Olukayode Oduoye was born in the 1970s to the family of Late Senator & Chief (Mrs.) Simeon Olasunkanmi Oduoye (AIG Rtd). He hails from Ikirun in Ifelodun Local Government, Osun State. The vibrant politician and businessman attended Government College Ibadan before proceeding to Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, from which he earned an LL.B (Hons). After his National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) programme he embarked on further academic pursuit in the United Kingdom, bagging a master’s degree in International Trade and Commercial Law (LL.M) in 1998 at the prestigious University of Buckingham, England, where he was the best graduating foreign student in his class. He was also awarded a doctorate degree, by Bradley University, in 2015.
In this interview, the cerebral Osun State PDP gubernatorial aspirant speaks to the media eloquently on a wide range of issues bordering the state. Enjoy it!
How would you rate theperformance of the current APC-led Osun State government compared to your party’s (PDP’s) eight-year rule in the state?
I’m going to take it from where Osun was before APC formed the present administration in November, 2010. Osun State then was enjoying peace conducive to realization of the people’s commercial aspirations. Interactions were cordial among the politicians and the parties. Irrespective of the multiplicity of political leanings, there was joy and harmony. But since this administration came onboard, things have been on a downward slide. And it is in all the sectors: education, commerce, agriculture, health sports. In fact, there is no sector in which this administration can actually be ratedto have done well.
Looking at the heavy load of debt and the opportunity of capital that came into this state, Osun State shouldn’t be like this. In a nutshell, I will rate this present administration as an abysmal failure. I could vividly recollect when this state was formed, I was still an undergraduate in Obafemi Awolowo University. As indigenes of Osun we had aspiration, inspiration, plans of what Osun State will become in 15 to 20 years. But with this present administration, we are now saddled with a case of wrong leadership or leadershipthat does not understand their priorities or does not have foresight.But I am sure there is still a way out.
With the 2018 Governorship just around the corner, what do you feel can be done to lift the state from what you described as abysmal failure?
If we cannot put ourselves together before the 2018 governorship election you will see it as share waste effort from the past years in Osun State if PDP were having problem in their party does not mean we cannot rescue the State from the opposition party, because it been obvious that they are there and been controlled by a visionless and senseless from the leadership for the mean fact that Governorship Election is coming up 2018 in Osun does not mean that we can’t restructure before that time, what we are trying to do as a party that will get right is to harmonize call the other group that you don’t have the law to legitimacy because we all belong to the same party in as much as you have not left PDP we need to come together, and again the public are waiting for us to get it right where this administration has got it wrong we also need to demonstrate clearly to them that we knew what we are doing by chase this maladministration out of Osun State.
Is there any end in sight to the leadership tussle in the PDP between Ali Modu Sheriff and Ahmed Makarfi?
(Laughing) Yes, there is going to be an end very soon. Neither Ali Modu nor Markafi is bigger than the party. Besides, Nigerians are looking forward to PDP coming together in order to chase away this propaganda government away at both national and state levels. I can assure Nigerians that, within a couple of weeks PDP will put their house together.
Can you tell us of steps being taken to resolve the tussle?
There is the legal solution on ground being pursued. But I think the matter needs a more practical approach: a political solution; it is just going to be give and take. As I have said earlier, everybody has to make sacrifice, because the party is bigger than any individual, irrespective of whom you are. We need to sit down and devise how to get back all our lost glory. In the mist of these crises we lost Edo and Ondo states. And to some of us, that has been the major concern. The party has to be rebranded, focused and determined because it is more of political solution and anybody clamoring for judicial or legal solution will not help the matter in any way. I think the best thing for us is to reach a compromise.
As the youngest among the governorship aspirants, how far do you think you can go?
Well, I see my inspiration in the people and working for the people. I didn’t just wake up from my bed and say I want to run for the governorship election. Let me quickly tell you, the hope for our generation is not in the hands of our elders, older ones; neither is it in the hands of the coming generations. And if you look at what we have now, if care is not taken we will end up not achieving anything because we have been serving, to the extent we served our forefathers, likewise our fathers. This is our own time which we must go beyond that. And if we should critically look at what ages these people had started ruling us, Azikiwe, Awolowo, likewise Akintola, they were all in their 30s and 40s when they all got that political status we are all talking about.
