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His name is Oluwasegun Agbalajobi. A widely traveled and focused indigene of Ekiti State. He has watched the dwindling fortunes of his birth state from the wings over the years. Now, he realizes one can only effect meaningful change from the inside, hence his determination to come home and govern his people and Ekiti State. In this interview with social crusader, OLAKUNLE AGBOOLA, who stumbled on Agbalajobi’s achievements on the web, prompting him to seek for an interaction, the Oye-Ekiti born business man bares it all on his ambition to write Ekiti’s name in gold through selfless governance. Excerpt:
The people you want to govern need to know you first. Please tell us about yourself.
I am Oluwasegun Agbalajobi, born 55 years ago in Oye Ekiti to the family of Colonel Makanjuola and Folaranmi Agbalajobi. I grew up in Owo, Ondo State, where I had my early education. The authority saw the leadership trait in me and made me Head Boy in Government Primary School, Owo, after which I attended Imade College, Owo.
I left for England shortly after completing my education in Nigeria and has been living in England for the past 33 years. As fate would have it, I met my wife for the first time on the plane to England which proved to be more of a blessing than I could have imagined. We got married in 1984 and God blessed the union with three wonderful children.
I have a DPHE (Diploma in Higher Education) in Play and Community Studies, obtained at the University of East London. Also, BA in Psychosocial Studies as well as an Msc in Mental Health Studies, awarded at King’s College, University of London.
I am into property development. having ownership of a multitude of properties worldwide. I do humanitarian work such as mentoring and empowering people with disabilities, encouraging them, to show their values to the society.
Sir, many state governments are struggling to stay afloat, owing workers salaries, battling with abandoned projects due to lack of funds in quote, and inability to improve on decaying infrastructure. How can you surmount all these problems should you emerge as governor of Ekiti State?
It is about setting priorities right; putting the right people in the right positions. There are highly intelligent and exposed Nigerians who have a lot to deliver but have not had the opportunity. This is one of the reasons I chose to serve my people. Since my ambition is to govern Ekiti – State, let me focus more on how my state can get out of this mess. If given the opportunity to serve my people, one of my plans to bail out the dwindling economy of the state is by releasing special agricultural funds for 200 farmers in each of the local governments within the state for a start to venture into large scale mechanized cash crops farming. I intend to generate funds from the sales of the crops by exporting them to foreign countries within the first two years of my administration. Putting this strategy in place will increase the state internal revenue that can be used to run the state successfully.
Ekiti is primarily an agrarian state, but asides from agriculture; in what other ways will you boost the economy of the state?
Without being immodest, I have travelled to most parts of the developed world and I have the necessary link and have sufficient knowledge on governance. Having travelled to major tourist centers in Europe and discovered how the European countries turn their tourist centers to wealth for their citizenry and governments, I will package Ikogosi warm spring and other identified tourist centers in the state into international standards to facilitate easy movement of tourist developers to Ekiti State from European countries. One thing that Nigerian leaders have failed to realize over the years is the fact that there are lots of revenues derivable from tourism. I can assure you that Ekiti State will record millions of Naira from tourism within a short period.
Ekiti people are well known for their love for education. How will you meet their yearnings in the face of dwindling resources?
For a start, I will identify 100 primary and secondary schools that need urgent renovation and facilitate a special United Nations Educational Funds meant to revamp poor schools in third world countries. I believe that will be the first as no government in the country has thought along this line as the money are transferred to a special account only to be monitored and supervised by the donors.
Aside the UN funds, how else do you hope to bring back the lost glory of education Ekiti?
Ekiti -State owns some of the brightest minds and most educated people in Nigeria. I believe that Ekiti State can become a role model to all the other states in all fields, especially in education. Knowledge is power and not just for Ekiti state, but Nigeria as a whole to become a major influence in world matters, the educational system must improve drastically. No more should students of any age have to miss out on their education either because they cannot afford it or because their teachers are on strike. I feel, as do many Nigerians that it is time for Nigeria as a nation to get up and move on.
Millions of youths in the country are unemployed. How do you hope to tackle unemployment in your state?
That is one major area that I find worrisome. On assumption of office, I will create jobs for the youths by opening up different skills acquisition centers within the local government areas (LGA & LCDA) of the state. Graduates from this one year training centers will be employed to work in special recreational centers that will be institutionalized in the state and other areas; they will be placed on special salaries.
If you are to give your opinion about the style of leadership in Ekiti State, are you comfortable with the past and present governance?
I am not… reason being that, I am not comfortable with the level of decadence in the state. All the leaders we have had in Ekiti so far are narcissistic, which means me, myself and I. Ekiti -State deserves better and for so long it has been misrepresented and badly governed, now is the time for change, change for the better… We need to change the orientation of our leaders including the followers. We must understand the purpose of service to God and humanity.
Have you been asked why you want to become the Governor of Ekiti-State?
Yes, several times. Some cynics have said that I am doing this for money, others said I am looking for power and influence that comes along with the job. People say different things but none of these are true. I am not a poor man trying to become wealthy, neither am I a wealthy man looking for power and influence.
I am simply an ordinary Nigerian. I am not different from any other man from Ekiti State. I am just an idealist who feels that the life of Ekiti people can be better off. I am a man that has decided to stand up and make a difference in Ekiti state and all I want is the support of my people. The opportunity to serve and retrieve the captive generation behind me. One man alone cannot change Ekiti state, I alone cannot bring about the expected change we all clamour for but together we can.