Former Governor of Oyo State, Adebayo Alao-Akala, is the gubernatorial candidate of Action Democratic Party (ADP), in the coming March 2 election in the state.
The former police officer who Led the state between 2007 and 2011 in this interview said that it was “the people who expected good governance that called him to re-contest again”. He also speaks on his plans if elected into office.
PT: It is almost eight years since you left the government house, what are you looking for again?
Alao-Akala: I don’t know what you mean by that, but one, it is my inalienable constitutional right to spend two terms of eight years. And secondly, don’t forget that a lot of things are going wrong.
I didn’t come back on my own volition, people came and asked me to come back because they are not getting the good governance they expected from the present government. And as such, they need somebody that can correct all those things that the present government is doing that will make the people of Oyo happy.
If you look at things now, people are not all that happy about what’s happening in Oyo. And to put smile on the faces of people in the state, we have to get somebody who knows how to deal with the people and how to govern Oyo very well. I’ve done it before, and because I’ve done it before, they know what I’ve done, and that is the same reason why they say I must come back.
For this purpose, I have to succumb to their calling that I should come back to govern. Don’t forget, on a lighter mood, let me put it this way that I left a file with the present government in the government house. Had it been the man there now has opened it, people would have been happy, but he didn’t open it. I’m going to take the file and open it so that people of Oyo can be happy again.
PT: What ‘file’ are you referring to?
Alao-Akala: File of life and more abundance for the people of Oyo state. They did not even open the file. If they had opened it, they would have known that they are not doing very well. So, they should have brought life abundant to the people of Oyo.
PT: What are the projects you would have continued if you were allowed to remain in office beyond 2011?
Alao-Akala: You see, that’s one of the things in that file that I’m going to open when I get there. The problem is that I don’t want to go to things I left behind, I want to go to the things that I will do that will make people happy.
A lot of things were done when I was in the office. If I’ve not performed very well, it would have been difficult for me to tell people that I want to come back. They would have ask me, “when you were there, what did you do?” Nobody can ask me that type of question.
I’ve been going round now, nobody has ever asked me that “when you were there, what did you do?” But I am walking tall today, moving round Oyo because the record is there for me to show. And the record of four years, compared to that record of eight years, it’s not a joke.
PT: Are you saying you performed better than the current regime?
Alao-Akala: I don’t need to tell you if my own is better or not. But I want you to ask people, then you will understand what is happening. If I had not performed the way I was supposed to perform when I had the opportunity, yes, I wouldn’t have the audacity to say I want to go back to the government house.
People will ask “to do what?” But because the man there has not performed. You see, there is a saying in Yoruba that “If the incumbent king is not performing up to standard, then people will keep remembering the previous king”, so that’s what has happened. It’s because these people are not performing, that’s why I have the audacity to say I want to come back.
PT: Don’t you think that age is no more on your side?
Alao-Akala: What do you mean by age is not on my side? What is age? Is there any pegged age that you have to be the governor?
PT: But, Buhari complained about age, that he would have performed better if he had become president much earlier?
Alao-Akala: That is Buhari. We don’t have the same gene. I am more active than him, in fact I have some people that are of his age and more active because they don’t share the same gene. We are different. I went to Baba Ayo Adebanjo the other day, at 91 he is still fit. He saw me off to my car, very fit. So, don’t compare people, age is nothing. In fact, age is wisdom. And that is what I’m flaunting; age and experience. Because you can’t just come and say you want to rule Oyo if you don’t have that experience. And that’s exactly what I’m flaunting. Age is an asset to me.
PT: You said on radio few days ago that experience matters in who becomes the governor of the state and your opponents have them in abundance?
Alao-Akala: Yes, you know that it is experience. You see, if you don’t have experience, you can’t rule Oyo State. And I’m sorry, I don’t want the people of Oyo to suffer again. You don’t just come and you don’t have anything about governance and you say that you want to get there.
PT: Some of the people running against you already have management and business experiences?
Alao-Akala: I am talking about people who have been involved in governance; somebody who has been involved in making people happy. I am talking of people who have been managing human beings. The other set of people are just involved in routines.
