Osun poll: I’ve instructed my supporters to resist rigging by all means — Omisore
The governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party in Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore, tells FEMI MAKINDE that he is open to collaboration with credible opposition parties to wrest power from the All Progressives Congress in the September 22 election
How confident are you going into the election with 47 other contestants?
Right now, I am the most qualified governorship candidate among the numerous contestants going into the election. There is none of the candidates that can match my credentials –talking of certificates, objectivity, exposure, commitment to good governance and so on. As it stands, the election is about Omisore and others. I am superior to their sponsors, their godfathers, their ‘god-brothers’ and their ‘godmothers’. Osun people want an independent candidate at this point and anybody that loves the state should vote for no other party than the SDP. This is the only party with a fair and open-minded person, with leadership traits, who is well conversant with governance.
You are a candidate with no government support at the federal and state levels. Don’t you think this will affect your chances of winning this election?
The problem we have in this country is that without finance, people think we cannot win an election. Let us forget about money and think about the accountability, experience, exposure of the candidate. It is not about financing alone. It is about acceptability and the ability to deliver and I have well-meaning leaders in the party like Olu Farounbi and Hon. Jibola Olaitan; so, we have a very good leadership in the SDP.
Is there any possibility of you teaming up with other candidates in the opposition parties ahead of the election?
The aim of governance is to deliver to the people and one does not have to be selfish about it. If any opposition party feels they can work together with us, that is okay. If anyone, credible in the opposition, wants to work with us, let them come so that we can save Osun from these eight years of hardship. We are open inasmuch as they are credible and together, we will get the task done.
It was reported last week that the Federal Government released N16.67bn from the Paris Club loan refund to Osun State secretly. What do you think prompted this?
That money was released for this governorship election and it is obvious. Everybody knows that and you don’t need to keep asking before you know. I am sure Nigerians know the reason behind the money at this time. At the same time, they gave N10, 000 to N30,000 people in Iwo last week. They have been squandering money because of this election and we also heard that they spent N4.2bn on billboards and posters and the money they are wasting can be used to offset some backlogs of salaries and pensions.
Are you saying the TraderMoni loan they are giving out is to buy over voters ahead of the poll?
They have been giving out the money but on the day of the election, we are not going to allow anything like that. If they think they are smart, we are smarter. I know they want to outsmart us but we are ready for them.
The Independent National Electoral Commission has assured us that anybody with money will not be allowed to stay in the polling areas, let alone be allowed to give it out to voters. If they are found, they should be accosted by our agents and make sure that they get arrested. The security agencies are also saying vote-buying and selling would not be allowed and we hope they do what they are saying.
What are the specific programmes that you have for the state?
Education in the state is already comatose and I would return the 6-3-3 structure back to the state’s education system. Our hospitals too have become mere buildings and understaffed. We are going to resuscitate them. Most schools have no teachers; I have to employ new teachers and also employ more doctors.
There are a lot of abandoned projects and some have been under construction for eight years. I want to make sure they are completed in due time. We would also embark on agricultural programmes.
I am going to provide a lot of employment opportunities for our people by converting this OYES to a profitable job. I am going to ensure that salaries are paid as and when due and up-to-date. To also make Osun an industrial hub is part of our plan in order to add value to what we bring from the farm. All jobs will be given to our artisans in the state, instead of giving them to Lagosians. We want to re-engineer that process to favour local contractors and engineers. We are also going to create an enabling environment for market women and traders.
Do you have the actual figure of debt the state owes now?
What the state (government) owes is N218bn, but it wants to push us to the tune of N300bn before it leaves when there is nothing to show for the money it has borrowed. We still owe workers’ salaries. But we will have the whole picture when we get there by the grace of God. There are domestic debt and Irrevocable Standing Payment Order and money is being deducted from source for every allocation.
Are you not worried with the growing popularity of Oyetola?
I don’t know what you mean by Oyetola is the most popular candidate. He is the least popular candidate in this state. Let me tell you, all the defectors of the APC have come to populate the SDP. We have structures in all the polling units, wards, local governments and I think there is no party as big as the SDP in Osun. How can they say he is popular? They are trying to rig election and if they should attempt to do it, they will pay dearly for it. I have told my supporters. I have told my agents and everyone that they must resist it by all means.
What can you do if security agents fail to cooperate?
We will do the job of securing our votes by ourselves. We will track it from polling units to wards, to anywhere, just to make sure that there is no rigging. There will be no rigging this time; we will not allow them to steal our votes.
Which of the programmes of the present government are you going to continue if you eventually emerge?
All the programmes are uncompleted. The airport has not taken off. Basically, as a mature politician and a businessman, I have to complete all those projects. I’m going to spend money on infrastructure, water supply, roads.
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