A new card is now playing out in the politics of Oyo State as the 2015 general elections approach, the governorship compass is pointing towards a new face in the race for the Agodi Government House. The new thinking is that a young governor would befit the Government House in 2015 and that will be a clear departure from the sexagenarians piloting the affairs of the Pacesetters State.
Among the young aspirants jostling for the 2015 governorship race in Oyo State, political observers believe that the 47- year old governorship aspirant, an Engineer, Oluseyi Makinde, possesses the resume, mien, financial muscle and ideas to take the state beyond its present level if he succeeds the incumbent governor.
Popularly called “Omi titun” the acronym of his campaign organisation, Makinde whose foray into politics crystallised in 2007, contested for the Oyo South senatorial seat on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). Cerebral, kind and humble his appeal base among the youths and workers in the state is the strongest. Unlike many politicians who only engage in philanthropy when they want to vie for public office, Makinde for the past decade has been offering financial assistance and providing basic welfare amenities across the communities in the state regardless of religion, gender or even party affiliation.
His appeal also cuts across the various factions of PDP and APC in the state among the array of aspirants seeking Oyo governorship seat. It’s probably Makinde’s good luck that his name is positively perceived among the PDP power brokers in Abuja, where the ultimate decision of who gets what may be decided.
The PDP leadership is said to believe that Makinde’s profile as a consensus gubernatorial candidate who can be a rallying point for all the factions in the state fits what PDP needs to wrest power from APC in Oyo State.
But Makinde’s ambition to become the flag bearer of PDP in the state will have to contend with the huge political machineries of the party big wigs including former governor Adebayo Alao- Akala who is staging a comeback in 2015. He will also have to contend with stiff competition from the former Senate Leader and governorship hopeful, Senator Teslim Folarin, Senator AyoAdeseun and others. If he is lucky to secure the PDP ticket, he will be in the boxing ring with the incumbent governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi and former Governor Rashidi Ladoja, who is flying the Accord Party flag in the next year’s election.
But Makinde remains undaunted and not intimidated; according to him “May the best candidate win. What I like asking myself is if I am qualified to vie for a position in Nigeria and if I have the necessary exposure to succeed; the answer is yes because even though I am not as old as most of the other aspirants, I have invested a lot of energy in individual and public activities.
“I left the university at 22 and by the time I turned 27, I was already thinking of owing a business. I was at the time a full-time manager. By 29, I had a company, which I started with N50, 000. I am 47 now and that business is now worth several billions of naira with about 500 engineers and other members of staff. You don’t need a lot of time in governance to come up with ideas that will benefit the people and tackle poverty. Being a former local government chairman or lawmaker is not what prepares one for the position of a governor. Your education, exposure and inner commitment to the progress of the society are more important”
On what he would do differently if elected as governor, Makinde while lauding former governments in the state for doing their best however observed that with the resources in Oyo State, the state has underachieved still underachieving. “The biggest issue that we are faced with is poverty, if you have to solve that problem, you don’t do it by increasing poverty but by reducing it. If you pick people on the streets that have no other means of livelihood and then you throw them out without alternative of where they could go to make ends meet, are you increasing or reducing poverty?
“First, we will tackle poverty head-on. If we keep looking at Abuja, the allocation from Abuja is limited. But if we are productive in Oyo State, we will generate the cash that we need. I have done it privately and I took a trip to Oke Ogun recently and I saw acres and acres of arable land. If somebody spits on the ground, it could grow and germinate. So, we are going to focus on three main areas, agriculture, infrastructure and education because I am where I am today simply because I was able to get good education,” said.
Makinde strongly believes that there is no need for a donkey year experience in governance “I think what should prepare you for governance should be your background, education, exposure and your inner commitment to want to contribute to the uplift of the people”
However, he would have to contend with a lot of political intimidation in his bid to rule Oyo State. Recently, his campaign office in Ibadan was raided by the policemen who claimed that they were acting on an order from above; many members of his campaign team were arrested. But Makinde described this as an intimidation tactic against his election run, saying he remained undaunted.
As a leader with community value, Makinde recently came to the aid of the school children in Apete area who were displaced by the flood which collapsed the only pedestrian bridge in the area by donating two buses for their transportation to schools.
He also donated money to be distributed to the displaced victims of the flood. The elated victims described his intervention as “timely.”
Also, while commiserating with the victims of the inferno which destroyed many shops at Aleshinloye in Ibadan, Makinde donated N1million to cushion the economic effect of the incident and also promised to provide borehole for the use of the market men and women. Unfortunately, his bid to provide the boreholes was met with resistance from the chairman of Ibadan South-west local government area who ordered its stoppage on the grounds that necessary approval was not sought by the donor.
Speaking on the political adventure of Makinde, a former Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Hon. Kehinde Ayoola, said he possesses the best pedigree among contenders for the PDP governorship ticket in 2015.
According to Ayoola, apart from being young, Makinde was a self-made man, who had consistently touched the lives of the masses with his personal resources. The former Speaker noted that the youth, who constituted the majority of the human population in the country, had remained marginalsed in piloting the affairs of the state.
He said the state needed a young, dynamic and resourceful governor, one without a tainted past to make Oyo State rediscover itself and leverage on its human and natural endowments in the next political dispensation.
“He is young, which means that he will be a very good bridge between the younger elements and older ones in the society. The younger elements in the society include people between 18 and 40 years. They have been totally marginalised from determining the affairs of our state and, indeed, Nigeria.
“Makinde is the only person, who can understand the issues that are germane to that portion of that segment of our population. The former Speaker chided those who claimed Makinde lacked the political experience to be governor, saying it was gratifying that they acknowledged that the PDP governorship hopeful had utilised his intellect, ability and intelligence to grow his business from a humble beginning to a great height without any government contract of occupying a political office.