Prince Ayoade Adewopo is a legal practitioner who has travelled round the world and served in the USA and UK as an investment negotiator at different times with private and public organisations before he was brought to Nigeria to work with the Central Bank on investment initiatives and policies. As one of the PDP governorship aspirants, in this interview with OSUN DEFENDER, he bears his mind on the polity in the State of Osun and the forthcoming governorship election in September 22, 2018
OSDF: Considering your background, what prompted you to want to seek the office of the Governor of the State of Osun?
Ayoade: The need to give back to the society what the society has given me and also to deploy my experience which I garner globally to help in re-engineering the state. Osun should be treated as a bankrupt company in line with the corporate governance code and what we need is someone with a knowledge on how to run and deal with a complicated financial institution that we found ourselves in Osun. This is not the time to look at those who are ready to feast on our common good, but about someone who is ready to tackle headlong the problems at hand, not about a long political resume or a promotion in political career, the governorship race in 2018 should be about someone who is prepared and ready to turn around the financial mess we found ourselves.
For instance, in 2015, Nigerians trooped out to vote for political resume in the person of President Muhammadu Buhari, he had been around the political scene in the country for long, but today his political exposure is not enough to take care of the social, economic and political crisis in the country. So Osun needs someone who has the intellectual capability to run a 2018-2022 era governance or even beyond. What the media should focus on is the state of preparedness of aspirants, how many aspirants have what it takes to carry Osun of this era. What have the majority of aspirants done to prepare for the Osun we have now to a greater place. For us we have done our assignment and make everyone realize that Osun is not for the highest bidder.
OSDF: Making statement is easy, how do you intend to turn things around in the state if you are able to cross the hurdle of primary and the guber election?
Ayoade: Ours is not a political statement, we have been preparing and still preparing for it, because every plan need to be smart, we have an agenda called the HEART agenda, which is stand for Health, Education, Agriculture, Restoration, Revitalisation and Tourism. We believe this fivefold agenda will restore Osun. First our people need to be able to have a healthy mind, a healthy mind is a sound mind, we need to reduce the maternal mortality rate, we need to give our state commercial identity, it is the most urbanized state and we should give each town an identity.Osun is the state with the highest number of higher institution, we should be able to turn the state into hub for quality education as it is obtainable in Cotonou and Ghana and we should be able to turn every opportunity into wealth creating one.
OSDF: Do you think that your plan to attract students from abroad is realistic considering the quality of education in Nigeria?
Ayoade: Look it does not have to be from outside the country, we can attract students from within Nigeria to at least drive the economy of the state and this is not limited to education alone; the tourism sector suffers a lot as most of the hotels are not enjoying patronage. So we must have a board that should be able to sell the state to the outside world and attract convention from both religious and professional organization to stimulate the sector and ensure patronage for the hotels in the state
No doubt, the infrastructure in the state is good enough to open the state to investment through which we need to generate fund, but we don’t need to do this by going after the poor masses by increasing taxes, we could generate fund by pursuing other alternative like agriculture.
OSDF: Plans are easily talked about but without fund it is merely statement on papers, where would the fund come from, considering that Osun rely mostly on revenue allocation for survival?
Ayoade: Our plan is not totally government driven, it is government enabling. The body language of a leader will determine how the outside world wants to relate with the government, for instance, having had relationship with many schools and corporations, why do I have to buy school buses when refurbished ones could be donated to us freely or buy for peanuts. This is very practicable and in the area of agricultural industries, we have good relationship with several corporations that could help grow the state economy if a leader is genuine about it.
OSDF: On the issue of PDP, as an aspirant would you say the party crisis is over, considering Senator Iyiola Omisore as a factor in the party?
Ayoade: In any political dispensation, there would be winners, losers and reconciliation, as at now we have a state working committee headed by the State Chairman, Hon. Soji Adagunodo and had the support of over 90% of party loyalists across the state. So from that point, the crisis is over. Also there is a reconciliatory committee in place working towards bringing the aggrieved groups back into the fold of the party. PDP is back and ready to use the umbrella to cover the people from the oppressive acts of the APC.
OSDF: Some of your party members are claiming that the APC is using Senator Omisore to disrupt the PDP, how do you react to that?
Ayoade: I cannot comment on that because I am not privy to any meeting between him and any member of the APC and as a lawyer I cannot give in to hearsays.
OSDF: What is your view on the issue of zoning of governorship seat to a particular senatorial zone in the state?
Ayoade: Osun, was created from the collaborative efforts of our grandfathers among whom is my maternal grandfather the late Timi Laoye, the Late Olokuku Oyinlola and the late Owa of Igbajo, so I am a product of that history. Zoning is a lazy politics and politics of mediocrity, it is politics of asking for the best from the few, not from the all. On good conscience, coming from Ile-Ife and having been to several towns across the state, allowing a town to produce a governor has not had any significant effect on the town. This is not about a districts, it is about the people and what they really deserved. The masses do not care about where a governor hails from but the person who could deliver dividends of democracy at any point in time. The people want food on their tables and money in their pockets not the place where the person that governs them hails from.
OSDF: If you do not emerge as PDP candidate in the Primaries, would you still support the candidate that emerges with your plans?
Ayoade: Look the HEART agenda is my agenda and there is still going to be the party agenda. So if I or any other person emerges as the candidate, we are well prepared to work together and submit our plans to the party so that the people can be under the protective care of the party.
OSDF: But the PDP had once governed the state and there seems to be no impact?
Ayoade: We had the best administration so far, the PDP had a lot of success in the state, it never owe salaries, it never send students out of school or jail them, people are free and no one is intimidated, it is an administration of love and boost in the economy. The people were asking for more than they are getting and we are coming back with the umbrella.
OSDF: Cuts in…Hon. Ayo the freedom park opposite your office used to be a slum under the PDP and today is a cynosure of all eyes?
Ayoade: Cuts in… I said it that the government has done a lot in infrastructure for the state but at what cost, how many Osun indigenes benefitted from the contracts and the process; it has been a story of capital flights. The freedom park is beautiful but what value had it added to the state economy; it is an empty ground that does not generate income for the state. The regime of PDP is about human development and we have more successful people during the PDP than now.