Few weeks before the primary elections of the All Progressives Congress, Ondo State, interested contestants are warming up into the electioneering track. No doubt, the stage is set. But who will emerge?
In this interview with Sunshine Integrity, Hon Smart Omodunbi, long time party administrator, and default member of the All Progressives Congress says that he knows all the stakeholders in the progressive family and will influence development to constituency if elected as member, Ondo State House of Assembly.
You have long been in the administration of the APC in Ondo State, what is the driving force behind your ambition for an elective office now?
I have always been an advocate and believer of human development. With all sense of modesty, since 2014, I have contributed in my own little way to the advancement of the party and service to humanity. This can be attested to by everyone who has known me overtime including the Governor of the State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, the Deputy Governor and every other member of the All Progressives Congress.
Do you think your contribution to the development of the party has given you an edge over the other contestants?
All other leaders have been asking for those contesting with me. I think they’re about seven of them. They are my brothers. But, I believe that I have the well withal. Not necessarily the financial resources but the leadership capacity to bring about the implementation of the party’s ideologies and manifesto.
Does this well withal also include godfathers?
God is my father. I will not say I rely so much on godfathers although that cannot be ruled out in politics. I consulted the Local Government leaders and their responses were quite impressive because they understand that I am capable of representing them well.
You have been in the APC administration for long now. Will you say that the adopted indirect primary will help to enhance fairness in the conduct of the primary election?
You see, when APC was formed in the State, I was the pioneer administrative Secretary of the Party in the State. Overtime, I have discovered that due to certain technicalities, adopting direct primaries will not work in the State. That will be an invitation to anarchy. In 2014, the national body of the party sent 203 membership register to Ondo State for the 203 wards. I was the one that distributed the forms to the 18 local government areas. As I speak with you, not a single register has been returned to us and there cannot be an election without a valid register that must be used for accreditation. So without that, how possible is it that the direct primaries can be credible, free and fair? It was used in Osun State and that was because the State at the time had a governor of APC. Probably, the Governor used his own personal resources to update the data for the party. But here, when APC was formed, we had no governor from the party so only the leaders were putting their heads together to update the register. So you see, it will be impossible for APC to adopt direct primaries as far as present day Ondo State is concerned.
You are from Akoko. It is generally held that the past administration did little to ensure even development within the State. Two years into Akeredolu ‘s tenure, would you say that The Northern Senatorial District has benefited from the administration?
Just as I would always say, I know Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu before he became the governor. I recall when he was telling me that “what I cannot do, I will never tell you I can do it.” I hold on to that word. As the Governor, Akeredolu is not known for “sweet-talking” people. In terms of the development of Akoko, I believe he is doing his best. Let me use for instance, the recent cut-off bridge between Ikun-Akoko and Idoani, immediately the news went viral on the social media, he swung into action. According to an eye witness, the Governor left his convoy and used a bike to go through the pedestrian lane to inspect the road. He left even his security details. My only appeal to him is just for him to look into the gateway into Akoko land which is the road between Owo and Ikare which also leads to my own immediate constituency. I know that with his many good policies for Akoko land, and with God on his side, he will do more.
If you emerged as a member of Ondo State House of Assembly, what will be your priority?
I will not say that my predecessors have not done their best. They may have tried only that more still need to be done. I thank God that my mother is a woman. My wife is a woman and all the children that God has so far blessed me with are all girls. So, my first priority as a member of the Ondo State House of Assembly would be the women and the youths. I will prioritise the empowerment of women and the development of the youths. My father once told me that if you want to plan for three months, plant a corn and under three months it will germinate and you will harvest. If you want to plan for ten years, plant a tree. But if you want to plan for a life time, develop men. I want to develop the youths of my Local Government. It is believed that no woman, no nation. It’s the women that give birth to the nation. In terms of employment, I have a deal for them. Why I think I stand out among others is that the leadership of the party knows me. I will use my wealth of experience and connection to bring even development, benefits and dividends of democracy to the door steps of my people.
Do you believe in constituency project as a member of the legislature?
I believe in it because it’s part of the dividends of democracy. For example, the university in Akungba. Before Adefarati became Governor, roads in Akungba were occupied by sheep and goats. But when Governor Adefarati influenced the citing of the University in Akungba things changed. Today, the area is not what it used to be 20 years ago. So as a member of the House of Assembly, and being that I know the Governor and he knows me, I can easily walk up to him and request for projects that would develop my area. With all sense of humility and modesty, I want to mention that I have a relationship with all the commissioners. My people are farmers and one of the key agenda of Akeredolu’s administration is empowerment through agriculture. Being that we are predominantly farmers, I can easily suggest innovations to the Governor on how farming can be improved upon so as to enhance productivity within my Local Government. I have also spoken with some agricultural scientists. When the time comes, we will develop proposals that would help Akoko people to advance from the old ways of farming.
After the primaries, are there modalities in place to ensure that those who do not win remain members of the party? Also, what is your advice for such people if you finally emerge?
Let me appreciate you for this question. You see my belief in life is that all efforts must be geared towards winning. But immediately victory is not attained, the outcome must be accepted with a sincere spirit of sportsmanship. Two can never become first. I’m appealing to all other contestants at the ward level, the Local Government level, the State level and the National level to accept the result whichever way it goes. That you do not win does not necessarily mean that you have lost. You have only leant how to do it better next time. Our party is our party. The victory of the past has always been a collaborative effort. The glory is shared. If by the grace of God, I emerge victorious, I appeal to all the other contestants, some of which I am sorry to say are political herdsmen. They have ran from this party to that and that and that. I have never. I know how much I committed into this party even while under ACN when the Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, who by God’s grace is the Governor now was running for office. We know what many of them did then to frustrate our effort. You know politics is a game of number so now they are running back to us. They were not there when we were cooking the soup so it is not now that they would come and lay claim to the biggest chicken in the soup pot. If I win, which by God’s grace I know will sure happen, I will put up a proposal to set up a reconciliation committee in my own constituency. I would also advise other contestants to emulate this so that the leadership of the party in each of the Local Governments will call us together and pacify them because together we stand, divided we fall. I will also want the State leadership of the party to set up a reconciliation committee that will do the same for those running for national assembly. I believe that this way, the party will emerge victorious in 2019.
Finally, what do you have to say about the Senator representing Ondo North who by his utterances has been like APC in Abuja and RAPC in Ondo State?
I only recognize one APC as far as the Federal Republic of Nigeria is concerned. The so-called RAPC, I only see them as the rouges in the APC because when you look at most of them, they were not part of us from the beginning. Thank God they are heading back to where they came from. As far as the issue of the distinguished Senator, Robert Ajayi Borrofice, who happens to be the Senator representing my own Senatorial District is concerned, it is the issue of two elders. So I will not want to comment on it.