Olawale Rasheed is a seasoned journalist and director, Society for Youth Research in Nigeria. In this interview, the Iwo-born politician aspiring to govern Osun State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) speaks with OLAJIDE OMOJOLOMOJU about his aspiration.
What is the current state of your party, the PDP, both at the state and federal level?
The PDP has moved closer to the resolution of her leadership crisis and the post-convention crisis. What we await is a date for the conclusion of the congresses. Behind what you see as crisis is an unwritten agreement among all leaders that we must get over this mess and unite for victory in September. All leaders across factions agree to this. Leaders are aware that Osun people are waiting patiently and we are resolved not to disappoint our people. Also I must add that despite the internal feud, mobilisation for victory is ongoing state wide. The gubernatorial aspirants are winning more souls and are marketing the party to Osun people. Eventually, the PDP will present an acceptable candidate to redeem the state from these years of the locust.
There are reports that you’re likely to contest in the coming guber race in Osun State, how true is that?
That is very true. We are very much in the race, because we know Osun State at this point in time deserves a new millennium, new age leadership. On all parameters, we are convinced that we have a lot to offer the state at this critical point in time. We have over two decades of political experience, during which we served many leaders. We have close to three decades of private sector experience, during which time we traversed the length and breadth of Nigeria as a politics journalist. We have close to six years government service experience from the social to infrastructure sectors, during which time we partook in critical policy making and implementation. We have also devoted our time working on policy design and innovation in a depressed economy both as director of Society for Youth Research and Director, Policy Advocacy Centre of Abuja Commerce Chamber. We thus have an all-round integrated experience qualifying us for the top job.
Beyond that, Osun at this point does not need a super human as a leader. We need a leader who can identify with the poor and govern with the fear of God. We need a leader who will govern from the people and not from the shadow. We need a leader who will simplify governance and enforce truly pro people, pro-good governance agenda. We need a leader who will embrace open government initiatives. Let us open up government’s accounts to the people; let’s embrace open procurement; let’s embrace open budget; let’s embrace open information access; let’s embrace open expenditure; let’s embrace open decision making. To all these, I am committed, hence my interest in the guber race.
From historical trace, you’re one of the founding members of the PDP, will you say this will enhance your chances of getting the guber ticket of your party?
The beauty of my aspiration is that I am a political son of most key leaders of the party, not only in the state but at the federal level. We have been with many of the leaders for long. They know me growing up politically. I worked with many of them at close quarters. I was there at the maiden meeting in Abuja in 1998; and at the maiden meeting for South West at Ibadan. I was the Director of Publicity for the governorship campaign in 1999 when our leader and elder, Senator Oluwole Alabi was the guber candidate. We are like party strategists.
We have paid our dues. That experience is combined with competency. We are lucky to have distinguished ourselves in many critical assignments. So, our candidacy is an integration of qualification, experience and competency. Olawale Rasheed as a guber candidate will unite the leaders and win the state for the PDP. Our partnership with the youth sector is the strongest among all the aspirants. Our five-point agenda is convincingly innovative and workable – 10 point action plan against debt; human approach to governance; business-state prosperity partnership; local content infrastructural plan; and open government initiatives. And of course, we are seeking for one thing – the grace to serve the under-privilged, the neglected, the jobless, the poor, the abandoned, the greater mass of our people. We will govern with fear of God and we will redeem our state from this repressive reign.
Do you think the PDP has the wherewithal to wrestle with the ruling party, considering the internal wrangling in your party?
The fight for change of government in September is beyond PDP. It is of the people backed by God. Our God has seen the suffering of our people. The Israelites were powerless before Pharaoh, but the strong arm of God fought for them. So, I can assure you that the PDP will win with God and the people. That is why many leaders are careful about the guber candidate.
The leaders are listening and studying the feelings of the people to ensure we have the right man for the job. Just go to the streets of our major towns – our citizens want a new face, unsoiled hand with requisite integrated experience to tackle the job at hand. The job at hand is that of technocrat with applicable political understanding and empathy for the poor.
How would you assess the government of the ruling All Progressives Congress at the state and federal level?
If Osun state is to be a company, by now it would have entered into receivership and the managers probably in jail. That is the bitter truth. So my view – Governor Rauf Aregbesola is an ambitious developmental planner with skewed financial skill. It is great to have huge infrastructures. But many questions will follow. Why the huge contract cost? Why the unsustainable borrowing habit? Why the failure to balance human and infrastructural needs of the people? Why the opaqueness in government contract and finance? Why the arrogance of power and neglect of leadership responsiveness? Why the near zero love for workers welfare? Osun state is in a mess irrespective of white washing and propaganda.
What will you do differently, if given the opportunity to serve?
As a governor, I won’t probe my predecessor. I won’t probe the tenure of Governor Aregbesola. I would rather concentrate on cleaning the mess using my five-point agenda. First I would tackle the debt crisis. I have a ten point action plan specifically designed to address this. Then I will go into creating prosperity through business government partnership, our number two agenda. Here, Osun will be transformed into a huge economic machine alongside a modified Japanese/Korean model. The partnership will raise revenue, create massive jobs and ensure communal prosperity in place of growing poverty. Three, we will enforce human approach in governmental plans. Education and health will be handled innovatively and workers welfare will become first line charge. We have the best integrated youth development agenda. This is our area of specialty.
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