Makinde running on strengths of his achievement, character —Oduyoye

Honourable Babatunde Oduyoye served as the member representing Ibadan North- West/South-West Federal Constituency between 1999 and 2007. He is currently serving as the Special Adviser (Politics and Strategy) to Governor Seyi Makinde. In this interview, he speaks on the readiness of the Oyo State helmsman to clinch re-election, adding that the governor’s performance stands him out. Excerpts:


The Oyo State political landscape is buzzing with activities ahead of the governorship election on Saturday. In your last interview, you said that Governor SeyiMakinde knows what to do to win re-election and that only the governor can prevent himself from winning. Where do things stand now?

Yes, I said so. I am now telling you that Governor Makinde has resolved to win Saturday’s governorship election and has shown the determination to do so by putting the right things in place. The statement in my last interview stemmed from the fact that Governor Makinde until his election in 2019, which he won with a wide margin, had never occupied any political position in the past. But in the last three years and eight to nine months in the saddle as governor, he has played prominent roles in national politics and the South-West geopolitical zone, so he is now well-equipped to do everything necessary to win. He is now engaging critical stakeholders and people across all divides in the current push to ensure that he is re-elected as governor of the state.


 Different candidates are out there contesting for the same seat, with different narratives being pushed about Saturday’s contest. What do you think is the greatest strength of Governor Makinde in this contest?

I can tell you that Makinde is running on the strength of his performance and achievements in office. To date, the Makinde administration has constructed or is still constructing over 500 kilometres of roads.This is unprecedented in the history of Oyo State. Within a space of three and a half years and that includes the almost one year of COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Makinde has greatly reduced the infrastructure deficit of the state. You would recall that he threw a poser, and I think he has repeated it many times, that anyone who knows a governor who started and completed a 65-kilometres stretch of road in Oyo State history should come out and say it. That is the Moniya-Iseyin Road. The 76 kilometres Iseyin-Fapote-Ogbomoso Road is also ongoing.

Today, the governor boasts of having linked all zones of Oyo State with quality roads. In terms of education, Oyo State has become the sole owner of LAUTECH; the Emmanuel Alayande College of Education has been upgraded to a University of Education, while the Technical University is also waxing strong and all these are due to Makinde’s efforts. In terms of funding on education, the governor has met the required benchmark recommended by UNESCO in terms of budgetary allocation for four successive years. As of today, over 60,000 out-of-school children have been returned to the classrooms, while hundreds of education infrastructure has been built.

Everyone in Oyo State is a living witness as to how Makinde has transformed the health sector through the renovation and equipment of Category 3 Primary Healthcare Centres. Over 250 PHCs have been improved and equipped across the 33 local governments of the state. So, Oyo State people have seen what Makinde has done in the last three and a half years. Teachers and other civil servants, retirees get their salaries and pensions on or before 25th of every month and the administration has been paying gratuities, unlike the previous administration of the APC, which left office in 2019 with a backlog of gratuity arrears that dated back to 2011. So, Makinde is going into Saturday’s governorship election on the strength of what he has done and what people are convinced that he can. He has a clear edge over the other two main candidates, and that will speak for him on Saturday.


Apart from these achievements, which some may claim not to see, what other things do you think place your candidate in better stead above others?

In 2019, character was one of the strongest points we campaigned with and to date; I want to say with emphasis, that Governor Makinde still towers above the two main candidates when it comes to character. For me, in terms of character, the people of Oyo State know Makinde and the other candidates very well; they know that the noticeable character flaws of the other candidates cannot be corrected in this election cycle. So, if character is going to be one of the parameters that will be employed in deciding who to vote for, I urge residents of the state to still vote for Seyi Makinde.


But some parties have introduced a religious twist into this contest. Are you not scared that this may affect your candidate negatively?

