A Governorship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State, Otunba Jimi Lawal, argues in this interview with The Guardian’s MUYIWA ADEYEMI that free and compulsory education for children in the Gateway State up to a minimum  JSS 3 level is an obligation, which no responsible government should shy away from:

Why do you want to govern Ogun State?
I have been exposed to governance at a higher level, especially in FCT, Abuja and Kaduna State. As luck will have it, we shall soon have a vacancy in the Ogun State Government House, and for many reasons, I believe I have been prepared for this purpose, but unknown to me. Many friends and relations drew my attention to it that the experiences I have acquired so far since 2003 will be good for Ogun State.

What are your priorities?
For us, education will not only be made free but will be compulsory up to JSS 3. We believe the first nine years in school before a child becomes 14 or 15 is a must. This is because education is the difference between light and darkness. We need to bring as many of our youths out of darkness. For me, it is an obligation and not something to be debated. I have read some opinions that made me laugh, that free education does not add quality, therefore, it is better to pursue qualitative education and forget about making it free. To me it is laughable, because let’s say this food we have can taste better, but when someone is starving to death, he forgets about quality. Save that person first, that is my approach. If it is gari that will make him survive, provide it before looking for fish or meat and prevent death.

Illiteracy is a disease. In 2018/19, we cannot afford to have any child left behind in formal education. If we fail to do this, then we should prepared for disaster being experienced where importance was not given to education. Look at the North-East zone of this country, Borno, Yobe and Adamawa axis, the crisis being experienced there now, many had seen the handwriting on the walls 20 years ago. Their rate of success at WAEC and JAMB is as low as 3-5 per cent. Nobody did anything about it and these are the citizens that can be easily manipulated because they lack education. If they have basic education, they would have seen the light and know that there is no justification for taking other peoples’ lives or committing suicide. For us, it important we see education as a basic, fundamental right for all citizens of Ogun State.

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The same thing for heath care. We believe the maternal mortality rate and infant mortality rate are too high for comfort. As leaders, we shall be held to account for the lives we could save and we failed to save. To achieve this goal, we have 236 wards in Ogun State; we must have at least one functional primary healthcare center in each of these wards. Recently, we went to Imeko/Afon Local Government, one of our members, a classmate of mine took ill. In the whole of Imeko Afon Local Government, we could not find any functional hospital we could take him – private or public. We had to rush him back to Abeokuta to save his life before he was returned to Ijebu Ode. Look at the distance, if it were a life threatening matter. For us, we must go back to the basics- education and healthcare must be accorded priority and must be “inclusive accelerated development in Ogun State.”

Your party, APC and the Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun have indicated preference for Ogun West Senatorial District to produce the next governor, but you are from Ogun East?
That pattern of zoning is not party arrangement. I must correct that. It’s Governor Amosun’s preference. There is no zoning in APC; anybody in the state is free to contest. Even if you read Governor Amosun very well, he expressed his preference for Ogun West, but he said he would not stop any Ogun East aspirant.

He said this because we rotate leadership in our state for fairness and equity. That’s why somebody from Ogun Central Senatorial District cannot succeed Amosun. Though I am for merit, I believe that to occupy the exalted position of governor of Ogun State should be on merit rather than place of birth. My place of birth is accidental; we are not yet there. Let’s ensure we have fair rotation in the state. All I want is a level playing field, free and fair primary. I am glad that the national leadership of the party has decided that we should not only have free and fair primary, but we should go for direct primaries, which is most fair compared to indirect primaries.

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If Governor Amosun wants to make me the governor and God does not approve of it, it will not happen, no matter how hard he tries. On the other hand, if he is against me being his successor and almighty God is in favour of it, it cannot be stopped. A case in point involved the governor himself. There was nothing (former Governor, Otunba Gbenga) Daniel did not do to stop Amosun. It was meant to go to Ogun West then, but the PDP members divided themselves into two and the factions in PDP and PPN fielded Yewa, their votes were divided to pave way for Amosun to emerge as a governor. This is very instructive, because that was when it was Ogun West’s turn to become governor.

Are you saying it is not Ogun West’s turn now to produce the next governor?
No. We have two provinces in Ogun State; Ijebu province and Egba province. Egba has a sub-division; Egbado or Yewa. Ijebu has a sub division; Remo. An Ijebu man had been a governor, so when the chance came back to Ijebu province again, they said let us go to Remo. Egba man had been a governor in the person of Chief Olusegun Osoba and when it went back to Egba province, which was supposed to be given to Yewa, Amosun got it. So, Governor Amosun could not have used the Egba/Egbado tenure and come back to say Egba/Egbado again, it is not possible.

History was very clear that Yewa and Egbas are not from the same source, the reason why many people believe that Ogun State stands on a tripod, that is Egba, Ijebu and Yewa and power should rotate among the three, why are you contradicting this arrangement?
Very smart question, but the answer is simple, and let’s be objective. Look at Nigeria; we started as two protectorates, the Northern protectorate and Southern Protectorate.

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Today, we have six geo-political zones, President Muhammadu Buhari is about to finish (his first term). If he wins second term in 2019, let’s fast-forward to 2023 – he is from the North West.  Go and check, we have not heard civilian President from the North East. Now, imagine President Buhari telling Nigerians that he wants to put a North East person there because that zone has not produced President of Nigeria. What will you do? It must come to the South! When it comes to the South, it can be South East, South South or South West. It is the same thing in Ogun State. It is Ijebus and Egbas. That we have three senatorial districts does not change the fundamental platform of the two provinces that produced Ogun State.

edSo, you are kicking against the arrangement that the three Senatorial districts can rotate the governorship? 
I am not kicking against anything, but I am telling you the foundation of power rotation in Ogun State and it is a foundation of cooperation and it has been well established. Remo is part of Ijebu and Yewa is part of Egba. Who are the Yewa people, they are the Eguns, Aworis, Ketus.

Culled from: https://guardian.ng/politics/lawal-why-ogun-west-cant-produce-next-governor/


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