By Josiah Abiola
In this exclusive interview with African Mirror, former governor of Ekiti State and also a contender in the forthcoming governorship election, Chief Segun Oni, bares his mind on why he’s eyeing the state house again. He also spoke to our Nigeria Bureau Chief at his country home in Ifaki Ekiti on a number of other issues.
QUE: You were once a Governor in this State, what was your experience like and what were your achievements?
ANS: The experience was very interesting. The reason I contested for governorship then was because I had ideas that I wanted to try out. One of the ideas was the Micro Credit Scheme that we put in place. I was very excited that I had the opportunity to try out those ideas. The ideas worked and I’m very grateful to God for that. My administration would also be remembered for building infrastructural facilities. Nobody has built more roads than me in this state, I built the blue hospital- I built the best eye hospital in Africa here in Ekiti and within the short period that it operated, it helped many people recover their sights. These people came from within the South-West and all over Nigeria, while some also came from outside the country.
QUE: If given the chance to be the governor again, what would you do differently?
ANS: One of my first priorities would be the re-launch of the Micro Credit Scheme to empower our people financially. One of the ways people can be empowered is to give them access to credit facility to enable them finance their businesses. I believe this will help improve the standard of living of our people in the state. I will also like to embark on youth empowerment programs, because the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.
Q: You were known to be a member of the PDP and later you crossed to the APC. Recently there was a statement in some quarters that APC governorship ticket is not for somebody who does not have progressive background. This statement was believed to be a veiled reference to those who defected from other parties. What is your reaction to this statement?
A: Progressive politics is about care and attention to the under-privileged, it’s about equity and equitable distribution of the wealth of the state. When I was the governor, I was the first to start a scholarship scheme. Bursary was the only thing the state was doing and I told the local governments to take over bursary. In addition to bursary, we introduced the scholarship scheme for our students. I also introduced subsidy for parents in terms of nutritional subsidy for their children , twice a week with chocolate tea and egg. I did free health care, I introduced quarterly free surgeries and we had more 2,000 people who underwent surgeries, who are today alive, who would not have been alive. I abolished the practice of carrying bench and desk to school and I ensured that every student had desks and benches, I ensured that every school had full libraries, and not just that I ensured that free text books were given to students at Senior and Junior Secondary Schools. We bridged the gap between the rich and the poor in the state. As much as we could by ensuring that they both had equal access to government resources. I recruited four thousand plus people in one day into the civil service here and I said it must be by merit, I did not appoint one and I did not allow my colleagues to. I said everybody whose child had the advantage should take the advantage because I wanted equity. So, what progressive credentials could be more than all these? I challenge all the so-called progressives, who are contesting in this coming governorship election to show their credentials. Let them show what they have done for the people.
QUE: There is this insinuation that you are planning to defect back to the PDP?
ANS: People who are peddling this rumor are exhibiting what I would call low intellect. Why will I be trying to go back to the PDP, did I owe PDP money? I have been here in APC and together, we fought the PDP out of power. So, why would I want to go back there? If, peradventure, I don’t get the nomination ticket, I would not go to any other party. I don’t have a plan B. My plan A, APC, my plan B, APC, if there is a plan C, it’s also APC.