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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Interview ‘Why Akeredolu Should Retain Power till 2025’.

Soji Ehinlanwo is a Chieftain of the All Progressives (APC) and 2012 Governorship Candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change( CPC) before the merger with the defunct ACN-ANPP to become APC. The UK based IT Manager/Senior Consultant recently convened a forum’ Soji Ehinlanwo Group for Aketi Second Term (SEGFAST).

In this interview with our Reporter, Ehinlanwo spoke on diverse issues, especially on the achievements of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and his re-election bid, the reconciliation within APC, the issue of zoning and the present challenge of COVID-19, amongst others.
Excerpts:Topsearch: The October 2020 Ondo Governorship Election is very close. You have clearly indicated your support for the incumbent – Governor Rotimi Akeredolu. You have even convened a group – SEGFAST – to support his re-election bid. What has influenced this decision and direction?

Ehinlanwo: Quite apart from the fact that I, along with a few others, helped to set the foundation of the APC in Ondo state and have remained key members of the party with the obvious inclination to back my party, the remarkable achievements of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu within the span of the first four years in which he has been in charge has been the major motivation for backing his second term agenda. I have been particularly impressed by the unprecedented and massive infrastructural developments that have been enacted by his administration – especially in the light of dwindling resources. Even those who are in opposition cannot deny the fact that we have not seen such vast networks of roads construction and rehabilitations across the state as embarked upon by this administration for a long time. Examples abound -. Construction of Police road, Ore and Ore Interchange flyover on the Shagamu-Benin Expressway to ease traffic for those traveling from the South-West to the South-East and Abuja, Rehabilitation of Sabo Road Akure, Construction and flattening of the dreaded Oke-Alabojuto hill and rehabilitation of Ikare township roads, ongoing work on the construction of 50km road linking Araromi seaside, Ondo state to Ibeju Lekki, Lagos State and so many others. Add these to the solid economic foundations that he has started to erect for Ondo state with the Ondo Linyl Industrial hub in Ore, which has the Cassava to ethanol Factory, the Medium Density Fibre and High Density Fibre Plywood Factories, Paper Production Factory and many others which are currently on stream and those to be added. Much initial work has already been done towards the actualisation of the massive Ondo Sea Port Project, which the Governor is set to fully actualise in his second term with a potential of over 500 billion naira investments benefiting the people.  How would anyone not be impressed by the strides he is making in the health sector with examples such as the massive renovation of various Primary Health care centres across all the wards in Ondo state, distribution of medical equipment and consumables worth Six Million Dollars ($6M) among all the hospitals in Ondo State achieved by the administration’s ingenuity leading to partnership with Medshare International, etc? How about the achievements in Education and Agriculture? The list appears to be endless. This massive list of achievements remains the motivation of the group (SEGFAST), which I convened, and myself for supporting the Governor in his second term bid. I believe these will also be the main basis upon which most of our people in Ondo state will vote for him and give the APC resounding victory in the October election. You do not change a winning team. I have no doubt that Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has delivered and the people of Ondo state will give him the opportunity to consolidate on his numerous achievements in a second term.

Topsearch: You convened the group – Soji Ehinlanwo Group For Aketi Second term (SEGFAST) obviously to help in the reelection efforts of the Governor and the APC. How do you hope to leverage this group to help achieve the set mission of electing the Akeredolu/Aiyedatiwa ticket?Ehinlanwo:  Let me state here first and foremost that the idea of setting up the group was not mine originally. I was persuaded by some members of the group who are my associates to convene the group as it now stands. Coming to your question, we intend to deploy the group for the purpose of mobilising our people across the 18 local government areas for the purpose of voting for the APC via massive enlightenment campaigns in both traditional and social media, local govt to local govt physical campaigns, including house to house interface across the state, meeting with key opinion and community leaders across the state and importantly mobilisation of voters on election day in order to ensure that voters exercise their franchise and vote wisely for the APC – thus voting for continuity and of course ensuring victory for the Akeredolu/Aiyedatiwa ticket

Topsearch: The struggle for the ticket of the APC seemed to have polarised the party prior to the Primaries and some will argue that the party is not well united for the contest ahead. What are your thoughts?

