In this interview, Sunshine Integrity presents a young, vibrant and eloquent Nigerian who is giving flesh to his lofty vision, Akinrinsola Odunayo Kabonti vying to represent Ondo South Senatorial District in the Red Chamber.
Do you believe in zoning?
Zoning arrangement has always been a conventional practice for our party. It may not be constitutional but it is a convention. So this is the way we have been doing it and it has always allowed peace to reign in the party.
If considered in the coming primary election, will zoning favour you?
If you look at the conventional arrangement of zoning, you will discover that this is the turn of Ile-Oluji/Okeigbo/Odigbo Federal Constituency to produce the next Senator for Ondo South. So conventionally I will tell you that it favours my Local Government Area. That is why we are saying that for posterity sake, we should be able to come together to call a spade a spade. Let’s not deviate from what we have always known to be our tradition. Because who knows, tomorrow, when it is the turn of another Local Government and we rise up to contend it with them, posterity will judge. We are saying that at this point, we should do the right thing and allow peace to reign by doing things in a conventional way that we have always practised. If they come jostling for the same thing now, when it’s their turn, we may present a credible candidate on the basis that what goes around comes around. What they are trying to tell us now is that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. But it shouldn’t be so. So we are looking up to the leadership of the party to come out and be courageous to declare that we still stand in the conventional arrangement either through an active or a passive display of their value. We shouldn’t undermine that the party has a conventional way of doing things. It may not be constitutional, like I said, but convention and constitution are powerful words. Sometimes, constitution can be rearranged, reviewed or changed but convention has to do with the future. It has to do with moral standard. It has to do with the spirit of fairness and equity. So it has always been a bedrock with which we have built a progressive party. This is what we have been yearning for.
As one of the leading aspirants running to represent the Ondo South Senatorial District, what do you have for the people that is different from others?
I appreciate that question because it has always been the bedrock of my campaign. I have a seven bullet points which I believe will be beneficial to my people. Going to the Senate is no child’s play. Why mine will be different is because I am prepared. I am ready and I have been through the nooks and crannies of my constituency and district. I know what their problems are. I understand what we are facing. So within the limited resources available to a Senator, I will be able to execute the seven bullet points which I have designed as my manifesto for the election.
The First is introduction of BCAP
BCAP is Backhome Constituency Action Plan which stands as a map out strategy that speaks volumes about what my program will be. It expatiates what I will be doing when elected into office.
The next is tagged AGIP standing for Active Grassroots Initiative Participation.
Another one is called introduction of annual empowerment and social welfare intervention for party members within the South Senatorial District. These will emphasize on empowerment that can stand the test of time.
There is also a provision of affordable health facilities for the aged, the vulnerable and social/recreational centres for children.
I will introduce educational incentives and human capital development initiatives for the youths.
I will equally embark on rapid capital project that culminates investment opportunities in the Local Government Areas.
The final point is promotion of gender equality and provision of support to the State Government to reduce mortality rate among our pregnant women.
How do you intend to generate fund to power these programmes/projects?
There is something called constituency allowance which is designed to be used as a give back to the constituency. The project is usually presented to the Senate. So what comes as your constituency allowance is the budget for the project you have desired to do. It’s not as if the fund is stashed away somewhere. We will harness the available constituency fund towards achieving these projects. I have made it clear to the electorates from my constituency that I will not spend a dime from the constituency allowance for my personal needs. We will set up committees to ensure that these happen as expected.
Recently, the Ondo State APC adopted the indirect primary ahead of 2019, does this decision go well with you?
I have always believed in leadership and organisational structures. You cannot work against the party. I’m a citizen of Ondo State and a leader in the political structure of my State. So if indirect primary is what the leadership of the party adopts, I cannot think differently. The truth is that both the direct and indirect primaries have their different advantages and disadvantages. For one, adopting direct primary now in the State will make the process too porous. It will be too cumbersome to use it. For instance, at the moment, I doubt if there is a comprehensive record of the card carrying members in APC Ondo State. Especially, these days that people flock into the party on daily basis. Some of these people do not even know what the APC card looks like. So you see, direct primary may expose the process to rigging and different sorts of atrocities. Now, there may come a day when direct primary will work for Ondo State. But certainly that day is not today.
Have you been endorsed by any godfather?
My own political belief goes beyond godfatherism. I don’t dwell on such shallow waters. I believe in the acceptability of the electorate. I thank God that to a reasonable extent, I have got acceptance from the people that I have met so far. I will not call it endorsement but rather acceptance. Because when people accept you, they can easily forgive your misgivings but when they endorse you, you will likely be leading with another person’s template. You will not be given enough room to operate.
As an APC aspirant, are you comfortable with the performance of the party so far in the different levels of leadership in the country?
Let me quickly remind you that APC is a party whose manifesto speaks volumes about the development of the country. It’s a progressive party! It emphasizes unity, progress, security and fighting against corruption. So when you observe the country today, you will discover that it is only people of ill-will that will say that the APC has not done anything. Because now, the glory of this country is gradually being restored. Don’t forget that we have people who had led us for 16 years into the pit that we have now fine ourselves. Today, Nigerians are respected all over the world. This is unlike before when Nigerians were seen as fraudsters. We have gradually left that sorry place and transcended to a place of global reckoning. See how far the APC has taken the country today, no well-meaning Nigerian will allow another party to come and lead the nation back into Egypt. I can tell you that Buhari will certainly win the upcoming election. Even in Osun, the APC will surely emerge at the end of the day.
Finally, if you win the primary, what will be your advice to the other contestants, and if, God forbids, you do not emerge, will you leave the party?
I have always been a progressive person. After contesting with the incumbent Governor of the State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, in 2016, I did not leave the party. Don’t forget that some aspirants were given back the money with which they bought forms. But I insisted that my own money should be used for the development of the party. I am a financial member of the APC. I have always been helping the party to grow in one way or the other. So having invested so much into the party, I will not think so low as to want to leave the party. When by the grace of God, I emerged come next week, I will tell other contestants to come together because the spirit of the party and her core message is unity. So we will come together, synergize ideas and form a formidable team. We need cohesion. If you are a winner today, you need to go after the people you have contested with. Tell them the need to work together. I will make them realize that we are all winners because we still have a greater task ahead of us.