Ekiti State Deputy Governor and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the forthcoming July 14 election, Professor Kolapo Olusola Eleka, in this interview with Ayodele Afolabi says no federal might can thwart the resolve of majority of the electorate in the state.
Some members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have openly declared that it is pay back time through the use of federal might against the PDP. How prepared are you for this?
To me whatever they mean by federal might, they are the one that understand the terminology. If APC as a party is saying that they want to use federal might because they are in the central government, they should remember that while there is the so-called federal might, there is God almighty. The voice of the people is the voice of God. The power of the people is greater than the power of those of us in government. Federal might or no federal might, we are sure that once we have the people behind us, we are going to coast seamlessly to victory come July 14th by the grace of God. So, we are not afraid of any federal might in Ekiti State.
There are talks that INEC and security agencies are under the control of the ruling party in Abuja that you are contesting with.
Well they are not created to mar elections. INEC and security agencies are creations of the Nigerian Constitution. They are created to ensure free and fair election. I want them to please and please abide by the rule of the game. They should remain impartial, unbiased umpire. They should not forget that any action to the contrary would amount to sabotage. They must not jeopardise the future of our state and by extension, the future of the country. I appeal to them to do their jobs within the confines of the law.
Your opponents said you are a green horn in politics who doesn’t know what the game entails.
Well my answer to that is that there is life in greenness. If you are to make a choice, I am sure that everybody will prefer a green environment because there is life there. But for anybody to describe me as a green horn, I think it is a gross underestimation of my capacity and exposure. Before coming down here, I had academic background and pastoral background. I am also a professional builder who has seen it all at the local, state and national levels. If you talk of politics, it is everywhere; the only difference is that when you get to the larger society it becomes more involving. So I have been part of politics at the professional level.
By the grace of God, I contested for elections in the Nigerian Institute of Building twice and won. Even in a family, there is politics. In the Church of God, there is politics. Those describing me as green horn are just finding a way of getting things to say. Above all, so many people that you can describe as green horn ended up performing. Look at Fashola in Lagos, look at Ambode and Ganduje, they are doing well in governance and in politics. But remember I am a professor and assuming I have not heard any political exposure before but I have been opportune to stay under the tutelage of professor of politics in person of Dr Peter Ayodele Fayose, learning under him, it can better be imagined the magnitude of lesson that I would have acquired in the past three and half years. So, three and half years is not a joke. How many years did Jesus Christ spend with his disciples? By the time he left, they were able to move the ministry forward and even change the world.
With all the experience and mentoring from my leader, I am well prepared to take up the position of the governor of Ekiti State. Don’t forget that in politics, no man is an Island; I have a very good team working with me. Don’t forget that I belong to Osoko political family, irrespective of what people say. If they say I am a stooge or not that is their own headache. Even for a child to be born, it takes the father and the mother to come together and copulate. I have learnt a lot from my political tutelage and I am already using the lesson I have learnt.
What efforts are you making to bring aggrieved members of your party on board to ensure victory?
In every organization there is bound to be conflict. That is what a leader is expected to contend with. But remember that conflict is not limited to the PDP alone, it also affect the APC. See what is happening on the pages of newspapers, APC is in total disarray both at the local, state and national levels. It is just a matter of time before the party scattered. But for the PDP, we have been able to manage the crisis and by now, the worst is over. Our leaders at the national level have been talking to those who are aggrieved for one reason or the other. Our leaders in the Southwest also are taking proactive steps towards resolving all issues. As I talk to you, some of our members who left the party are already coming back. Beyond that, members of other parties are also coming because they know that the candidature of Olusola Eleka is sellable to Ekiti people. They don’t want someone who will come and plunge them into further debt.
What are the areas that you think the state should focus on to move forward?
Let me dwell first on what we popularly identified as our heritage in Ekiti State, which is education. In Ekiti State, we pride ourselves as the Fountain of Knowledge. We have done a lot to ensure that education standard is improved significantly under the current administration. However, I had an opportunity of leading a team to the USA. It was a learning visit. We were able to understudy some schools over there especially in relation to technical education. When we came back we made a presentation to Mr. Governor and he said if the state is to move forward, there is need to transform our Technical Colleges into entrepreneurial skill acquisition centres. Today the contract for that transformation has been awarded. We have five Technical Colleges. We are starting with the one in the state capital, Ado Ekiti. This will cost us over N2.4 billion. The contract has been awarded. I understudied the situation and found out that students don’t want to go for technical education. It is now seen as a place where secondary school dropout should go so that they can find a place for themselves in the society. I said it should not be so. Parts of my agenda are to improve on what is on ground. Part of that vision will be carried into the next administration when I will be governor by the grace of God.
Your boss demystified the office of the governor by being unconventional, eating, wining and dining with the people. Can you adopt this style of governance?
You asked the question because you don’t know my background. I was a lecturer relating with students, if you go and find out about me at the Obafemi Awolowo University, there was a time I won the award of the best lecturer principally because of the way I teach students. I made myself accessible to my students. Their problems were mine. Their challenges were my own. I enjoy people-oriented policies. Remember also that I am a Pastor. I have to relate with the high and the low. Moreover, I am a youths Pastor. I have learnt to relate with people. So I am at home. Don’t forget also that I have been under the tutelage of Osoko. But that style is not new to me. That is how it should be. How can you be governor to a people who have no access to you?
They sit in their bulletproof jeep and rolled the glass up such that people won’t be able to recognize their governor. You must come down from your high horse and relate with them. You should not forget that one day, you would leave that position. That is why the concept of stomach infrastructure is a right policy. Remember the biblical saying that the poor will always be among us. So you should continue identify with the people not only during election. Not all of us can be professor, Governor etc. So, I am a friend of the people. Are you talking about teachers? I am a teacher myself? I teach students when I go for inspection even as Deputy Governor. So I am at home with my people.
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