One-time senatorial candidate and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State, Mr Armstrong ‘Tope Akintunde, speaks in this interview on topical issues bordering on the state’s politics, insisting that Governor Dapo Abiodun has undoubtedly done well to deserve another term in 2023. Excerpts:
- The APC National Reconciliation Committee was in Ogun State last week to settle differences among warring parties. What is your take on this visit?
I must confess that it was a great move by the national leadership of APC to resolve all the differences tearing the party apart and strengthen it towards making the party more formidable ahead of 2023 general elections. I specifically commend the Senator Abdullahi Adam-led committee for the wisdom and depth of political knowledge with which it has used to handle the assignment. The general opinion is that Governor Dapo Abiodun is doing a wonderful job and should therefore be supported beyond 2023. We should all see ourselves as one indivisible family, we should close ranks and work for the betterment of Ogun State and the country at large. We should be careful of being unnecessarily selfish and a clog in the wheel of progress.
- Opposition elements have always claimed that Prince Dapo Abiodun has not lived up to expectations as governor and consequently does not deserve to pilot the affairs of Ogun State beyond May 2023. How would you react to this?
Talk, they say, is cheap and that was exactly what the opposition recently exhibited in the state. I said this because the government of Prince Dapo Abiodun has been fantastic with governance since he came on board on May 29, 2019. The governor has been focused and quite strategic about his approach to issues of governance. He came in as a successful entrepreneur in the oil and gas industry with wide range experience in administration and management of resources. He has demonstrated so much competence and intelligence in governance touching every sector. He is an apostle of continuity in governance with how he has picked up some of the uncompleted road projects by his predecessor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, and completed them. These included the Kuto dual carriageway, the ongoing Adigbe road, among others. The governor has just reconstructed Abeokuta-Siun-Sagamu expressway, the Epe-Ijebu Ode is also waiting to be commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari. The governor has equally done feeder roads such as the Elite road, Abeokuta, Vespa road, Ifo, Navy-AIT road, Sango; Oba Erinwole road, Sagamu; those at Ijebu-Ode among at least 200 roads either fixed or ongoing across the state. He is doing so much in the area of education with construction of about 1000 classrooms, the yellow roofs school buildings are all over the state.
The health, housing and agriculture sectors are also receiving adequate attention. Look at the the just completed low cost housing estate at Kobape via Abeokuta and this is being replicated in Ijebu-Ode, Ikenne and Agbara, among others. This is not to say that the governor has done all, but within the time spent and the challenges of this cash crunched economy aggravated by Covid-19, the governor has proved to be a good manager of scarce resources. He has done so much to make the people of the state happy and that’s why many are already rooting for his second term come 2023. We must give him another term because of his commitment to make sure the state is more prosperous. The governor is currently working to ensure that there is stability of power supply in our major towns, Ijebu Ode, Sagamu, Agbara and other industrial hubs. This will definitely trigger industrial revolution and all the economic advantages that come with it. In a nutshell, I can confidently say that the opposition is only bellyaching, because Dapo Abiodun is doing the job given to him by the people of the state. In local parlance, we say it is “bad belle” that is worrying the opposition and nothing more.
- Two Councilorship aspirants from Ward 3 and Ward 5 Iperu-Remo, in Ikenne local government area of Ogun State reportedly dragged the party to court over the last local government elections. There are speculations that you are the brain behind this litigation, yet you seem to be advocating reconciliation in the party?
Being the brain behind the matter is not true. We are all aware that whenever there is a contest, someone must emerge as the winner. What actually happened was that, when the local government primaries for the Councillorship were conducted, two Councillorship aspirants from Ward 3 and Ward 5 Iperu felt that they were unduly robbed and became aggrieved. I felt they had a genuine complaint too but, the Governor who is the leader and our father in the party called me to his house and intervened and pleaded that the matter should be dropped for the continued unity and progress of the party. As a result, I decided to hands off and allow reason to prevail. I also urged the aggrieved Councilorship aspirants to desist from pursuing the case in the law courts. I have since hands off from the matter and whatever has become of it is not in any way connected to me. I have several times urged the aspirants too to bow to the wishes of the party and move on. After all, there will always be another day.
When I was home on weekend, I heard the information that some individuals are sponsoring and dragging the matter to the Supreme Court. I immediately invited them for personal advice and appealed that the resources they intend to deploy to Supreme Court are supposed to be channelled to empower our people in the state as a way of promoting Governor Abiodun’s second term in office. I, therefore, have the belief that as one of the party members, they would heed my admonition.
- What do you think should be the focus of the APC led government in the new year 2022?
President Buhari should intensify efforts to combat insecurity. He must be a bit more hard on those disturbing the peace of the country. The rate at which these bandits, terrorists, kidnappers and all sorts send many to their early grave is alarming. Insecurity is now a problem across the country The President has really tried but he can do more to ensure that everyone is safe in the country. I appreciate the President for agreeing to label these bandits terrorists for that is who they really are. Peace and tranquility are quite necessary to attract foreign investors into the country. The general election is next year, there is definitely going to be a lot of political activities this year and so, there should be adequate security for all. Another area I equally expect this government to also work on this new year is our economy. It needs a lot of rejuvenation. The inflationary trend is worrisome and must be arrested. I welcome the appointment of Dr Doyin Salami as the Chief Economic Adviser to Mr President. President Buhari should please get more experts if need be to address our challenges in the economy.
- Several politicians are already jostling for one position or another as 2023 approaches. What are your own plans?
Yes, I am a politician, but I keep saying that I am first a technocrat before becoming a politician. I have always supported the government of the day, I am never ambitious. For now, my priority is to support Governor Dapo Abiodun to continue his good works beyond 2023. And as someone who believes so much in leadership, if the governor now says that go for the Senate or House of Representatives, I will be willing to serve my people in any capacity.
- What is your charge to the people of Ogun State?
They should please be patient and support the government of Prince Dapo Abiodun to record more successes in its determined bid to leave the state far better than he met it. Here’s a man who by the special grace of God already made his money before coming into power. So, he is very passionate about improving the lots of the people in the state, he thinks, talks and works on these every second. Our people should therefore shun destructive criticism and rather support our governor to do much more than he had done in the past.