Voters in Ondo State are going to the polls on Saturday, November 26 to elect a new governor that would take over from Olusegun Mimiko, whose tenure expires in February 2017.
Although 28 political parties are featuring governorship candidates for the coming election, the Ondo State governorship debate holding at the BTO Hall, Ilesa Road Akure, will tonight have in attendance governorship candidates from four political parties.
The candidates are Olusola Oke of the Alliance for Democracy; Jimoh Ibrahim of the Peoples Democratic Party; Rotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress and Olu Agunloye of of the Social Democratic Party.
The debate is jointly organised by Channels Television, Enough Is Enough (EIE), and Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC).
Organisers say candidates are expected to answer questions on the economy, corruption, and a host of other issues agitating the minds of the citizens of the state.
The candidates are also expected to use the platform to sell themselves to the electorate, and educate them on their plans for the development of the state.
For many Ondo citizens, the debate, which would be shown live on Channels TV, might be the only opportunity to know the candidates well enough in making up their minds on whom to vote for on Saturday.
We will be serving you snippets of the debate, which starts at 7 PM.
Debate about to begin.
Yemi Adamolekun, executive director of EiE, explains the rationale for the debate, saying the tradition of debate is gaining ground in Nigeria.
She said her team was disappointed in the Ondo government which refused the use of state assets for the debate.
She accused the government of refusing to allow the debate hold at The Dome while the state’s broadcast stations also declined to air the debate.
Three of the four candidates invited have been called up to the podium.
They are Olusola Oke of the Alliance For Democracy, Jimoh Ibrahim of the Peoples Democratic Party and Olu Agunloye of the Social Democratic Party.
The fourth candidate, Rotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress is absent.
Organisers hope he will change his mind and attend.
National anthem over, candidates are making introductory remarks.
Seun Okinbaloye of Channels TV is moderating the debate.
Olusola Oke: I have been in politics for 31 years. I only changed party last year when the ship of the PDP was nosediving. I left for the APC.
“APC promised us transparent primary, but its primary was the most fraudulent and because of what I stand for, I had to move to the Alliance for Democracy.”
“I believe the Almighty I will win the election. Let the election be free and fair. If the election is conducted fairly and freely, and I lose, I will congratulate the winner. But if it’s not free and fair, I will challenge it.
Jimoh Ibrahim. “I brought live to the PDP. Mimiko recently joined the PDP. I’m the oldest papa of PDP in this state.”
“A vote for me is a vote in hope, a vote in stability, a vote in justice.
“I’m not a spoiler, I’m a developer.”
Olu Agunloye: The political situation in this country is in a state of flux. We are yet to reach stability. The President of this republic contested four times on the platform of different political parties.
In my case, I hate injustice, and whenever I see injustice, I fight it.
Olusola Oke: The good people of Ondo State are sponsoring my campaign
Tinubu is not funding my campaign. Our paths don’t cross. He is APC, I’m in AD. Those saying he is funding my campaign are either ignorant or mischievous.
Jimoh Ibrahim: I’m a businessman. I have no business interest in Ondo State and there will be no conflict of interest.
There is a court judgment concerning Newswatch and you can’t say I’m the owner of that paper and that I’m owning salaries.
I have been honoured by this country three times. I buy dead companies and raise them up.
I’m employing 31,000 Nigerians, paying their salaries. So I’m a very successful businessman.
AGUNLOYE: Chief Falae did not get money from NSA – Agunloye says.
Olu Agunloye defended the national leader of the SDP, Olu Falae, saying he did not collect any money from the NSA as alleged.
He said the money received was for the party which entered into agreememt with the PDP for the 2015 presidential campaign.
Jimoh Ibrahim promises to create companies and provide employment, saying it would take just three days to create a company.
“The government has no business privatizing companies in Ondo a State,” he said.
Agunloye promises to pay backlog of salaries in the first few months of taking over office. He added that his government would make the welfare of the people a priority.
Olusola Oke says unemployment in the state has assumed an “epidemic” proportion.
He says he does not know how many unemployed graduates in the state, but said there is a huge number of unemployed graduates in the state.
Jimoh Ibrahim says he will eradicate all forms of taxes in the state. Personal Income Tax, he says, will be eradicated.
He says, “We should be talking of innovation in revenue, not federal allocation.”
Oke assures that in three months, citizens will begin to see changes in the economy of the state.
He says he will not eradicate personal income tax because it is statutory.
Agunloye says IGR presently means extorting money from citizens in form of taxes without providing services.
He promises to move away from that and ensure the government provides services that will generate revenue.
“No more tax in Ondo from the very day I’m sworn in as governor” — Jimoh Ibrahim
Olu Agunloye: “The recession in Ondo State is about corruption. We have no business with recession.”
Jimoh Ibrahim insists he will eradicate personal income tax. “You don’t take money from workers who are owned salaries for several months,” he says. “We are going to eliminate personal income tax.”
On minimum wage:
Issues surrounding minimum wage is fraud, Agunloye says. He said the increments are irregular and fraudulent.
Agunloye says he will ensure pensioners get paid without difficulty. He says corruption is causing poverty in the state.
Jimoh Ibrahim promises to increase minimum wage immediately he is sworn in.
He also says he will increase pension.
He says there will be money to do that.
Olusola Oke says increasing minimum way is not feasible given the huge backlog of salaries owed workers of the state. He says for one year of his administration, increasing minimum wage will not be on his agenda.
Jimoh Ibrahim promises to increase minimum wage from N18,000 to N75,000.
He says with N2billion coming from grants, N2.5billion coming from Ondo Oil, regularly, he will be able to pay the money. “You cannot change things with workers who are hungry,” he says.
Agunloye promises free education at primary and secondary education.
Olusola Oke promises free education at primary and secondary levels.
Jimoh Ibrahim says free education is a must at all levels. He said 100 schools will be converted to boarding houses.
Agunloye says he will be tough on insecurity and ensure cattle rearing is regulated.
Jimoh Ibrahim says five percent of gross allocation to the state will be given to traditional rulers for local security and ensure development in their areas.
Jimoh Ibrahim says security vote is a fraud, saying he will not spend government funds to protect himself while his people remain vulnerable.
Olusola Oke says security votes will not be abolished.
He says he will retain the fund, but reduce amount. He promises to be transparent and accountable in the administration of the security votes.
“There are things the governor does on security that cannot go through the bureaucracy,” he said.
On herdsmen, he says he will summon a stakeholders meeting to discuss the matter.
Jimoh Ibrahim knocks federal government over state of economy, says the balance of trade has become negative, as he defends the PDP government of Segun Mimiko.
He says, “PDP has not done very bad” in the last eight years.
Olusola Oke promises to publish annual budget of the state. He says the budget is a public document accessible to citizens.
He however says he will not publish budget on security.
All aspects of the budget and economy of the state will be made public, says Agunloye. Corruption has been a problem, we will not have a situation where things are hidden.
Olu Agunloye turns down request by Oke to align with him, to become governor, as he responds to a question by Oke. He says there might be need for unity government after the election because Ondo is in crisis.
I am the next governor of Ondo State, Jimoh Ibrahim says.
Debate ends as candidates shake hands and embrace one another.