Kayode Ojo, an engineer and technocrat, is currently campaigning to bear the flag of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State. In this interview, this Ikoro-Ekiti-born politician lays bare his plans for the transformation of the state.
What is your assessment of the performance of the present administration in Ekiti State?
It is sad that today, Nigerians are being fed with lies about what is happening in Ekiti. But the truth of the matter is that, in Ekiti today, people are hungrier than they were before the coming of this administration. It is the wailings and cries of suffering innocent people that is motivating me to come into this project.
Our people are suffering and it is written all over their faces. But with me as governor of Ekiti, things will be done differently. You can hardly see any federal presence in Ekiti today, because of the attitude of the leadership in the state.
The truth is that, we need to engage the Federal Government, the National Assembly and so on, more than we are doing now, to bring development into the state.
If you go to Ekiti today, you will pity the condition of our people with the way they are being treated by the government in power in the state.
These are the people that were being given chicken feed as ‘stomach infrastructure’ by the governor, and the people rush into it and keep waiting for it.
There are no programmes for people to latch onto. The opportunities are not just there. Right now as we speak, there is no single industry in Ekiti.
I am not sure even if there is any industry making ordinary toilet roll or tissue paper in Ekiti. Those are simple basic things but then, there is no opportunity for the people.
People are not empowered. There is hardly something anybody can do for a living. Those are the things we must change in Ekiti.
My own ambition is not about all those fancy pictures people will go and copy on the internet and paste. My own candidacy is not about frivolity. It is real.
I am an engineer and I have been in my profession for over 20 years. I was in the university and before my 21st birthday, I was already a graduate.
I’ve worked in almost all parts of this country, so I understand what it takes to works. What my Daddy taught us till he passed way was how to work, and that is what we need in Ekiti, to work, and not just work, we need to be creative as well.
As we all know, when President Muhammadu Buhari came to power, the oil price fell from $140 to $28; that was why most of the states could not meet up with their payroll, since the oil revenue had dropped.
And by year 2020 or 2030, most European countries are going to abandon cars that have exhaustive smoke. You know what that means? Our oil is going to become less important and demand for it will go down. We need to start planning, we need to be creative.
So how do you intend to achieve all these noble thoughts considering the fact that the allure of power often make many leaders abandon their goals?
If you have a creative leader, he should have his special approach to things. For instance, since we have rocks in Ekiti, we can start operating a quarry. This would not only create work employment but would also generate revenue for the state.
Those are the kinds of thought that I have lined up, that we can use to change the economic system in Ekiti State, without necessarily waiting for what is coming from Abuja.
I don’t see how what is coming from Abuja is going to increase. I have looked at it critically. We need strategic thinking, we need new thinking and I know how to create wealth and revenue for the state.
That is how people will be prosperous. Ekiti people do not need another governor who will sit down and wait for Paris club’s bailout fund and issue it out anyhow and then wait for another revenue that comes into the state.
For example, last year, our governor presented N94bn budget to the Ekiti State House of Assembly; and if you divide that into three or five places in the face of the exchange rate for the CBN, that is about $300m. How many projects can that fund?
We can’t continue like that and therefore, we have to change direction and use our God-given ability to look inwards and generate more revenue through the commercialisation of a lot of things and make Ekiti State economically viable.
We need to make Ekiti State a place for business transactions; not just a place to be only when we have funerals, birthdays and weddings. So, our focus is going to be on how to make Ekiti State an industrial state.
What do you think stand you out from among the pack of several contenders who have announced their intention to contest the governorship?
The good people of Ekiti State are yearning for something fresh, someone without political baggage, somebody who comes in from the private sector with experience in developing people and an entrepreneur that knows how to turn one Naira to two Naira.
The fact is that they want someone who has an antecedent in controlling several people to achieve a set goal, especially in the engineering sector where projects’ process takes long and you must deliver the project successfully.
They want a person that has signed out cheques worth several millions. These are signs that such a person will not be moved by the money in government coffers and can control external influences.
So, Ekiti State too has what it takes to stand tall among other states in Nigeria. But we need commitment, buckled with experience. And what do I mean by experience? I mean we need somebody who has been able to turn N1 to N2.
That’s the kind of leadership we need in Ekiti State, so that we can tap into what we have and use them to generate more revenue to develop the state.
Really, what is your track record like?
I have the track record; I have succeeded in the private sector, so working for the people won’t be an issue. I have a successful engineering outfit that deals in all the equipment required for road construction, and another one abroad that produces oil and gas specialised products.
So, when I said Ekiti has the potentials to do far better than it is doing right now, you would understand that I have what it takes to fulfill these promises to the Ekiti people.
There have been so many governors with solid managerial experiences, but they did not avail much in term of performance in governance, what then do you think is the missing link?
Well, we’ve seen people come in from the private sector and disappoint in government, but what is missing in them is compassion.
I have always said that if we do not have someone with compassion, who is his brother’s keeper, we won’t get governance right.
My life is not about me. It’s about others. That’s how it has always been and that’s why I’m in this race. I’ve looked in the eyes of ordinary people on the streets of Ekiti, and I feel for them; I know that their lives can be better.
All we need is a person that knows how to utilise resources, how to make sure that the funds that come in are not just consumed. We can’t continue to consume and consume; we must produce our way out of poverty.
What I am saying is that the people of Ekiti can entrust their future and that of their children to me for the next four years.
The state needs someone with compassion; and across the state, the people of Ekiti can testify that I have always shown compassion.
Ekiti State needs someone who can provide leadership that would create wealth opportunities and welfare.
Presently, there is no wealth being created. Whatever that is going on, there is capital flight out of the state and the little that is there, the governor goes about sharing it to the people on the streets, N200 and bread (stomach infrastructure), which cannot work in an egalitarian society, which we are looking forward to.
So who is your godfather?
Ha, ha! (Laughs). The Almighty God is my godfather. He is what I have at my back; there is no human godfather really. But I have good leaders and I have good relationship with them all. It’s like the relationship of a father and a son.
Ekiti State too has what it takes to stand tall among other states in Nigeria. But we need commitment, buckled with experience. And what do I mean by experience? I mean we need somebody who has been able to turn N1 to N2. That’s the kind of leadership we need in Ekiti State, so that we can tap into what we have and use them to generate more revenue to develop the state.