*We need to wrestle power from Fayose, PDP
“When my first tenure was terminated, I, Olusegun Oni, left without any hard feelings. Even though I was not expecting it, I went straight to the chapel to thank God. Later at Ifaki, I went to church for another thanksgiving. I did this because I was and am still very grateful to God for the rare opportunity He gave me to serve. So, as you can see, I don’t have any inordinate hunger for power. Today, the people are talking about me on their own. Again, I’m really, really grateful to God and to the people for this. If I don’t answer this call, it could be interpreted as arrogance. So my first feeling is that of gratitude to God and the people ”
“The call on me to contest is one I have to answer, for the good of Ekiti and that of our party. This is a response to what the people have initiated themselves. It is a burden I have to carry. I consider the fact that things have so much changed that it may be a herculean task to sustain my good reputation earned from my first tenure but I’m not afraid of challenges. Thank God that I have the advantage of experience and I can build on the trust that the people have in me to serve them very well again. And I intend to do just that and even surpass the expectations of the people.”
“In my first tenure, I inherited huge arrears of salaries and pensions. The pension arrears dated to the old Ondo State before Ekiti State was created. And we cleared them all. Ask the civil servants, local government workers, teachers and pensioners, they will confirm this. We did an analysis on what usually caused post-retirement poverty and we set out to banish this from the lives of our people. We determined that we would not owe anyone either gratuities or pensions by 31st of December, 2007 and we achieved it.
We anticipated that the system could frustrate this noble objective and we read the riot act to the officers of the department in charge, that if anyone complained of not being paid by that date, heads would roll. We did it because we made it our priority. We also paid gratuity within 60 days of an officer retiring. We also introduced loans for people to build houses while they were still in active service so that they would already have roofs over their heads before retiring and could then use their gratuity to set themselves up after retirement.
So payment of salaries, gratuities and pensions or the accumulation of arrears depends on what each government considers as priority. Those who are owing salary arrears and pensions have focused their priorities elsewhere. Our priority is not in doubt. The people know us and trust us.”
“It is not true that I have super glue hands when it comes to spending money. If it is my money, I can spend it the way I want. Many people would testify to that. I use my money to add value to people’s lives. Remember our JAMB coaching programme which I personally bankrolled, the JAMB forms we bought for so many indigent students some of who have become successful people today. I don’t like blowing my own trumpet.
It is God that gives and one is just a caretaker of such gifts. But if it is government money, I cannot spend it the way I like. Maybe that is what some people call araldite. I was able to achieve much as Governor because we cut out wastes. Ekiti has a very small allocation. Government in a state like Ekiti does not and should not have the latitude to spend money recklessly. We believe that whatever we spend must add value to all the people. I believe it is better that way, that the little we have is deployed to making lives better for all our people.”
“Nobody can claim to have done more for Ekiti South than me. I gave the three most important positions to the South when I was in office. It never happened before and it has not happened since. Around 2014, PDP approached me to contest. I humbly declined and I gave them the names of Adeyeye, Bejide, Aluko I and Aluko II. I gave them my word that I would support whoever was picked. I did that voluntarily. I’m not saying that South is not entitled but it will not happen by allocation.
They are very much entitled but power is not in our hands now and the whole party and the people are suffering this. We need to wrestle power from this government. I believe that this call for me to re-contest is popular and pan-Ekiti and all-inclusive. With me, my people in Ekiti South know that their agitation is safe and realisable.”
“What would I say is wrong with governance in Ekiti? I would say everything. We have shown clearly that we can do roads faster and better than anyone. We have demonstrated clearly that we can provide water and other infrastructure faster and better than anyone. What we are coming to do is to enthrone a new social and economic order. You cannot be talking of building a flyover and using it to pack our money away.
No one should be doing Alan Parker to hoodwink the people. The new social and economic order will stress fairness. For example, contracts will be awarded to people who live in that locality to ensure transparency, quality job and constant monitoring as well as to boost the local economy. Imagine what a few millions can do to the local commerce of a community if everything is done by the folks themselves.”
“Dr. Kayode Fayemi is my brother. He has not indicated his interest to contest again. If he does, it is his right. When we get to that bridge, we will cross it. We will talk to ourselves to see if we can avoid contesting against each other. But he has the right, just like anyone, to contest.”
“Being Deputy National Chairman of the party is not a fait accompli that I have the ticket. We have a Constitution; we have due processes. In any case, I would have left that office before the primaries. There would be fairness.”
“Why would I want to leave a national post to be Governor? In the end, what is most important to me is what Ekiti is getting. If you are a showboy outside and your state is not okay, you have to think of home. What happens here is of more concern to me. We are doing this to add value. What am I doing outside if my home is not okay? I am not one of the people who prefer glamour to service. We intend to revive Ekiti and take it to a new and higher level.”
Being the excerpts of Chief Olusegun Oni’s chat with journalists at an interactive parley at his country home in Ifaki-Ekiti at the weekend.