Interview

MHR 2023: Akoko South West / South East: Why Dr Victor Ategbole is the Best – Barr Kolawole Alonge

Exclusive Interview:

Barr Felix Kolawole Alonge is a retired Permanent Secretary and currently the Senior Special Assistant to Ondo State Governor on Social Investment programmes (SIP). He speaks with the PATH News Editor on the politics of Akoko South West/East Federal Constituency, Dr Victor Ategbole Candidancy, Zoning among other things.

How would you assess the performance of both the present and past representatives of Akoko South West/East Federal Constituency at the lower chamber of National Assembly?

We thank God our democracy is getting deepen everyday as a result of the new Electoral Act 2022 which authorised all political office holders to resign their positions before their respective parties primaries. With respect to the House of Representatives in Akoko South West /East Federal Constituency, there is more or less unwritten zoning or rotation arrangement among the three constituencies that made up the federal constituency. The incumbent MHR is from Constituency 2, Hon Ade Adeogun from Oba Akoko; before him, Akoko South East was our representative (Constituency 3), based on the gentleman agreement, it is now the turn of Constituency 1 to represent the people in the lower chamber of the National Assembly.

In spite of the zoning arrangement, the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria gives everyone right to aspire and contest at any point of our electioneering timetable, that is why some people came from other zones to exercise their franchise. Our people are more enlighten and political conscious of the zoning arrangement on ground and they will definitely do the needful at the appropriate time. Those period when aspirant get party’s ticket on a platter of gold has gone, this time, you must romance the people at the grassroot and also at every level of party’s structures in the federal constituency to get ticket.

Without being economical, the performance of the present and past representatives were not the best for the people, that is why the agitations for a better representative in Dr Victor Ategbole has rented the air of the federal constituency because they believe he has the experience, exposure and capacity to bring desire dividend of democracy to the people’s door steps if elected.

Did you see early resignation of Dr Ategbole from Arakunrin government has a sign of seriousness on his part?

Of course yes; It is no longer news that my candidate for the House of Representatives is Dr Victor Ategbole, the Bobagunwa of Oka Land. In compliance with the Electoral Act 2022, Section 84 (12), which stipulated that all government appointees who are contesting to resign which law abiding Dr Ategbole respected via the directive of Mr Governor that asked appointee who want to contest to resign. My candidate was the first to resigned and tendered his resignation letter on the 30th of March so as to concentrate on his campaign. It was a sign of seriousness that was demonstrated by Dr Ategbole who is ready to pick the party ticket and win the general election. He is not a new comer as far as the House of Representatives election is concern. He contested in the last election where he did well in Akoko South East but lost the election to the incumbent because of low votes from Oka where he hailed from; Oka people didn’t hate him but they believe for equity and fairness, it wasn’t the turn of Constituency 1 (Oka) to produced a representative then, that was how Ade Adeogun won the election but this time around, base on the zoning arrangement, the table has turned to Constituency 1; morally every other constituencies should support aspirant from Constituency 1 but as earlier said, whoever is contesting against Dr Ategbole has the constitutional right to do so.

Are you saying, the people of Constituency 1 are ready to support Dr Ategbole in the forthcoming elections?

Yes, the game is no longer the same; the consciousness, awareness and enthusiasm of Oka people have shown they are ready to support their own this time around. It is our turn, though, other people from the Federal Constituency have constitutional rights to aspire, that is why we are stepping up our game, connecting with the party’s members who will vote at the primary. To us, it is a serious business to pick the party’s flag bearer and we are very optimistic that Dr Victor Ategbole will pick the ticket. Our team is connecting with the executive members at all levels of the party; we are holding a lot of stakeholders meeting, interacting with who is who in the party. Politics in Oka has changed, seeing other people from other constituencies supporting their son, they are ready to give Dr Ategbole double home front support . Which ever method the party adopt, be it direct, indirect or consensus, our candidate is ready for the election; it is a divine agenda, an agenda ordained by God.

Considering the gladiators in the race, do you see your candidate having edge at the end of the primary?

By the grace of God, my candidate will be victorious at the end of the primary and even the general election. I told you, his aspiration is a divine agenda ordained by God. Considering the gladiators, we are not leaving any stone unturned in making sure we have the majority of the delegates in our camp. Dr Ategbole is a household name in the federal constituency being a first runner up in the last election, the results shown his strength and acceptability by the voters in the three constituencies. He won in Akoko South East and narrowly lost in Akoko South West because Oka people supported Ade Adeogun for fairness and equity at that time. It is now the turn of Oba Akoko and people of other constituencies to support aspirant from Constituency 1 where Dr Ategbole comes from. Akoko South West comprises of Ikun, Oba, Akungba, Supare and Oka Akoko; Ipesi, Ipe, Epinmi, Ifira, Isua, and Sosan for Akoko South East, all these towns formed the three constituencies of the federal constituency and Dr Ategbole is popular in all these towns. In fairness and equity, Oka with over 50 percent populations in the federal constituency and the zoning arrangement favour us, the best thing for every member of APC to do is to rally round Dr Ategbole to become the next representative of the people at the lower chamber of the National Assembly. We are not saying those that have thrown their hats into the ring not to contest, it is their right to do so but on moral ground, they ought to support any aspirant coming out of Constituency 1 because they too have done same for Constituency 2.

