Economic Crisis: Tinubu Can’t Perform Magic, Embrace Agriculture, Industrization- Otunba Benji

One-on-One with Otunba Benji Oloye


Otunba Benji Oloye, the Bashorun of Owo Kingdom speaks with the PATH NEWS on the death of Govenor Akeredolu, 2024 Governorship Election, high cost of living among other issues of national importance.

How would you describe the Late Governor of Ondo State who was recently committed to mother earth?

Like we all know, one thing you can’t take away from our Late Governor is boldness, fearlessness and his courageous personality. People do call him Lion of the earth because of his boldness. It is a pity we lost him at this period but nobody can question God, the giver and taker of life. Definitely, the state has lost a great son.

What should the people of Ondo State remember him for?

One thing with us as human is that, people don’t appreciate what they have until they lost it. With his demise, you begin to see encomiums from different angles about what he has done and the legacy he left behind in Owo, Ondo State, South West and Nigeria at large.

Late Akeredolu wasn’t the usual politicians we used to know; a frank and man of his words. Do you think the younger politicians should emulate this virtues?

Yes, you are right. Akeredolu is not the usual politician that will do consultation before taking decision. A frank man to the call that won’t take side but call a spade a spade. A lot of his followers and admirers called him Mr Talk and Do because one he says yes, you can go to sleep and if he says otherwise, nothing would change it. For Nigeria to be great, our politicians should start saying the truth rather than using propaganda to rule us. The younger politicians should take clues from the life of Akeredolu who is ready to speak and stand by the truth even at a gun point.

The demise of Akeredolu has created a lot of political tumult in Ondo State mostly among the aspirants laying claim to endorsement of the Late Governor; of what importance was this endorsement to their aspirations?

Endorsement or no endorsement, we now have new governor in Ondo State and the major concern of the people of the state should be about performance. To the Akinteriwa’s and Aiyedatiwa’s that are laying claim to the endorsement of the Late Governor, it is the people that will Judge their performances while in office. Let wait for the outcome of the party primary where a candidate will emerge, though Governor Aiyedatiwa is the leader of the party in the state and as a sitting governor, he has added advantage above others in the race. Aketi while alive has not said it openly that he endorsed any of the aspirant in the race, so the claim as far as I am concern is null and void.

How would you rate the performance of Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa who has just spent 2 months in office?

Mr Governor can’t but do well because the day Aketi choose him as deputy, he knew if anything happens to him, constitutionally, he takes over as Governor. So, he must have prepared himself for the position in case of eventuality and I am not surprised that the governor is toeing the line of his late Boss.

Some perceived loyalists of the Late Governor were accusing Aiyedatiwa of upturning the legacy of Akeredolu; what do you take out of this accusations?

Irrespective of where Aiyedatiwa came from, they ran on the same ticket and whatever Akeredolu did, they did it together. Accusing Governor Aiyedatiwa of upturning the legacy of Akeredolu is mere playing to the gallery, seeking for cheap political popularity. Don’t forget this is election year and most of these people throwing banters to the governor belong to different camps, so what do you expect? It will be a disservice to the late Governor if Aiyedatiwa abandon the projects of his boss. Aiyedatiwa has taken the right steps with the continuation of Aketi Blue Print.

In few days to come, the governor will officially likely declare his governorship ambition, do you see him having edges above others in the race?

Without being told, Aiyedatiwa is contesting. Anything he does now form part of his campaign strategy. As the sitting governor, you don’t expect less from him in the contest, so let get our fingers cross and see the outcome of the primary.

Dissolution of Caretaker Committe across the 18 Local Government and LCDAS in the state; do you support the decision of the governor?

Between the time the governor dissolved the Caretaker Chairmen of the local government and LCDAs, and calling them to a meeting now, a lot of things might have happened. If the governor is planning to return them to office, their loyalty is now for the governor, knowing fully well that he is the one that appointed them unlike before. The Governor is in charge and I expect him to take decision that will promote his government mostly as the governorship election is fast approaching.

