Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde, a Petroleum Engineer is the Oyo State governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). In this interview with Ayodele Samuel, Makinde explained why he dumped his former party, the PDP and why he wants to be the next Oyo State governor.
Why did you defect from the People Democratic Party (PDP) to the SDP?
Well, it is an open secret how the primaries in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), went. The party would not obey its own guideline and it wouldn’t also a court order regarding the delegates to elect the party’s flag bearer. So, when they wouldn’t do that and our people insisted that they were waiting for us, they want us to have a platform for them where the hope of the generality of the people of Oyo would be realized. We then decided to move down to the SDP to give that hope to our people. If you look at the SDP, you will see the concept of Omoluabi in Yorubaland, we looked at the promoters of the SDP in persons of Chief Olu Fale and Chief Segun Osoba. These are the men that have contributed immensely to the progress of Yoruba race and Nigeria in general. And we discussed with them. They have vision for a new Nigeria and the Yoruba race. I share the vision for a new Oyo State, a new Oyo State where everyone is important to the government.
Its less than six weeks to the election, how do you intend to compete with your opponents with public office experience and resources?
Well, democracy is not about the positions you have occupied in the past. It is about the people. It is about the majority of the people and that is where we are going. We have listened to our people. We have heard them. We have given to them, our programs, our manifestos, and there is an alignment that, give us a new platform and we will vote for you. Really, politics is all about people. If the majority of the people say this is where we are going, then that is it and that is democracy. So, I believe that politics of Oyo State is just to be turned around. And all these so called heavyweights, I think they are going to be shocked at the end of the day. This is because the decision of the people is going to be final. Actually the vote is going to count. It is not all that easy popularizing our relatively new party. It is about educating our people. They know already what we stood for. I am not just coming into the political arena. I have contested in the past and we have been engaged with our people all these years. We are doing a lot to introduce the party. And of course the SDP was used as a political party in 1993. So, it is not something totally new. And people also recognize the fact that freest and fairest election ever conducted in this country was won by the SDP. I will probably say, we have turned a full circle. But Oyo being a pace setter state, I will not be surprised that we are the one projecting this. Watch it; this is going to catch on the entire country. The reality is that the youth at these days are not really concerned about the party but about the candidate. So, once we have a large following Omititun as a structure and they follow Seyi Makinde as a person, then all is well. That is what they care. And remember most of our youth are not illiterate. They are even better at identifying symbols. I thought where we need to do a lot of work is actually with the elderly people.
What are your chances of winning contesting against those who have done it before?
That is actually our strength because the people that have done it before, people have seen their limitation. And for us, we haven’t done it before, but we have done certain things that people have been able to see. And you can fool our people some of the time, you cannot fool them all the time. They know where we are coming from. They know what we have done privately. They know precisely our engagement with them. They know precisely that over the years, we listened to some of the issues within our communities. So, ours is that we have been able to do some things privately and they know if we have the resources of government, we would even do a lot better.
What would you do differently as governor if elected?
Well, we have our manifesto and our campaign theme which we term ‘Operation HEAP. We are talking about Health care delivery. We are talking of making agriculture positive business in Oyo State and also weaning the state from over dependence on oil by projecting agriculture. We have education. We all see the level of decay of the infrastructure in Oyo State. We see students and pupils learning under a very difficult and unsafe condition, dilapidated buildings here and there, none provision of material for the teachers. And if you look at the WAEC result, Oyo State came last behind all the states in the south-west. We have a good shot at physical infrastructure. I am an engineer by training, and if I look at the current government, you will sympathize with us. If you go to Total Garden they made a fountain there which never works. So, to me, that is halfhearted way of doing things. We will get all we have into doing all those things. And we have security in our manifesto. We intend to deepen the current security situation in our state and make it better and more responsive.
What are the factors you think would shape Oyo election?
I think the major factor is the personalities that are involved. I can characterize it for you. You have three of the candidates who are over 65 years old. You have two who are around 50 years old. I am 47 years old. And one of those two has been tested as Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. And people have seen what he has done and what he didn’t do. And you have a personality that kind of stood out. I believe people would gravitate towards me.
What is your advice to the people of Oyo State as the election approaches?
My advice to the people of Oyo State is, don’t be deceived by people saying, oh, this is a new party. They should listen to us and we will listen to them as well and ask them questions on those promises made to them four years ago and even indeed they have not satisfied the yearning of our people, then they should cast their votes for their son and humble servant-Seyi Makinde.