Ondo 2024: Ohunyeye Speaks On Tinubu, APC Choice Ahead Of Primary Election

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A gubernatorial aspirant under the All Progressives Congress (APC), Olamide Ohunyeye, says President Bola Tinubu has no anointed candidate among those of them jostling to fly the ticket of the party ahead of the November election in Ondo State.

Mr Ohunyeye, a retired brigadier general and ex-director of finance, Nigeria Defence Academy, said this in an exclusive interview with journalist recently.

The aspirant, who has been touring the state to meet with party delegates and other stakeholders ahead of the party primaries scheduled for April, said even the national leadership of the APC has no anointed or preferred candidate in Edo and Ondo States respectively based on a recent statement credited to the national publicity secretary of the party, Felix Morka.

The party has scheduled April for the conduct of its primary election to pick its candidate. Unlike Edo State where the NWC of the APC has adopted the direct mode of primaries, it has yet to do the same for Ondo State.

Why are you aspiring to be the governor of Ondo State?

I am running for several reasons. Number one, I am qualified by being an indigene of the state; above the age of thirty-five years. I have the minimum qualification which is passing the secondary school certificate examination, and more importantly, I am coming to run as a governor because I feel there are a lot of values to be added to my state, especially in the areas of infrastructure development, economy, agriculture, healthcare services, urban renewal, educational facilities and medical science; every facet that needs to be improved upon by taking these sections or sectors in all their ramifications to the next level.
Again, the clamour for positive change and an impactful, purposeful and focused leadership in Ondo State has been resonating. The compelling requirement to have a very competent leader, a people-oriented leader, a benevolent leader, and a leader that is imbued with optimum capacity for service delivery has been all over the place. I consider myself to fit this bill having acquired adequate capacity through my military service for over thirty-six years coupled with my academic background and of course, more importantly, my professional callings. I consider myself a square peg in a square hole towards providing leadership, visionary leadership to my people in Ondo State.

If you become governor, what will you do to develop the state differently?

I want to appreciate our previous leaders, our previous governors, for putting in their best to the service of humanity and the state, especially as we can point to some reckonable achievements. For example, Agagu, we knew he dealt squarely with the issue of infrastructure, especially the road network, and bridges across the major rivers around the Ilaje-Ese Odo areas. We can also appreciate Governor Mimiko for his giant strides in healthcare services; the Mother and Child Hospital and of course, the construction of some mega schools or model schools readily come to mind. And our late brother, Arakunrin Akeredolu too did so well, especially in the areas of security.
As you know, that happens to be my area of core competence and I will certainly take a critical look at Amotekun, the security outfit, to look at its current operational blueprint, which includes its table of equipment, its rules of engagement, its mould, its standing operating procedures and what have you. There are so many areas in this field that can be worked on.

In addition to this, all other sectors will be reviewed. Of course, I know we can talk about the paucity of funds, but first and foremost, I am going to look at areas where we can get external support to develop. For example, are there sectors that require a minimal financial contribution from the state? Maybe there is counterpart funding available all over the world, and what do I do to prepare the state to be able to give their equity in that counterpart funding? I will review whatever funding arrangement they have before. Are we leveraging them? Are they being abandoned? And other than this, what foreign direct investment in terms of investment, in terms of building all manner of collaborative basic engagement to bring the company to come and do public-private partnership? It could be build, operate and transfer. It could be other complex management arrangements that we want to go into. But by and large, I want to leverage my expertise, my area of core competence to be able to develop the state despite its meagre resources.

I intend to develop a very large resource base for Ondo State so that it can become a cash cow for Nigeria, not only for the citizens of the state. There are lots of areas where so much can be done and I am sure we are going to certainly do them.

Your party – the APC – currently parades a list of gubernatorial aspirants, including the incumbent governor, Aiyedatiwa, who is believed to be interested in the ticket. What are your chances of getting the ticket?

By providence, I believe that every citizen of a state is qualified to become the governor of a state if they are above the minimum age and of course, if they have passed their school certificates. Now, the task of choosing a leader is not that of the leader himself; the people determine who their leader is and they will choose the leader that can represent them.

My advice is that I have not seen myself as a special breed, I consider myself a brother to all the aspiring candidates. But what I think is paramount is that it behoves the party to come out with the best among the best because, at this juncture, Ondo State deserves the best to rule them, harness its resources, and take it to the next level. Ondo State deserves the best to be among its peers – peers in terms of states that have the statute of mineral producing, that are oil producing like Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Abia.

Ondo must think right now to ensure that among all the qualified candidates that are competing, they get the best – in terms of being able to turn things around, changing the paradigm, taking power from a few and delivering it to the poor. Power must be given back to the people in Ondo State. The state must develop, the state must compete, the state must become vibrant, and the state must bear the name it is known for: Being the best in academics, in education. Regrettably, all these are lost glories and we just have to get them back. And it is not a tea or butter business, it is a critical thinking business. People must be ready to think to be able to do all these, to be able to reposition and rebirth Ondo State and I think that is what I stand for. It is left for the people to judge to determine the best, but I believe I present myself to them as the best to rule Ondo State.

The issue of security is very critical to the development of the state. You are a retired military general. How do you intend to revamp the security architecture of the state to safeguard the lives and property of the people?

I was thinking and ruminating over events in Ondo State in the last three to four years and, if I could recollect correctly, the major incidences of panic on insecurity that we had in the State had to do with one or two attacks in Owo, the church attack and some other incidences of abduction and kidnapping in some parts of the state.

