The JKF Interview…My Takeaways, By Olawale Olaleye

So, I have learnt some lessons from that. But I also honestly believe that it was a case of manufacturing populist consent in order to exploit the gullibility of the electorate. It was more to do with brigandage and electoral heist but populism was used as an explanation for the brigandage.
*But I was not a toddler when Chief Obafemi Awolowo was still active in politics. I never for the life of me saw either a script or anything written about him when he was premier or leader of the Unity Party of Nigeria, going by the roadside eating boli or corn in order to prove how popular he was to people. His popularity stemmed from what he did for the citizens: how he took them out of squalor, illiteracy and provided opportunities. He never pandered to populist demagoguery.
*To really worsen the situation, and this is not a denigration of my predecessor in office, for a lot of Ekiti elite, we were absolutely shocked that Ayo Fayose could become a governor, especially, after an urbane ‘Niyi Adebayo. The contrast was just too much for Ekiti people, and the Ekiti elite just could not wrap their heads around that, and many became completely detached from politics.
*People don’t easily notice the intangible. People are more concerned about bricks and mortar: ‘How many kilometres of road has he constructed? How many schools has he built? Hospitals? Gigantic buildings?’ That’s what sells, and I hope we’ll get to a point, where people will begin to examine government from the perspective of the intangibles as well:
*The reason we’re in this situation is not for the lack of efforts on the part of the government; it’s simply because tokenism cannot bring an economy back to its full steam. This is an economy that’s in need, in my view, of a $50 billion, $100-billion injection. It’s not an economy that can rely on $2 billion from China Exim Banl to fix rail and get $1 billion from the World Bank to do social investment. No.
*So, it’s no use just saying, ‘it’s these people, who are doing this’. Let’s treat criminals as criminals irrespective of where they hail from and ensure that there’s access to justice in a very swift manner, because that’s part of the problem. People commit crimes; they get away with it, because our criminal justice system is defective, right from the investigation level at the police station to the judicial bench.
*Many of these projects would end up not being completed. I pity Minister Fashola every time I see what’s going on in his ministry. He’s doing a huge amount of work, awarded all these roads all over the place, but no money to pay for them.
*Unfortunately, we have a greater challenge that requires concerted efforts on the part of every serious-minded player. How do we stem the tide of insecurity? This is what is on the lips of everybody – every Nigerian that I know. Before we even get to that take-off point for politicking in 2023, I believe we have a lot of work to do to return Nigeria to a place of sanity and a place of stability.
* What I recall Chief Afe Babalola saying, is something about Ekiti being landlocked, being airport-locked, being this, being that. But he forgot to add that he was able to put a university in Ekiti that is thriving – one of the most successful universities in Nigeria today, and if the climate had been as negative as he claimed, he wouldn’t have been able to do that.
*I have always been extremely generous in my remarks about Asiwaju as a mentor, as a leader and as a father figure in my own political journey. I’ve never hesitated in acknowledging that. But I’m also known not to be an obsequious person. I have a mind of my own. I defer to elders: I’m a Yoruba boy. Let’s face it. But, I have an opinion on things. But those opinions, even if I disagree on any issue, I share directly with Asiwaju. There’s no third party who will say he was there. So, on what basis would you form a position that I have a problem with Asiwaju?
*So, for me, what is important is that the All Progressives Congress retains the Ekiti gubernatorial seat so that we can also begin to enjoy the benefit of continuity, which is something we’ve seen in a state like Lagos. The fact that APC (in various previous manifestations as a political party) has been in office since 1999 has had a cumulative progressive impact on governance in Lagos. There are still gaps. There will always be gaps. But you’re building on; you’re not removing from.
*Leadership is not a title, and leadership is not an office. Leadership, for me, is influence, and if you’ve occupied certain positions of authority, it will give you insight into the complexities and challenges of a country. So, without a doubt, I will like to think I have the requisite qualification to be the president of Nigeria. However, having qualification is different from running for office. So many people are qualified to be President.


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