The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Osun State, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, tells FEMI MAKINDE about his chances of winning the September 22 election
The state government resumed payment of full salaries and pensions some days before Saturday’s election. Is there any assurance that this will continue after the governorship election of next week?
Let me start from this perspective. Every conscientious employer will pay his workers their dues as and when due including other complimentary emoluments to make life better for them. Now in this circumstance, the government is not the employer, but the people, who just make those in government custodian of the people’s commonwealth. If we cast our mind back to the first tenure of this progressively revolutionary administration we are succeeding by the grace of God, you will recall that salaries and wages were paid on the 25th of every month, including 13th month salary, which was unusual in other states. It’s regrettable that we were challenged for the period of time the modulated arrangement lasted. However, now that we have commenced payment of the arrears, we want to assure our people that as we go into another social contract with them, we shall continue regular payment of salary, wages, pensions and arrears of gratuity. In fact, the first point in our policy paper is ‘welfare of workers’. We only beg for their support to return our party into office.
What are your plans for the state apart from continuing with the policies of the present government?
Our core agenda is continuity and consolidation. The six integral action plan of the outgoing administration has transformed the Osun landscape and changed the face of infrastructure in the state.
All sectors of the economy have been substantially touched. We shall be guided by the invaluable experiences we have acquired from the implementation of the six points Integral Action plan of banishing hunger, poverty, unemployment, restoring healthy living, promoting functional education and enhancement of communal peace and progress enunciated by the Rauf Aregbesola-led administration. We will ensure that the plan is objectively reviewed for effectiveness and efficiency in order to learn from what worked and what did not quite work.
In our avowed commitment to worker’s welfare, we shall seek a gradual and inclusive civil service reform, make the work environment more conducive, stimulating and development-oriented, with sustained reward mechanisms and keep workers morale high. More importantly, working with our well meaning bureaucrats, urgently increase our internally generated revenue. We will specifically continue to block leakages in tax collection and administration.
My approach shall be innovation, quality, accountability and effective teaching. Technical and vocational education will be strengthened to provide technical skills for our people. Higher education will not be left out. The focus of higher tertiary education will be to produce self-reliant individuals
Do you support the plans by INEC to bar voters from carrying cameras and telephones into polling cubicles in order to prevent them from snapping and using the picture ballot to collect money?
Vote buying is not just criminal, it’s ungodly; it’s reducing and ridiculing our people. For this democracy to survive, we must reject vote buying and consciously educate our people against it. I will not only support INEC’s decision to bar voters from carrying phones to the polling cubicles, I’m in support of everything legally possible to stop the albatross of our elections called vote buying. Sections 124 and125 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) already criminalises vote buying and selling, all thoughtful Nigerians, who believe in democratic governance, must join hands to make it work.
There is a possibility of an alliance between some parties ahead of the election. Is this not a threat to your ambition?
Coalition, alliance and merger are part of the antics of power struggle in a democracy. But obviously that is and can never be a threat to my ambition. Sovereignty rests with the people. They are the ultimate judge who will, on Saturday, September 22, decide who gets their mandate. The people are sufficiently knowledgeable and conscious of what they want. The APC has served them transparently and inclusively in the last eight years. The people want continuity of good governance. They want their children to continue to eat free and nourishing food in schools. They know that we value education. They want to continue to enjoy soft loan for business, and they know we are the ones that can serve them better. They know such alliance is a mere conspiracy to impose people with little or no capacity to provide the required leadership. They know we are not pretenders. I’m confident that come Saturday, September 22nd, the good people of Osun State will return the APC government to the Government House.
Let me remind you that in 2014, when they were together, the APC defeated them. Now they have gone to different parties, this will make it easier to defeat them. Even if they all come together again, the APC will still defeat them.
Members of the opposition parties have said the N10,000 Tradermoni distributed to hundreds of petty traders each in Osun State and the release of N16.6bn Paris Club loan refund to the state government are meant to make the people vote for you. What is your view on this?
This is one of the promises of President Muhammadu Buhari when he was campaigning and Osun was not the only state where the money was given to traders. This is a means of empowering the poor traders and I think it should be commended. It has nothing to do with the Osun election and people should desist from fabricating lies to discredit the good programme of the people.
The latest Paris Club refund was released to the state and the governor added over N3bn to it to pay workers. Are we going to tell them to vote for us before collecting their money? What we paid to them are their entitlements. They were not bribed and nobody should see it as a strategy to sway voters.