Senator Ademola Adeleke is the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the State of Osun in the forthcoming governorship election. He appears to be the nightmare of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its flagbearer, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola. In this interview with OSUN DEFENDER, the Ede born politician speaks on his optimism and as well clears grey areas on the controversies surrounding his education, religion and name. Excerpt:
How has the campaigns been?
It has been awesome. I have reached every corners of Osun state and the reception has been overwhelming. The enthusiasm for our candidature is great. I mean every towns we visited, we were accepted as the best man for the job. The tour also affords me another opportunity to review the state of governance from 2018 till date. My findings are quite shocking. Poverty level has increased. Insecurity is a new normal. Our schools are in shambles. Health institutions are incapacitated. State workers are under bondage. The state of infrastructure is simply worst than expected. But I told our people that help is on the way.
This is the second time you would be contesting for the governorship of Osun State. How confident are you and what are your strategies to win the election this time around?
By the grace of God and people of Osun state, I am winning this governorship election on July 16. Governor Oyetola will issue a congratulatory message before 10pm on July 16. My optimism derives from several factors. First, the political situation in Osun has changed in our favour. The Governor severally bites the finger that fed him and so he must surely be punished for such immoral act. Secondly, the Governor’s performance is abysmally below expectation. Across all rating indices, he scored below 20 per cent. Thirdly, I represent a rainbow coalition of several interests who have resolved to salvage Osun from bondage. Fourth, my five-point agenda was quite innovative starting with workers welfare among others. God and Osun people are my strategies and we are sure of victory.
Your party is enmeshed in crisis; do you think such party is formidable to wrestle power from a ruling party?
Let me correct you on that. PDP is not enmeshed in any crisis. We have since overcome our post-primary controversies. Prince Dotun Babayemi has been very busy campaigning for me. Hon. Soji Adagunodo was with me few days ago at Ede. I am in very good term with our elders within the party from Prince Oyinlola to Dr Olu Alabi and others. The presidential campaign council just hosted an enlarged caucus for party leaders from Osun. PDP is united from top to bottom. We have also resolved issues arising from our legislative primaries. All our leaders are united to secure victory this July.
There are lots of controversies on your name, education background and religion. Would you like clearing the grey areas to make members of the public understand better who you are?
Thanks so much for this opportunity to speak about myself. I am a Nigerian politician and businessman of the popular Adeleke family of Ede North Local Government of Osun State. I am an innovative entrepreneur and a grassroots political force in Osun state politics. I had my secondary education at Ede Muslim Grammar School before I relocated to the United States to continue my studies at Jacksonville State University, Alabama in the United States where I majored in criminal justice with a minor in political science. Because of my business interests and the need to tap into entrepreneurship opportunities, I joined Quicksilver Courier Company in Atlanta, Georgia, US, as a service contractor between 1985–1989. I progressed to Origin International LLC, Atlanta, Georgia, US, a flavours and fragrance manufacturing company where I served as Vice President from 1990 to 1994. I was to later served as a Director of Guinness Nigeria Limited between 1992- 1999 where I contributed immensely to the expansion of the multinational company. I was subsequently appointed Group Executive Director of Pacific Holdings Limited from 2001 to 2016. To complete my educational sojourn which I suspended because of business, politics and entrepreneurial preoccupations, I went back to school in the United States in 2019 where I re-enrolled at Atlanta Metropolitan State College in the United States and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice in 2021. Today, I am a university degree holder. I have no issues with my names which remain Ademola Jackson Nurudeen Adeleke and all my qualifications are certified by relevant authorities. Of course, I was elected with a landslide victory as a Senator for Osun West Senatorial District in 2017, after the demise of my late brother. I contested the 2018 governorship election and lost under controversial circumstances. Today, I am seeking to be elected Governor of our dear state.
How are you planning to improve the economy of the state when you emerge as the governor, do you have a blueprint on the state’s economy? What are you going to do differently?
