His enthusiasm bordering on emotion was evident that Thursday afternoon as we sat down in the law office in the Alausa, Ikeja area of Lagos. As Barrister Femi Kehinde looked into the future of his native Osun State, he could not but also reflect on where the state was coming from. •His synopsis of Osun was a state in dire straits which saw better days under the progressive governance of the Alliance for Democracy, AD and its progressive progenitors, Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN and the Action Group, AG. Former member of the House of Representatives, Kehinde’s passion was roused by the glorious achievements of the AG, UPN and the AD, the platform upon which he sat in the House of Representatives for four years between 1999 and 2003. “The glory of the Alliance for Democracy can be brought to limelight again because our people have seen the clear difference between AD governments and PDP/APC governments in Osun State where I come from.
“It is still a pride that the state secretariat built by the Bisi Akande AD administration in Osun State is still a model to emulate.” “I saw the effect of bad governance in Osun, and I saw the possibility of bringing prosperity back to the state,” he said in justification of his governorship aspiration on the platform of the AD. Kehinde has become the leading aspirant on the platform of the AD for the forthcoming governorship election in Osun State.
In pursuit of his dream of reviving the state, Kehinde sought to avoid the situation currently operating in the state saying that his goal was to repeat the feat done by the UPN, AD and the Action Group in the past. “The Awolowo government used agriculture as a major focus for industrialisation. When you invest massively in cocoa, you will export, and you will industrialise by having cocoa industries. The palm oil plantations which the Awolowo government established in present day Ondo State were able to attract ventures like Leventis to go into industries.
Agriculture is a money spinner. In Osun State where I come from and intend to govern, the resources that we will garner through agriculture will be enough to put smiles on the faces of the people.” It was at that point the inevitable question on the state of the people of Osun was directed at him. “Are there no smiles on the faces of the people now,” I asked him. “I want to believe so,” he said. “I am not interested in criticising the present government; I don’t want to look at the side mirror, I want to face the windscreen. Because if I look at the side mirror, I will begin to choreograph what they had done in the last eight years and I may not be able to focus on what we will do.” It was, however, impossible for someone wishing to take Osun State forward to avoid the situation in the state. “Osun State is the only state in the Western States which has abundant growth resources which are not being utilised. Told that AD is history, Kehinde strongly demurs.
“The Alliance for Democracy has come back into prominence, and I am sure Alliance for Democracy is an offshoot of the UPN of the seventies and the Action Group of the fifties. “You will recollect that the Alliance for Democracy came third in the gubernatorial election in Ondo State despite the limited time they had for preparation in 2014. “AD did not field a candidate in Ekiti, and it still came third without having a candidate. So, it is for us now to bring back that memory to our people that the indigenous party is Alliance for Democracy.”
Told that the party would be overwhelmed as it was in 2003, he asserted thus: “I will not be overwhelmed. I have been in this terrain for about two years now, championing the cause of the Alliance for Democracy!” So, what have you discovered thus far, he was asked. “I have discovered in the course of my mobilisation that Alliance for Democracy is still the darling of our teeming population.
When we went to Esa Oke for consultation, we saw people going into their closets to bring out AD party cards as sweet memorabilia of what the Alliance for Democracy was and they were happy that in their lifetime that this party is coming back to life again.” After two years of consultation, what is the level of support for the Kehinde governorship aspiration? “I have visited the Hausa community, and I was overjoyed with the support I got. I have met with the Igbo community, and the response we are getting is encouraging us to trudge ahead. In fact, in Ile-Ife, they told us that money had failed those who depended on it.
“The people remember with joy the days of the UPN and the days of Alliance for Democracy, so this gladdens my heart that there is still hope of AD coming to take its pride of place in the government of Osun State.
Told that he was deliberately sidestepping the situation on the ground, he said: “how does a state garner N189 billion debts, for what purpose?” He said the debts incurred by the Rauf Aregbesola administration is not reflected in the projects on the ground. “The work on the ground can be reflected through enhanced products such as education.
What is the result of that on education? What is the result of that on health facilities? Go to our hospitals; you will be surprised at what you will find there. Look at the mismatch in lopsided education programmes that we have in Osun State; Model School, middle school and all that.
“We will go back to the standard form that is being practised in other states. In Oyo State, there is nothing like model school or middle school. You have killed the psychology of the child after primary education moves to secondary school, and he is still with children who are in primary school.
“Leaving primary school used to be a big celebration, but when you leave primary school and come back to the same environment, you disorient the psychology of the child.
He assures that whatever is the situation on the ground would be reversed for the better. “In Osun today, I know that things can be done much, much better. Whatever they have done wrong, we will right the wrongs. Whatever we have to put smiles on the faces of our people we will make it our priority.
“I don’t know how a system will survive by owing salaries and half salaries of workers as far as about 36 months. You earn your full salary and it cannot meet your basic needs, not to talk about what they call modulated salary; what are you modulating?
Are you modulating peoples lives? The problem is that we are not cutting our coats according to our sizes.” He forswears that he would never follow the Aregbesola formula for governance. “No! Why should I? I have lived all my life, had all my education in Osun State; I started from the grassroots as a councillor in 1987, in Iwo Local government area.
“I am indigenous to that community, and I know the yearnings and aspirations of our people, and I know how to afford better life to our community.” In a final word of assurance to the people, he tells the people of Osun that help is coming.
“A better day is coming, and it will be heralded by the grace of God on the 27th of September when our people will breath fresh air by the grace of God.”