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Nigeria needs principled, welfarist politicians -Muyiwa Olumilua, Ekiti


Aare Muyiwa Olumilua is the Ekiti State Commissioner for Investment, Trade, and Industry. He is the son of former Governor Bamidele Olumilua who, on the platform of Social Democratic Party (SDP), ruled the old Ondo State, comprising Ondo and Ekiti states, from January 1992 to November 1993 but passed on in June, 2020.

In this interview with PRISCILLA EDIARE he speaks on a whole lot of issues, including Ekiti State politics, his political life, and life with his dad, among others.

You have remained in the same party since you joined politics in 2006. You’ve not done like some individuals are doing, who defect from one party to another. Why?

AC, ACN, APC are in the progressive fold. I am a progressive by nature. So, I don’t see any reason to jump from one party to another. Most people do that for political gains. Maybe when they see that their ambition is not actualisable in the APC, then they go to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Then if in the PDP they meet greater war they come back to APC. That is not principled politics. My politics is principled. I am a progressive and I will continue to remain in the progressive fold come what may.

You aspired to be the governor of Ekiti State in 2018. If you had won in the primary election, what would you have done differently from what the current administration is doing in the state?

In all honesty, I don’t think I could have done anything much different because what the present administration is doing is mind-blowing. Let me put it this way: I find it hard to believe that the current administration, under the leadership of Governor Kayode Fayemi can do so much with so few resources. It is one thing to aspire to be a governor; it is quite another to actually be in the governor’s seat. The governor’s seat is a very, very hot one. Currently, I am a commissioner, and at times that seat can be quite hot, not to talk of being in the seat of the governor who is like the nucleus of the whole administration. So, this government has done very well; it has done beyond my expectations and the expectations of many people. Please, I am being very honest here. Some things that I did not even know or never even thought about while I was aspiring to be a governor I can see them happening and I am really pleasantly surprised.

There are signs that you are not likely to join the 2022 governorship race in Ekiti. Why?

(Laughs). You see, the truth of the matter is that the governor has the moral right to choose who he believes is capable of being his successor. Being a democracy, I also believe that those who are actually agitating or trying to join that race have the constitutional right to do so. But I believe that it will be an effort in futility. The governor most likely will choose, and support who he will want to succeed him, and I believe that he will make a good choice. He definitely will carry the party along with him. So, for you to aspire to be a governor while you are not sure of having the governor’s buy-in or consent is just basically a waste of time. Ultimately though, the people will have the final say through the voting process. That is the number one reason. Number two, I am at present very busy with my job as a commissioner. There is so much to do, and there is so much undone. So trying to split my attention into two, on one side trying to join the gubernatorial race, on the other, running the Ministry of Investment, Trade, and Industry might end up being counterproductive. I will not be giving the government and the people my very best. So, right now, my focus is on finishing well.

The race for who will succeed Governor Fayemi in 2022 has begun in earnest. Do you see the next governor emerging from your party, given the on-going crisis?

Well, which party does not have a crisis? Now, there are two major parties; all other parties are parties too. But the race is between the APC and PDP in Ekiti.  Now, which of these two parties does not have a crisis on their hands?  I don’t think that will really be a major determining factor. I can assure you that before the governorship election, we would have resolved the crisis and mended fences, and become one big, happy party. I am very sure also that our party, APC, is going to win the governorship election. So, this will be the first in the history of Ekiti State that the party will rule the state back-to-back.

You are from Ekiti South Senatorial District. What do you say to the lingering agitation from your district to produce the next governor?

The agitation is not new. It was there while we were running around and campaigning before the 2018 election. And most people started campaigning before 2018. So, it is not a new agitation. One thing I will like to say about the agitation is that it is not misplaced; it is not illegal. Ekiti State is 25 years old today. The first governor of the state, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, was there 22 years ago. He was sworn in, in 1999 and was there for four years. So, in the past 22 years, nobody from the Ekiti South Senatorial District has become the governor. What we are trying to say is that there should be a balance. The North Senatorial District is having the governorship for three times. We’ve had former Governor Segun Oni, Governor Kayode Fayemi one, Governor Kayode Fayemi two (to end his tenure in 2022). For the Central Senatorial District, we’ve had former Governor Niyi Adebayo, former Governor Ayodele Fayose, one, Ayodele Fayose, two. We had 12-years plus though some tenures were not completed. Segun Oni spent three-and-a-half years. Fayose too ruled for over three years before he was impeached. So, in 22 years, we have had governorship positions three times from the North, three times from the Central, and none from the South. So if the South is saying that it is about time we had a governor, then, there is nothing wrong with that agitation. It is not ill conceived, and I believe it is something that should be worth considering.