If you were a Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, if you are a businessman, you do routine job. Bring this thing to the board, they will approve it. That’s not what I’m saying. How to manage people is not easy. You just have to know how to do it. Because if you take people for granted, all those people you are talking about have been managing small groups of people.
When you do managing, there are routines, there are laid down rules of doing all those things. If you’re a deputy governor of the Central Bank, there are laid down things you can do. If you’re a businessman, you know what to do to make your job profitable. Government is not a business that you have to run to get profit. You are not looking for profit in governance. What you are looking for is how to make life more abundant for the people of Oyo. Period.
PT: What are the areas you intend to look at if the people permit you to come back?
Alao-Akala: First, I’ll make sure that people are getting their salaries as and when due. Two, I will make sure that I have zero tolerance for strikes in the tertiary institution. I will take care of all the tertiary institutions. Number three, immediately I get to the office, I will severe our relationship with Osun State as regards LAUTECH, that is of great concern to me. That is one of the things I will do again.
Number four is that I will make sure that I stop all those levies in all our education system. Presently, they are charging them some levies in primary schools, in secondary schools. Education will be totally free, as a matter of fact, I will declare a state of emergency on Education.
The state we are now, in the comity of other states, is very low. We are almost number 30 on the list. There’s nothing stopping us from being within the first nine, because we call ourselves the Pacesetter, and as a Pacesetter state, we must set the pace. And that’s what I’m going to do by the grace of God, to put things in order and make the people of Oyo happy.
PT: Looking at the strength of the present government in terms of structure and power of incumbency, how do you intend to surmount that?
Alao-Akala: Don’t say that, we are more enlightened now in Oyo and we know what to do. Don’t forget that I was an incumbent before I was outsmarted. Let me use that word, I was outsmarted. And if I was there, I can also do the same thing to anybody. Jonathan had all the power when he was an incumbent, but Buhari booted him out.
PT: Do you see February 16 as determining factor to the governorship election in Oyo state?
Alao-Akala: I don’t want to delve into that, when we get to the bridge, we shall cross it.
PT: NURTW’s violence during your first tenure, how do you ensure that such things do not reoccur if you win?
Alao-Akala: What do you mean by violence during my tenure? Something is brewing now in Oyo, you don’t know, go and ask. NURTW want to change their guard.
There is tension now, in that sector. Whenever people want to change the guard of NURTW, there is always tension all over the places. Then they start killing themselves. They don’t kill the citizens, they kill themselves, because they know themselves.
It’s whenever there’s a change of guard, that’s what happens when they want to change management. Look at what happened in Lagos State, the poor man was just doing his campaign, the NURTW went there to disrupt it. Mc Oluomo, because they want to change guard in Lagos State NURTW, so, it is their stock in trait to fight whenever they want to change their guard.
So what happened that time was just that I was there when they wanted to change guard. And don’t forget that before I left office, I proscribed them. I did that and I made sure that they did not exceed before I left office. I asked the local government to take charge of the motor parks.
Was there no fight during the eight years of this man (governor) ? Didn’t you hear of one million boys? Foko boys? Raising the whole place, burning. During my time, they were not coming to the town, only their areas where they were controlling, their motor parks.
PT: APC is talking of next level, they are also talking of continuity…
Alao-Akala: Next level of poverty, may God forbid. Next level of poverty and hunger, May God forbid. What next level are they talking about? You see, it is when you enjoy something that you talk about next level. Where you are not enjoying, do you want to move there? You have to find an alternative, and we are the alternative.
PT: What advice do you have for other contemporaries contesting against you?
Alao-Akala: We should play the game according to the rules. That’s the only advice I have for them. Let us play the game according to the rule and see whoever emerges.
The most important thing is that it is the person that will take care of the people of Oyo state. I want to tell you that people are suffering, there’s hunger in the land. You know, we should play the game by the rule, when you don’t have anything, you should not be tearing other people’s posters.
Don’t tear bill boards, the space is enough for all of us to advertise (campaign) whatever we want to advertise. Why tearing people’s posters? Why damaging people’s bill boards. That is not good, it is not ‘gentlemanly’. Avoid violence, such kind of thing can lead to unrest.