INTERVIEW: Ekiti Will Witness Massive Development Under My administration- Surv. Abiodun Aluko

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Surveyor Abiodun Aluko is a former deputy governor of Ekti state. He is also a frontline governorship aspirant for the 2018 governorship election in the state under the platform of the PDP. In this interview with NIGERIAN CONCORD, he speaks on his governorship ambition as well as his plans to develop the state. Excerpts:

Can we meet you, and will you tell us why do you want to contest for the 2018 governorship race in Ekiti state?
My name is Surveyor Abiodun Aluko, the former Deputy Governor of Ekiti state. I’m in the race for the governorship of Ekiti state because I believe I have all it takes to run the affairs of Ekiti state efficiently, effectively and to deliver the dividends of democracy to our people. I have been in service at one level or the other since 1977. After my NYSC I joined the Ondo State Housing Cooperation, I was there as a surveyor and I rose to the position of Chief Surveyor before I left and I went to join the Ondo State Council of Chambers of Commerce as Director General, as Council Secretary, as Vice President and ultimately as the President of Ekiti State Council of Chambers of Commerce on the creation of Ekiti state in 1996. And while in Ondo state, the Council of Chambers of Commerce was an active partner with government. We were formulating economic policies for government in terms of industrialization, in terms of job creation because in the council of chambers we have agriculture, we have mines, we have industries, and we have all sorts of administrative faces cutting across all spheres. So, as the Director General and the council Secretary, I managed the affairs of Council of Chambers and we are always interfacing with the government, and at this time I gathered a lot of experience and we were able to assist the Ondo state government at that time. On the creation of Ekiti state, Ekiti state had no infrastructure by the time it was created and the council of commerce was the first to be reached by Colonel Bawa of the creation of Ekiti state on the road map on the way forward. I was the President, we prepared a blueprint for the setup of Ekiti state at that time and I’m happy that Col. Bawa found us a useful partner for the take off of Ekiti state at that time. And as deputy governor, I was in charge of political and economic department of the government that is the engine room where government policies are formulated and implemented. I was the head and I was in charge of the administration of all local governments, all the 16 local governments of Ekiti state, I was the Chairman of the state Tender Board, I was the Chairman of the Christian pilgrims Welfare Board, I was the chairman of Muslim Board, I was in charge of Boundary Commission, I was in charge of chieftaincy Affairs, all chieftaincy issues in Ekiti state were handled by my office. I have paid my dues. There is nothing strange to me, either at the civil service level or at the corporate or private level and even in government. So it’s now time for me to take the seat as the driver of the Ekiti state government as the chief executive coming 2018. I have all it takes in terms of experience I’m there, in terms of qualification I’m a university degree holder. I have two masters degrees, one in Environmental Management and I have one in Project Management, and I have so many post graduate diploma and professional diploma, in surveying, G I S and while in office as a deputy governor I attended so many seminars on poverty reduction, on industrialization. In fact in most case, I was always representing the governor at the National Economic Council meetings in Abuja, so I have been part of the system up to the presidency level there is nothing new that I have not learnt. All I just needed to do now is put all this things together and put Ekiti state at the front line. I want to make Ekiti state a role model; I want to make Ekiti state the state that will be the reference point for all other states despite our limited resources. I know that Ekiti state is the brain basket of Nigeria. We are going to use the mineral resources coupled with technology and other resources to move Ekiti state forward. Ekiti state is very rich in minerals, we have done the survey of the rocks and minerals in Ekiti state and we have found out that in terms of solid mineral there is no state in Nigeria that is as rich as Ekiti state. All these things need to be further exploited and we need to invite foreign partners for exploitation and Ekiti state without oil will be competing with other states that have petroleum. So I have all it takes, I have knowledge, I have the qualification, of all the people who are contending for the position of the governor of Ekiti state for now, those that I know for now, I’m the person that have the richest pedigree. I’m fully prepared.

