INTERVIEW: Aregbesola Is Transforming Osun's Economy
Prince Dotun Babayemi is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Osun State. In this interview, he says, despite the challenges the state is facing, it is a model for future generation of good governance.
As a politician and entrepreneur, what are you doing to boost the economy of Osun State?
We have started the process and it is going to be a continuous exercise. What drew me to politics was the style of governance l saw in Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in the first two years that he became the governor of Osun State. He came as a crusader who has the knack to serve, the type that we witnessed in the early 60s. Not looking at the state as it is but as it can be in the future. When the late Obafemi Awolowo in the 60s introduced free education, a lot of critics thought the policy cannot work, but look at the benefits today and where it has put the former Western Region.
That was what attracted me home that something unique is happening here and wanted to be part of it. Apart from interfacing with organization within Nigeria, we are working with the government to see how we can bring investors to the state to open her economic potentials which are all over. One of the core policies of the state is to make it the food basket of the country. We have the green land and all what it takes to make this a reality.
Action has been taken to that effect about 80 per cent of the rural areas have been linked up with the state capital through road net work where food has been transported from Oshogbo to Lagos and other states. What we are seeing is the gradual civil servant economy to that of agro-based economy. Since the Federal Government has said that the country is now ready to exploit the country’s natural resources, Our state has a lot of gold that can be exploited. We are going to collaborate with the Federal government to aggressively pursue those natural resources. In terms of employment our outfit has engaged significantly the people of the state. We queued into the programme of the state by providing employment for the youths.
Are you comfortable with what is going on in the National Assembly? What is the way out?
No, The APC members in the House should look back and be conscious of where they are coming from. They did not get to the House in a vacuum; the constitution provided that you must run under a party therefore the supremacy of the party should be sacrosanct. Therefore since you are representing the party in the house you must follow the rules and guidelines of the party. The decision of the party is supreme and should be adherent to and should be respected. Our members should realize that service to humanity is one of the cardinal goals of APC; therefore they should be guided on this so that the nation can be moved forward.
What we have seen in the National Assembly in the recent time is that some members have allowed personal ambition to override the goals and objective of the party on whose back they all rode to the National Assembly. Though all that happened was still in the purview of the law, but morally it may not, as a representative of the people, they should lead by example. They should let the past belong to the past and sit down to put in place laws that will alleviate poverty in the country and let the people see in them that they are actual representative of the people.
It is also important that the party that gave the platform of their existence in the Assembly should be respected in the future, this is critical so that they will remain focus and promises they made to the people would be actualized. When member strained out of line, the consequences of such action if un attended to, can cause anarchy. It is better that member should not stray out of the rule of the agreed norms; otherwise it is the beginning of the end for such a union.
What do you think should be the priority of the APC members in the National Assembly?
The first step they should take is that they should retrace their step back to the party and conform to its wishes. When a child falls, he look at the front but when an elders falls, he looks back, the elders that looks back wanted to know what brought him down. They should do likewise. It is necessary that we should not forget where we are coming from. For 16 years that the PDP are in the saddle of power, the APC has been toiling all over to provide a credible alternative to the miss-governance of the past. That we have the alternative programme that can restore the lost hope of Nigerians and take care of their basic needs. That the university students would no longer stay at home unnecessarily due to lack of job to do after graduation. Now that we have the reality coming up, we should not buddle the opportunity. Some people toiled night and day to get us to where we are, therefore we should not derail from our known norms and value as a political party with progressive inclination.
Your critics said you are very slow in action which is not expected of a progressive, what is your take on this?
What we have seen in the last 16 years was a nick-jack reaction to situation, no strategy no cohesion and any form of articulation. Everything done was looked from their selfish and personal pocket interest therefore that was why a lot of rot was inherited by APC. A case in point is the recent happening when Ni.2 b was withdrawn from the nation’s purse with impunity. The government at the centre now is completely different from what it used to be, it is no longer business as usual.
Since our campaign days, we have put in place a strategic policy that will fall in place as we execute our programme. We are starting on security and corruption; we have to look at what is happening in the space of five weeks compared with what happened in the last five year. In case of corruption, you can see how EFCC has been active in the last few weeks, unlike in the past. As we speak three governors have been charged to court, we did not see any of this those years ago.
For many years there was different kind of impunity, but now there is a wakeup call that the music has changed, likewise the dancing step. Accountability is now the watch word, there is always a tomorrow unlike in the past. For the first time on the issue of security, there is a concerted effort with collaborations with other likes mind in the sub- Africa to curb the insurgence of Boko Haram. The money that suppose to go to the army as a driving forces in the past goes to private purse, but today things have changed. In terms of economy, we voted for a president that is focused, has integrity and know what to do.
The recent bail out to some states when they could not pay their workers salaries is a testimony that the president was not comfortable to see Nigerians workers in agony over accumulated un- paid salaries arrears. This has never happened in the last 16 years. Aside this we are now looking at viable economic impetus that can drive the industry. The President has announced that he is looking at textile, mining and steel industries to create employment opportunity. These industries are viable if you go back a bit into our history before the tenure of PDP. The best textile was made in Nigeria with good value chain that created a lot of opportunities. This government will take the country to this level once again.