Barr. Kayode Oduoye speaks further in the interview earlier published on May 27, 2016 titled: Osun PDP Congress: A Departure from Old Order to a New PDP With Integrity. In this last segment of the interview, he x-rayed the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun state. He also speaks on his rumoured governorship ambition. Excerpts:
For sometimes now, the issue of removal of petroleum subsidy or increase in the price of petroleum products by the Federal Government has been a major issue in Nigeria, but your party has not talked either in support of or against the policy. What is your own personal opinion on the subsidy removal/increment in petroleum product?
There is never a wrong time to do what is right and there is always a right time to correct what is wrong. Candidly, it has been an ongoing battle for the past couple of years about whether subsidy should remain or go. I want to say that this problem started far away back in the military era, where we watched our refinery collapsed. If we are refining our oil products at least the one we are consuming, we should not be paying N40 per litre for petrol. But things have gone so bad. Being that as it may, in going forward, even if we want to start correcting the error of the years back, it still required some humane measures. Minimum wage is not even enough for the average man. We all know the implication of increment in fuel price; everything will not only skyrocket but they will hit beyond the skies; transportations, medicals, foods, everything you can imagine will increase. And if that happens, when is there hope of an average man that has been striving to survive on the strength of struggle? Leaving political parties affiliation aside, I believe the Federal Government can still do something by getting back to the drawing board and looking at how we (PDP) had been able to sustain and manage although to this point. We have dynamics to resolving and managing issues. The APC needs crisis managers right now, which I believe is lacking in the ruling party. If you want to rule this country and you don’t have what it takes, then you are fooling yourself. You can’t give what you don’t have. You need the right caliber of people; men who have been tested and trusted, men who have the right cerebral capacity to be able to guide you. Initially when PDP started, you notice that we gave the opposition opportunity in government. Opposition members were part of the federal government then. Bola Ige was not a PDP person; but he was a minister. The best APC can do now is to ask how we had been able to manage the economy of the country to the point they met it. Everything has gone worse since APC took over. Let the APC call us and seek knowledge and information on how we were able to manage the economy of the country; it about the interest of the country. We went through turbulence period too but it never got worse like this. This is unbearable! Do you want to talk about the exchange rate? It has never been terrible like this before! We you have a problem managing the economy of the country, sit back, constitute a committee of those who managed the economy till you took over and your own team for way out. The APC has lost control of the economy. Governance is more than just politicking; politics is a different aspect of governance. To govern this country alright, there are people that are saddled with responsibility of grace to impact positively on the country’s economy; they need to come out of their cells to savage this country before it gets totally out of hand. We normally make one joke, APC are good in opposition, and we are good at governance. Let get the government back and let Nigeria be a safe place.
Are you supporting the removal of fuel subsidy or not, is it the right thing to do by the government?
The PDP attempted doing it, but when we realized that its impact on the masses will be difficult and terrible, we rather brought it down and we came up with a programme to restore and refurbish our refinery. It became a gradual process and we knew that if we approach it gradually, we would definitely get there. I am saying that you cannot use a sledge hammer to kill a fly; that is what the APC is doing now. I had said it; you don’t give what you don’t have. In situation like this, you need economic and crisis managers to manage the situation. We have found ourselves in a difficult situation, but we had managed that and the country did not collapse. Instead of managing the economy situation, the APC rather chose to distract the people of the country by talking about corruption; corruption, corruption as if that is the only thing you are voted there to do. An average man did not vote you to go and fight corruption. He voted you for survival because you gave him hope that things would change for the better. You promised that a dollar was going to drop to N40. But you have not delivered on those promises. The situation has even gone out of your reach totally. If Nigeria has dread, particularly the business community had knew that dollar would come to this point, they would do everything to vote against APC and fight against anybody that wanted to vote for APC. Because their businesses have crumbled, things are worse, you hardly eat. You people saying ‘I ate 101, 011, 001 and so on’, the situation is bad. We were still struggling to survive the dollar-naira exchange rate then you hit us with N145 pump price of petroleum. That is unbearable; people hardly survive. The telling effect would not only be on transportation, agriculture or health, it is going to go round the sphere of economy. Is it a crime for the average man to send his child to school, to live and survive? Even the minimum wage they are talking about does not commensurate with the economic hardship. They are not even paying the salary! How do people survive? These are things that were possible before APC took over. Everything has just not gone to comatose, but nearing to drop dead.
