Gboyega Nasir Isiaka, a Labour Party (LP) governorship aspirant in Ogun State, speaks on why there should be a change of government in the state, saying Governor Ibikunle Amosun has performed low in delivering the dividends of democracy.
THERE are signs that prominent people may leave the Labour Party (LP), thereby weakening its chances of winning any election in Nigeria. How comfortable are you with this situation?
It would be very wrong if at my age I tie my fortune to an individual and not act on my personal conviction.
At the same time, I am aware that there is no opportunity for independent candidacy in Nigeria. Therefore, you must belong to a political platform.
I think one of the relevant things here is to look at the position of that party when Ondo State Governor Mimiko contested under it in 2007.
The party was in oblivion and if he could make it at that time, the possibility of it happening now can never be ruled out and we are convinced it is doable. The important thing is to be clear about what you want and be convinced and determined.
For us in Ogun, the development of LP was done internally. Mimiko is a good man and an exemplary leader. Though, we have not seen anything to suggest that he is leaving the party, and it will be wrong to conclude with what you are reading from his associates on the pages of the newspapers, but the important thing to us really is that we have a platform that is recognised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The rest depends on us and extent of work done. We have mobilised enough to ensure victory if election is conducted any moment. LP is the fastest growing party in Ogun as at now.
Many say you are too refined and academic to be a politician, don’t you see this as a stumbling block to your aspiration?
The other side to that is to say Nigerian politics is the exclusive right of people that are not refined, semi literate or stack illiterates and people with no second address, who do not have any name to protect and whose stock in trade will be lies and insincerity.
I think the important thing here is that I am knowledgeable enough to know the requirement of playing politics at the level I am playing it and to know that I am able and capable of facing the challenges and the rigor.
I am motivated by the need to leave a better Ogun for generations coming behind us and deliver a life more abundant for the present generation.
I am determined to make any sacrifice to achieve this and contribute my quota to shape the future of my state and my people.
But then, it is good at times for people to underestimate your capacity, so that there can be elements of surprise. We can even take a lesson from the actions and reactions from President Goodluck Jonathan to show that a determined man will take actions that are necessary whenever the need arises.
You have tasted the private and public sectors, how would you compare both, in terms of service delivery?
It is a whole lot of difference. The time has come for us to have the two coming together as much as possible, because we need more of efficiency in the public sector. We need more of entrepreneurial decisions in the public sector, so that we can begin to derive maximum benefit from the resources available to us.
I think the essence of some of us who have had experience in the private sector venturing into public sector is to see how that can be done.
But we must also recognise the fact that the language in the private sector is about profit and return, but in the public sector, it is to ensure you give the best for today and prepare for a brighter tomorrow.
It is not everything in the private sector that we can replicate in the public sector, but we need to continue to look at the parameters. Most of the times, those things our leaders, I mean the heads of government, take as important may not be necessarily good to the public.
The parameters cannot be the same, but we need to continue to improve, because the whole world is changing.
Another thing is sincerity. In the private sector, once you are not seen to be sincere in whatever you are doing, there is tendency that the management or board will take care of it or the shareholders will kick against you.
That is why we need the vigilance of the people to take care of any identified ill in the public sector. That is why I always say that a society deserves the kind of government it has.
The populace must begin to get interested in what we are doing, so that we can get high level of sincerity from the drivers of the public sector.
The truth is that the difference is still very wide and the closer it is, the better.
Are you not concerned about the incumbency factor?
We cannot be intimidated about incumbency factor; what happened in Ekiti State is a good pointer to that. We only need to do what we need to do to neutralise that factor.
Amosun is not performing, so incumbency factor is a liability to him.
The issue of education has become a major crisis in the state. What is your agenda to solve the crisis; what do you want to do differently?
What we are going to do differently is to do a proper definition of what good governance is all about.
To the government we have now, good governance is about seeing the governor as the first person to build bridges, building pedestrian bridges with air conditioners and laying claim to building the longest bridge in Ogun, even where it is not required.
I understand he wanted to build one at Ijebu Igbo and people there had to protest that bridge was not their problem.
He is bent on making history as the first person to build bridges in all the towns in Ogun, which is not what good governance should be in the 21st century.
We believe we should do the right thing in a right way. We should bring people together and have a clear vision as a state. There are master plans that need to be put together and integrate the private sector to engender economic growth.
