Engineer Bola Babarinde, The APC Chairman, South African Chapter is one of the key aspirants seeking to contest as Oyo State Governor come 2019. Parrot Reporters met up with him and the result of the enlightening interview is presented below:
Sir, can you give us a brief introduction of yourself?
I am Bola Babarinde, born in Ibadan to the family of Mr. Emmanuel Oyelowo Babarinde and Mrs. Moradeke Alice Babarinde (Nee Fagbemiro). I started elementary school in Ibadan but completed it in Yaba, Lagos; my secondary school, A-level and university education were all in Lagos. I am quite lucky to have a good education and exposure which many people in my age group never had at that time and I am grateful to God for that.
My parent lived in Ibadan throughout their lifetime, so I always come to Ibadan and visit our village regularly (Omo ale Ibadan ni ko ni ni oko). I am a certified Civil Engineer from the prestigious University of Lagos with sound knowledge of ICT. People say I am a philanthropist but I tell them I like to share my little resources with others, there is love in sharing anyway.
You recently expressed interest in contesting for the position of Oyo State Governor, tell us how long you have been in politics and what has motivated you to want to become the next Governor of Oyo state.
The exact time a man start politics is difficult to say. Right from conception, you are in politics, at least the sperm that produced you and I survived while many millions died. When you are born, going to school, going through life, dealing with issues, wooing your betrothed, leadership at home, among families, friends and in schools are all part of politics but to answer your questions without playing politics, I became very active politically while in South Africa in 2008 with the Diaspora chapter of Action Congress which metamorphosed to Action Congress of Nigeria. When the merger of progressives happened, APC was formed and we applied to the party headquarters in Abuja to set up APC structure in South Africa like other recognised chapters around the world did – about eleven in total, we are lucky our chapter was granted permission, a mandate document was issued in my name as the Chairman to pioneer the affairs of the party in Southern Africa which we are happily driving with lots of gusto and success stories.
As the current chairman of APC in South Africa, please tell us what differences you notice in politics in South Africa and that of Nigeria
Although SA democracy is relatively young when we considered that they started in 1994 while we got independence in 1960. South Africa has had uninterrupted democracy for 24 years while ours has witnessed several interruptions by coups.
The longest period of continuous civilian rule/democracy in Nigeria is still less than 20years, the big difference is continuity and ANC and people of SA were ready for self governance unlike our young inexperienced leaders that got independence in a hurry with little experience in governance coupled with the over ambitious young military officers that truncated the beautiful democracy which if it had been allowed to thrive, ought to have been something to be proud of by now.
SA politics allows for robust debate and discussions, engagement is allowed no one feels superior to others at the floor of the parliament and love for the country is paramount. You can see a young Malema challenging the old President Zuma.
In Nigeria unfortunately after years of military rule, wherein military generals were installed and forced on Nigerians, with the military martial laws, which over the time has transmuted to our current constitution, when you hear “We the people of Nigeria”, are you really part of that we that gave ourselves the current constitution?
Nigeria operates more or less like a unitary state. SA has a beautiful federal system with proportional representation where local government and municipality are strong and respected, and they are allowed to function well.
In Nigeria power is concentrated at the centres such as Abuja and state capitals and this encourages corruption because there are little checks and balances. SA have their own problems but in comparison, they are faring better than Nigeria with democracy but with current APC government there is definitely light at the end of the artificial dark tunnel created by past corrupt regimes.
Given the current controversies which has arisen from some of the recently concluded APC congresses in some states, what are your views on these and do you expect anything different when Oyo state chapter holds its own?
Congresses are bound to have problems especially when the stakes are high, people are desperate because they want to win at all cost why?
Be reminded that success has many fathers but failure is an orphan. Many desperados are pursuing their interests in APC because it is the party to beat. They see winning as the road to instant success materially, if the aim of contesting is to serve, why the desperation?
I foresee also problems in the remaining congresses in other states with Oyo State inclusive if we do not change the system from winner takes all. We should encourage robust debate among contestants for delegates to choose their preferred candidates based on programs and not financial inducement, this is the foundation of corruption.
Delegates should shun those who offer them money, it is an insult to their sensibilities in the first instance, it is cheap and lacks dignity. Tell me, how much you will like to sell your brain for?
You are not a greenhorn in politics sir, but at the same time you will be contesting against big-wigs in Oyo state, both at the party level and eventually at the gubernatorial level if you win your party’s ticket, how do you hope to surmount this challenge?
(Laugh) I don’t understand what you meant by “Big wigs”, who are these big wigs?, well, let me first tell you that the women has made us to realise that wigs, big or small are less fashionable nowadays, it is Brazilian and similar stuff that is reigning.
However, the people you called bigwigs are people like me and want to serve like I want to, so why deify anybody? Why make a person bigger than God?, let them come out with their programs and how they intend to achieve them to restore hope and place our state in forefront of development as we call ourselves pacesetters, because we should live up to that name.
We should stop the politics of “I will do this and that” to showing us exactly how you intend to do it. This is a modern world, government is about knowledge, systems and team work, ability of leaders to listen and management effectively human and natural resources, leaders should not be arrogant to take advice, acknowledge input of others and appreciate them.
The magnitude of resources does not matter, the judicious utilization of those resources is the key thing. Many African countries have far less resources than Nigeria but the quality of life for their citizens far outstrips that of Nigeria.
I administer APC quite effectively in three countries in southern Africa including SA, Lesotho and Swaziland, so governing a state won’t be a problem.
Moreover Oyo State is endowed with natural and more especially human resources which is key to development, we have already identified and mapped out strategies to restore the lost glory of our state. I am well connected, locally, nationally and internationally with experts ready to assist Oyo state to be great again.
I can begin to mention great Oyo sons and daughters who are doing great things outside the shores of this country. I am in regular communication with them and they are just as concerned as I am to see Oyo state rise to greater heights again.
The grassroots are very important in Nigerian politics, what strategies do you hope to deploy in order to connect adequately with the voting populace at the grassroots level.
This is sensitive we cannot divulge our strategies, all I can say is we are on ground, no shaking. If I divulge the strategies now, some co-contestant will steal it but they will bastardize the implementation and make it less sellable.
Politics in Nigeria is often resource intensive, how are you hoping to harness both human and financial capital to ensure you have a successful campaign?
You are correct here, it is not easy to gather huge funds required when contesting against those who may have dipped their hands in public funds but with modern way of crowd funding we hope to have enough resources to execute our campaign hitch-free. We also depend on selling ideas and not sharing money.
Having lived for several years in South Africa, what innovations should the people of Oyo state expect from you if and when you get elected as Governor?
We can promise that Oyo will be no. 1 after our tenure in office, I lived in SA as a member of the community and not as a tourist in a society where system works, I contributed to that society and have learnt many things from it. Oyo state will be run like a business with a human face, it is the people’s business and the state will make profit for the benefits of all its citizens, check out my website: www.bolababarinde.com for our programs, we have experts in all areas be it education, agriculture, health and sport to mention few.
Finally sir, tell our readers why you think you are the best man for the job of restoring Oyo state to glorious heights again.
It’s not just about being the best man, it is about giving the people what they deserve. The people of Oyo state are the one to say who is the best among the contestants but all I can say is that we will not depart from the Progressive programs of Free Education and Healthcare, Modern infrastructure, affordable quality housing, youth and women empowerment through many initiatives like sport and welfares.
We hope to take kids away from the lure of tramadol and codeine, from the tricks of 419 and internet scams, we want to reposition Oyo and make it attract investment naturally and not through investment tourism wherein we only end up with capital flights.