-ADC gubernatorial candidate
Princ Dapo Adelegan is a seasoned marketer and PR Consultant with over 30 years experience in the cooperate world. He is the immediate past President of the Nigerian British Chambers of Commerce. The seasoned Public Relations Practitioner spoke with THE HOPE on his ambition to become the next governor of Ondo State. Our reporter, Saheed Ibrahim spoke with him. Excerpts:
Let me first thank The Hope team for finding me worthy of this interview and let me thank you for the work you are doing but I can assure you by his grace if we are elected, it will be a primary project for us and we will build on the work that is being done by the current government to ensure that we will become a force to be reckoned with in the annals of journalism in the country.
First, it is a privilege to be spoken of as a governorship candidate in Ondo state with 4.5million people. For anyone to be regarded as worthy of becoming a governor, that is grace and I thank God for that. I am also thankful to the party, the leaders of ADC who decided to give me a platform. I am not the one that secured that platform I was given and that is the truth – to be able to provide an alternative agenda for the development of Ondo state.
My primary motivation is one, to be able to restore the dignity of my hometown Owo and the gold standard for politics in Ondo state was set by an Owo man, the late Michael Adekunle Ajasin and history has it that in four years, he built a university from the scratch, he built the first state owned bank-Owena Bank. He built seven industries or more. Oluwa Glass industry in Okitipupa and others. The secretariat he built in Alagbaka, not one block has been added by successor governors but we have an opportunity again for another Owo man. He has done his own, finishing his four years and he has done his best. We want to ensure that we build on the golden legacy of Adekunle Ajasin and Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, so another Owo man is coming up, saying that last four years of our eight years candidacy, we want to redevelop the economy of Ondo state.
My credentials are nothing; it is the experience of thirty-two year as a corporate player, leading to the president of the Nigeria British Chamber of Commerce. So I have been in business for thirty two years. God has been extremely kind to me and you don’t have early success at twenty-five to be the father of Lekki, moving to all kind of international engagements, marketing Nigeria all over the world, becoming president of Nigeria British Chamber of commerce God does not permit that without an assignment, there must be something he is going to ask from you and having done thirty-two years, I am back home and I am determined to contribute my own quota particularly to revive our economy, if there is no economy there is no polity. The word politics comes from policy; which the Greece gave to their cities
What is your assessment of the state’s economy and ways you want to effect a change?
Without economy, there is nothing, no government can function without a viable economy. It cannot provide jobs, it cannot pay salaries, it cannot provide water in a covid-19 pandemic where we are meant to wash our hands every twenty minutes. There are no hospitals that are properly and well equipped for our people, there are no jobs for graduates. A Masters degree holder went to sacrifice his girlfriend for money ritual. That is not pandemic, that is pandemonium; that is another extension of pandemic because there is hopelessness and because there are no jobs. In England and America the rich do not even pay their children school fees, it is student loan.
Student loan is human right it is not privilege we will provide it, so it is not a question of are we increasing or decreasing fees, every Ondo state indigene that gets a letter of admission into tertiary institution particularly for Science, Engineering, Mathematics or Medicine or Agriculture will get student loan and that is a promise. It means the school fees will be paid by the government. we will work with the banks for long term loan with single digit interest that will be available for us to assist the movement from poverty to prosperity and education is the fastest route.
If a civil servant that earns sixty thousand naira has three children in the university, where is he going to start from? He will have to decide which one to learn hair-dressing, which one to learn mechanic because he can only afford to send one to the university. There is nothing wrong in those skills because 21st century is about skills acquisition but a university education should not be denied anybody that wants and is capable of having it.
Without a robust economy where will the government get money? With a robust economy we have employment and with employment we have income tax for those that are employed. The companies themselves pay company tax. Tax station is then used to fund social activities. Akure has bus shelters but where are the buses? In England there is a bus every five minutes at every bus stop except on Christmas day. Must we go to the moon to find buses running on Akure roads? It is no big deal it is because our government does not put people at the centre of policy formulation and activation. They see politics as the policy of the elite. Contract awards are gotten by who? Can you bid for contract? Where is your tax clearance? Where is your audited account? But in overseas, the place where we copied and everyone wants to go to, the people are the centre of everything that the government does.
Democracy is the government by the people, for the people, and of the people. People were mentioned thrice. So buses should be run efficiently. You should be able to take buses from Akure to Okitipupa, from Akure to Ikare and that means our roads must be motorable even for the federal roads we can send invoice to Abuja, it is about the comfort of our people.
