Chief (Engineer) Abiodun Bisi Fajobi is a native of Ode-Omu Ayedaade Local Government area of the state of Osun, a former Permanent Secretary with the Lagos State Ministry of Works, who retired in 2012. A seasoned administrator and an engineer, in this interview with the News Editor, SHINA ABUBAKAR and ABDULLAHI OMOTAYO, he bears his mind on his aspiration to occupy the governorship seat in Osun.
OSDF: Considering your background, what actually stimulates your interest into seeking the governorship seat of Osun?
It will interest you to note that I am from a politically conscious and progressive family; my late father was a councilor during the Action Group. Also I have a late uncle named Chief Adeniyi Fajobi who was a member of the House of Assembly in the old Oyo state between 1979 and 1983 under UPN, my late mother was a woman leader for the whole of Ayedaade LG under SDP. Because of that background and knowing that the state would require an experienced hand, I was approached by my people to come and “Bail Out” the state. The present governor is doing well, so we need someone who will have the vision of the party to propel the activities or the programmes of the party further, hence, this instigated my coming into the race.
Besides, I want to give back to my state what the country and even the western region gave me, free education or affordable education during Awolowo’s regime. I want to bring back those things that were good in those olden days to Osun. I want to bring succour to our people. I want to remove, God helping me, Poverty from the state. Unless we are deceiving ourselves there is abject poverty and I want to remove it to a level that if not completely eliminated, it will be drastically reduced. Osun in terms of poverty rating in the country is about the 24th out of the 36 states in the federation which shows that we still have a lot to do.
Another thing that also propels me is that our youths, women, physically challenged people and vulnerable members of the society need our attention in terms of empowerment. I want to ensure I bring in a lot of empowerment programmes that will allow our youths to be gainfully employed. I want to teach the people of our state how to fish and not to give them fish.
OSDF: You talked about bringing in programmes that will help the youths to be gainfully employed, are you saying the crops of programmes put in place by the present administration on youths are not good enough?
The programmes the present governor is embarking on are very good, what I will do is to fine-tune some of those programmes which is the reason why I said there should be continuity in government. It is not that any of his programmes will be jettisoned. Wherever I see some lacuna, I will try and improve on such areas.
OSDF: Considering the political consciousness of the people, do you think you are politically entrenched enough to be able to actualise what you are aiming for?
I must confess to you that since the days of the Alliance for Democracy-led government, I have been part and parcel of the political process, even in Osun. There used to be a group called FASUP which is Fajobi Support Group for the incumbent governor. A lot of groups were setup but ours was spread all over the state. We have presence in all the LGs of the state. I have been part and parcel of the programmes of the progressive party in Osun. The programmes I am bringing forward, in any case would be integrated into the party’s programme – APC. The programmes of the party will definitely continue to be progressive to put smile into the faces of our people and that is why my five cardinal points is capped “IDEAL”, meaning, ‘I’ for Industrialisation, ‘D’ Delivery of world class infrastructure including health, education, roads, electricity etc, ‘E’ for Empowerment of youths, women underprivileged, physically challenge people and the vulnerable, ‘A’ for Agriculture and rural development and ‘L’ for Learning made easy through provision of good education system for our children, through training and retraining of our teachers, through teachers’ empowerment both serving and retired. We are still working on the blue print, which I am not ready to discuss now.
OSDF: Tell us the things you’ve done for the people around here which they can use to measure the reliability of your personality?
I have organised lots of training programmes for our people mostly on empowerment and capacity building. I have a company that organises training for the youth, besides; I have facilitated or influenced the employment of indigenes of the state into civil service and other private organisations. There is no place I have worked that I haven’t employed or use my influence to employ indigenes of Osun. Also, I am a chief here in Ode-Omu. I am the Okanlomo of Ode-Omu land. I am also a chief in my church here in Ode-Omu. God has used me in my small way to impact positively on our people. I am also the president of Gbongan/Ode-Omu Anglican Grammar School old student association. I have been president for the past 10 years and I know what God has used me to do to impact positively on the lives of many people. I am not somebody that gives out money because I don’t believe in money sharing. It is temporary when you give out money but you should give people a means of livelihood. And the message I keep passing to them is that I have helped them, they should also help someone else.
OSDF: What is your take on the issue of zoning the next governorship seat to the West or even going back to the Central?
Politics is all about number, it is about integrity, it is about delivering what we call dividends of democracy to our people. Personally, looking at the scenario and the history of the state, I discover that the Central Senatorial District has produced the governor twice, Baba Bisi Akande and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola. The present Governor is from the East Senatorial District. Osun West has produced just once for only 21 months. When you look at the whole geography, it is better and more appropriate to zone the governorship seat to Osun-west.
I am not saying this because I come from the West. I tell people that if this race has been twisted to the central, I wouldn’t have bothered to contest. It is now depends on the hierarchy of the party to give us the direction where the governor should come from. It’s my personal opinion that it is now the turn of the west senatorial district. After all, the west can boast of men and women of timber and calibre, integrity, proven experience, that could steer the ship of the state.
OSDF: There is also this sentiment of home-based candidate being wiped up from some quarters; what’s your take on this?
I also agree that someone who hasn’t shown commitment to his home stead cannot just wake up to contest for governor of the state. Someone who has been working in Lagos for example and not connected to his root, he has not been coming home, people don’t even know him. As far as I am concerned, fortunately, I built my first house and the first in my life here in Ode-Omu even without the thought of contesting for the governorship seat. I later built the one in Lagos where I now reside.
However, in governing this state experience matters a lot. I was reading Oyinlola’s statement about the governorship seat coming to west and he was addressing age, he talked about 50 years and below. I am referring to this because I am combination of analogue and digital. I have worked in a World Bank assisted project and there is no way I won’t be computer literate. Most of my documents are typed by me. Even when I was in service especially the last 15 years of my stay in service which was when computer now really took over the generation, I have always been on my computer doing one thing or the other. People like us are balance between analogue and digital and that is experience. For somebody to now peg our age is unconstitutional. It will debar experience minds who really mean well for the state from participating by cutting down the age. I am presently 65 years but I know I am very young at heart.
OSDF: Reacting to Oyinlola’s statement, in several parts of the world, younger people rule and it works well for them. If the older generations refuse to give the space, when would the younger ones come in?
I started that people like us come in because of the younger ones so that they will know that there is a brighter and rewarding future. We are still there to download our experiences to them so that they can carry on. I was telling somebody that if by the grace of God, I become the governor of Osun, I will not spend more than one term. I told my God that anytime I am 70 years, I will go back home and give it to the younger ones to run. That’s even a way to give it to the younger ones to rule.
OSDF: Are you saying if, God forbid, you are not able to make the governorship seat this time, you won’t try it another time?
No, I will not, forget it, I will not. I am saying this because I want you to hold it on me that I am a man of my word. Whenever I say yes, my yes remains yes and when it’s no, it remains no.