Rotimi Paseda, is the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). The Omu-Ijebu born businessman cum politician speaks on his plans for the state, if he is given the mandate to lead it in 2019.
You are taking another shot at the governorship in Ogun State, what would you say is your advantage over others?
What distinguishes me is because I am doing the impossible and have basically come to really shake politics. That which has never been done in the past is going to be done. In my type of governance, the state is going to be accorded equal opportunities; I will have the APC, PDP, SDP, Accord and other political parties in my cabinet. So by and large, those that need to worry are those that want to do things the old ways, those saying ‘if Paseda wins election, everything in the state will belong to him and his people only,’ if that is what you are thinking, do not bother to vote for me because I am not promising you that. What youaregoingtogetfrommeisifIwanta Commissioner for Finance and the person that can do the job conveniently is from the ADP, I will look for him and persuade him to come and serve. I will not give it to anyone else because such a person is my party member or friend, the state cannot progress if we do not put the round peg in the round hole.
What else are you bringing on board that is different from what the state currently has?
Another thing I am going to do so differently is that the initial decisions of the state will be made from my cabinet and I am going to have a cabinet that is not constitutional, there is a normal cabinet structure but those that will really do the job for me are the youths, they are my special assistants, they are my think tank team. Yes, commissioners will be there but when I sit down and want to make some critical decisions, my think tank team will be my special assistants, they will be there for me and they are going to come from every single local government. I am picking them, not by party affiliation but by personal reputation and qualification and assoonasIamdone,Iamgoingtosend them for a three to six months sabbatical in India and China, their job is to come back home, each person with a minimum of five (5) cottage industries, if you fail, you are fired because you will be living there for months.
The idea is for you to bring me a toothpick manufacturing company, sign an MOU with them and they must come and establish in Ogun State. You will also be mandated to bring me aquaculture, I cannot divulge all these things now, they are the real workers, everything else is administrative, the assemblies, others will still do their jobs according to the constitutional laid down regulations. But as for Paseda, my special assistants are the youths, I will listen to them because I want my state to be a capital of cottage industries and manufacturing in Nigeria, it can be done easily.
The other thing is that I see no reasons we cannot have the two tiers of government that happened during the Obafemi Awolowo era, because that is where I am arriving at. The state government and traditional rulers must work side by side, the state shouldn’t make any final decisions on projects without involving the monarchs, and they know what is needed in their local communities. Although, they will have offices too, but the palace is for the monarchs as they have a thorough job to do, being a king isn’t a job, it is like an entitlement, a custodian of culture. But in the socio-economic development of our state, it is a different thing, we need their inputs and wise counsel .So the Oba-In-Council will ensure that the town hall meetings are brought back because if I divide the state budget into 20, I am talking about capital expenditure which is for 20 local governments, the one out of the 20 of what I have put to a particular local government cannot be spent without the state and the monarchs agreeing on what to do with it.
So it is not me sitting down and giving orders on what to do for them, how do I know what they need? The commissioners will say what will be beneficial to them, but the Obas have a deeper interest in their locality and they are closer to the grassroots and people living in the hinterlands, so why should we not consult them? So, I am going to empower them, make sure all they need to function as part of governance are there for them, that is where we are going.
What about other sectors in the state?
In terms of education, I am not going to joke with free education, everyone thinks I am paying lips service to it, they are the ones dreaming, it is a commitment. I don’t see any reason Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye cannot be a Centre for Policy Research.
To make a decision, it has to go through certain processes for it to be successful; we ought to have an institutional research here in our state. All our institutions, depending on what they are specialised in will be part of policy formulation. Tell us what you can do, let us debate it, bring your academic ideas, let the monarchs look at the practicality of what you are talking about and let us look at affordability and sustainability, that is how it is supposed to be run. If we do it, it is going to be successful, by the time we empower the institutions, they will be manufacturing. Some of these cottage industries will be located at the institutions’ campuses, because that is what they specialise in. If someone talks about syringe, we can produce it if we have a system where we can manufacture it locally. I am not going to put a syringe industry in Ijebu Ode because it is my home town, but where is our School of Health, Ilese?