As the October 10, governorship election in Ondo State approaches, the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the state, Mr Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, bears his mind on what he has to offer the people if elected. He spoke with OLUSOLA ALATISE and JOSEPHINE OGUNTOYINBO.
What will you do differently if elected Governor come October 10?
I will run a dispassionate, open government, I will do all within my power to make Ondo State the ownership of the government. Because it’s the government of the people. I will ensure that there is access to education, by majority of our citizen by making the fees payable within the reach of the majority of our people, taking to account the status of the economy and our people.
I will to all intents and purposes allow our teaming people in Ondo state have access to medical care at reasonable cost, on the basis that I will not bring further hardship on the people. Secondly, to save lives from exorbitant medical bill. Exorbitant medical bill will take away lives, low medical bills will save lives.
I will do all within my power to ensure we run an open government.
What areas of the state’s economy will you focus on to effect a positive change?
Agriculture. The focus will be on food security. This is achievable, in other words ,we will ensure higher yields of food products in the market for sale and to feed our people.
Those interested in farming will be encouraged to continue to farm, they will be encouraged to increase their products to ensure they bring additional hands to provide employment.
And the value chain will be expanded, I would tell you how we will do it. If a person is cultivating ten hectares and we have them all over the place, or a farmer with one thousand birds or animal husbandry; rearing goats or cows, we will take inventory of all these and ask them, you are working on hundred hectares, what do you need to work on one thousand hectares. In order words ,we will multiply your activities by 10. What will you need, probably if he needs additional land ,we will clear it for him, if he needs a tractor ,we will ensure a tractor is dedicated for that purpose. If he needs pesticides and the rest, we will give them to him. In other words, this is to say look we have a social contract , you will increase your hectares cultivation by 100 or 200 percent, government will give you the facilities because by doing that, you are growing a farmer and it is good to take our farmers out of poverty level. If he was employing two, probably he will employ twenty. So there will be food security, probably we will not need to start buying rice, tomatoes, water melon and others from the North .
And again, if the products can serve our industries, we will empower them to increase in those areas. We can assure our farmers that we will not allow their banana and oranges to rot, we will have uptakers , those uptakers we will say look, if you want to sell your banana by flow tab; that is traveling from Akure to Ife, Ondo to Ore or from Okiti-pupa side or if you are going from Akoko roads if you have excess all you need to do is to take this to collection points instead of recording a loss, government will endeavor to fix an amount to be paid to such a farmer.
I personally do not like it when people refer to farmers as poor people? What they do is to put up an image of a farmer with torn clothes and a hoe, that is the image they paint, it should not be so.
Personally, I will love when you want to demonstrate a farmer , don’t put a man with torn clothes, put a person that is well dressed with ‘agbada’ or a good shirt that is what I envisage to do. Look, in America, those who feed Americans you can count them on your fingers, very few people, in Nigeria they will say 60 percent of us are farmers in American they say two percent, yet in America they have excess, in Nigeria with 65 percent farmers we still can’t feed our people. We still import rice ,vegetable oil even palm oil, we import anything you can think of, we import orange, tangerine and others.
Youth unemployment in the society is high, how are you going to tackle it?
Look, I mentioned farmers now, but we are not going to say everybody should go to farm, it is not possible. When you paint farm houses, put social amenities and everything, you want to encourage our youths to come there, they will not, if they come, it is because they don’t have job. It’s important first that you get those that have interest, lots of our people have interest in farming and they are youths. Identify them, search for them, get them and create an avenue for them to be able to demonstrate this interest and make money.
Secondly, we must also encourage our people to work with their hands, I’m talking about artisans. We have a good number of artisans in Ondo state, all over the place, from those who do craftsmanship and those engaged in tailoring, barbing , aluminium work, and those making blocks, all we need to do is to get them and give them some sense of belonging and opportunity for them to earn a living and to also employ people.
Even those operating restaurants, I will give you an example. When we got private initiative to set up what we call Shoprite, it did not cost government one naira to establish or facilitate shoprite, and other shops around it. All it cost was institutional support, a level playing ground and honesty.
When shoprite was set up, go there and count how many people have been employed there, they were not employed by government, they were employed by individuals.
Immediately after shoprite , there is a restaurant there, that restaurant employed more than five graduates that studied Home Economics and others who are sweepers. If you go further, you will see a film house where people sell drinks and you see people operating there. These are great employment.
There is no magic in this , and it is not possible again that you are going to push in every body to be employed by government, the important thing is to make deliberate effort to create opportunities for our people to get employed either by themselves or get some others who are already in operations or under entrepreneurship to bring in one or two people, it is gradual but achievable. In a nutshell, we will create conducive environment for investors to thrive.
Recently, you visited former President Olusegun Obasanjo ?
Yes, I did .
What did you discuss with him?
It was a courtesy call, he is an elder statesman and again to seek his blessings and he gave it.
The man also endorsed another candidate?