We entitled our programme, ‘life more abundant,’ with five elements. First is human capital development, where we talk of education and health.
We feel we should place a lot of emphasis on education. We have about seven technical colleges in this state today and we are saying why can’t we put a lot of infrastructure there. To us, this is the way we can support our youth and graduates to be self-employed.
Amosun has been going around building model schools, which I consider it as a misplaced priority.
This man just has a knack for grandstanding.
We are also asking questions on why it is difficult to run a tuition-free education in Ogun. With about 78,000 students and tuition of N50, 000, the total receivable on tuition is N4 billion even, with a margin of error of N1billion.
It means that with about N5 billion, you can offer free tuition in all the tertiary institutions we have in the state.
If a government can build a bridge at over N8billion and could award Abeokuta/Shagamu Road at N60billion to expand it to 10 lanes, why is it difficult to afford N5billion as succour to support the future of our children? It is about lack of focus and vision.
Our intention is to give education what will generate employment. We shall provide the facility and review the curriculum.
Governor Amosun had at several fora complained that his administration would have done better if not for the rot and huge debts it inherited from the immediate past administration. What is your take on this?
This government finds it difficult to say the truth. Each time the governor is asked any question relating to any sector, he would just go on repeating himself by saying former governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel (OGD) did this or left this debt, booby traps were laid and all of that, which are all lies.
The state Commissioner for Finance, Kemi Adeosun, recently said OGD left a debt of over N80billion, but at the end of the day, it was proved that the cash liability that was handed over by that government was N14billion.
This was contained in a document prepared by the civil servants given to Amosun on resumption of office. All other debts make N49billion, made up of contingent liabilities, pension and others.
Even out of the N14billion, the forensic accounting done, which was instituted by the former administration, discovered that it was supposed to be N4billion, as it some figures were discovered that some banks debited wrongly.
It was proved that N4billion cash liability was inherited by Amosun and just over N20billion contingent liabilities.
But he never mentioned that the OGD administration inherited over N33billion debt from the Aremo Olusegun Osoba administration, which nobody was crying about.
I think it is important to start speaking about these issues and let people know the truth.
Amosun in a recent interview put the liability of his government at N37billion, which is an outright lie, as it is a common knowledge that this government liability is over N200billion.
To deceive people, they have tried to equate the liabilities to only bank and cash liabilities. We are saying that is wrong, because the liability of this government is not only the bank facility they have taking; what about the contract they have entered into, some they have not started?
Put together, all the liability of all the contracts they have signed will be in the neighbourhood of N300billion, but if you remove the ones they have not started, for instance, Abeokuta/Shagamu road, which is put at N60b, and you look at the contracts Amosun have signed, the liability of this government is not less than N200billion.
Our argument is that this debt is too much, considering the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state, though they claimed that they have raised the IGR to N5billion, per month, which is quite doubtful.
They also claimed that N2billion was missing in the Gateway Holdings Limited (GHL), which is another lie.
I headed the GHL and made bold to say that there was no agency of government whose finances had been scrutinised more than the GHL by this government.
They started with Ernst and Young, brought Riverbank and spent all manners of money and up till now, I am still waiting for them to say a kobo was missing. I challenge them to make public the findings of these firms.
What they are now alleging is that we took a N2billion facility to build GHL head office.
Initially, they said they did not see anything on site. After we uploaded the pictures of the site, they changed the story to say what was on ground did not justify the amount spent on it.
But the fact is that we took a N1.5 billion facility in 2008 for working capital for our subsidiaries, including Gateway Savings and Loans, Gateway Oil and Gas, Gateway Trading, all for investment.
Out of that, only N450m was used for the head office and I am aware that the valuation done by the valuers recently put the figure at over N600million. In fact, majority of money spent went on acquisition of shares, which are today in government coffers.
The other one went into recapitalising Gateway Savings and Loans and it is there today as an asset of the government.
But deliberately, they wanted to keep that aside and screamed that they did not see the head office.
Nobody can score 100 per cent, but I am bold to say that OGD did the best in eight years he governed the state.
One expects Amosun to continue and move the state to the next level, but he was busy pursuing the shadow of OGD.
The truth is that we have a government that is economical with the truth.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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