TheÂ Akure, Ondo StateÂ bornÂ MichaelÂ Olaoluwa Adeyeye is a United KingdomÂ (UK)Â trained CorporateÂ CommercialÂ Lawyer turned Politician.
Just like an intrepidÂ soldier fighting a war of attrition,Â at age 40,Â AdeyeyeÂ hasÂ fought andÂ triumphed against many tangles of life.Â HeÂ recently joinedÂ the fast approaching governorship election inÂ OndoÂ state?
In this interview with Maxwell AdeyemiÂ Adeyeye, Adeyeye bares his mind on the current state of governance inÂ Ondo State and highlighted suggestions on how the quagmiresÂ currently rumbling the state could be effectivelyÂ managed.
Why are you interested in governing Ondo State?
I am interested because I realized thereâ€™s need forÂ us as a people in Ondo State to do things differently in order to get the kind of results that we desire and deserve.Â Â My ambition is premised on a strong desire to solve problems and thereby make a difference and represent â€˜real changeâ€™ for our people.Â I am interested because thereâ€™s need for a shiftÂ from the currentÂ ancient style of governance to a revolutionaryÂ cutting edge approach especially as we are in theÂ 21stÂ century.Â I am focusedÂ on making a difference.
CanÂ youÂ in a clearer terms, define the kind of change you want to offer the good people of Ondo State?
We will create an enabling environment for everyone to thrive especially the private sector. Â The role of government is largely to create an ambience where industries, agriculture, education, health and indeed every sector thrives.Â Ondo State is blessed withÂ â€˜milk and honeyâ€™ in every sense, our people thread on gold and have little to eat. Â With careful planning and engagement, we will ramp up the tonnage of our agricultural output with a careful balance of short, medium and long term products in view. For instance, Ondo State hasÂ one ofÂ theÂ largestÂ depositsÂ of bitumen in sub-saharanÂ AfricaÂ and this has not been tapped into. Â Beyond the efforts that have been made to date, our Palm Kernel volume should easily beÂ 10 times its current size.Â If elected, I will bring in innovationsÂ to grow the economy of the state from within,Â Â our people will be engaged directly to provide services to MDAs, we will where necessary partner with industry leaders to optimize output and growth.Â Let me give you the example of Okomu Palm oil in Edo StateÂ which was established by the Federal Government of NigeriaÂ in 1976Â and with little to write home about for many years thereafter until the mid â€“ 90s when an industry leading investor came into that venture and turned it around. Â The FGN is smiling all the way to the bank with approx. 48% stake in the business as opposed to 100% that was making next to nothing. Â At its peak, Okomu Palm Oil makes almost N11bn in profits a year !. IÂ strongly believeÂ that if we make the right choices, we will double the IGR of the state withinÂ 2 years and triple it by the end of our term in office. Â When we achieve such a feat, total reliance on Federal Allocations will become history and we can then build a Sovereign Fund that will be our buffer for the future..Â Considering the abundantÂ resources we have, Ondo State should have the second largest economy inÂ the South – West after Lagos but what we have today is a quagmire.
ThereÂ areÂ Arigidi Tomato Paste factory, Ifon Ceramic, Bolorunduro Timbres, Okitipupa Oil Palm Mill,Â Oluwa Glass at Igbokoda,Â Okeluse Cement factory,Â Olokola Free Trade Zone andÂ many other moribund companiesÂ in Ondo State. Do you have it in your plans to resuscitate these firms?
By virtue of the nature of myÂ professional exposureÂ as a lawyerÂ specialisedÂ inÂ ProjectÂ Finance and investment,Â I have been a part of manyÂ Projects fromÂ theirÂ formation and toÂ becoming fully operational.Â WithÂ thisÂ experience, I will ensure that those moribund companies areÂ guidedÂ back to lifeÂ as quickly as possible.Â Their resuscitation will create employment for our people and revenue will derive to the coffers of the state.Â Â We will implement policies that will attract investors into Ondo State; weÂ will identify the challenges of industry on a case by case basis and address those challenges in the most efficient manner. Â For instance where power supply is the problem, we will strive to put an IPP in place that will address that deficiency as well as provide power for a captive area of residentsÂ around the location so that the investor can go home with a return that makes the investment worth their while. WeÂ will deployÂ strategicÂ infrastructure strategically.Â Â Our government will not be about cosmetic enhancement, what is worth doing is worth doing well.Â I am well prepared for this assignment. I am even prepared for an empty treasury.
You want to run against the candidate of an incumbent who prides himself as the Iroko of Ondo State politics.Â As a new entrant in politics, how prepared are you to confront this hegemony?
I am a candidate speakingÂ and taking a standÂ for a generation. Â At 40, I amÂ the youngest candidate in the race across all political parties. Â We were told for many years that we were the leaders ofÂ tomorrowÂ and I am crystal sure that â€˜tomorrowâ€™Â isÂ here and now! Â I am coming out to liberate the poverty ridden youths of Ondo State from anÂ oppressiveÂ hegemony that has been intimidatingÂ us in many ways especially exclusion from leadership Â . It is time forÂ the Youth of Ondo StateÂ to choose between slavery and freedom. I represent freedom,Â truthfulness and all-inclusiveness.Â I grew up inÂ Akure andÂ I know the state very wellÂ as I have tentacles all the way from the south to the North of the state in pretty much every local government of the state hence I can speak for my people. I say explicitly thatÂ it is time to put theÂ politics of gerontocracyÂ behind us and catch up with the rest of the world.Â I am in touch with the realities theÂ of 21stcentury, its challenges and many opportunities alike.Â This fact stands meÂ out as theÂ most suited panaceaÂ for a better Ondo State.Â I am better suited for my party candidature than others,Â as I am squarely positioned as a bridge between the older generation and the generation coming behind me. Â Other CandidatesÂ may beÂ moreÂ experienced than me politically because they once held office(s),Â but I amÂ a well rounded candidate having been exposed to leadership from a very young age and making a success of it at every turn. Â I have no Political baggage and my candidature appeals across board regardless of party affiliation or location in the state. I represent true change. I represent a betterÂ tomorrow.