It is less than a year to the 2022 governorship poll. What is your party doing to close ranks with aggrieved members?

I believe that at the moment tempers are still riding high. Some people are still feeling hurt, marginalised. But as we get closer to the election, I am sure we will be able to resolve these issues. The focus right now is on the primary election. Just look at what happened after the primary election in 2018. There were 33 aspirants from APC and all of them had their different support groups. After the primary, the first thing was what the winner of that primary did, I mean, Governor Kayode Fayemi. He went round to talk to other aspirants and convinced them to bring down the fences and that we should unite as a party. I meant, he went to their houses, one by one. He actually paid me a visit too. He said this is one big family; let us face the coming election together.  Everybody listened to him, joined hands and here we are today. I believe the same thing is going to happen because, at the end of the day, the candidate’s loss is the party’s loss; the party’s loss is everybody’s loss. Why would you now say that you are not happy with something happening in the party and you would rather throw the baby out with the bathing water?  So, I believe before the election, we are going to sheathe our swords if actually, these swords do exist. We will move forward as one strong, undivided party.

When did you join politics?

Officially, I joined the Action Congress (AC) in 2006.

Did you join because your father was a politician or what?

I joined because I have a passion for it. People say politics is a dirty game. Politics is not a dirty game. It is the people in politics that make it look dirty. I believe that the more people you have in politics that are principled, forthright, people-oriented, and who have the welfare of the general populace at heart, the better politics will be for everybody. The truth of the matter is, you cannot sit back and complain about policies, politics, and the way they negatively affect the people. You have to be part of it to make sure you make a difference. So, my involvement in politics is to make a difference. It is not because my father was a politician. I am not his only son. So, if it was because he was a politician, maybe all his children would be politicians by now. I have a passion for politics and it is a passion that will positively affect the people.

As the Commissioner for Investment, Trade, and Industry, what do you say to the issue of insecurity in the state, especially in the area of kidnapping?  Don’t you think this situation will scare investors from the state?

It is one of our major fears and I believe it is a fear that is shared by all states of the federation. Now one of the major attractions for any investor is the security of lives and property, political stability as well as other business-friendly environment factors. We are actually bothered about the security situation. I believe that the governor himself has taken a lot of steps to curb the incursions of kidnappers, bandits and armed robbers into the state. One of the steps he has taken, and which a lot of people might not know, was actually the procurement of a drone. I don’t mean the drone that takes pictures or videos for Nollywood people and actors and actresses. I am talking about a real military-grade drone. But because security falls under the Exclusive List, this kind of military equipment is not something that individuals, groups, or even sub-nationals are allowed to just procure at will. It is what the Federal Government buys and that is why up till now the National Security Adviser (NSA) has still not given Ekiti State government the end-user certificate. That is one of the things actually slowing things down. With that kind of drone, I am telling you all the hideouts of these criminals will be uncovered. That is one of the steps the government has taken. And not just that, the governor, being the Chief Security Officer of the state, consistently holds meetings with all the security agencies in the state. He constantly tries to get them to up their game and has been supporting them as much as possible. With the effort he has put into it, if the security agencies can match his own efforts, I think things will be a lot better.  One thing I know is that as much as he can, he has strengthened the security architecture of the state.

Being a former governor’s son, would you say that your father’s name has positively impacted your life? I mean, has his name opened doors for you?

Well, I would be remiss if I say that my father’s name did not have a positive impact on my political life.

What do you miss about him, and how have you tried to make that part of you?

I miss his wise counsel, his advice. He was one person that I know, come rain come shine, would always tell me the truth no matter how bitter or sweet it was. It is difficult to rely on the counsel of most people. This is because some who counsel you might do just to make you happy. They might just say what they want you to hear. We are all human beings. Everybody wants to hear good stories about themselves, positive things about themselves. But my father would tell me the truth and he would give it to me raw. He was very blunt about telling the truth. So, I really missed that a lot. I think the most important thing about him will be integrity: the ability to say something and live by it. The ability to actually live above some certain character vices that are predominant in our society! If my father said no, he meant no. If he said yes, he meant yes. He was not somebody who could be bought easily. His loyalty could not be bought and I believe I come from that same mould. I have integrity as one of my major selling points and it is working for me.

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