Hon. Victor Adekanye Olabimtan is one of the governorship aspirants of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), in Ondo State. A politician and union leader, Olabimtan has held various political appointments both in the state and federal levels. He was a-one time Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Chairman of the State’s Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM) and in 2009, Commissioner representing Ondo, Edo and Ekiti states in the Federal Civil Service Commission. In this interview with LATEEF IBRAHIM, he gave reasons why he is aspiring to govern the Sunshine State. Excerpts:
Why did you leave your former political platform, PDP, for APC?
I believe in fairness, equity and justice. And also strongly in internal democracy; All these three were lost in the PDP. PDP started losing ground since 2007, when Obasanjo handed over power. It was a gradual process. People can say all manner of things about Obasanjo but when it comes to the issue of party supremacy and internal democracy, Obasanjo stands tall among all the PDP chieftains. If he sees that anyone is being oppressed he will stand by the person. Not supporting the person but making sure that the principles of Fairness, Justice and Equity is applied. The likes of Governor Akpabio, Fayose (in his first term) and many others are direct beneficiary of these principles from Obasanjo. These principles became lost in the party, and to make matters worse, the incumbent Governor of Ondo State came to the party and took over the party we used our sweat, money and time to build. The PDP became self-glorified and started worshiping people in power against the wish of the masses to the extent that some of us could no longer talk. So, when it was time to choose candidates for the party, those candidates were handpicked by one man. The era of one man politics had long gone centuries ago. So I couldn’t submit myself to a situation like that anymore.
What disappeared in the PDP then – Equity, Fairness and Justice was found in the APC. In the APC today, everybody can attest to the fact that internal democracy, rules of natural justice, and the rule of equity reign supreme. Those were the foundation upon which APC was formed. If you look at all the primaries conducted in APC so far, you will understand my point. And for as long as these principles are found in my party the APC, I remain.
Why are you running for governorship of Ondo State?
I am running for many reasons. I want to run a government that is classically transparent and good, a government where the principle of fairness, equity and justice will always apply. The leaders of tomorrow are the youths. At the end of every election, they are always neglected and/or given insignificant positions like Special Assistants or Personal Assistants. They should be Commissioners, Chairmen of Boards and Parastatals, they should be everything, even deputy governor. The same goes for women. That is why we have made it succinctly clear that our government is going to be 50-50. 50% for those who are 50 years and above and the other 50% for those who are 49 years and below. And in all position of our government, 40% shall go to our women.
I also want to prove to doubting Thomases that not all politicians are liars. That is one of the main reasons we (VOICE-Victor Olabimtan Initiative for Change Emancipation,) timely produced our manifesto, christened “My pact and contract with the good people of Ondo State.” So that people can see something to hold on to as a bond between us and them. This is a clear departure from the usual norm where politicians merely talk about their aspirations without telling the people what they can or hope to do in government. We have a blueprint on how to make the sun shine brightly again in Ondo State.
At this critical moment, Ondo state needs a bridge builder as a governor. Can this be found in Olabimtan?
A bridge builder is someone who can work his way across people, across diverse purposes and bring everybody together for the good of all. As far as this race is concerned, I am not being proud or immodest but I think if you are looking for a candidate that cuts across all bridges, that candidate is Olabimtan. The youths, women and elders love me. In my dealings with everybody during my journey so far, despite my imperfections, I have being fair to everybody and they know and love me.
Looking at Ondo State as a whole, I can say that I am a candidate (I won’t say I am the only one) that all the parties can trust. Be you APC, AP, PDP, SDP, LP……..anybody. The civil servants in Ondo State consider me as one of them and they relate with me as such. The youths understand what God has used me to do for some of them. The elders appreciate my humble contributions to the betterment of our society. All sectors of the society are accessible to me and I am equally accessible to all. We have a shoreline that has not been tapped in Ondo State. We cannot do it alone, we need Lagos, we need Ogun, and we need the Federal government. We need to liaise with Lagos State Chambers of Commerce and Industry if we must develop our seaport. That is the issue we have.
In a case where we have a governor who has an axe to grind with someone who can help him, such a governor will rather remain helpless than go to his “enemy” for help. I can connect Ondo State with the federal and any state government. I have worked with both Ondo State and the federal governments, and I know where we need solutions to our problems.