Governor Aiyedatiwa was recently labelled as Anti Akeredolu by some group of Federal Lawmakers, saying he appointed Akeredolu arch enemies into his government; what can you fathom out of this latest attack?

The Owo People appealed to Aiyedatiwa to appoint Owo man as his deputy which he did, why are they raising eyebrows? If he has done otherwise, it would have been a different ball game but he assented to the request of the town, though their choice for deputy governor might not be so lucky but Adelami that was picked is an indigene of Owo. Whatever decision the governor might have taken, some people will no doubt question it and there is no way you can satisfy everybody.

The policies of the Tinubu’s administration has brought untold hardship on Nigerians; for how long should the people of Nigerians endure?

Before the presidential election, three leading candidates- Tinubu, Atiku and Obi said they are going to remove fuel subsidy if voted for. They all knew that removing the subsidy will definitely bring hardship to the masses and if President Tinubu took the bold steps and remove it, it now left for the government to provide solution on how to cushion the effects on the common Nigerians. If I am the president of Nigeria, I know that CBN and NNPC have some hard currency somewhere, it is a matter of instructing them to use the currency to transact business, pay for importation of fuel rather than keeping it. Today, throwing the forex market open with no government control is making the Black Marketer Operators richer at the detriment of the masses buying a dollar for as high as#1700 to a dollar equivalent.

With the exchange rate of dollar to a Naira, some political pundits believe Tinubu administration is still subsidizing fuel; do you share similar opinion with them?

The federal government said subsidy is gone and I believe the president. If tomorrow, Mr President make U-Turn and says Subsidy is back, every Nigerian will hear it from him. Speculating or guessing that with the current exchange rate, the government has clandestinely returned subsidy, I won’t be part of such school of thought.

What is responsible for the current exchange rate of a dollar to Naira and what is the way out?

From day one, Nigeria as a country is not producing, we are more of a consuming nation than producing. For instance, in the 70’s, when I was working in a company in Lagos, we have numerous companies producing goods but at a point, most of the companies were closing down and our people starting converting them to churches and the work of God was gaining ground at the expense of the country’s economy. Today, many of our younger ones are doing Internet fraud rather than engaging their time and energy in productive ventures. For Nigeria to get it right, aside industrization, we must embrace Agriculture. What is stopping each local government across the country to have at least 10 tractors, organize people in cooperative, use the tractors to farm but unfortunately, our people are not looking in that direction, waiting for Mr President to do magic.

What is your position with the agitations for opening of boarders?

If you said that, there’s too much pressure on your currency and you want to open boarders for importation, which currency are you going to use for the trading? Dollar. To me, Mr President decision not to open boarders is a welcome development we must all embrace. We must begin to be productive and start farming rather than relying on importation of goods into our country.

Do you believe State Police will help reduce crime rate in Nigeria?

If government create State Police without equipment, it will serve no purpose but if the State Police is fully Armed, it will definitely solve our security challenges. The State Police if created, it will help in the reduction of crime. Amotekun Security Network is doing the little they can do because they are not fortified with the sophisticated weapons, facing criminals with AK-47 will definitely be an herculean task. So, creating state police is not the issue but equipping them is major thing that will help in reducing criminality from our societies.

Nigerians voted for President Tinubu because they believe in his ability and past credentials; with the present economy hardship, what is your message of hope to them?

Let Nigerians embrace farming even if is not commercial but substitence farming. God loves us and bless the country with good soil, every household should endeavors to cultivate the habit of tiling the soil no matter how small. If the State Police as proposed by the President can scape through, it will also help in securing lives and property of people engaging in farming. Yes, I agreed the country is facing a hard time, it just a phrase because tough time do not last but tough people do. It will soon be over. Let’s the government on it sides do the needful and I believe Nigerians will smile again.

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