New Telegraph

Olarenwaju: Makinde has no plan to defect from PDP

Some have termed Governor Seyi Makinde as a populist governor who always tries to please everybody at the detriment of his administration in terms of performance and social wellbeing of the people. Would you confirm or refute their allegation? Those accusing Governor Seyi Makinde of trying to be a populist do not understand what populism is. What is the essence of governance?

It is to serve the people. So, when you do what is right, people will fall in love with you. What the governor has been doing since he assumed office is that he has been trying to serve the people in the right way. I will cite an example: When he assumed office for the first term, some people were clamouring that he should send traders off the streets. He said he would not do that until he could provide an alternative for them. And that is good governance. Do you want to throw the people under the bus? No good leader would take the people out of their job or take their job away from them without providing an alternative. Instead of doing that, he, for example, at Challenge area, prepared a place where people could practice their trade without disturbing traffic. If you call that populism, is that not good governance? So, what they are calling populism is good governance; having the interest of people at heart. And when it comes to having the interest of people at heart, Governor Seyi Makinde is No. 1 in this country. That is leadership, and leadership is not about popularity contest. Leadership is about delivering value, and what Governor Makinde is doing is to deliver value to the people that have elected him as their leader. So, in my own understanding, that is good governance.

What other areas of development that make him a good and popular governor can you talk about?

I have talked about our roads and traders. Talking about the Hard Boys, the expectation was that the governor would clamp down on them. But the governor has been strategic about it. He wanted to solve the problem permanently and that is what he did. Do you still see those boys there? What has happened? He provided an alternative that is more attractive to the people, and to those boys that have been on the streets. When we talk about the “One Million Boys”, where are they now? They have faded away. And that is it. The governor does not have to make noise about it. Leadership is about being strategic, otherwise, what it will cause is chaos. So, instead of causing chaos, just clamping down on the people, he was strategic. And at the end of it, what matters is the result. Is Oyo State getting better? The answer is obvious. So, did the governor have to deploy the strategy those people were asking him to deploy? No. One way or the other, he has his own strategy and the strategy is working out well to the benefit of the people of Oyo State.

Workers penultimate Tuesday protested across the country against hunger and economic starvation, and in Ibadan here, Governor Makinde solidarised with them and addressed them. The Oyo State chapter of the APC thereafter criticised him for doing that, claiming that it was not appropriate of him having supported President Bola Tinubu in the last election. What will be your reaction to this?

Again, those who said that have no understanding of what leadership is about. Let me take us down the memory lane: what caused the French Revolution was that people were complaining and the leadership distanced itself from them to the extent that the First Lady as it were then, the Queen, said that why were the people complaining of lack of bread when they could eat cake. Apparently, the palace was so far away from the populace that the Queen didn’t realize that cake was more expensive than bread. What Governor Makinde did was a demonstration of leadership: identifying with the need of the people. Why is he in the office? Is it not to protect the people? Is it not to provide for them? So, if there is an issue that is bothering the people and he identified with the people, has he gone out of order? No, they don’t understand what leadership is. A leader should not be far away from the people he leads, otherwise he will lose the people. So, what he did was to identify with the needs of his people. But he didn’t stop there. He also told them that ‘we are in it together and all of us must proffer solutions to it together’. Now, what he did made some things happen: 1. The protest didn’t get out of order. And 2, after the governor appeared on the scene, what happened? Those guys went home because the Governor had made their day. So, those people criticising the governor do not understand what governance is. What the governor did was to ensure that the protest didn’t go out of hand, and to let them know that he was with them in the struggle. And to also let them know that it is not the problem of leadership, but a problem which all of us should find a solution to. Tell me a better way to lead than that. In essence, the claim of the APC goes to no issue. Exactly. Being in the opposition does not mean you just have to criticise everything. You don’t have to talk always when you are in opposition. What you should do is to provide a better alternative; a better option. You don’t just have to criticise for the sake of criticising, but because you have a better view, a better alternative to what you are criticising. If you don’t have a better alternative, it is better to keep mum.

Many past governors have records of low performance during their second term since they knew they would not need the votes of the electorate again. In terms of performance, how will you rate Governor Makinde in this second term of his, compared to some past two- term governors?

I won’t talk about other governors. I will talk about my own governor. Fortunately, the day he was inaugurated, he appointed me. So, right from the beginning, I have been with him. On the assumption of office of his second term, he flagged off the construction of Olorunda Aba- N.O Idowu Road. So, he hit the ground running. And since his assumption of office for second tenure, he has commissioned a number of road projects. Among them is the Oyo-Iseyin Road, Agodi Gate-Airport Road which was completed and commissioned. Akala-Express Road was also recently completed and commissioned. The Iseyin campus of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology has been commissioned and quite a number of other projects. And this governor has said repeatedly that he will do more in his second tenure than his first tenure. And if within nine months, he has done so much and he is not relenting; if within nine months he has signed four executive orders then he deserves some accolades. Within nine months, he has established this SAfER that is changing the economy of the state. So, the people of Oyo State should rest assured that under the leadership of Governor Seyi Makinde, things will continue to get better in this second term.

Residents of Ona Ara Local Government Area of Ibadan have commended Governor Makinde on the construction of the federal dual-carriage road leading from Orita Aperin to Akanran. However, the report that the construction will terminate at Ariyo Bridge after Olunloyo, worries those residing at Amuloko and other areas towards the popular Ilaji Farms. Do you know if the governor will extend the construction towards Ilaji Farms?