Have we not learnt from the last presidential election that religious antics will fail? It was a Muslim-Muslim ticket that beat other candidates. For a Makinde, who has balanced the appointments and policies of his administration favourably, who has not denigrated any religion, I think no one can succeed against him pushing religious sentiments. The governor is a Christian but has done more for Muslims than most governors. Before he became governor, he was organising Ramadan lectures and as governor, the programme has not stopped. The governor built Omituntun Mosque and rebuilt the Adogba Mosque, Iwo Road, from his personal money; he approved the Hijrah holiday in the state and also appointed a liaison officer with the Muslim community. He has never introduced any policy or done anything against Muslims. So, why would any reasonable person think religious sentiment is the best way to win against Makinde?

Of the two major candidates contesting against Makinde, we can say that one of them is actually not a Muslim so to say, because he became a Muslim after he had joined politics, possibly. And there are insinuations that he stopped going to church and reactivated a Muslim name sometime in 2019. The other one is a politician, who flashes religious cards any time he is contesting. So, you can see that the governor has maintained a balance between the two religions and he has also promised the good people of Oyo State that no religion will have an unnecessary edge over the other. To me, he has been fair and equitable. He is someone the Muslims are comfortable with by virtue of his disposition to them. So, for those who want to rely on the religious card, they will fail on Saturday.


Another major issue being raised against the governor ahead of Saturday’s contest is the grievances within the PDP over the February 25 presidential election, in which the governor was said to have supported the APC candidate and president-elect, Senator Bola Tinubu.

Well, no two elections are the same. The issues involved in the presidential election are not necessarily the issues that will be involved in this gubernatorial election. All politics is local and the people of Oyo State will concentrate more on what concerns them and they will support Makinde. So, I think we should just move beyond the issues about the presidential election. If we do Oyo State well, we might not even bother about who the president is, so the sentiments being pushed by the APC that Oyo State residents should support APC in the state is baseless. When Chief Obafemi Awolowo was the Premier of Western Region, nobody bothered about who was the Prime Minister, because Awolowo did all that was necessary to prepare the Western Region for the challenges of the future in terms of education, wealth for all and agriculture. That is exactly what Makinde has done in Oyo State; he has laid a solid foundation for a greater Oyo State across different sectors and it is important that we re-elect him to consolidate on the gains.


 But the opposition elements are saying that because APC has won at the federal level, then Oyo State cannot afford to be in the opposition…

I don’t agree with that. In 2019, Makinde won the election as a PDP candidate and despite being the only PDP candidate, he worked assiduously with all APC governors in the South-West to evolve Amotekun. You will recall that even Lagos that has an APC government like the Federal Government, could not implement the initiative on Amotekun. It is also on record that Governor Makinde worked with his then Osun State counterpart, an APC man, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, to achieve the sole ownership of LAUTECH and the flag-off of the Ibadan-Iwo-Osogbo Road construction. So, it is not a strange thing for Makinde to achieve success as an opposition politician under a Federal Government controlled by another party.

When we had COVID-19 pandemic and there was a NEC meeting in Abuja, Makinde stood out to advocate that we could not afford to have a complete lockdown in Oyo State, and I remember el-Rufai making reference to that when he came to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) recently, that they had a running battle. But at the end of the day, wisdom prevailed and each governor was allowed to determine what to do, and that was how we didn’t have a complete lockdown in Oyo State. Eventually, most of the decisions and initiative Makinde employed in dealing with the pandemic were ultimately adopted by the Federal Government.

We are running federalism and no component part should be seen as being inferior. So, if the APC led-FG is working for the interest of the generality of Nigerians and the PDP government in Oyo State is trying to achieve that for the people of the state, no one can stop it from happening. What matters is that there must be a correlation between what goes on in Abuja and here irrespective of which political leaning one has and there are abundant records of Makinde working hand in hand with the APC-led Federal Government to develop Oyo State. What I am saying is that the mere fact that APC won at the federal level does not mean more things will be accruable to Oyo State if we have an APC governor here. It does not work like that. More so, Governor Makinde has a good relationship with the president-elect of this country, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. And if the governor could work successfully without any problem with President Muhammadu Buhari, a Northerner, why should anyone think his government cannot have a smooth relationship with a Presidency controlled by someone from the South-West.

So, on Saturday, the people of Oyo State should re-elect Governor Makinde and trust him to do what is right to attract enough federal attention and get what is due to Oyo State and to work for the restructuring of Nigeria.



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