Hon. Abdur-Rasak Ayobami Salensile, is a national ex–Officio member of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and former Chairman, state House of Assembly Committee on Health. In this interview, he spoke on why the people are so passionate about Aregbesola’s government and why they want continuity. Excerpts:
What are the key issues you believe will determine the winner in August 9 election?
First and foremost, the electorate will decide who they want. Secondly, many things will also go with the electorate, like performance of some contestants because not all of them have had the opportunity of serving in one government or the other. Whatever they contributed while they were in office will count and may be some other yardstick to be used in judging them.
For instance, the incumbent Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, there will be questions on his achievements in the last three and half years, people will look at that. Iyiola Omisore was two term Senator who represented Osun East Senatorial District and was also Deputy Governor during the Alliance for Democracy (AD) era, there will also be questions on his achievements and contributions to the government of Chief Bisi Akande, these are some of the issues that may informed the decision of the electorate and decide who among them deserved their votes.
So what do you think may give your party the edge ahead other political parties in the election?
Firstly, our party have a track record of performance from the time of Chief Bola Ige, although, that was old Oyo state, we are following in his foot steps up till today. He did wonderfully well when he was the governor of Old Oyo state. Now come to Chief Bisi Akande, his track records is there for anybody to see, he performed excellently. Yoruba will say a child will definitely take after his mother, now the incumbent governor has given us a different line of political development that is unsurpassed, not only in Osun state, but in Nigeria in general, his Six Integral Action Plan that was rolled out in 2006 has been implemented to the letter.
He has done wonderfully well: talk of education, infrastructure development, health, security, there is no sector that he has not done wonderfully well, and to cap it all, in education, the innovation of Opon Imo into the education system is the first of its kind in the whole world, I stand to be corrected. in fact the technology has been adopted by UNESCO and recommended it to other parts of the world.
In the history of the state, this is the first time students will be given uniforms and food free of charge, teachers are getting better treatment. It is during the time of Aregbesola that teachers were elevated to the status of Permanent Secretary, which is the first of its kind in the country with the creation of Senatorial Inspectorate Division, which will motivate them to offer their best. Aregbesola understand that education is the bedrock of developing a nation, give somebody education, you have given him the whole world.
Whosoever that is developing infrastructure without education has not done much but any one who develop education has done much. Also in the health sector, I was the House Committee Chairman on Health, I knew the condition of our hospitals before 2011 and now you can see the development, one is very close to me here, the state hospital, Iwo. Before, you can kill a bush rat there, apart from the beautification and renovation, there is noting they need that you can not find in the hospital, they supply adequate drugs and the personnel are adequately motivated, people now have confidence in the public health sector. Go and cross check the level of increment in their patronage, it is unprecedented.
Also on agriculture, the over 5,000 eggs that the pupils are consuming on weekly basis are provided within Osun here, the same thing fish, they are also producing it in this Osun, which means the economy is improving day by day. Before Aregbesola, Osun’s internally generated revenue (IGR) was just N300 million but by the special grace of God, Osun’s IGR has risen to N1.6 billion. These are some of the performances that will aid the victory of the governor. Take the statistics of the people drifting from rural to urban areas, it has drastically reduced against the former practice.
Many people in the past believe that if you don’t get to Lagos you can not be successful, people are now residing in Osun now, I am one of them. Formerly, I was based in Ibadan, since there are investment opportunities, we are all here, despite that Ibadan is very close but it is still a foreign land, Iwo is my home.
The drifting for greener pasture outside the state has reduced, people can get profitable job in the state now. When we are also talking about security, you can now sleep with your two eyes closed. In the past, burglars are every where, in Iwo here, hardly would you hear people shouting thief, you can travel round the state at any time without fear. Before Aregbesola, you can not move from Iwo to Osogbo by 6 pm, they were even robbing in the broad daylight, it was a deadly road but since Aregbesola came to power, this has stopped.
Just last week, Aregbesola donated 20 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) to the police and other security agencies. Even, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) attested to it that no state government has ever done that. These are evidences that Aregbesola is an all round person, if you put all of these together, I am sure by the special grace of God, Aregbesola will come back by August 9 as the governor of the state of Osun.
Despite the performance you rolled out, many also believe that Governor Kayode Fayemi also performed but he lost. Do you think that performance only could count for your candidate in wining the election?
Aregbesola style is different from Fayemi, you know they are different individuals, but it is also important to say that it was not PDP that defeated Fayemi in Ekiti State, they have been exposed, it was an high profile rigging, scientific rigging, first of its kind in this nation, in due course the details would be released.
It was the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in collusion with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that voted Fayemi out not the people of Ekiti state because Fayemi also wonderfully performed well.
Howver, in spite of that you can also notice one or two differences between Aregbesola and Fayemi in terms of mobilization, in terms of grassroots politicking, you know, Aregbesola came into politics, God knows when, as an activist, as a canvasser for other candidates and he has brought that to Osun politics, Osun politics could not be in anyway compare to other state because of various system Aregbesola has introduced, I don’t think there is any election we can lose as far as God lives, I mean the progressive party unless we depart from programmes that improve the lives of the people. Another challenge we had in Ekiti was the unfortunate crack within our party with the defection of Opeyemi Bamidele.
Bamidele’s defection also contributed seriously to coordinated rigging in Ekiti but in Osun we have no crack, instead we are receiving more members from the PDP and other parties.
Why are you so confident of wining, have you done anything different from what PDP has done?
