31 March 2010

Nigeria: Education is Osun's Major Industry - Akinbade

interview

Alhaji Fatai Akinade Akinbade is the immediate past Secretary to Osun State Government and one of 15 aspirants eyeing the governorship seat come 2011 on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Akinbade in this interview with CORRESPONDENT Gbenga Faturoti, speaks on his plans for people of the state if elected, stating that there is need to jerk up the state's revenue base if it must meet certain constitutional obligations. Excerpts:

YOU have spoken about tax; would you enforce tax payment if elected?

What we need do is to take that line of awareness. During the Idiagbon era, when people were asked to be in queues at bus stops, that line of action only goes to show the kind of leadership it was. My position is to let the people know what you want to do and why they should do it, and our people will then see why they should pay. Once you educate them on what the state gets and how it dispenses same, to education and other sectors and so on, they will do it. The moment they see the result, they will obey. What I am saying in essence is that we will create awareness and show leadership by example.

What are your plans towards the development of golf if you are elected?

On the issue of golf, I think we still need other people because sports is very important to human nature and would be developed to very high standard in the state. If not for scarcity of funds, I am sure, the planned stadia could have been constructed because the plan is already there, same as the design. What else do we need, when there are adequate facilities for people to practice their different sports. I want to assure you that we will start from the primary schools and tap talents from the primary, secondary and tertiary institutions; this is so that whatever one wants, we can easily retrieve, no matter the age limit.

The clamour that schools be returned to their missionary founders seems not to be abating; what will your administration do on the matter?

Well, I don't think the government will be ready to do that at anytime. The reason is that by the time the schools were being handed over to government, most of them had just one or two blocks of classroom, and some of them were compensated. Now these have increased, in some cases to 10 blocks of classrooms in some schools and government is not complaining about funding. As a matter of fact, the state government sees education as its major industry and would continue to do so for a long time, which is why we are trying to make sure that the standard of our universities get to a level everybody would envy. I don't see any reason for returning the schools to missionaries. I am not even sure they are expecting it, because where do we keep all the teachers? The moment you give the schools back to the missionaries, they will not be able to pay teachers' salaries or even absorb all of them. So government should continue to handle it for the interest of the public.

Fifteen people are contesting the governorship post in your party, which of these contenders do you consider a threat to your own ambition?

When you look at those of us in the PDP, you see that we are just one family; no one is a threat to another, we are not threat to one another and I want you to see us as one. Like I told you, I don't think we have any problem with ourselves. I do not fear anybody. If you see my C.V., you see that I don't need to fear any co-contestant. I have been in the system and by the grace of God I have made a governor while I was party chairman. I know how I conducted myself because I had 21 aspirants for governorship post before one emerged. I know virtually everybody in the party and we know each other and how we behave, inclusive of how everybody came into the party.

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