Oyeleye Fasua is an entrepreneur who is running for governor of Ondo State on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Mr Oyeleye is challenged by the protracted crisis that led to the split of his party following his nomination at a controversial primary. He told PREMIUM TIMES how he is managing the crisis as he woos the electorate.
How are you preparing for the election in the face of the influences of political giants and heavyweights as your opponents?
You call them giants but we don’t see them as giants. We are all on the same level, depending on how you see it. They said Jimoh Ibrahim is a paperweight, even though he appears big, because if you put a ballot box in front of his mother’s house, he can hardly win that election because a good number of people will vote against him even within his house.
So, how prepared are you for this election?
Everything now will have to wait till the end. Because that we did not do those mega rallies does not mean we are not reaching out. What we are doing is slow and steady, door-to-door, house to house. We ride in public buses and taxis, and move in different directions to touch the people. We are doing our things differently. We are reaching out to the very people, to the communities and groups. That is how we are doing it in all the 18 local government areas.
It has been said that you are not doing rallies because you are broke, how do you react to that?
The money used for mega rallies is wasted. The same people that showed up at Jegede’s rally were the same people that attended Aketi’s rally. They were the same people that appeared at Ore for N2000 each for the ZLP rally. Is that wise? Not at all. You have to design your own style and approach. The way we approach things might be different from the way others may choose. They will share caps, they will share items for that day, and it will be the end of it. If we are doing our own, the same people will come there. All that they need is just the N2000 “dibo ko sebe” for that night. This is because people are in a circle of poverty. That thing is pushing people. When you get to the houses of some of these rally men and women, they have the shirts and caps for all the political parties. When there is any rally, they just put on the uniform for that political party. That is what is going on.
Given the crisis in the SDP right now, how are you coping and hoping to make any meaningful impact in the election?
There are crises everywhere. As we speak, the PDP and APC have crises. Everybody is trying to manage their crises. Even with the crises, you move ahead. Yesterday, the commissioner for OSOPADEC left the APC for the ZLP, at the dying minute. People are just moving here and there. You cannot even predict the one that is with you now. When Obaseki left the APC, he left some people to strategise for him. They refused to let go of Oshiomhole, they refused to lift the ban against him even when Obaseki left. Look at how the election there went. So, things out there are uncertain. One has to design his own style and approach. Don’t join the majority in what they are doing. We refuse to be copycats. We stand on our own, we maintain our integrity. I will be facing the governor at the debate. Jegede, Agboola Ajayi and Akeredolu, we are all on the same platform as we approach the debate scheduled for October 4.
In your own case, how are you handling the crisis along with the campaign?
Nobody can solve a crisis 100 per cent. It is a marriage of inconvenience. We will manage ourselves. Election will come and go. It is a matter of give and take. Even the person who doesn’t love you, you assume he loves you and you just move on.
Are you making efforts towards reconciliation so as not to have the SDP divided as you approach the election?
We are making it. It might not be total. You just do whatever you have to do and move on. Because if you press it too much they will take it as a weakness on your part.
The other faction opposing you says the SDP has no candidate for the governorship election. What is your reaction to that?
How can they have a candidate? They don’t have a candidate because what they did in Ondo is a get together. INEC was not there. No official was there. Our own primaries were well conducted. By now we should not be talking about that. You saw the INEC official list of candidates, it is my name that is there. So, they don’t have a candidate. They are not officially recognised. There cannot be two candidates for one party for an election. It is only one candidate. That is me, as recognised by INEC.
But they are in court to challenge your nomination…
Let the court take a decision. Can the court stop INEC from conducting the election? Certainly, not on this election.
There are fears of violence, given that pockets of violence had been noticed during the campaigns so far. Have you been harassed by any of the leading parties’ supporters?
I manage crises. I have experience in security matters. There was a day I was going on a campaign tour, I met Jegede people on the way. I am from Akure, he is from Akure. We stopped by and I gave his guys some money, they were hailing me and helped me get into my car. There is a way we can make peace in a mature way. We should be mature. It is the touts that are fighting to impress their leaders and that is in the negative, when they die they become a waste to their families. I am a security expert. I am the first Nigerian to be licensed as a private security company used by MTN to manage their crisis in Lagos. So my profession should work for me.
What are your chances? Do you really have a chance of winning, or you are just trying to test your popularity?
Not until the final count, you will not know who is who, surprises can happen as it happened in Edo. Let us wait until the final end.
Do you have confidence in INEC to deliver a free and fair election?
Well, you have to. It is a marriage of inconvenience. You have to force yourself to have that confidence and see how you can get the security to control any form of manipulation.
Are you not concerned about the trend of violence in elections in the country? Edo witnessed a little bit of sanity, what are your concerns in the coming Ondo election?
I still want to believe that something good will happen. Let us see how things will go.
We have witnessed some violence in the build up to the election. Do you see any positive signs ahead?
It depends on what happens, you cannot predict anything now. you might probably be experiencing peace now, and in a second there is an outbreak of violence; one action can trigger another action. So, let us wait and see.
What is driving your ambition to become governor of Ondo State? What is that thing you want to do differently from what the current administration is doing?
To lift Ondo State from the ground where they are now, to a higher level. I want to use my experience I have gathered in America and Europe and see how I can apply it in the development of the state. But it depends on the mind of the people. Let us see what their minds push them to do.
But it depends on what you want to do for them, if they know what you want to do for them, they might change their minds and vote for you…
I have my goals. I am coming up with a plan on how we can convert wind energy to power. I have the plans. There is also the waste to power plan, they are systems I have designed for our people. We will also emplace a durable irrigation system that would ensure our people produce all kinds of food all year round. We should not be crying for lack of rain. We will send our people to Israel to learn their system of irrigation and return to put them in place for our people. We will set up cement factories in Akoko area. We will provide soft loans for tertiary institutions and students as well.
What message do you have for the Ondo voters?
Let them vote right. They should not be considering their present condition to vote, they should think about tomorrow. Not for them to get N5000 today and finish it before the night. They should look at the candidates and not the parties. Don’t say this party is big or this party is small. The bigger they are, the bigger their problem. The bigger the party, the more likelihood that their godfathers would syphon all the money. Vote for the candidate that has the foresight. Without any government support I set up my college of education, I have produced over 40,000 graduates and I am moving on. I have touched lives. I introduced the work and study, pay little by little. I have also made my marks in the USA, I have over 600 workers. They should look at my achievements in the private sector abroad and at home. If I am given the opportunity to govern the state, I will transform it. God help me.