Can you tell us what you could have done differently as governor?
Yes, if I’m governor, today Ekiti state depends 100 percent on federal allocation. The IGR, nobody knows how much comes in because that is kept secret by the governor. It is only known to him, nobody knows how much comes in as IGR. But I know Ekiti state has sons and daughters that have held positions in various organizations all over the world, United Nations, in the Commonwealth, in multinationals, in banking industry, all over the place that this present government has beaten back. The government is not using the human resources that Ekiti state processes in abundance. The first thing I want to do is to bring the brains together. Those that gave already gathered all this experience and then they are going to prepare a blue print that is going to take Ekiti state out of the wood. We need human beings with experience that have economic background that can formulate policies which would be able to translate into physical development, infrastructural development that will create jobs for our people. And of now is only the civil service that is employing people, there is no industries. What is happening in Ebonyi state and Anambra state can be replicated in Ekiti state because Igbinmo rice was the first that was known in Nigeria as local rice “ofada rice” that Igbinmo rice industry bus dead today, whereas with Igbinmo rice we will be able to generate not less than Five thousand jobs because not only in Igbinmo rice is cultivated throughout the central and North central district. The solid minerals are also there to be exploited, all we need to do is go back to the geology department University of Ado-Ekiti and make sure it’s very equipped and bring in our sons and daughter from all over the world who are geologists, professor, let them come and develop some model for us some pilot projects which we can use our solid minerals in Ekiti state for. It is ideas that rule the world today. It is when you have ideas, these ideas will develop to proposal, we take them to African Development Bank (ADP). See what Afe Babalola is doing now, with the agro project that Are Babalola University is doing, it’s been able to secure $40millon from African Development Bank, that is the product of idea. We have men who have the ideas in Ekiti state but this present government does not have the space for people who have ideas because the governor is the type of person who is suffering from sort of inferiority complex. He’s not always comfortable in the midst of intellectuals, it is the area boys, the trumpet drummer and all kind of these people are his people: the garage people, the motor park touts, that is his own consistuency, that is where he belongs, immediately you are introduced as Dr. So so and so, he becomes jittery because he knows that he cannot match your intellect idea for idea. This is why the state is backward. When I become the governor, I am going to set up a human resources group of people that will sit down in different areas of development and formulate economic policies and with the first 12 months when we get to office. All the ideas will be collated and we will hit the ball rolling, so if I’m the governor today Ekiti state will not have been what it is now because in Ekiti state the ideas of the founders, those who fought for the creation of Ekiti state, this is not their vision for the state. Today, Ekiti state is visually the least developed in the whole of Nigeria despite our human resources.

How will you react to clamour that Ekiti South should produce the next governor?
Ekiti state has men and women that can be governor, the central, the north and the south. But at the creation of Ekiti state when the present democracy started in 1999, the first governor got there because of his deep purse. He contested with people like Chief S.K. Babalola who we all know as a tested administrator and even he was a commissioner in the old Western state and everyone knew his pedigree but because he didn’t have money, he was unable to the primaries in AD at that time. PDP fielded Prof. Tunde Adeniran everybody knows is antecedents, a Professor of Political Science, the former Executive Secretary of NAMSA but because he didn’t have money Otunba Adebayo had all the money backed up by his father and that was how he carried the day. When Fayose came, it was the same money politics that was why Fayose used money to get the ticket in 2003. Segun Oni didn’t have money but he had connection upstairs. At the primaries he came third but the President at that time said he prefer the person that who came third to the first and second persons, and that was how he became governor. We all know how Kayode Fayemi came in, he was Tinubu’s adopted son. Nobody ever heard of Fayemi in Ekiti state until he said he want to be governor and even in the primaries in his own party ACN at that time. He did not win the likes of Arise and all others beat him in the primaries but Tinubu said that was the man he wanted and that was how he got the ticket. Ekiti state people all know the second coming of Fayose was the handiwork of Jonathan, the former President; he was forced on the people. Ekiti state people have not really have the opportunity of choosing their own governor themselves, people who they know that are gentleman, Ekiti born and breed not Ekiti abroad. Most of the people that govern us, by parentage they are Ekiti but most of them lived all their adult life outside Ekiti state, they don’t know even the needs of Ekiti people only for them to get to this place and start giving out all the jobs that would have improved Ekiti state to their friends in Abuja, Lagos and abroad. Ekiti South has not produced a governor, maybe because of conspiracy and maybe the time of Ekiti South has not come but in 2018, it’s the time of Ekiti South.

How will you describe your relationship with the electorates?
Well it was true Fayose defeated Fayemi. Anybody could have defeated Fayemi at that time because the people of Ekiti state were already fed up with him. All the civil servants, all the teachers, the Obas everybody want him to go. The real fact that Fayose came and defeated Fayemi at that time was not an indication that he was that popular. He left PDP for Labour Party and contested for mere Senate and lost, so that was not any indication of popularity. He had to fight his way back to PDP because he knew that outside PDP he could not sustain his political ambition. He defeated Fayemi not as the result of his popularity; it was as a result of so many contrivances: the Presidency, the military, money and everything. On the day of election, if you care to know, all APC leaders went underground because military officers were going from house to house to arrest APC leaders. On the day of election, everybody had to run his or her life. The point remains that anybody could have defeated Fayemi at that time. I’m not saying Fayose is not popular, he’s been governor before, and he has his own style of dealing with the rift rafts because those are his people. The intellectuals, the elites in Ekiti state, nobody will follow him, no matter how much gives. Everybody is keeping a safe distance from him but the garage boys, the drivers, the okada riders, and anybody can do that if you have your money. If you said want to contest election and you give the okada riders #1millon, all of them will follow you. Well, as far as my relationship with Fayose is concerned, we are in the same party, we are in the PDP that is the only relationship between the two of us. Everybody knows Abiodun Aluko to be a gentleman. When I was in office my relationship with the Obas, with the teachers, with the local government staff and everybody knows knew Aluko was the man behind the scenes. Immediately I left office the government of Fayose collapsed because he was unable to sustain the policies that we formulated at that time, because I was the chairman of the blueprint for the first four years of Fayose. I was the chairman of the implementation and immediately I left office things started going wrong. Everybody in Ekiti state knows that if Abiodun Aluko is given the chance, of course he will surpass the performance of all the preceding governors and my relationship with Ekiti state people is excellent. Everybody wants Abiodun Aluko as governor and it is not the matter of being modest or proud I know if I contest any election today in Ekiti state with whomever I’m going to carry the day.

