By MOSES NOSIKE
Count down to the governorship election in Ondo state, a clip of the old block has emerged. Soji Ehinlanwo is not a neophyte in the troubled waters of Nigeria’s politics despite his 13 years sojourn in the United Kingdom.
Disturbed by what he called the dwindling fortunes of the state, he has vowed to occupy the government house via the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in order to bring rapid transformation which the state urgently needs. Excerpts:
What informed your decision to join politics?
I left Nigeria for the UK in 1996 and came back in 2009. Each time I visited my home in Ondo state, I observed that no significant changes have been recorded particularly in remote areas for almost 13 years I’ve been away. When I juxtaposed the squalor, poverty and almost complete lack of social infrastructures that I saw with the standard of living and level of social infrastructures in the places where I lived in Europe, I always feel sad.
I was even more depressed when I considered the resources available to our state and all the missed opportunities to deploy this for the transformation of lives of the generality of our people. It was this state of affairs that influenced my decision to join politics in 2007. I just feel that things must change and but this can’t happen if I shy away from helping to correct this anomaly. This, therefore, was my motivation for joining politics.
I have been politicking for over five years, but then, given my passion for politics since my student days, I could as well say that I have been in politics in all my life.
Why did you leave Labour Party for CPC?
When I decided to join the Labour Party as well as back the Governorship bid of the incumbent, I genuinely thought, along with others, that the Labour Party could be used as a strong vehicle for a rapid and remarkable transformation of our state. It was also this thought process that influenced my wanting to represent Ilaje /Ese-Odo Federal constituency on the platform of the same Labour Party at the House of Representatives in 2011.
But the confidence that I and many others had was soon revealed to be misplaced as this government gradually drifted and began to lose focus.
Internal party democracy was jettisoned for the supremacy of the will of one man. There was also a loss of direction and drive in terms of the totality of the action needed and urgency involved in the formulation and implementation of wide ranging and holistic programmes that could have dramatically transformed the state and make it the envy of others.
Soon, it became clear that the government had lost the plot in terms of the delivery of development programmes for the state.
In the light of these failures, I did not believe that the best interests of the state were being served by the Labour government and could not in all good conscience continue to identify with the Labour Party. It was a moral and ideological issue for me.
After examining all the parties, I was convinced that the CPC is the best platform for me to push, along with others, the agenda of massive, rapid and meaningful transformation of our dear state.
Why should the people of Ondo cast their votes for you?
With all sense of modesty, my party and I are best suited to achieve the kind of transformational change which the state urgently needs at this point in time. As an individual, I have acquired such excellent experience of delivering massive public and private sector transformational change in some of the most advanced, social and economic environments coupled with a sound knowledge of the state and its people which I believe will help me in delivering effectively.
I am well placed to harness numerous contacts at home and abroad for generating and bringing in considerable investments into our state. At 47, I believe I possess the agility, sufficient insight and have acquired the necessary experience and exposure needed to take decisions that will help to ensure a dramatic change in the fortunes of our people across gender, age, generational and other social divides.
We have developed a Four Point agenda which represent our main thrust; aside other simultaneous plans that will help expedite the radical transformation of our state within our term in office if I am elected.
This four point plan include, the enhancement of the education system through the provision of highly qualitative, free, functional and accessible education for school age children up to Secondary school certificate level. This will include equipping the schools with the modern (ICT) facilities as well as the complete refurbishing of old and dilapidated schools across all the nooks and crannies of the state.
So, with my pedigree and our vision for Ondo state, we believe that our people will be more than happy to vote for us.
How strong do you think your chances are in the contest?
Very bright! The feedback that I am getting is that people see my entry into the race as some real breath of fresh air. And generally, people see our party as the one without any baggage and most suited to governing Ondo state and providing that change that our people so earnestly desire. Given their recent and current experience, our people are now clamouring for visionary and dynamic leadership for the state and they are excited about my entry into the race because they believe I am the one of all the aspirants best able to deliver these leadership aspirations for our dear state.
How true is it that you are banking on your father’s support base to give you an edge during the primaries?
My Father has served his people and his country well. He has his admirers. With all modesty, as a smart politician, it will be foolhardy of me if I did not attempt to exploit these links and support to promote our grand vision of making Ondo state rise again. But, in addition, having participated in politics for a while, I have also built my own support base capable of engendering a real paradigm shift in the service of our people.
So, I am also going to harness this significant support base. Finally, we are also going to mobilise the large number of Ondo state indigenes who obviously see the big difference we represent via our transformational change agenda and align with us. No doubt, all of that will give me an important and leading edge.
Do you think your party will emerge victorious?
Most certainly! We will replicate the Obama kind of victory which happened in the USA in 2008 in our own local way in 2012
In the event that you are not elected to fly your party’s flag, what will you do?
Those who know me well will tell you that I am a true democrat and I am very loyal to that which I believe in. As long as a process is not fraudulent and is transparent which I am confident our processes at the CPC are – you will find me weighing behind its outcome. So, you can be sure that I will give my full support to whatever the party decides.
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