35 years old Mr Temitope Omotayo is a lawyer and governorship aspirant in Ekiti State under the Young Progressive Party (YPP). He speaks with Victor Ogunyinka on his party’s strategy for the coming election and how Ekiti can become a self-sufficient state.
To say that the Nigerian political terrain is a two-horse race might be correct due to the fact that most of our elections in the country eventually end up with two major political parties jostling for the office, but that is not to say that other parties are precluded from seriously vying for office.
First of all, the position of the law in Nigeria leans towards a multi-party system, thus our laws envisage a scenario where as many parties as are interested and meet the requirements of the law can present candidates for the offices being contested. Secondly, history has shown that a serious party can unsettle the political confidence of the two major political parties and clinch the ticket. Very recently, Labour Party in Ondo and APGA in Anambra showed us what it takes for another party outside the two major political parties to win a major election.
So, do you think all political parties go into the election to win?
The major problem I see with some of the other political parties in Nigeria is an absence of a political will to do what it takes to win an election. Many of the parties just want it on record that they contested for office. If you study these parties very closely, you will discover that there is no groundwork towards getting members, no grassroots involvement, and no political structure to accommodate the rigours of the electoral campaign. Almost nothing is done to convince the people that they are out to win. So how do you win under the platform of such party? Such victory is unimaginable.
What I am doing in Ekiti right now under the platform of the Young Progressive Party (YPP) is to create awareness in the various localities in the state of our existence and readiness to deliver to them their political demands. At present, the YPP has recruited members in large numbers in almost every local government in the state. We are holding town hall meetings from town to town to consult with the people on their needs and we are documenting their needs so as to be able to effectively represent them. We are creating a social contract between us and the people of Ekiti which we will abide by. And I must say, you can’t imagine the magnitude of the support we have gotten from the people. YPP is confident that if we continue at this rate, by the July 2018 elections we will clinch victory in Ekiti State.
What would you say are the major problems of the Ekiti People that the government hasn’t addressed?
The major problem of Ekiti lies in the absence of visionary leadership. When you identify a problem that people are grasping with, from time to time and the problem refuses to vanish, it is mostly a problem of poor leadership. In our various town hall and community meetings, we have identified certain problems that have continually plagued our people. From Ado to Iyin, from Oye to Aramoko, the clamour of the people have essentially remained the same. Some of the most prominent challenges the people have faced and are demanding that the leadership resolves for them are unemployment, health care and education.
The rate of unemployment in Ekiti has reached an all-time low. My top priority in this area is to provide mass jobs through Agriculture, Entrepreneurship and Sports. I intend to provide a fertile ground for industries and investors in Ekiti. In fact, we have highlighted a couple of industries we intend to an incentive to ensure that their factories are located in our communities and thus foster job creation.
Health Care: Another critical challenge facing Ekiti is the issue of poor medical service delivery. The medical personnel are not properly and timely remunerated in Ekiti. The level of funding for the health sector by the government is abysmal leaving our hospitals without equipment and other machinery to effectively serve the people. If you check the 2017 budget, what you will find is a paltry 928 million naira as sectorial allocation for health, apart from the fact that we are unsure of a honest judicious spending of this figure, we still consider it massively insufficient to handle the health infrastructure demands in the state. A clear unambiguous example is a medical school at Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital that has lost accreditation for over 5years. My administration will increase the allocation to the health sector, support technological advancements in the health sector, run international training programs for our health personnel, ensure prompt payment of salaries and assiduously work towards the reaccreditation of the college of medicine of the Ekiti State University.
Education: Our one-time fountain of knowledge cannot be said to be the same anymore. The standard we have today is nothing to write home about.
What we need is refunding our educational institutions to qualitatively cater for the students. In some of our town hall meetings, we used a school, which we toured and found to be badly equipped. What is the quality of the student that you would expect to find in such a school?
My administration will also ensure affordability: Take a critical look at our state University, where a new entrant has to pay as much as #250,000. How could a government expect a civil servant that has two to three children to pay such exorbitant amount especially when the salaries are not even regular? The indigenes of Ekiti are finding it difficult to enrol in their own university.
These are some of the major challenges we discovered in our meetings and consultations with the people of Ekiti and we would do all we can to resolve it.
There is too much reliance on Federal allocation and it has plunged states in the country into handicaps, how can Ekiti State break away from this?
Quite a number of states in Nigeria have been clamouring for resource control in recent times. The issue at present is that many states in the federation rely majorly on Federal Allocation for their economic survival but the major contributors want to keep most of the resources that go to centre within their states and this has constantly remained a thorny matter between the federal government and the states.
No state should continue to rely on the allocation from Abuja to survive or even for exponential developmental purposes. Ekiti state happens to be in 35th position on the list of Federal Allocation distribution where the Federal Government disbursed 54 billion naira to the state government.
Now that amount will take us nowhere as a state that wants to lead in growth and advancement. My personal team and my party (the YPP) are currently tidying up documentation on funding Ekiti State through Internal Generated Revenue (IGR). This document will be made available to the public as soon as it is finished. We are also working on Public Private Initiatives and other international partnerships that have potential to benefit our economy.