With the number of vocal and visible governorship aspirants in Oyo state, it seems the year 2019 will first arrive in the state before it gets to other states. Considering underdogs and contenders, there are well over 35 aspirants, across the political parties.
One man who many believe will greatly influence who occupies the governorship seat come 2019, is the man sitting there now – Governor Abiola Ajimobi.
Another man, among the aspirants, who believes that he will clinch the seat, despite his frosty relationship with the sitting governor, is the man who has criticised the governor the most – Barr. Adebayo Shittu.
In a media chat with members of the South West Group of Online Publishers (SWEGOP) in Ibadan, on Saturday, Shittu, who is currently Minister of Communications, pointed out that unlike other aspirants who are relying on Ajimobi’s backing, he is relying on the outcome of a free and fair primary election in the All Progressives Congress (APC).
His words: “I am sure that by God’s grace, Governor Ajimobi, will support me. He will end up lifting my hand as the next governor because a democratically conducted primaries will decide, and because my qualification for the job speaks for itself. Other aspirants will end up supporting me too because it is in the interest of all of us that I become governor”.
During the chat, Shittu entertained questions surrounding his work as Communications Minister as well as his governorship ambition.
Below are five takeaways from his responses, that convey his conviction that voters in the state will choose him in 2019:
The only one among the aspirants who got first hand tutelage from late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo
Shittu reminded journalists that he is the only politician still living in the state, who got direct and first hand political and governance training from the revered Yoruba leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
He described Awolowo as the greatest politician Nigeria ever had and stressed that he if he became governor, he would govern with the Awolowo ideals.
“If I become governor, I’ll do everything in tandem with what Awolowo did and represented. I am the only politician in Oyo, still living, that has had direct training and working relationship with him” he said.
The only aspirant that has transversed the three arms of government – Executive, Judiciary and Legislature
Shittu became a member of the old Oyo State House of Assembly at the age of 26, just a year after obtaining his first degree in Law from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University). While later practising as a lawyer, he was appointed as the Commissioner for Justice under the Senator Rashidi Ladoja administration. Today, he is the Minister of Communications.
“The experiences I’ve had, getting tuteluge from the late sage, Awolowo, and transversing the three arms of government in this country, will have a lot of value in developing Oyo State”, he said.
Formula to eliminate youth unemployment in the state in two years
“I have the formula to eliminate youth unemployment in Oyo State in two years, if I become governor”, Shittu said.
Boasting further that he had the best and perfect manifesto for the state, he added that he would bring back the local governments “because what we have now are not local governments. They are not local because they are not elected by the local people. They are not governments because they are appointed and simply appendages of the state government.
“I’ll organise local government elections within the first 100 days of assuming office”
Pressed to give more details about his programmes for the state, he said: “I’m waiting for the appropriate time to formerly declare my intentions and unveil my manifesto. Then you will know that I’m not playing. Then you will know that the saying is no longer ‘the Bayo you can trust’. It is now ‘the Bayo we trust'”.
Spend money the right way, on the right things
Shittu said that one of his core principles which many have interpreted to mean being stingy, is to spend money the right way and on the right things.
“When I come into office, I’ll remove government spendings that are irrelevant and ensure that money goes into things that will impact the people directly and positively.
At a function recently, the Aseyin of Iseyin, was quoted as saying that Shittu was a stingy politician. But responding, Shittu said that “even though the Aseyin’s outburst is a minority outburst because the people love me, I would like to put the records straight”.
He continued: “You can’t say I am stingy because I’ve chosen not to give you money but to use it for projects that will benefit the generality of the people. Despite not being elected, I have contributed more than those who are elected”.
The lawyer said that since he became minister, he has introduced projects worth up to N350million to the state. “Is it the N250million ICT centre in Oke Ogun Polytechnic or the N80million one for Saki Parapo or the seven knowledge centres? The kind of project in Oke Ogun is also coming to Ibadan. I have done 12 boreholes across the state with six due to be commissioned in Ibadan.
“That is how I choose to spend money. I am not a PDP politician who has all the money to throw about. I am a minister under President Buhari who is known for his integrity and uprightness. The poor people in Oyo state know that I am not stingy. The truth is that when 100 people beg you for money and you are able to satisfy 95, the remaining five will go to town shouting that you are stingy”
Try a God-fearing man for a change!
Shittu’s critics have accused him of quite a number of deeds and misdeeds. And he says he is always ready to respond to those negative things being said about him because silence may mean consent.
He has been accused of being a religious fanatic. And also of abandoning his duty as minister and pursuing a governorship ambition.
But he responds: “I am not a lawless person. There is nothing unconstitutional or unlawful in having an ambition, So, if you have anyone complaining about my ambition, ask that person what his problem is.
“Look, I don’t start fights, but I don’t run away from fights. That is why I am ready to respond to these negative things being said about me. Like I said before, I don’t have any problem with anybody, unless they have a problem with me and my principles.
“Take a good look at my ministry and see whether work has been abandoned. We’ve seen reforms in the NCC, we’ve seen in the telecoms sector, in NITDA and the huge ICT solutions and reforms we are bringing through the ICT University I explained earlier. In the coming weeks, we’ll unveil the reforms in NIPOST.
“They accuse me of being a fanatic. Ask my accusers to mention one act of fanatism that’s been traced to me. They call me fanatic because I would not drink, I would not womanise and I would not steal the people’s money. You see, when you don’t indulge in those social vices that some people want you to, they turn around and give you a bad name in order to hang you.
“Another problem is that we have been so used to electing all manner of terrible leaders. We don’t seem to appreciate values and potential benefits of religiousity. We need true, godly leaders. Let’s try a God-fearing man for a change. We need to bring up God-fearing leaders who won’t participate in corruption”