so that we can win together in the coming governorship election.
Tell us more about your antecedents in both the private and public sectors?
I am not new in the politics of Osun State. I have been in politics since the beginning of this democratic dispensation in 1998. And my entry into politics was dramatic, but I will say divine. It was in the course of an activity in the church in Kaduna, because I used to live in Kaduna. My pastor wrote a book and he wanted a book review at the launch and the name of Chief Bola Ige just came to my mind, but because nobody knew how to get a hold of him, so they told me to go ahead and invite him, that was how I got the nod of Chief Bola Ige. He didn’t eventually come to review the book even though he accepted. At the time of the launching of the book, he was in detention as a prisoner of war by the then military administrator of Oyo State. But from there, we formed a very strong relationship.
I became conscripted into politics by him. He invited me to come to serve and join Chief Bisi Akande and others in building the newly formed Alliance for Democracy (AD) at that time. And I was appointed commissioner by Chief Akande in 1999. I ran two key ministries at different times, I was first at Works and Transport then Water Resources and Rural Development and since that time, I have been actively involved in politics at the grassroots. I was at a time, a member of the police reform implementation committee at the Federal level and now I sit on the governing council of Osun State Polytechnic, Ire. I have been a delegate to the National Convention of the All Progressives’ Congress since 2014. So, these are the things I have done in politics.
Let’s talk about your plans, what do you have in mind to do if given the chance and why do you think people of Osun State should vote for your party, APC again?
I believe government is a continuum. The major problem we have been having in politics is when a new government comes into office. It disregards the policies and the programmes of the outgoing government. Whereas there are certain things that are good and should be continued. There are other things that can be reviewed, to make them effective and there are new things to be introduced. For example in Osun State, I believe that Governor Rauf Aregbesola has done really well in the development of physical infrastructure. He has also taken bold steps in empowering the people. However, a lot still needs to be done in that area.
For example, the State government has a pact with the Bank of Industry to empower people. “But I will introduce a new policy that I call the Ivorian Model.”It was actually introduced by the French in Ivory Coast. What they do differently is that they don’t just give people loan, and ask them to produce, but there is constant monitoring and those who excel are further encouraged. I have discovered quite sadly that a lot of politicians will take loans especially loans given by the government as their own share of the national cake thereby blocking the chances of others to enjoy such facilities.
The resource available to the government is limited and so it is not something they can continue to take without defraying the given facilities. It is a revolving arrangement and concrete steps would be taken to ensure that it is actually revolving and provisional advancement will be provided for the participants of the scheme. “I intend setting up a bureau of empowerment and job creation and to be manned by core professionals, who are experienced in business development and who can assist the loan beneficiaries to grow their businesses.”
Perhaps, it may interest you to know that Osun State is largely endowed with mineral resources that are largely untouched, owing to a number of factors, for example, Gold which is in the Atakumosa West local government. There is a Gold belt that runs across Osun State, that runs as far as Kebbi State, but the largest deposit is in Osun State. Several attempts had been made at exploring and exploiting the deposit as I have been a business management consultant for a long time. I would find a way that we could tap into it, and begin commercial exploration of the gold mine.
Luckily, the Federal government has given approval to states to explore resources in their various states under the regulation of the Federal Ministry of Power known for mineral development. We also have a lot of mineral resources. Osun State is much endowed with a lot of mineral resources like granite for example. Granite is a commodity that is largely sought within and outside the country. I conducted a recent study and I discovered that we import a lot of granite tiles from Europe. And I ended up finding out that those tiles are from engineered rocks and not natural rocks and markets even exist in Europe for our natural granite, because they last longer, they are of better quality and they have higher aesthetic value. I have discovered that we have Kaolin, white marble, but the quantity of deposit of white marble is still to be proved. It is something that I discovered myself as a result of my work as a Commissioner of Works.
We were constructing a particular road and I discovered that a part of the soil looked different, so I took a sample to the laboratory and it proved to be white marble, so we can launch into exploiting that deposit. We also have bauxite, betonies, and lot of other mineral resources that are largely untouched. The state government would partner with private entrepreneurs because government cannot run a successful business particularly in Nigeria because of so many reasons. So, the government would partner with these private entrepreneurs and the solid mineral resources would be exploited to the best advantage of the state.
With the present meagre Federal allocation and the low Internally Generated Revenue of Osun State, how can all the projects be achieved?