You can never compare our party with PDP. Our party is people oriented, we focus on people, PDP don’t have much to do with the people. I was in government during Oyinlola regime, I knew what they stood for, even before that time, our government in other states have been people-centered. Ogbeni has started working since the day he was sworn-in. I could remember before he became the governor, the Osun State Medical and Dental Association (OSANDO) wanted to embark on strike after given the Oyinlola administration ultimatum to meet their demands, Oyinlola did not meet it, hence, they resolved to embark on strike and as the Chairman of the House Committee on Health, I was informed.
Personally I was indifferent because they have warned him (Oyinlola) and since he ignored their warning, I believe they are free to go on strike and I decided to call Aregbesola and informed him about the development, that was 2008 when our case was still in court, you know what Aregbesola told me? He said Salensile, go and do everything humanly possible to make sure that the strike does not hold. I said why Oga? That it is not our government. He said yes, I agree with you but the people that will suffer are our people, they voted for us and we can not sit down watching them suffer. You can see the difference, somebody that was robbed of his mandate and still clamoring peace and tranquility in the administration of those who stole his mandate. I did my best and to the glory of God they aborted that strike. Look at that statement alone, “they are our people, they for voted us and they must not suffer”. That is an evidence that our government is people oriented and people focused unlike PDP.
I read a piece in the Nation newspaper of Saturday July 12, the writer wrote about some women who went for President Goodluck Jonathan presidential campaign in 2011 and had accident on their way to Abuja from Lagos for the final rally of Jonathan before 2011 presidential election. They had the accident in Ikire here, some of them died, some sustained different level of injuries, later some of them who had broken arms had them amputated. When the incident happened, Jonathan was informed, his wife was informed, they promised heaven and earth but up till the day that I read the story, they have not done any thing, that is part of the difference between us.
So unfortunate, people were traveling because of you and they had misfortune, now there is nothing you can do to them, they went to court through a lawyer, they don’t have money to even buy drugs, the name of the lawyer was one Kunle Fadipe of blessed memory. As they were going to court, justice was clearly manifesting day by day. You know what happened, according to that newspaper, one assailant just went to the man and stab him to death six days after his 50th birthday. What did that portray? Where do we point accusing fingers? This is to tell you that they don’t have human feelings in their party unlike our own party which is people focus, people oriented and you can see it in the Aregbesola Six Integral Action Plan.
We are people focused, whereas, they are out to loot the treasury from the federal level to the local government level. Their own system is share the money, chop I chop. They have nothing to offer the people and when election comes, they are not expecting your votes, they are masters in election rigging unlike us that we solely rely on the people’s votes.
But the opposition still accuses your government of meddling with public fund?
What did you expect them to say? The question we continue to ask them is what they have done in their seven and half years. They did nothing. Nobody can accuse this government of meddling with public fund, nobody can accuse Aregbesola of stealing public money. That was why when the issue of the bond was introduced and people were invited to come and buy shares from Osun, they bought more than what was available. They were ready to buy more and more because they have trust, absolute trust in the government. You cannot expect them to praise our government, they want at all cost to be in government and they cannot be praising us. You understand it, they are also competing for the seat of government so they cannot praise us. But underground, some of them are praising us.
The Asiwaju of Ede, Alhaji Isiaka Adeleke said it when he crossed to APC that when he was advised to stand up for the gubernatorial election in the state, he said he called his people that what did you want me to say about this government and what did you want me to tell the people that he has not done. He said he has done wonderfully well but what he will tell the people is that he will do better. That is one of them confessing what transpired when he was with them. They know the truth but because of what they want, they dare not say it and they will never say it but the electorate are there to judge us.
There is this feeling that the most of contractors handling the projects you mention are from Lagos while the local contractors were not patronized, what can you say about this?
I think such feeling is mischievous, let them bring out the statistics. To the best of my knowledge, there are some projects that some contractors not only in Osun even in Lagos or Abuja cannot handle because of the capital involved. There are big projects that require sophisticated equipment, that need serious and strong financial base. For instance, if I get a contract of N5 billion as Abdu-rasak Salensile, how would I fund it? Where would I get the finance and I am a contractor, but there are big companies that has financial capacity to fund such projects without even resulting to bank loans.
The government does not have unlimited resources, they partner with some of the contractors. They do it in phases with a very long stretched payment arrangement. That is the situation and to the best of my knowledge, government has not denied any indigene of the state any contract if there is conviction that such person has the capacity to execute the project, and if you look at the available statistics, our people are the major beneficiaries of the projects. They executed the large chunk of the projects through direct or indirect labour, including the projects they were alleging that it was awarded to the so called big contractors.
All the projects our people have the capacity to do, they were the one doing them but the problem is that they will not tell you the truth of the matter. It is a clear fact that government don’t have money, the system they use is to go and start, when you get to 30 percent performance the government will pay you.
For those who have the capacity, they are doing very well and above all, our people constituted 95 percent of the labour force executing the projects.
All these processes are major ways that Aregbesola is using to banish poverty and it is now the role of the opinion leaders especially politicians to be explaining to the people the importance of all these infrastructure development. As a grassroots politician, I am aware that the opposition are waving those sentiments and some people are always interested in financial inducement and immediate gain, but people like us, below or above us must continue to tell them the importance of good governance like that of Aregbesola.
For example, go trough Iwo now, there are hardly very few roads untarred, courtesy of Aregbesola, and we always tell them that one, the road will expand the town, reduce accidents and by extension reduced death rate and increase the life span of the vehicles, motorcycles, and aid physical fitness by reducing road stress. If you travel on good roads, you feel relax, enjoy yourself and finally, those things encourages investors who will come and improve the economy.