I stand as a symbol of our generation and the hope for tomorrow. And to represent the youth where I belong. It is right time we use our strength, our resources, our effort and we channel it to giving ourselves a better tomorrow. Besides, aspiration is open to all. So I am not looking at those people who are older than I am. It is open. But the electorate that will decide, they know that we need new orientation, new faces, and new ideas. With this, can we change drivers to see if the vehicle will take us to the right destination.
What are your political antecedents and what plans do you have for Osun State?
Well, as an indigene of Osun State, precisely from Ikirun, I am not a stranger to people of Osun. My late father, Oduoye, had already set up the standard which I am building upon. Because when my father was alive he served and he served well. If I am given the opportunity to become the Governor of Osun State come 2018, I believe Osun will experience a beautiful harmony. There shall be no division. I’m more interested in peace – that will be one of my major priorities because once we have peace then we can set up a place of booming commerce, which I believe Osun will become. We will ensure we bring many investors, because Osun has the capacity to become the biggest landmark of commerce In Nigeria. Coupled with my international networking, yes, we can do it perfectly. I will also make sure the pretty debt we have in Osun does not affect the growth of the state. I will make sure that there won’t be unpaid salaries in the state any longer. I cannot begin to expose that now but Osun people should expect from me as a young aspirant not just a new dawn but a new, innovative and inspirational new beginning – where the glory of the land must be reclaimed.
As a successful legal practitioner and astute businessman, how would you combine this governance without one affecting the other?
No, governance can never in any way affect my business. You need to understand the level of technology, knowledge, coupled with administrative skills available.You can run your business whether being there or not; it only requires supervision.Business must run by itself and for itself. It has not affected my business that, at least for the past 2 years now I spend 70% of my time here in Osun than in Lagos, Abuja or any other part of the country.for instant we have about six program and I must to that, as a Governor you must always be on your toes and strong ability and mentally capable at least to run the affairs of this state.
From your point of view, how would you describe APC’s claim that they stand the best chances of winning the election in 2008?
Capital lies. If anybody tells you that Osun citizens still like Ogbeni Aregbesola, I can authoritatively tell you that it is all propaganda. It is just that people have different impressions about what Osun has achieved in Lagos than Osun. These people are looters and fraudsters; look at the fake bridge and road construction over six years, especially from Gbongan to Osogbo. Tell me, which of these infrastructures has been fully constructed or repaired despite the billions of naira spent. Several billions have been siphoned.
Ogbeni has turned APC stalwarts into fools because he misled them into campaigning, where they made all sort of promises but he, Ogbeni, has made their campaign promises empty. And this has made some of APC members in Osun State to back out from this Ogbeni of Maladministration. I therefore challenge anybody thinking Ogbeni Aregbe or Osun State is moving forward; let them come to Osun to see things for themselves.
Quickly take a look at government in Lagos. You can see that Ambode has improved on what Fashola had done before. At the end of the day, it will not be difficult for Lagosians to determine whether they will vote for Ambode himself for the job well done. But the situation is the reverse here in Osun, and Aregbe is a symbol of APC. That is why I described him as a total, abysmal failure in Osun. Look at how our education has been destroyed. Before he came, in education we used to be ranked between 7th and 9th. Recently results were released and to the greatest surprise, Osun education was ranked at the bottom, at no 32. Tell me, how a Governor with foresight would say he is building a school which I will call mere building of wall structures, wasting huge amounts running into billions of naira. Now tell me, when all these teachers went out for training: no restructuring, no reform, still working on 1999 syllabus. Those teachers were not trained, not to talk of being exposed. And those students they said they were teaching were being given Opon Imo, known as tablet, when universities were not even using the same. Secondary students don’t even understand their manual syllabus, not to talk of start using palm top; they cannot even navigate themselves around the Internet. Is it not crazy? Real wrong decision,all because you want to award contracts worth billions of naira to your associate or your son Karbiru. How can you justify all these? How can you tell me that you built just a secondary school with more than a billion naira? To me, all these are not justifiable. Besides, the people you say you are building it for, they were languishing in abject poverty.