You will see that all the programmes I have highlighted so far are income generating projects. We cannot only rely on the revenue of the state. It was estimated that $1.5 billion was needed to exploit the gold deposit successfully in year 2000. Because the quality of gold we have in Osun is the same with that of South Africa and it is the main stream of their economy. We will partner with development institutions both home and abroad. They are income-generating ventures that would finance themselves and still earn returns for the state. But there are some other things; the governor has done so well in providing physical infrastructure for schools. We will go into Human Development Infrastructure.
I am a teacher and I trained at Wesley College, Ibadan and I know what it is to develop the education sector, to develop people, who will man the structures put in place. If you see some of the model schools built by the present government in Osun State, you will see that they are beautiful to behold. They provide a good learning environment that intoxicates and learning morale of pupils. The people need to be developed, so that they would complement the physical infrastructure put in place.
If you are given the chance to rule the state, how will you raise the standard in the state?
I am bringing fresh ideas to the table. The IGR of the state, the IGR is low. A spillover effect of developing industries in the state might be a sure way of raising the IGR. But as an accountant, I have been in practice for over 31 years, I will not focus solely on raising the IGR, I will also focus on blocking wastages. This is because no matter the level of IGRs you have, if there are loopholes, conduit pipes, the amount of the IGR will amount to nothing. That is the first thing that I will look into, to ensure that whatever the state generates would be spent on the benefit of the citizenry. Then, thereafter, we can think of ventures that we can engage in that will boost the IGR of the state and we will also encourage taxable adults in the state to come into the tax. By the time people see what the tax payers money is being spent on, everybody will be encouraged to come into the tax circuit.
Do you see yourself moving to another party if you are not given the party’s ticket?
Since the beginning of this democratic dispensation and my involvement in partisan politics, I have always been a disciple of the Awo’s school of politics and that is why I have moved from Alliance for Democracy (AD) to Action Congress of Nigeria and now APC.
When we were rigged out in 2003, the government of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola was trying to buy legitimacy and so they targeted some of us, who were seen as very close to Chief Bisi Akande. Initially, what they wanted to do in my case was to harass me into submission. When I was in the Ministry of Water Resources, we could not provide pipe-borne water, so we wanted to provide borehole water, which could serve as an alternative source of water supply to the rural communities. As at that time, we only had one rig, which was given by UNICEF and had been in use since 1995, so what we decided to do was to buy two additional rigs.
Unfortunately, the rigs that we got were not particularly usable in the state. After all efforts to make the rigs work failed, we then wrote a letter to the suppliers to take them back and that they should refund our money, unfortunately none of that had been done when we left the office. We returned one of the rigs but the second one was still in the state. But when Oyinlola’s government came, they tried to make a scandal out of the rig. They invited me to come and meet with the governor, but because I knew what they were planning, I refused to meet the governor in private. Eventually, I was invited by the State House of Assembly. On July 23, 2003, was the day I appeared at the State House of Assembly.
There were lawmakers who were understandably hostile because during that time, we had 24 PDP members and only two AD members and of the two AD members only one was around, Colonel Ogunsehinmi who was representing Ori-Ade State Constituency that was present on the floor of the House that time, so they were very hostile. Eventually, they noticed that I could not be shaken because I took all the precautionary measures to ensure that we get the best and I took all corrective measures to ensure that we had value back for our money. Funny enough, Governor Oyinlola travelled to London with some of the staff responsible for rural water and not only did they bring the rig back, they even paid more money to the suppliers, which was curious.
When they saw that they had failed, and could not harass me into submission, they became conciliatory and they even dangled the carrot before me that I should come and become a commissioner in the cabinet, but I turned the offer down. I asked the people who came to me, I have said so much negative things about PDP because that is what I see in them. Will I now say that what I said about them were not correct or I was not in my right senses when I highlighted them or that the situation has changed? So, I remained where I was, that is in the progressive camp.
During your time as the Commissioner for Works and Transport, you executed lots of laudable projects, how did you manage to do all that?
My Governor, Chief Bisi Akande, was a very prudent and conservative man. Don’t forget that he was in both the private and government sectors. He was SSG to Chief Bola Ige. Prior to that, he was an employee of British Petroleum and he was in the Accounts Department and some other related departments. By the time we came to Osun State, we discovered the many reasons responsible for high contract cost.
Prior to Chief Bisi Akande’s government, virtually all government offices were operating from rented apartments all over town, but we were able to bring all ministries to one place and even reduced the cost of governance.