Mr. Armstrong ‘Tope Akintunde, a former senatorial candidate and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State, speaks in this interview about current difficulties in the state’s politics, maintaining that Governor Dapo Abiodun has done well enough to deserve another term in 2023.
Last week, the APC National Reconciliation Committee visited Ogun State to resolve issues between warring groups. What are your thoughts about this trip?
I must admit that the national leadership of the APC made a tremendous move in resolving all of the differences that were tearing the party apart and strengthening it in order to make the party more powerful ahead of the 2023 general elections. I particularly applaud Senator Abdullahi Adam’s committee for its foresight and depth of political expertise in completing the task. Governor Dapo Abiodun is widely regarded as doing an excellent job and, as a result, should be supported beyond 2023. We should all consider ourselves to be one big family. We must unite and work together for the benefit of Ogun State and the country as a whole. We must avoid becoming unduly selfish and blocking the wheels of progress.
Opposition elements have always claimed that Prince Dapo Abiodun has not lived up to expectations as governor and, consequently, does not deserve to pilot the affairs of Ogun State beyond May 2023. How would you react to this?
Talk, they say, is cheap, and that was exactly what the opposition recently exhibited in the state. I said this because the government of Prince Dapo Abiodun has been fantastic with governance since he came on board in May 29, 2019. The governor has been focused and quite strategic in his approach to issues of governance. He came in as a successful entrepreneur in the oil and gas industry with a wide range of experience in administration and management of resources. He has demonstrated so much competence and intelligence in governance, touching every sector. He is an apostle of continuity in governance with how he has picked up some of the uncompleted road projects left by his predecessor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, and completed them.
These included the Kuto dual carriageway and the ongoing Adigbe road, among others. The governor has just reconstructed the Abeokuta-Siun-Sagamu expressway. The Epe-Ijebu Ode is also waiting to be commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari. The governor has equally done feeder roads such as the Elite Road, Abeokuta; Vespa Road, Ifo; Navy-AIT road, Sango; Oba Erinwole Road, Sagamu; those at Ijebu-Ode; among at least 200 roads either fixed or ongoing across the state. He is doing so much in the area of education with the construction of about 1000 classrooms. The yellow-roofed school buildings are all over the state.
The health, housing, and agriculture sectors are also receiving adequate attention. Look at the just completed low-cost housing estate at Kobape, via Abeokuta, and this is being replicated in Ijebu-Ode, Ikenne, and Agbara, among others. This is not to say that the governor has done all, but within the time spent and the challenges of this cash crunched economy aggravated by COVID-19, the governor has proved to be a good manager of scarce resources. He has done so much to make the people of the state happy, and that’s why many are already rooting for his second term come 2023. We must give him another term because of his commitment to making sure the state is more prosperous. The governor is currently working to ensure that there is stability in power supply in our major towns: Ijebu Ode, Sagamu, Agbara and other industrial hubs. This will definitely trigger an industrial revolution and all the economic advantages that come with it. In a nutshell, I can confidently say that the opposition is only bellyaching because Dapo Abiodun is doing the job given to him by the people of the state. In local parlance, we say it is “bad belle” that is worrying the opposition and nothing more.
Two councilorship aspirants from Ward 3 and Ward 5 Iperu-Remo, in the Ikenne local government area of Ogun State, reportedly dragged the party to court over the last local government elections. There is speculation that you are the brain behind this litigation, yet you seem to be advocating reconciliation in the party.
“Being the brain behind the matter” is not true. We are all aware that whoever enters a contest must emerge as the winner. What actually happened was that, when the local government primaries for the councillorship were conducted, two councillorship aspirants from Ward 3 and Ward 5 Iperu felt that they were unduly robbed and became aggrieved. I felt they had a genuine complaint too, but the Governor, who is the leader and our father in the party, called me to his house and intervened, pleading that the matter should be dropped for the continued unity and progress of the party. As a result, I decided to take my hands off and allow reason to prevail. I also urged the councilorship candidates who were dissatisfied with the outcome of the election to drop their legal action.I’ve since moved on from the situation, and whatever happened to it has nothing to do with me.I have several times urged the aspirants too to bow to the wishes of the party and move on. After all, there will always be another day.
When I was home on the weekend, I heard that some individuals were sponsoring and dragging the matter to the Supreme Court. I immediately invited them for personal advice and appealed that the resources they intend to deploy to the Supreme Court are supposed to be channelled to empower our people in the state as a way of promoting Governor Abiodun’s second term in office. I, therefore, have the belief that, as one of the party members, they would heed my admonition.
What do you think should be the focus of the APC-led government in the new year 2022?
President Buhari should intensify efforts to combat insecurity. He must be a bit harder on those disturbing the peace of the country. The rate at which these bandits, terrorists, kidnappers, and all sorts of people send many to their early graves is alarming. Insecurity is now a problem across the country. The President has really tried, but he can do more to ensure that everyone is safe in the country. I appreciate the President for agreeing to label these bandits terrorists, for that is who they really are. Peace and tranquility are quite necessary to attract foreign investors to the country. The general election is next year. There are definitely going to be a lot of political activities this year, and so there should be adequate security for all. Another area I equally expect this government to work on this new year is our economy. It needs a lot of rejuvenation. The inflationary trend is worrisome and must be arrested. I welcome the appointment of Dr. Doyin Salami as the Chief Economic Adviser to Mr. President. President Buhari should please get more experts if need be to address our challenges in the economy.
Several politicians are already jostling for one position or another as 2023 approaches. What are your own plans?
Yes, I am a politician, but I keep saying that I was first a technocrat before becoming a politician. I have always supported the government of the day. I was never ambitious. For now, my priority is to support Governor Dapo Abiodun to continue his good works beyond 2023. And as someone who believes so much in leadership, if the governor now says that I should go to the Senate or House of Representatives, I will be willing to serve my people in any capacity.
What is your charge to the people of Ogun State?
They should please be patient and support the government of Prince Dapo Abiodun to record more successes in its determined bid to leave the state far better than he met it. Here’s a man who, by the special grace of God, had already made his money before coming into power. So, he is very passionate about improving the lot of people in the state. He thinks, talks, and works on these every second. Our people should therefore shun destructive criticism and instead support our governor to do much more than he has done in the past.