But people believe that the present economic woe of the country is a result of the mismanagement of the country’s economy by your party before the APC took over. Do you see it that way?
Let me answer that by giving you an analogy; if you are not a mechanic or mechanical engineer, you cannot know how to fix engine of a car. You cannot put an architect in the position of a mechanic. The right peg must be in the right hole. That brings me to the PDP joke that ‘APC is good in opposition and we are good in governance.’ Let us manage to do what we know how to do and they do what they know how to do as well. What I am trying to say is this; in order to hijack the central from PDP, the APC came up with fabrication of lies and propaganda that they would do the impossible. We knew then that all what the APC were saying were not possible to achieve. By the time the APC got into government, they realized that things were not the way they saw it outside government. Even sustaining the level where we left country was a herculean task; they cannot even sustain the level talkless of building on where we stopped. We realized that globally, there is economic recession and some western countries collapse and struggling to come up as a result of that. We should not forget that economy is unique to our existence here that is why we do everything then sector by sector. But the challenge the APC has now is the inability to build on what we left because they don’t know what it took to get to where we left the economy. It did not take PDP four years to do it. We used the best out of the best people to manage the economy. We brought in Nigerians, not expatriates, who were in the best on their field. Okonjo Iweala was not just picked anywhere, she earned it and she still has the respect. Don’t forget she was not a member of the PDP from beginning. Look for people who have the passion and compassion, the empathy for the development of Nigeria. There are several ways to kill a chicken than slaughtering it. But for the APC, their mind is programmed towards and synchronized to a particular pattern which is not working for the country and that is why we are having this problem. You cannot put a president that is completely analogue in a digital age. So, when the head is not right, administration will not be right. A general does not win a war because he is a generalissimo, but for the lieutenants that surround him. This is where we are and what we had warned Nigerians on.
The only thing President Buhari is talking about is corruption; the economy of this country is beyond corruption. If you say some people have stolen, catch all of them, prosecute and jail them where necessary to serve as a deterrent to others. When you are busy doing this, are you telling me the whole lieutenants of yours are also busy chasing corruption? Is that what Nigeria would eat? That is the problem we are having now. Some people should be saddled with the responsibilities of chasing corruption while you that is saddled with the responsibilities of saving lives and properties, bringing prosperity to the people as you promised, improving their living standard, should face your work. You did not promise corruption alone when you were campaigning. This is my position: you should have those that will be fighting corruption, we have agencies and you cannot tell me they are not capable to do the work, let them handle corruption and you as a man at the helms of affairs face protecting lives and properties, providing foods, shelter, better standard of living for Nigerians. That is what you should face and if you do not face that, thing will always get out of hand. You cannot get it right by misplacing your priority.
The race to the Osun state government house in 2018 has started and people are touting your name as governorship aspirants under the PDP. Are you eyeing the governorship seat?
My focus from beginning has been how to ensure that my party is properly structured and prepared for the election ahead. In doing that, it is quite imperative where we are now, to ensure we get things right; we put the round peg in the right hole. Once we have our party properly structured, new faces that are acceptable to the people will emerge. That will make the work of 2018/2019 easier for us. That is why I always say that you cannot put something on nothing. We are building solid foundation for our party ahead of the election; we are building a strong virile party across the units, wards and local governments. Once we succeed in doing that, our battle for the government house in 2018 will be strategically a lot easier and better. In the past, we had left so many things undone and we took so many things for granted as a party and that bumming-rang and we have learnt our lessons.
I have not come out publicly to say I want to run for governorship in 2018, neither am I saying that once I have the shot I will not take it. People touting my name as governorship aspirant as a matter fact, and I have looked at what makes up PDP, what makes up the ruling party and broad spectrum of the electorate that will decide. I think those three major factors are worthy of consideration in taking my decision. I will allow my party to have a good say on that matter, while also waiting for the electorate that will eventually cast their vote to determine who they are going to trust their mandate with to decision on that. I Kayode Oduoye, once I have the opportunity to do that, I will grab it; I will not let it go off my hand.
