Olaoluwa Adeyeye is an international trade and investment lawyer who recently contested the governorship elections in Ondo State under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview with Ibrahim Apekhade Yusuf, he speaks on the prospects of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s government in Ondo State, among other sundry issues. Excerpts:
You sought your party’s nomination in the 2016 governorship elections in Ondo State which Rotimi Akeredolu won. Does APC victory in that election inspire you?
One thing was very clear at that time, Ondo State needed to be salvaged from a downturn into poverty, starvation, mediocrity and the economic stagnancy militating against the state. The Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the state had stayed on the same level for a very long time and even at a time it dropped. The infrastructure of the state appeared abandoned to rot. No pipe borne water; no power supply in the entire southern senatorial district for many years. The four local government areas in the Akoko region became most horrible with little or no economic activity in play. So from all indications, it was very clear that there was need to take the state in another direction. I was clear in my mind that the APC candidate was going to win the last election regardless of whether it was my humble self or indeed anyone of the other eminently qualified aspirants. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have been able to put my hand up and indicate interest in that office and that desire was borne out of a faith we had and we still have in the future of Ondo State to be a trendsetting state in this country.
What is your assessment of Governor Akeredolu’s performance thus far?
Coming into office for the first time is different from an incumbent who would have had a hang of things. Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu has come into office for the very first time as the governor of Ondo State. We need to give him the benefit of time to fully appreciate, assimilate what he has met on ground and set the pace for his tenure. He has already begun to demonstrate the tone of his term with a few remarkable strides he has taken in this short period. For example, he’s trying to catch up with the salary arrears that the past administration left unpaid. He has also mapped out plans on how the state is going to move forward economically. He has commenced long outstanding road projects that are so crucial for the state in keeping with his five cardinal programmes promised, which include massive infrastructure deployment. Governor Akeredolu recently entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to construct a road that will connect Ondo State directly with Lagos State thereby enhancing much needed access to market for farmers as well as other added benefits. We are moving forward and I believe that Governor Akeredolu is going to do very well for Ondo State.
Do you see Akeredolu performing better than his predecessor?
I can say categorically that my expectation from Governor Rotimi Akeredolu is much higher than that of the former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko. Governor Akeredolu is not just a legal practitioner; he is a legal practitioner par excellence. He is someone who has practiced our profession at the very highest level. He comes to Ondo State with a reputation and a record that is intimidating both in practicing and administering the profession as a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). He is a man that we know to be courageous, that will take the right stand even if everybody is going the other way. Our expectation of Akeredolu is very high and I’m certain he will not disappoint the good people of Ondo State.
As an international trade and investment lawyer, how do you think you can contribute to the development of Ondo State, using your wealth of experience and connections?
My specialty in the practice of law has given me the opportunity to see firsthand how capital can be harnessed to stimulate development in the form of projects. One thing is quite clear now; we cannot leave the development of our nation and in this case Ondo State to the government alone to do. I’m already a mobile billboard for the amazing strategic opportunities that are possible in Ondo State and whenever I see willing players, I will be more than willing to steer them towards my dear state.
Is it true that you collected money to step aside for Senator Ajayi Boroffice a week to the primaries?
Let me state for the records as I have on a few occasions addressed this issue recently; I don’t make light of my statements nor do I delight in misrepresentations. I Michael Olaoluwa Adeyeye did not receive a dime to step down from the governorship race. I did not receive any money from/on behalf of the Boroffice Campaign Organisation. It was a decision I made and I followed through on my own. But you know people will always talk but that doesn’t bother me. I would rather focus on achieving set goals. While some disgruntled members of the APC moved over to the AD after the primaries, I stood firmly in the APC because there is no need to go right, left and centre when you have not finished the programme you are working with. So, we are still in the APC, we’ve always been in the APC and we are glad that our party won the election.
Should the people of Akure be watching out for you in 2019?
2019 is very close and yet it is very much far away. At the moment we are focused on some of the community impact initiatives that we want to drive forward. Those projects are much more important than elections and political projections. We are in politics to impact the lives of the people firstly. Very soon, we will let you know our decision about 2019 if any. Presently, we have a number of projects in the pipeline; a community library coming up and we are trying to find a site for sport facilities and a health center somewhere inside of our two local governments between Akure North and Akure South.
Tell us more about Olaoluwa Adeyeye Foundation?
Olaloluwa Adeoye Foundation is a vehicle I convened and is supported by my family and my friends as a platform via which we will give back to society, especially the people at the lower wrung of the ladder. Some of the people who support the foundation are old friends that I grew up with in Ondo State and some others are not even from Ondo State but they have come to identify with the passion I have for the state and its people.