In Oyo State, the governor does not discriminate against federal roads. All roads in the state are used by people of Oyo State, and so every road is as important as the other to the governor. But he cannot fix all the roads at the same time. That is why I am sure that this will be the first phase. Let us get the roads done so that the larger population of people will enjoy the dividend of democracy, and after that, we can now look at other areas we need to face. But let us even complete this one for the benefit of the generality of the people living in that axis. Later, we can now look at other areas within that axis.

As the mouthpiece of the governor, do you know if the administration is determined to give attention to the many unpassable access roads in the state, bearing it in mind that such roads, if motorable, are capable of easing traffic jams on our major roads?

In December last year, the governor awarded 100 Kilometres of roads in Ibadan City which is unprecedented. Work is already going on regarding that. Some areas, such as Iyaganku, are already witnessing rehabilitation. This will get to most parts of the city. I know that people are agitating for inner roads, but the governor has said that he will get to the inner roads, if not this year, then next year. The government started with the roads connecting the zones. Now, we have come to the city centre, and from there, we will get to the inner roads. It is a matter of time. Invariably, every part of the state will receive a touch of Governor Makinde’s magic.

What can you say, objectively, is your assessment of Governor Makinde in the area of human relations and administrative capability?

In the area of administrative capacity, I want to be modest to say that there is no one in this country that is stronger than my Boss. His greatest asset is the brain power: very imaginative, very creative. Because of his mien, a lot of people underrate him. But he is very sound. He sees through problems. He sees through issues and come out with solutions that will astound you. So, that is the kind of person he is. When you talk about administrative capacity, I have studied leadership in this country for over ten years, and so I don’t think I have ever seen anybody that is better than him in that particular aspect. During the COVID era, he came up with a strategy that became a standard for the country. The Federal Government said: shut down the whole country, but Governor Makinde said No. He said he could not shut down the state because people that he was leading were eking out their daily living on a daily basis and had to go to markets. Eventually, the Federal Government even realized that shutting down the country worsened the spread of the virus. So, the Federal Government reverted to the Makinde option and that became the national standard. Again, when we had issues with illegal miners, the governor came up with an executive order to put a structure in place to block illegal mining. The structure will protect the environment, protect people’s interest and will also ensure that the state gets a reward for playing host to mineral resources. This is unprecedented and that is why I said that his greatest asset is his brain power. And a person like that knows that there is strength in networking. He knows that a tree does not make a forest, just as a person cannot be great without the support of others. So, he is a person that values relationship; a person that looks out for others. He has a heart for people. A person that is strong in relationship and is also strong in creativity. That is who Governor Makinde is. If the last administration that spent eight years didn’t construct 40 kilometres of road, and within 57 months, this governor has constructed and commissioned over 220 kilometres of road, that is the issue regarding creativity. If between 1999 and 2019 (20 years), no governor in Oyo State constructed 65 kilometres of road, and within two years, he was able to construct it, where did the money come from? That is creativity which he has unleashed on the state and that is why things are working. And is there a particular state that can venture into constructing 110 kilometres of road? That is what Governor Makinde is doing with the Rashidi Ladoja Circular Road. When you talk about his administrative capacity, he is unequalled in Nigeria. In the area of human relations too, when he assumed office, he donated his salary to the pensioners. When the Federal Government removed fuel subsidy and people did not know what would happen to them, he set up a committee and they came up with a strategy to help the people. What many other states are copying and doing now, Oyo State started in July last year. First, we are the first to pay wage awards, even when the Federal Government reneged on it. For him, leadership is seeing that the other person gets on well. He doesn’t want people to suffer unnecessarily. Since he came into office, there have been so many promotions. Backlog of pensions have been paid. Since he came to office, the state has not owed salary for one day. So, if people are hailing him in Oyo state, it is because he looks out for them. It is because he cares for them. It is because he wants the best for them. And they know that they can’t have a better person than him at the moment. In essence if the opportunity of third term were to be available to him, he would still win the election? If that opportunity were to be open, he would win with another landslide. You know in the last election, the governor won in almost all the polling booths in Ibadan. That was unprecedented. He defeated his major opponent in his polling unit, his father’s polling unit; in his father’s house; in the local government. Everywhere! He is unrelenting and he is not slowing down. The government is currently working on energy sufficiency for the State. Just this week, he met with farmers with respect to this food crisis. He had a one- on- one discussion with them just to ensure that people are well taken care of, and not shortchanged. That is not populism: it is responsive leadership. PDP, the party of Governor Makinde, is in disarray following the leadership implosion ahead of the last year’s election. What do you think he can do, as a major stakeholder, to rejuvenate the party and make it much stronger ahead of future elections? In spite of what happened ahead of the 2023 presidential election, Governor Makinde is a committed party person. And since the election was won and lost, he has joined others in rebuilding efforts in the party. He has told the hierarchy of the party what should be done and he has been in the forefront to ensure that the party regains its lost glory. He has joined others in the restructuring that will strengthen the party, and not put it in the pocket of just one individual. Governor Makinde is a committed party man and he is doing everything possible to ensure that the PDP bounces back in a big way. In essence, the rumour of his plan to defect to the APC holds no water? Let us leave rumour for rumour mongers. We are not here for rumours.

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