I say this because, once again, I have to give credit to our late governor Arakunrin Akeredolu for being bold enough to introduce the security network, Amotekun. Amotekun has done a lot and that is why Ondo indigenes can sleep with their two eyes closed. However, as I said before, there is still a lot that would be done to improve the performance of Amotekun so that it can align with my AGE agenda.

What does the AGE Agenda stand for?

The AGE is an acronym with A standing for Absolute Security, G for Good Governance and E for Empowerment. To have absolute security, you are talking about the upper end of the elastic band, it could be very subjective, but so long as we don’t have incidences of kidnapping, attacks, or robbery manifest across states, we can safely and arguably conclude that we have absolute security in Ondo State.

To achieve this, my government is going to rejig Amotekun. There are so many things we can do about it. I want to see them (the operatives) move swiftly from point to point. When incidents are reported, I want to see a coverage of five to ten minutes. That means that positioning must be very critical; that means that their mobility must be very effective; that means that their communication must be very effective, and that means that intelligence, especially human intelligence, must be perfect. And of course, if Amotekun is failing or if they have an incident that is beyond their capacity, the procedure for calling for support through the Nigerian Police Force or even the Nigeria Armed Forces or the Directorate of the State Security Services must be seamless in such a way that within a short period, the response time must be very negligible.

It is a daunting task, it is not as simple as what we are discussing but of course, it has to do with the blueprint. We are going to take a complete look at the blueprint of Amotekun and ensure that a retool, refashion or remodel towards optimal operational performance. With that, we can achieve a lot of results through collaboration with all the security agencies.

Assuming you don’t get the ticket of the APC, will you consider joining another platform to contest?

The APC is a fair party. There is fairness to its members while at the same time that fairness requires symbiotic loyalty from the members. I can tell you that I will remain a loyal member; I am going to respect the party structure and leadership. Luckily, we have a very sagacious leader in the person of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. He is a very magnanimous leader, he is a father, visionary, highly talented, very objective and listens to the people. I am sure he will support the people’s expectations when it comes to Ondo State.

Are you the anointed candidate of President Tinubu in the contest?

The President that I know does not have an anointed candidate and this has been alluded to by a recent pronouncement by the national publicity secretary of APC when they said that there is no anointed candidate for elections both in Ondo and Edo States. That is a very cardinal statement from the party hierarchy. There is no cause to doubt the integrity of the announcement that emanates from the party headquarters.

As a retired General-turned-politician, how are you finding the transition?

The world over, retired generals have taken the toga of the mantle of leadership politically after their military services. The reason for this is simple: whatever tool, strategy or formula you are using in politics, even in businesses, they are developed by military personnel. These strategies have multifarious uses. They could be deployed in multiple and complex solutions, including politics. In any case, what is warfighting? Warfighting is described as the combination of politics by other means. Even the warfighting we do is political because it means achieving a political edge.

So, the military man is actually very equipped because the government has spent a lot of money to train them and differentiate them from core politicians who probably will learn through trial and error. After all, they have not gone through any formal education in politics but they learn through hands-on experience. The military is trained, and is schooled in strategy; it is just to treat the solution, to treat the policies. It is not right to say that the military personnel do not understand politics because war fighting itself is politics.

How are you funding your campaign given that politics is capital-intensive?

When you want to become a governor of a state, it is a whole state affair. If I want to buy a car that I want to use, it is my personal affair, so I might have the option to go for a third-hand vehicle or buy a new one. Why you are aspiring to become the governor of a state is beyond an individual. So, I expect that before you want to come out irrespective of your capacity, you must be sure of your source of funding, you must be sure that you have backers who believe in your vision because if they don’t align themselves with your vision and you take money from criminals, you will end up being a woeful leader because they will make demands from you that you can never refuse.

Nevertheless, we have held trust for over 35 years. We have a series of stakeholder engagements and I believe that my people believe in me. When I left the service, my hometown, Ilutitun, gave me a massive welcome back because even while outside the military for this number of years, we have always reverted, we have a recourse to relate with the society as allowed by the military. So, it was easy for me to integrate myself into society because I have always been with them, I have always looked back at them as dictated by the military laws without compromising the focus of the military service.

My town, the whole town wants me, they believe in my leadership, they believe in my benevolence, they believe in my capacity. So, I am not just throwing myself around as a qualified candidate. I believe I am the candidate of Ilutitun, I am the candidate of the whole of Ikale and I believe I am going to get massive support in terms of voting, in terms of financial resources, in terms of intellectual resources, in terms of all manner of support that can be given and I believe we are going to win.

Do you have any other message to the people of the state?

What I want to say is that at a time in the life of a nation, a man or a woman, there is a need to sit back to think. When we were young, Ondo State used to pride itself as the best, at least if not in anything, in education. Years ago, we saw Ondo State being the home of industries in Nigeria and those were the days that we had Oluwa Glass, Ceramic, Cocoa. Those were the days when men were men and women were earned by men who deserved them. Those were the days when the bulk of the money they used to build Cocoa House in Ibadan was from Ondo State. Those were the days when Odua Investment took off with the bulk of resources in Ondo State. Those were the days when Ondo would always be first and second when it came to academic ratings among its peers in this country.
Where are we today? Are those days gone? If they are gone, what do we need to do to bring them back? That question can be resolved by having a potent, vibrant, competent visionary leader like myself come to the saddle, a leader that can stand his own, a leader that can return power to the people and I believe the judge is the people.

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