The race for the governorship of any state, no doubt, requires a lot of money and it is generally believed that you don’t have such financial muscle. How do you intend to handle this matter?
A: It is known worldwide that deprived people are the ones who think more, plan more and act development more. Take the nation of Israel for instance, they are on an Island. And this Island is a desert and yet, they export food to almost all the great nations of the world. Because you are deprived, it makes you to use your initiative to the maximum.
By the grace of God, we will sit down and consider ideas and we use our initiative. We sit down and plan on how to use the little we have to get better results like those people spending millions. That is why we are ahead of them. That is the secret and that is what governance is about. Managing and using scarce resources to its maximum potential for the good of all. Governance the world over is not about abundance, but about using the available resources for the good, betterment and satisfaction of all. And that is the advantage we are placing before the people of Ondo State. That, if given the mandate, we have what it takes to manage the affairs of Ondo State for the betterment of all, despite the present economic reality.
Our sponsors are the good people of Ondo State. Their goodwill is what is sponsoring and engendering us to make judicious use of the available resources. The people trust us, therefore our desire not to let them down is our driving force. They ask us daily to move on with their encouraging words, saying “don’t worry, the Lord is on the throne” and we are behind you. That is what keeps us going. Anyone who has the people, has everything. They support us with their money, prayers and above all they stand by us. If you have all the money and you don’t have the people, your money is useless. We have God and the people, and they are our sponsors.
Some people are of the opinion that you will favour PDP members above APC members if eventually you clinch the ticket and elected governor. What is your opinion about this?
When I joined the APC, I didn’t see anything called PDP anymore. All of us are APC members and since we are APC members, we will share whatever we have among the APC family.
Secondly, there is a party, the All Progressives Congress. That is the party on whose crest we are going to rise to power. I am an apostle of party unity and supremacy. As a party man I will submit myself to the party. Once that is done, their fears is already allayed. Therefore, the party (APC) will have a voice in our government. The voice will be very loud and clear, that appointments to be made will be made between the party and the governor. Those of us who came from the PDP to join the APC are not in the executive of the APC. And when it is time for appointments to be made, it is the APC executives that will choose who to be appointed. So I don’t see how PDP members will be favoured over APC.
My advice to all APC members, both new and old, is that all hands must be on deck to win the state for our party. Most of the appointments will be done by the party on merit based on individual’s contribution to the party’s success. All you have to do is to work hard enough and make yourself relevant for the success of the party. That’s the best way to allay the fears of those who are working for other aspirants too. Our members are supporting different aspirants now but after the primary we are expected to come up with a united front without discrimination. The same way we should see all APC members (old or new) as one united big family.
Can Olabimtan be trusted and relied upon?
I can be trusted and relied upon as somebody who loves his party and is passionate about his people; someone who believes strongly in party unity and supremacy; someone whom you can trust that his leadership or participation is going to ensure that the principle of equity, justice and fairness prevail at all times.
You have lived all your life with the people and easily accessible. What should the people expect from you if and when you become the governor of Ondo State?
I will still live the same kind of life. This is the life I have lived for almost 60 years. I will still be accessible, even more accessible than before because that is when people need me most. I am more comfortable in the midst of the people.
Periodically, I will be meeting with every stratum of my party people. For instance, all the women leaders from the 203 wards, 18 local government women leaders, the state women leader and her deputy; this all together is about 225 people in all. I should be able to have periodic meetings with them, once in a quarter. The same goes for local government chairmen and youth leaders. Apart from the state executives council that will enjoy unhindered access to the governor on daily basis. Periodic meeting with various communities, leaders and chiefs will also help me sustain my links and connection to the grassroots.
What is your message to the people of the state?
My simply message is this; let us love ourselves. I beg politicians to stop playing politics with bitterness. One person will occupy the seat. The person that has been anointed by God will occupy it. If anybody occupies any seat, it is because God wants him to be there. Let us extend love to one another and preach peace, where ever we go. If we love ourselves and translate this love to our neighbors and to Ondo State, the state will be better for all of us. United we stand, divided we fall. Let us jointly make the sun shine again.