We have dams in Ondo state, only three dams and water is just not coming out and to make it easy we get a local government and private distributor to repair the pipe, to build the treatment plans and provide meters in your houses. We pay for electricity we can pay for water, we can just manage the water not to waste it. When government does that, the ministry of works we are going to prioritise it why is the ministry of works with engineers sitting there doing nothing. When you corporatize it, it becomes public utility of Ondo state. Imagine ministry of works becoming a corporation where you have three camps, Ore, Akure and Ikare and all they are doing is just doing roads everyday. Whenever we give a contract 70-80 percent of the money is not going for the contract because the contractor wants profit and inflation is going to join because the money will not be awarded at once because there is always review contract of N200million becomes one billion, but if the government agency is in charge of the roads every money put into it is accounted for.
The moment these roads are done we can increase the tenement rate by 200 percent and they will pay because road passes through their houses it has enhance property value so there is a correlation between social welfare and even increase in taxation. If you hear that school fees of four children the government will pay for it, won’t they read and have five A’s in each of them and if they get into the university and they know that they got a loan when they graduate they have to pay, won’t they try to graduate with first class or second class to get a good job so it is also helping to make responsible students so they can focus on what is important
I have not even spoken about the economic opportunities, Ondo state geography all the economic activities from Lagos to South, South East pass through Ore and Ikare/Owo before the Benin/Isagamu was built. The absence of a road from here to Owo and through Sobe denied us 25percent of our economy. And we have a government for three four years doing city roads that have no economic benefits to the state. So let’s excuse him they may not know the correlation between Akure, Owo, Igbowobenin road, Akure/Owo to Kaaba road to 50 percent of the economy of Ondo state.
Since 1999, Nigeria returned to democracy. Your assessment of the economy of the country?
Prostrate, Nothing. Ondo state is the richest state in the country, we have three climatic conditions. Savannah in the north fantastic for animal husbandry and cash crops and most importantly we have mineral resources, we have limestone, we have gems stones, we have marble and granite. Limestone that has made Obajana the biggest factory in Africa in cement. We can also put another one in Akunu but has it been exploited? Are the Akoko boys not becoming kidnappers? Are they not jobless? Are our young girls not become mothers when they should be in school?
Move to the centre rain forest, cocoa, plantations, palm kernel, rubber, teak. Ghana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast make billion of dollars everytime from cocoa, Ondo state what are we making from cocoa? Move to the south I have just told you about Ore the geography alone, it can become a multi-million naira city by the virtue of the amount of goods passing through there. Moving a bit down our deepest seaport in West Africa is not been built since. That port can have a container port and a cruise liner port. You have put professor as governor, lectures, medical doctor, SAN, they are all professionals but are they business men? Are they commercial minded? If you want the economy of Ondo state to rise, you have to put people that have an understanding of the economy.
You were endorsed by the former president of Nigeria, Cheif Olusegun Obasanjo. How do you think this will boost your chances of winning?
Let me put it this way; whatever you say about ex-president Obasanjo, he is the father of Nigeria. As a matter of fact, in Africa, he is regarded as the President of Africa.After Mandela, he is our leader by God’s grace. The position he has occupied and he is still occupying. As a bonafide Omoluabi Yoruba son, if I want to take this kind of adventure, I will have to take the blessing of our father which is Olusegun Obansanjo and that is what I did.
I remember I knelt down and he prayed for me and that is symbolic and very powerful. Secondly, we want him in his life time to see a prosperous Nigeria. Our plan to make Ore our Chicago, to make Ondo state number one economy in the country and globalize our economy to be one of the bearing the 4th largest economy in Africa because we will market it. Ondo state needs a man like that who can call anybody in the world and they will say yes. Obasanjo as president did what had never been done in the world; he got the world to forgive us our debt. Imagine Obasanjo supporting our government in Ondo state and becoming a champion for the economy of Ondo state.
Recently, the country has been facing insecurity and Ondo state has its dose. What strategy are you bringing in to curb this?
The greatest antidote to security is employment any society that does not develop its economy to provide industry, to provide employment is ready for anarchy. Send a man to the university, give him intelligence, send him to a vocational training and he has no job. You are recruiting him to armed robbery, to kidnapping and cybercrime. So for me a million policemen or soldiers cannot stop insecurity. Only jobs can stop it and without economy there are no jobs and without jobs, insecurity will continue to go on. So vote the future of your children vote the people that can bring you the economy and industry and jobs. And lets thank our governor for the job he has done so far but from here on we are taking over.