I have a five-point agenda widely circulating. They include the following: First line charge for workers’ welfare, salaries, gratuities and pensions; boosting state economy through business loans to market women, youth and artisans; Osun money serving Osun people through home grown infrastructure policy; People-focussed social policy through skill-based education, affordable health care, state security and social security support; and Agro-based industrialisation for wealth and job creation for youths and women. Agriculture is to be the main focus of our administration for the creation of employment and eradication of poverty. We will create an agripreneurs programme. Here, we will train and financially empower at least 200,000 agric entrepreneurs on quarterly basis. We will reform agric mechanisation programme to expand access and affordability for farmers. I plan to capitalise on my experience as a businessman to facilitate export market for our farmers. Osun farmers will earn dollars through our agriculture export agenda. We plan to use agriculture as a major means of job and wealth creation. Another area I am passionate about is making Osun an ICT digital economy hub. We plan to provide the environment to generate jobs and wealth and fight poverty. Osun youth are talented. I will convert their energy to ICT innovations and digital economy. Let me also share this with you and readers. Osun economy is dry. I mean dry as there is no money circulating within the economy. I plan to boost the state economy by injecting state fund into the local economy. Our administration will empower the cooperative societies to channel soft business loans to artisans, Iyalojas and Babalojas. I will upgrade the cooperatives and link them with standard financial institutions. I will work with Chambers of Commerce in Osun to empower businesses in Osun state. I will equally discourage capital flight from Osun. Osun money will service Osun through local patronage of local contractors. As a lover of youth, another plan for job creation is to expand direct labour policy. Our infrastructure projects will have more than 75 per cent labour intensive activities. Let me assure you that I have a detailed manifesto. We are conscious of the need of our people. For the education sector, our plan includes emergency repair and upgrade of school facilities to commence within 100 days in office; emergency provision of school learning materials to enhance students performance; strengthening of PTAs to address crisis of cultism and lawlessness across the education system; encouragement of public private partnership in the management of our schools; this is to bring in private sector support for the education sector; reform and expansion of a robust scholarship and bursary policy for Osun students; new state partnership with owners of private schools to expand education access and affordability; and creation of private sector supported College of Digital Economy for Osun state University to be located at Iwo. For the health sector, our plans include a review of ongoing support programmes for the primary healthcare centres, immediate provisions of water and basic drugs in our general hospitals; immediate upgrade of facilities at our general hospitals and proper attention to the welfare and needs of medical workers. I am also a great sport lover, so I believe Osun needs a befitting integrated international stadium. There should be good stadium for each of the senatorial district. I will personally ensure that Osun is well placed in at least 10 sporting games.
Some members of the APC have been defecting to your party, PDP. What did you promise the defectors and how true is the insinuation that the Adeleke dynasty is in alliance with the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola?
The PDP is the rainbow coalition for this election. We all have a common problem; a Governor who has run the state aground on all fronts. We all have a common duty to sent this failed Governor packing. So, the project is beyond the Adeleke family. It is a pan-Osun agenda to reset the state on the path of progress and advancement. So, we have nothing to promise those joining the coalition than our good faith, our manifesto and our resolve to uphold good governance. This explain why so many leaders of APC have joined and are still joining our ranks. As for one of our leaders, former Governor Aregbesola, records show he is still an APC member and I would not want to speak on internal affairs of the APC. Our doors are however open to all those who share this vision of a new Osun state. And we are daily receiving APC Members. I am glad to announce that Hon Kolapo Alimi is now our deputy director general for Imole campaign. That is to tell you we have no other agenda than to rescue Osun and we are ready to work with those who shared this vision with us. Let me however note that I will run an inclusive unity government once elected. I will ensure all interests are represented to salvage our state.
Osun is known to be rich in culture and tourist attractions, what will you do to maximise the economic potentials of these two key sectors?
My agenda for the tourism sector is quite innovative. I plan to have a commissioner for tourism and cultural industry that is more empowered than the state has ever witnessed. Osun hosts the most important cultural symbols for the Yoruba race from Osogbo to our cradle Ile Ife. I plan to create tourism partnership with the South American nations who share strong cultural and tribal affinity with the Yorubas. From Brazil to Argentina to Cuba, Osun is a very potent tourism destination. I intend to operationalise a tourism agenda that will see Osun raking in millions in dollars on biannual basis.
Some people have this impression that you will be a governor by proxy – that your administration will be teleguided by the ‘country home’ because they either wrongly or correctly assume that you do not have the capacity to govern Osun. How would you react to this?
Those are false narratives about me. Those holding those thinking don’t know who I am. I am a strong-willed person within our family and I am a truly independent minded person. Let me assure you I won’t be a governor by proxy. I will govern in the best interest of Osun and her people. I will be open to ideas and proposals from all people of goodwill including my family but that does not mean I won’t act as the Chief Executive. So, there is no truth in those insinuations.
What will you do differently to improve the economy, security, social welfare and wellbeing of the people of the state?
Adeleke: Like I have stated in my agenda above, wellbeing of the people will be my priority. We must accept that government is for the people, not people for government. Government exists to serve the people not the other way round. The plan is to engage the people through boosting of businesses, labour intensive infrastructure policy and extensive patronage of local contractors, consultants and small businesses. On security from, I will rebuild and strengthen Amotekun to better serve the state. The original goal is to be reemphasised as the outfit should not be a weapon for political witch hunt.
PDP is in its 12th year of being an opposition party in the state. What lessons have you learnt?
PDP has learnt a lot. We have done our SWOT analysis and we have come to the conclusion that we should never take the people for granted. In a democracy, the people are the first and the last. Thus when we return to government, we are going to place high premium on the people. We will ensure delivery of democratic dividends with prudence and transparency. Ours will be an open government.
Vote buying and voter inducement appear to be part of the winning strategy of both the APC and PDP in the state. Which of them will you concentrate on?
Our party won’t get involved in vote buying and voter inducement because both are threats to the integrity of our elections. We are the choice of the people. The people will defend their votes. We have better manifesto than Oyetola. We have higher goodwill. We have street credibility. And we are truly popular with good intentions. I want to be a Governor to write my name and that of our party in gold. Osun people will not regret any vote cast for me on July 16th.