How would you assess the administration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola?
It is unfortunate where we are right now, very unfortunate. When Senator Adeleke was a governor of this state I was very excited for the things he done then. When Baba Akande came on board, Baba did what he could do and left. Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola took over and thank God I was part and parcel of the process that brought Oyinlola to power then. Oyinlola did what he had capacity to do and left. When Aregbesola took over, there were many promises that were made. Those promises gave the average indigenes of Osun hope. But all the hopes as we are talking now have been dashed. We realized that the economy of the state has not only been bastardized but the treasure of the state has been raped and it has left us with debt and debt and debt for the future and the future looks absolutely bleak. If you have been living in this state before and you witnessed the previous administrations in the state, you will know that the best Aregbesola has done is to wreck economy of the state. The state that used to be very peaceful; thriving as an agrarian society and it is on the little that comes from the government. That was what encouraged some investors to do some investments in our state. But where we are right now, it is the hope of the future that is the fear of an average Osun indigene. For the first time, salaries are owed for months. We realize also that again, it became very difficult to sustain governance in Osun state which has never happened before. We have it worse now than we ever had it before, the level of unemployed youths. The number of workers that have been retrenched and thrown out of jobs, either from the civil service, parastatals, agencies of government we have never recorded such before. We now have so many elephant projects that the state does not have the capacity to embark upon. Must we borrow and put the coming generations that are yet unborn in debt before their birth! Osun sate is a very small state; you cannot compare the population in Osun to Lagos, so it leave us to one challenge, how do we savage, how do we redeem, rescue or get the state back on track. What we have is like you saddling a motorcycle with a truck load. How does it carry it? It is not possible!
There are different techniques to save us from where we are. If you are coming from business community where I am coming from, you will know there are ways to invest N100 and over the period of time you can make more than triple of the amount. You cannot build the economy of the state on monthly allocation, it is not possible. And you cannot plan the growth of this state on monthly allocation, even the IGR is not even enough to build it. You must first and foremost break this state into segment and open it to investors, not only to Nigerians. Your level of reach, network, and capacity will determine the economy of the state. You can never plan the growth and the future of the state on any of those things mentioned earlier on. The state has been there naturally as an agrarian society, all what you need is to open it up and allow foreign investors to come and provide security and incentives. Food prices will drop and we will be the food basket of the country or the South-West to start with. That is not too much or tasking to do. Bailout cannot rescue us; we have seen that bailout cannot solve our problem. It is like giving a drop of water to a man whose thirst cannot be quenched with a drop of water. Another thing is how would you run a state without having a cabinet? Not only an error but it is a wrong course. These are parts of the major problem we have had in the state. This state requires more than just saying we are zoning something to one place, we are looking for how can we savage the state?
You claimed that there is upsurge in the unemployment rate of Osun and that the economy has gone bad since Aregbesola took over. Need I remind you of the 40, 000 OYES cadets that have been engaged by the Aregbesola’s administration and the NLC in Osun has not come out to say its members have been sacked. How do you justify your claim?
For you to verify what I have said how many homes turns out graduates yearly and how many of the graduates have been gainfully employed? It is not even about the employment but empowerment. Empower the average youth and let him put his God gifted talent to work by creating enabling environment and supporting him. By empowering a person, you have employed multiple people. I know how many people I place on my own support schemes; I know how many artisans I have empowered. Those artisans have many apprentices under them and those apprentices came out from school; different levels and degree. How much were the OYES collecting as salary? Where are they working? We have not really solved the problem, it is a spillover and that is why I said we are just compounding the problem. We are not on the right course. It is not about the error; we are totally off the course. We have prioritized what should not be on our priority list. How does it dual-carriage way benefit a vulcanizer or a carpenter? Dual carriage way that you cannot complete! The money being spent on the road should have been used to empower the people. The governor does not actually have an empowerment scheme. Empowerment goes beyond giving children tea, puff-puff. That is a programme that you cannot even sustain. A man that eats his seed will not have a harvest. We should be able to prioritize our priority. Everything is in phases; know what is right and good for the future.
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