kinyinka Akinnola is an All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant in Ondo State.In this interview with reporters in Lagos, he speaks on how zoning deprives the electorate of the opportunity to pick the best person for the job. MUSA ODOSHIMOKHE was there.
Why are you in the Ondo governorship race?
There have been a lot of developments in the country of recent. A wind of change is blowing all across the country and it is important that everybody should be part of this change. I found that most of the time people like myself with exposure and experience do not participate actively in politics, but we complain loudest when things are not going well. It is for us to get involved to bring a change to the country.
Coming from the same district with the incumbent governor, what gives you the edge over other aspirants?
The man on the street is less interested in where the governor comes from, but more in what the governor is able to do to better the life of the common man. What is important is the passion, the commitment and the competence to do the job. Too many times we have been short-changed by the politics of placement and positioning which insinuates that there should be a direct benefit from the people of a particular area because the governor comes from there. But, the fact is that a turn by turn approach to governance doesn’t give us the best we deserve. Let us look at it. There is representation for wards at local councils and for local governments at the state House of Assembly. The governor does not represent any ward or local government. He is the governor of the entire state and is not mandated to represent any group or area. Thus, his origin is of no importance. Ondo State is at such stage where it needs somebody who has the experience, the exposure and the commitment to put things in order. I believe people of Ondo and indeed Nigerians generally are getting more and more enlightened in this regard. So, what is important is the competence and ability to deliver.
Revenue is at an all-time low. If elected, what would you do to ensure governance does not suffer?
First of all, success in governance, like any other human endeavour, is determined by the quality of people you have in charge. I will assemble a team of competent people with more experience and knowledge than myself in their chosen field of endeavour. We have all had experience in the private and public sector, confronting problems and proffering solutions?. We are going to take our eyes off the federal allocations because that can hardly sustain us as it continues to dwindle, and concentrate on internally generated revenues through various activities and programmes.
What is the assurance that the delegates will vote for you at the primary election?
First thing is that I am running on a platform that has democratic values. I mean my party the APC. The delegate system now being adopted gives a wider voice to party members as it is more inclusive. We are engaging the delegates. A lot of them we have spoken to and interacted with, and what I see is that people are beginning to understand that this is beyond a game of immediate gratification. Everybody has been pushed to the level where they cannot fulfil basic aspirations or take care of the family and they are realising that it is time to bring in sincere and appropriate people into government. It is about building confidence and good relationship and we are developing this relationship with them everyday and I’m confident that by the time we go for the primary we will be in a position to appeal to a very large segments of the delegates to support us for the office.
The incumbent governor has different ratings among different people. What do you hope to do differently?
What we need to realize about governance is that continuity is the bedrock for growth. We’ll review all programmes we may inherit and certainly such programmes that are good and viable will definitely be sustained. We do not know the financial models upon which they are based but if these programmes are beneficial to the people and are financially viable in terms of sustainability they should endure. That is my view regarding that.
As for what I hope to do differently, my experience over the last 30 years has been in engineering, infrastructure and manufacturing and that is what I really bring to the table here.
Your sister was the immediate past minister from Ondo. Your late father was a former commissioner in the old Western State. And you are also running for governor. People are tempted to ask whether your family is the only one in Ondo State.
My father was a commissioner in Western State more than 45 years ago and had since been in private business but constantly contributing to the progress of the state. Apart from industries set up in Ondo state during his stint as commissioner for Industries in the western region, he was also the representative of Ondo state on the federal revenue mobilisation committee and pushed for the adjustment of our boundary with Edo state that saw more oil installations falling within Ondo State and thus increasing our revenue from derivation. My sister Omobola Johnson is a very accomplished technocrat?. She was the Country Manager of Accenture in Nigeria and it was from there she was chosen to be on the Vision 2020 programme of the Yar’Adua government and she excelled. From there again she was called to be part of a presidential advisory committee with President Jonathan and it was from there she was selected to be minister. She is not a politician; she never contested for any office. She was selected on her merit and she performed creditably well. I, in contrast to my father and sister, am going in for an elective office along with about 20 other contestants to compete.
So, there is no issue of the Akinnolas being the only family in the state. Everybody should have the right to compete and everybody should work hard to distinguish themselves.
What is your position on zoning?
Ondo state is very rich in terms of human capital. From all over the senatorial districts we have very competent people?. The question is do all these people always come into government and compete? In a competition – which this exactly is – I don’t think anybody should be saying anybody from here is good or anybody from there is better or it should be reserved for anyone. We should all come out and compete. The party (delegates) will decide who emerges at the end of the day and then the electorate will decide. Zoning, a lot of the time, doesn’t create an atmosphere where the best can be gotten. It doesn’t create healthy competition. And so without zoning, which is what the party is saying now that they are yet to adopt zoning as a formula, they are asking everyone to come out and compete.
The theme of your campaign is ‘less politics, more governance.’? How did you arrive at this and what do you mean exactly?
As you rightly observed, that is the theme of my campaign. Less politics, more governance. The reason we get into governance is because of the electorate: to provide services? To the people, security, social services and employment and so on. But we see that politics is given more time than governance. At a time government should busy itself with governance all you hear of is political scheming, re-alignments, camping and decamping, etc., etc. The amount of time that ought to be given to governance, relative to what it should be, is not so. Governance is about the executive and the legislature coming together to work for the people. All actions ought to be geared towards governance. There should be a shared objective and a cohesive plan of implementation that the executive, the legislature and the local government and our elected federal representatives key into. We should all hold each other accountable and extend to each other the regard the respective offices deserve. Where there is weakness in terms of capacity within any of these groups we should work together to support them. Of course there will always be politics but what we are saying is that it should not be the main thing once we are in government. Governance is the reason people get elected to public office