You are running to govern a state that has been groundedÂ financiallyÂ toÂ aÂ levelÂ that the governmentÂ currentlyÂ owes fiveÂ months salaries.Â How will you cope if you win?
I will run a no â€“ frills government and fiscal discipline will be the order of the day from the get go. Â I will prioritize workerâ€™s salaries as the adage goes, a hungry man is an angry man. We cant be buying official cars and building an â€˜event centerâ€™ when salaries have not been paid. Â We will focus on solving long standing problems in a creative manner. Â For instance, despite the fact that Ondo State sitsÂ squarely on the Atlantic OceanÂ and has many a body of water running through it, there is noÂ pipe-borneÂ water.Â I am committed to address thisÂ without employing the white elephant approach. IÂ want to use this opportunity to giveÂ credit to former Governor Olusegun Agagu,Â mayÂ his soul rest in peace.Â Most of the roads youÂ are seeing in town today were constructed by him.Â Agagu did a wonderfulÂ jobÂ in the area ofÂ road infrastructure especially in theÂ SouthernÂ SenatorialÂ District.Â We are going to do more; infrastructure development is theÂ major tool we will employ to open up the state for agriculture and industries.Â I sympathize with the workers of Ondo State.Â AÂ vote for me is a vote for their liberation.Â OndoÂ did not prepare for the rainyÂ dayÂ andÂ thatâ€™s why we are suffering. AnambraÂ StateÂ has been preparing for this kind of period byÂ saving for the raining days since 1999, when we get there, we willÂ implement a strict budget adherence budget performance measuring system.Â We wonâ€™t spend on luxuries. WeÂ wonâ€™tborrow loan to fund extravagancies. We shall be transparent. We shall be accountable to our people. TheÂ OwenaÂ MultipurposeÂ Dam shall be reformed by bringing in investors that would turn it around for the good of our people.
What is your view about the style of governance of Governor Mimiko?
The government of Governor Mimiko came in gloriously. And with all due respect, he is an amazing politician. I have a great respect for him personally. But today, I can say he has derailed. TheÂ Mother andÂ Child hospitalÂ projectÂ has been adjudgedÂ successfulÂ butÂ underneath that glorythe entireÂ health sectorÂ is in comatose.Â Our State Specialist Hospital,Â GeneralÂ Hospitals, Basic Health CentersÂ and Maternity Centres are inÂ a poor state.Â I am not talking about painting everywhere orange and white here, the question is what is inside the building?Â IÂ see a fewÂ mega schools MimikoÂ built but if you look inward, the traditional primary schools in Ondo areÂ nothing to write home about. There is an alarming shortage of Teachers and the ones we have have not been invested in to update their teaching skills and exposure. Â No wonder our performance as a state in WAEC/NECO has been on a decline. Governor MimikoÂ hasÂ raised billions from the Capital Market Â and BanksÂ without anyÂ realÂ justification.Â You donâ€™t takeÂ Bonds that will be injurious to theÂ financial future of a state. HeÂ has plunged OndoÂ StateÂ intoÂ hugÂ debts.Â A state can indeed borrow but such decisions should be made with a great sense of responsibility and for a purpose that will self â€“ finance in terms of revenue therefrom. Â A State can use bondsÂ to finance projects that are lucrative. I will run a Transparent government by carrying the people along on the state of the finances of the state. Â I will publish an Annual Budget performance review and provide quarterly updates via several engagement channels with the electorate on the state of the finances of the state. Â Â If I get there, I wonâ€™tÂ own salaries.Â MimikoÂ has refused to alignÂ Ondo with the developmental agenda ofÂ the south west. Ondo is bleeding.Â It is heartbreaking to even mention the golden oppourtunity we lost with the Dangote Refinery that was going to be located in Olokonla FTZ. Â We will revisit that opportunity.
Do you believe in a generation shift?
This is the key to the success of any party in the coming election. LookÂ at what aÂ thenÂ 36Â -Â year old DonaldÂ Duke did in Cross Rivers state from 1999 to 2007. DukeÂ revolutionized theÂ TourismÂ sectorÂ of thatÂ stateÂ and til date, that sector employs 25% of the work force of the state.Â Today, CrossÂ – RiverÂ isÂ among the best 10Â states in Nigeria in terms of GDP. Only an audacious forward thinkingÂ youth could doÂ what Duke did. The Tinapa ResortÂ that he initiated todayÂ continues to stand tall and is an envy of many states. Also,Â look at the recently enthroned Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Oguwusi. He hasÂ injected enviable grace and an informed vision to traditional rulership.Â OnlyÂ a youthÂ could do what he has been doing. At 40, IÂ am aÂ pacesetter. My background has prepared me for this job. I urge the youths of Ondo state to shun gerontocracy.Â The developed countries are being governed by the youths.Â The British Prime Minister,Â David Cameron won his election at age 43.Â Canada recently elected a 43 year Old Prime Minister. Â Look at Kogi State also. Â It is time for our generation to take charge and repair the the damage that has been done by our fathers. Â We must not go backward.Â OndoÂ State needs a leader that understands the language of 21stÂ century. We should vote a leader that is rooted and grounded in technology.Â The sun shall shine again in Ondo State if a true philosopher king is granted the insignia of powerÂ ofÂ ourÂ state.Â IÂ humblyÂ present myself to the people of Ondo State as a Candidate that is ready in every true sense to serve them and lead the state to its rightful place in the nation.