Sola Ebiseni is a former Commissioner for Environment in Ondo State. He is among the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirants, who picked their nomination forms from the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff-led faction, ahead of the November 26 election. In this interview with reporters in Akure, the state capital, he speaks about zoning and the party’s crisis. LEKE AKEREDOLU was there. Experts.
What will you do differently from the present administration, if you become the governor?
I am proud of our achievements under Dr Olusegun Mimiko, my leader, elder brother and friend. I come not to abolish the law but bring it to greater fulfilment under a fresh anointing, combining the experiences garnered under previous administrations. Every administration has its own priorities defined sometimes by its peculiar challenges. While issues of access to quality education and health services are given, I intend not to pay lip service to the diversification of the state economy in this critical times. My experiences being in charge of the Ministry of the Environment and Mineral Resources, which spread across the state, is a plus. Our territory is replete with all conceivable minerals ranging from quarry rocks from Ore through Idanre, Ondo, Akure, Itaogbolu, Ifon, Supare, Ikare, lime stone at Okeluse and iron at Akunu not to mention our bitumen and crude oil and agriculture in which we undoubtedly have comparative advantage. We have the longest shoreline among the littoral state. Yet, we are the only state yet to explore and exploit its coastal advantages and resources a factor which makes states like Lagos and Rivers thick. Proximity of Ogun to Lagos gives Ogun its industrial advantage and revenue from basically two local government areas of Ado Odo/ Otta and Ifo. It is amazing to know that Ondo state to Lekki along the coast is less than an hour drive. Our unique state drags the Yoruba into the Niger Delta territorially and ranks fifth among the nine oil producing states. In our development blueprint to be launched as soon as we secure our party’s ticket, we intend to demonstrate in details how these resources will be translated to our advantages as a state.
What’s your take on the clamour for the zoning of the ticket to a particular senatorial district?
Honestly, that is an issue I would ordinarily not want to discuss because Iam involved. Yet, like I said earlier, certain ingredients are becoming noticeable in our political culture, which any political party may ignore to its own peril. Such ingredients like zoning as a guarranty of equitable access to power by stakeholders in the polity are rooted in the peoples political consciousness in both our traditional and democratic political practices. In my experience as a lawyer, I have seen and been involved in protracted chieftaincy litigations against monopolistic tendencies. In my area I know a chieftaincy that has been vacant since 1989 and the ruling family in court on issue of zoning. In our modern politics, particularly in this state, there are unwritten conventions engraved in the minds of the people of every council rotating their chairmanship, and their parliamentary positions. In all states, except where a group is dominant and takes such advantage like Ibadan in Oyo state, Igala or Kogi East in Kogi State or Tiv in Benue, there is understanding among stakeholders for equitable access to the governance of their respective states. Even in a seemingly monolithic and urban state like Lagos, after the tenures of Tinubu and Fasola who are Muslims, there was subtle agitation for both a Christian successor and for a Lagos East consideration. In spite of his known grip on Lagos politics, Asiwaju kowtowed to the sentiments of the people culminating in Ambode’s governorship from Epe. At a time, Tinubu had to jettison his ambition for the Senate in favour of Ganiyu Solomon to put an end to the disquiet in his party. The greater consideration for support for Jonathan’s second term presidency by all groups in the Southsouth was what made particularly the Ijaw and other riverine people of Rivers State tolerate the succession of Amaechi by Wike, his Ikwerre compatriot. Jonah Jang was not that lucky on the polyglot Plateau when he went for a successor from his senatorial district after his own eight years. The people showed their resentment by voting PDP in other elections, except the governorship. That was similar to what happened to our party, the SDP in Lagos in 1992 when Sarumi was given the governorship ticket, instead of Agbalajobi favoured by party members. The resultant was Otedola of the NRC. Ondo, more than any other state, has shown determination against dictatorship and the incumbent governor in his political career has been a veritable source of inspiration to those averse to lack of internal democracy.
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