Which candidate ?
ADP candidate, Olagbegi .
We didn’t discuss that.
Recently, the Deputy Governor of the state, Mr Agboola Ajayi defected from the PDP to ZLP ,will this not affect your party’s chances at the poll?
He defected from somewhere before now. You know that this is one of the fundamental rights enshrined in our constitution which is freedom of movement, and if it is true that he has moved from the PDP to another party, then it is no longer news, maybe if you have said something else, that could be news. But the truth is that, one; he is the deputy governor, secondly; he is a former House of Representatives member, thirdly; he is a politician, he is an adult, he is a Nigerian citizen and he has the right to determine his own destiny.
Some people are of the opinion that moving out of PDP will deflate the chances of the party in the coming gubernatorial election?
Let us wait till October 10,then ask me the question. I will prefer not to speculate. I will prefer to answer this question when that happens ,our people might be able to figure out what is likely going to be the effect of this, but we wait till that period.
So, what you are saying in essence is that his movement doesn’t has effect?
Wait till October 10.
Insecurity is another hydra-headed problem all over states, what is your view on this?
I was the Attorney General in Ondo State for seven and a half years, probably about six to seven years out of the seven and half years, I was the chairman of Body of Attorney Generals for the thirty six states of the federation. During that time, I chaired the meeting of Attorney Generals where we produced a clean draft of the amended constitution with inputs of my colleagues (All the Attorney Generals) and also their workers, there we talked about the economy, power, police, army, tourism, among other issues. Not only that we prepared a draft of what should be a constitution. On security, it was a tough one, some said that it is not good to domesticate the power of security with the governors as there might be an abuse and some said that if the Federal government can also hold the power and in the process either abused or did not abuse, then there is nothing stopping the state governments from having their own security forces.
Some said we should create regional police, all these views were put together and there was something that would perhaps, enable the state to create a state police, even where that is not possible. Let me leave the realm of an amendment constitution. It is important that we understand that the security of this state is something that can be dealt with by the state, it is important that we understand that intelligence ,community policing are all part of security networks, it is important for us to know that our traditional rulers all have great roles to play in securing their communities, otherwise there is no point, it is important that there must also be jobs for youths to be able to confidently say that you want to address security issues.
All these are the aggregate that our governments all over the states must address to ensure that there is security in our respective states. My take is this, we must have intelligent community policing, we must also address our legal system, what I mean is the courts, the ministry of justice and the police, so that at all times, we are able to deal with the issue of security breaches or where there are offences, you address it quickly. That in itself will serve as a deterrent to those who are outside and also enable the state to perform its roles, there are some of these decisions that must give way to the state institutions, the police for instance who are prosecuting ,the prisons which must be corrective, and others, collectively, that is important. More importantly, there must be a very effective way, even within what we have now in ensuring that the police itself is disciplined. People overlooked this, when you talk about security, we must first address the institution that deals with security, which is the police. We must ensure that we give them what is needed to perform their jobs and ensure that they imbibe the spirit of discipline and make sure that our people have respect for the police.
Recently, Ondo state government launched the Amotekun Security outfit, what is your take on this?
My prayers and hope is that it will not be misused.
Accord Party recently collapsed its structure for the PDP, what influenced this?
We need people, and Accord Party is also a political organisation that is important to our democratic achievements, and I will say this that it will be positive. I can tell you that whatever anybody may be saying, the Accord Party and its people are bringing added values to the project that we have ahead.
What influenced the choice of your running mate?
Let me say that it was a collective decision, it will always be and the running mate is expected and will bring value to the project.
What is your take on zoning people are clamouring for in the state as per the governorship race?
I have difficulty understanding this artificial contrite word, ‘zoning’ and first, my take is this, we must put our best legs forward. Secondly, we should give credit to merit. Thirdly, we must ensure fairness, and fairness also means that we must make sure that those who can perform the job are given the opportunity to do so In other words, we should put a round peg in a round hole and a square peg in a square hole. I want Ondo State to develop, whoever is going to attend to the welfare of people, provide job opportunities for our youths, run an open and transparent government would be preferred over and above the artificial labeled person.
Your advice to the people of Ondo state?
The opportunity of October 10, 2020 is an opportunity that presents itself periodically, that period is when our people should demonstrate whether they are satisfied and happy with what is happening and if the government of the day says that they have done so well, then my take on this is that they should allow the people to be the judge, and if on the other hands as the PDP is saying with an empirical evidence, then it is again an opportunity for the people to demonstrate that through their votes. Having said that, election is a process, and important things in election are; first, it must be credible and acceptable, secondly, it is about the people, we must conduct ourselves peacefully in a way that there will not be bloodshed. We should also ,as citizens of this state guide and guard our votes. Finally on this, I encourage each and every person that is qualified to vote and has a voter’s card to step out on October 10 to vote and make a choice without fear and that choice is represented by the alternative of this government and we are hopeful that majority will go the way of PDP.