Don’t you think that Fayose may impose his own candidate on you all at the PDP primaries?
The constitution of the party says we must have primaries yes, and I’m preparing for primaries but let us wait until then. What I know is that I will not be a governor that somebody will be controlling from behind, that somebody will say I should bring the state allocation to his home town and share before I can do my job, no I will not do that. When I’m elected as the governor of Ekiti state, my loyalty is to the people and not to an individual. If anybody believes that when I become governor he cannot control me, he cannot manipulate me and as a result he will not want to support me during primaries I don’t place my hope in human beings I place my hope in God. Go and read our motto; Hope Alive Habakuk 2:3. I is God we put our hope and God has promised and he will fulfill his promises. So, anybody who says he doesn’t want to support me during the primaries may be because when I become governor I will not dance to his tune, I will not do his duty let him withhold is support. I know with the support of God I will get to where I want to get to, so I’m not afraid.

Education in Ekiti state today is going down, can you tell us the plan of your administration to develop the sector?
Some people will disagree with you but education is going down I know the truth and we all know the truth that Ekiti state was said to have come first in NECO in 2016. We knew what happened behind the scene forget all that. We all know that most of the teachers in Ekiti state who left universities 20,30 years ago have never go back to the class room for any special course, and the syllabus changes on arrival bases, new ideas have been brought in, technology, internet and new things are now loaded into the syllabus and most of this teachers are not conversant to some of these things and now you say we are doing well. The first thing we need to do is to hold a proper education submit and not the type of propaganda that we will gather some primary school pupils and Okada riders will come and talk about education. We must send our people back for training and retraining, they must be up to date. More than 70 percent of teachers in Ekiti state are not computer literate, they cannot even go to the internet to search for information and you say education is advancing in the state. I’m not blaming the teachers, most of them cannot afford a computer, a good HP computer now cost about #120,000, how many teachers can use their own money to buy it. It is the duty of government to supply, to train them but when it is exam time they will go and manipulate the system in one way or the other, they will come out and say we are the best in education. What is the performance of our student in Jamb? What are the rates of their admission to universities after they left secondary school? Ekiti state is known as the fountain of knowledge but are we living up to the standard. When we have an illiterate as your head, what do yo expect a person who has no respect for education, who has no value for education, as a result we are expecting him to spend money on education

Sir what about health, infrastructure and agriculture?
As far as the health sector is concerned, is a good thing that we have a teaching university hospital in Ekiti state that is why we are at the edge in the health sector. How well funded, how well equipped? that is another question. But as far as the health sector is concerned I would want improvement in terms of equipping our hospitals, in terms of sending our doctors back to college to become consultant and the nurses to also have more trainings because most of them when they leave School of Nursing that is the end of their training and some of have in practice for 20 to 30 years like the teachers. Let them go back for trainings, most universities now offer BSc. in Nursing, let them go back. They have our teaching hospital here, let them create a department where they can be training our nurses so that they can be up to date because we discover that with the maternity rate in hospitals this days is alarming. It is not because the doctors or nurses want their patients to due but because they are handicapped. We shall look at all these things holistically, like I said we are going to set up various committees to handle the education and health. In terms of infrastructure development, Ado- Ekiti is experiencing some face lift, Ikere also is experiencing a face lift and out of the 16 local government and that is why news end. Go to Ijero, go to Ido-Osi there is nothing on ground. Ekiti state should have even development, there are some projects that should come later not now because spend #10millon on fly over in Ekiti state at this Nigeria time. Is a thing that will come at a point in time but that is the priority of the government for now. In terms of agriculture, of course a nation that cannot feed itself is a failed nation and the same time a state that cannot feed itself is a failed state. Here in we have good ground, the southern part of Ekiti state is a rain forest, the central and other parts are semi – savanna so different kind of crops of commercial values can be grown in Ekiti state but today I didn’t know of any of the old farm settlement is still around, all of them are dead. The Eporo farm settlement, the Erio farm settlement, all of them have fizzle out just because the government does not believed in agriculture the only thing the government believes in is waiting at the end of the month for allocation to come from Abuja, distribute and merriment begins again.

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