.Defections will not stop APC Victory
Benedict Olugboyega Alabi is a financial expert and former banker. Alabi, who is a fellow and member of numerous professional bodies in the fields of finance, management, leadership and a host of others, was the first African to be awarded Sustainability Facility Professional (SFP) certification by International Facility Management Association (IFMA), Houston, in the United States of America.
In a chat with Rotimi Agboluaje on Ibadan, the running mate to governorship candidate of All Progressive Congress (APC) in the September the 22nd election in Osun State stressed that his experience and that of Alhaji Isiaka Oyetola in the corporate world will set Osun State on the trajectory of unprecedented economic development.
What stood you out to be nominated as the running mate to the APC gubernatorial standard-bearer?
I know in the party permutations for winning election, there is what we call zoning. Zoning in the sense that you need to spread key positions. Since the governorship candidate is from the central senatorial district and the incumbent governor is from the east senatorial district and it’s expected the deputy governorship candidate should come from the west senatorial district
and the other considering the vote of our people from Irewole local government area, the party hierarchy considered it is worthy that the position should be zoned to our federal constituency. Lastly, the party must have seen some qualities in me and believe that I’ll add value to the incoming government. That’s why I was chosen.
But you’re not the only aspirants in your federal constituency and Irewole local government area. Why were you the favoured aspirant?
The party must have seen some qualities in me. My age is a factor and being a Christian to complement the governorship candidate. Also, as a technocrat, the party hierarchy realized that I’ll add value to the incoming government and the state in terms of development and economic growth, judging by my pedigree as an economist and entrepreneur.
In your town, Ikire, there are some political heavyweights. Do you think you have an edge over them?
Who are the followers of these people you called heavyweights? What’s important in politics is your followers who are your strength. We need to evaluate our followers. Who are their followers? Lere Oyewunmi may have been in politics for many years, but when Aregbesola won first and second terms he was in the PDP (People’s Democratic Party). Where is heavyweight? Now, Peter Babalola has joined PDP. The first term of Aregbesola, he wasn’t with him, but Aregbesola still won. Now, the governor has shown what he can do and people are loving him the more.
Peter Babalola is someone I respect so much but he has left for the reasons best known to him. But his followers are still in APC and they’re progressives to the core. So, they are still with us. They didn’t leave with him. When you look at what happened during the flag -off of his rally as the governorship aspirant on the platform of APC , about 45 buses conveyed his supporters from this federal constituency to Oshogbo. The place was filled to the brim. But when he left the party, buses conveying his supporters are around five. What this tells us is that the party faithfuls were with him because he was in the APC. So, it’s the brand (APC) that was selling, not his person.
After the primary election that produced Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola as the APC candidate, some gladiators left the party. Is this development not posing a threat to the chance of your party in the coming election?
When an election is approaching you expect a lot of actions to happen, politicians moving from one party to another. Some people left us while some have joined us. At the rally just held in Ikire, a lot of people joined us. In Osogbo last month, it was the same story, members from Social Democratic Party (SDP) joined us. At the end of the day, if you look at the net figure, those joining us are more than those leaving the party. Importantly, those who are leaving are leaving with undecided voters. The voters are with us. More importantly, internal trading isn’t what gives a party victory; it is external canvassing.
Most importantly, as a result of what the government has done for the people of the state in terms of infrastructural development, economic growth, giving palliatives and succours to the people, they know that the government is working. Hence, they’re yearning for continuity in order to complete what the government has started and build on them.
Well, a lot of them are treacherous. We’d have liked to have them around but that’s politics.
There is this impression that you and the governorship candidate are Lagos politicians imposed by the National Leader of your party. How will you react to this?
It’s interesting when you hear such thing. I was born in this house you’re interviewing me. I had my primary school education and part of my secondary education here.
I came back for my A’level (examination). I attended The Polytechnic, Ibadan. I was the financial secretary of Federation of Oyo State Students’ Union when we were still under Oyo State before I went to the University of Lagos to study. When I started working in Lagos, every month I’d be in my town. I chaired group in the Church in Ikire for the past 15 years. I would be in the church on every first Sunday of the month to attend meetings and I had an aged mother that I would see. So, I never left my place. The only thing I can do in the state is either working for the government or being a farmer. I’m also a farmer in the state. So, I don’t know what you mean by Lagos-based politician.
My mother is a trader in this community before she died at the age of 90. This place where I’m sitting used to be our bakery but I converted it to office. Politicians critisize unnecessarily when they have decided on where they want to do.
Now, Alhaji Oyetola you’re talking about, I was surprised when I got to his house in Iragbiji, a guy from Iwo told him that he did the borehole of the house in 1992. He has been coming home since 1992. Let’s assume he is a Lagos ‘boy’ because he has worked in Lagos, but he’s now back home for the past eight years. I don’t know the meaning of Lagos ‘boy’, we’re all homeboys both in politics and public administration.
On the imposition by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, let me talk for myself. I contested for the governorship ticket. I wasn’t given and went back to my business. For the reasons I earlier told you, I was nominated as the running mate to the candidate for the state to grow. I don’t know anybody in the national leadership of the party. It’s the people’s insinuation. It’s a way of giving a dog a bad name.
How popular is your party in the west senatorial district?
The party is well entrenched in the district. The party leadership also knows our worth. That’s why it can’t do without us. Looking at the last election of the governorship election, the gap between my party and the party that came behind us is around 70 per cent to 30 per cent. The margin is just wide. So, such a district can’t be ignored.
You’re from the corporate world and the governorship candidate also from the business world. Two technocrats for that matter, how are you going to handle political machinery when two of you are not professional politicians?
When you talk about a career politician, Alhaji Isiaka Oyetola has been the Chief of Staff to the Governor for eight years. That means he learned the rope for these years and he’s not a dullard. Mind you, if you’re there for those years you’ve become a politician and mastered how the public sector works. I’ve also worked in the public sector department of a bank for years. I know the working of the public sector. What we’re talking here about is that we want to combine the public sector experience with our professional backgrounds which are very germane for the understanding of the principles of economic development and societal growth to take the State of Osun to the next level. It’s a win-win situation. We have a formidable team who will bring economic prosperity to the state.
What should the people be expecting from you?
Continuity: A continuation of growth in infrastructural development, welfare and security of our people.
Secondly, we will employ the youths who undergo vocational training. We’ll ensure that cottage industries are energized to add to the formidable workforce of the state.