With the massive amount of money received as Governor of Osun State and the people you said you are governing were all living not different from people who live in Arab desert –people hardly eat three square meals. It is only this administration that changes platform and template which has been built many years on a sudden note. Sincerely, it is not done anywhere in the world. That is why Osun people were clamoring, calling on PDP to get their act together, especially in Osun, so to vote this administration out of Osun. We will not allow manipulation around the result. Anyway, I don’t need to start telling you the strategies to be used. But I can authoritatively tell you that Osun people are not happy with the present administration. That is why they want to vote them out of Osun come 2018.
Where do you see Nigeria in 2019 under this administration?
My brother, let me tell you categorically, the choice to continue with APC at the helm is not there. Except if you are telling me that Nigerians are happy and comfortable with the current situation we are. Just take a critical look at 8 years back to compare to where we are. I’m sure in your wildest dream you’d never imagine that a bag of rice could ever become N9,000. And most of us who do business across the country, most of our business are foreign currencies-dominated. Sincerely, I never dreamt dollar could be 500 naira. People are dying in hunger. See the level of prostitution in the country. Even students we looked up to and expected would go to school and become graduates that will bring out the glory of this country are desolate. In Nigeria we don’t value civil servants; those who survive are those who steal, and not everybody has the opportunity to steal. No civil servant’s take-home can survive him. Now tell me, is it a crime for an average Nigerian, even a gate man, to have a house over his or her head? To send children to school is tedious. They said minimum wage is 18,000; tell me, what can that do with this present situation we are?
I don’t have any staff working under me colleting minimum wage, even my domestic staff because I live in the reality of both sides. I think we need younger and able people to take the mantle because all these old men have done their best; they have served but it has not helped us till now. Anyway, the fact still remains that it is no longer analogue age – we belong to the generation of digitalization. They should give us the opportunity to run the affairs of the presidency. That is what Nigerians are clamoring for, which will make them to be voted out. Talking about this anti-corruption, left to me, I belong to the school of thought that believes it is still not being fought the way it should be fought.
Sir, if before the 2018 governorship election another party – apart from APC and PDP comes up – will you decamp?
Ever since I joined politics in 2001, when my late father was still serving and as a result of my love and passion I joined and I supported the party, I was part of those who supported Oyinlola to become governor in 2003. For me it was a call: God nominated me to come and serve these people. Even right in Lagos so many communities have been giving transformers, water, constructed roads, giving back to the people that I believe need my help. So in view of this, I believe God gave me a clear instruction to come and serve these people, otherwise I would not have been this politically active. I would have been very comfortable in my lifestyle, tending to all my businesses across the continent. Of course, I would not be stupid if such offer comes without first consulting God for His direction. Since my involvement in politics in 2001 as a member of PDP I had never thought of associating with another party by dumping PDP. But if God clears it tomorrow and gives His direction by saying I have done more than enough in PDP, without second thought I will move on. Because God is the ALPHA and OMEGA, if I hear clearly direction from him to move on, sure I will definitely move. I believe in the ideology that PDP shares. But if another party comes tomorrow and says, ‘Please come’, like I told you earlier on, there must be a clear direction from God
With heavy schedules, combining business and politics, how do you relax?
I am called a family person and I enjoy the company of my wife so much. She is my best friend, who understands when I’m busy. We also watch movies together, play around. In fact, I am with my family a lot. I take them out to watch movies together. And to some of my friends, we do socialite together
Tell us about your wife?
I am married to Mrs. Mosun Filani-Oduoye and we are blessed with children
What does money mean to you?
I see money as a vehicle for accomplishment because I knew without money you won’t be here practically nothing you can do without money whatever you want to do sincerely I see money as a vehicle for accomplishment
There was this talk of Mosun Filani being married as a second wife. How true?
When I met Mosun I was already divorced from my first wife for about 2 years. Even before I met Mosun as a single person, she had never been a second wife to anybody. I was already divorced, like I told you earlier, and we even dated for a year before we did the marriage proper.