How would you described the personality of Dr Ategbole whose opinion polls favoured as the next representative of the federal constituency?

To start with, Dr Ategbole has actually prepared for this assignment; his involment in politics is a call to service. He is not a new comer into the politics of the state; this is a man who has been an active politician since 1999 as a true democrat and formidable financial party’s member recognized at the local, state and national levels He has contributed immensely to the growth of APC and development of his people both physically and materially. He was a candidate in the last election, his quality and capacity earned him second position in the election. One thing that stands Dr Ategbole out among the politicians is that, he is a good losers who never believe in do or die kind of politics. Despite the fact that he lost the election, he still went ahead to paid a thank you visit to all the leaders in the three constituencies, a feat that is strange in Nigeria politics. With this singular act, the people were convinced that, if given opportunity to serve them at the National Assembly, he will remember his root and constituent. How many politicians can spent hugely on logistics during election, lost and still come back for thank you tours?

As a professional, of what value would Dr Ategbole aspiration add to the life of average people of his constituency?

Politics aside, he is a Medical Consultant of over 30 years experience in the United States of America, with functional hospitals in the State. Having this kind of person at the National Assembly, it will not only benefit Akoko South West East alone but Ondo Statec as a whole. His exposure, connection and experience will be put into use to facilitate good health care delivery to the constituent. He will also attract oversea training to our youths and investment to the state. He is an international man well known across the globe, whose name alone can open doors of opportunity to his constituent. Dr Ategbole was a former Special Adviser to the governor of Ondo State in Regional Integration and Diaspora Relations; with the period he served in the office, he has proven his worth of deserving of such appointment. In the ongoing war in Russia and Ukraine, he has used his wide connection in making sure Ondo State indigenes schooling in Ukraine were airlifted back home safely. He is also a philanthropist who has used his personal resources to touched several lives mostly the lives of the less privileged within and outside the federal constituency. To the good people of the constituency, they believe if Dr Ategbole can do much as a private person, then, if giving bigger platforms to serve, he will definitely do better. One thing is certain, Dr Ategbole will bring dividend of democracy to the people’s door steps.

How sellable and cerebral is your candidate?

On a personal ground, Dr Ategbole is very humble and accommodating. He is a man of enigmatic attraction, simple and highly intelligent. Before now, we are not so close politically, I got to him through an associate but taking my time to study his personality, I can’t but support his ambition wholeheartedly. He is the best we can send to the Green Chamber at this time; he is marketable and sellable to the electorates because he has the material worth, resources both intellectual capacity and material to pursue the election. We are happy to have him and I am very optimistic both the delegates and voters will cast their votes for him.

What should be his major focus if eventually elected?

What he is looking for is not money but good name and lasting legacy that will stand the test of time. God has blessed him but beyond this, the welfare of his people is very paramount to him, he wants to serve and bring desire transformation and development to the federal constituency that seems to have been neglected for so long. He wants to attract federal projects to the constituent if elected. Since APC led government came to power five years ago in Ondo State, Mr Governor giant strides in infrastructure development in Akoko South West and South East is unprecedented but the state government can’t do it alone, that’s why we need a bold, courageous, brilliant, vocal, intelligent and well connected representative that can fight for us and table our demands before relevant ministries and agencies that will bring infrastructure development to the constituency. Aside, we are agrarian communities, he has the capacity to network Federal Ministry of Agriculture in boosting farming at the Federal constituency. Also, as a trained Medical Doctor of many years experience, the constituency and Ondo State will benefit more if picked as the Chairman House Committee on Health. Another area of his focus is youth empowerment; to Dr Ategbole, the era of empowering young graduates with motorcycles will become things of the past, it is going to be real empowerment that will gainfully employed the youth on veritable business ventures aside lobbying federal employment to the constituency. Everybody in the constituency, the artisans, market women, aged, youths, students we all dividend of democracy.

What is your message to the delegates
and other aspirants in the race in regards to the gentleman zoning formular?

As earlier said, every aspiring aspirant has the constitutional right to contest and it is also falls within the right of delegates to vote for candidate of their choice. This is democracy where majority rules; there is no way everybody will queue behind Dr Ategbole but we have majority of the people behind us because they know it is the turn of Constituency 1 produce the next MHR. All we are doing is appealing to the delegates to cast their votes for us, we are ready for any method the party we adopt provided it is free, fair and credible. Again, we are appealing to the party’s member and delegates to avoid violence and allow peace to reign, we belong to the same family because whoever emerges will need other aspirants to work with. We thank Mr Governor and leadership of the party for promising level playing field for all aspirants. With Ategbole as the party’s candidate, victory is certain for APC because he is generally acceptable to all and sundry in the federal constituency.

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