Ehinlanwo: I think that it is not incorrect to state that there appeared to have been some division within the APC in the struggle for the governorship ticket of our party prior to primaries, especially with the existence of the “Unity Forum” with its plethora of aspirants within that fold as well as other aspirants who distanced themselves from the Unity Forum. Let me state here that many of those who sought the party ticket alongside the Governor were very well qualified to do so and it is  a clear testimony to the fact that there exist within our party a large pool of talents. However, after all said and done, party men and women have clearly invested their trust in the Governor and endorsed him as their candidate. And he has so far taken quite a number of deliberate steps to reach out to many of the other aspirants in an attempt to heal the wounds of the contest. And I understand the efforts of the Governor are yielding fruits and the party is becoming stronger and witnessing greater unity. I have no doubt that the process will continue, and the unity achieved will become even stronger. That is as it should be. The Governor is the Party Leader and I think it is incumbent upon all genuine and well meaning party men to unite behind him to ensure resounding victory for the party.Topsearch:  Zoning around the Governorship seat has featured prominently in the discourse around the state in respect of this election and previous elections. What are your thoughts about zoning for elective offices, particularly for the Governorship Position and how do you think this would impact this coming Governorship election?

Ehinlanwo: I am one of those who subscribe to the view that competence or capacity to deliver is what should mainly determine who gets elected or appointed to Public offices. In this respect, for this election, based on his prior performance – Governor Akeredolu seems to me the best man for the job – even when you put aside the zoning discourse. However, I also realise that for so many of our people, zoning creates and helps to sustain a feeling of equity in the distribution of political offices. That is why no one person or party can or should discountenance it. Unfortunately for the major Opposition Party – PDP and of course to  further advantage of the APC – the PDP in its choice of its flag bearer seemed to have shown disdain or disregard for this unwritten arrangement that has helped to inscribe and enhanced the feelings of equity amongst the major segments of the population in the state. I have no doubt the electorate will take note of this indiscretion in this instance on the part of the major opposition Party – a factor that appeared to have also contributed to its loss in the last 2016 election. I believe that apart from the performance of the Governor, which will weigh heavily against the major Opposition Party – PDP and will help to ensure victory for Governor Akeredolu, the perceived zoning arrangement is another reason why the large bulk of the  electorate – with a sense of equity (disregarded by the PDP)  – will deal a devastating blow to the PDP and ensure APC Victory. In all , as I understand it, the consensus seems to be that after eight years by Ex- Governor Mimiko from the Central senatorial district, the North should be allowed to complete the full 8 years terms with Governor Akeredolu in the saddle, especially given his sterling performance and then naturally, it should shift to the South. That appears to be the current underlying thinking which to me appears quite credible.

Topsearch:  COVID-19  pandemic has come up with dire consequences for individuals and for us collectively as a people. What suggestion will you offer to government in responding to the challenges of COVID-19?

Ehinlanwo:  Undoubtedly COVID-19 has brought in its wake tragic loss of lives and illnesses  This of course has been incredibly sad. It has also exposed inherent weaknesses and past failures in relation to delivering democratic dividends for our people. Given the additional burden and constraints that this state of affairs has now imposed on state resources, greater ingenuity will now be required in the management of existing state resources and the drive to open up new revenue outlets. Also, Government at state and federal level will have to pursue with greater vigour initiatives that seek to open opportunities for the vast array of the youth and women population. These suggestions are not exhaustive, but fundamental to all of these is the need for new out of the box thinking in dealing with current and future challenges –  a reason for an imperative for a pool of more strategic and visionary thought evolution and articulation at the state and federal levels.Quote

“Government at state and federal level will have to pursue with greater vigour initiatives that seek to open opportunities for the vast array of the youth and women population”

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