Dr. Abdulfatai Omotayo Buhari, senator representing Oyo North, said it is possible. He is throwing a challenge.
“I want to be the next governor of Oyo State. I have the pedigree. I have the experience. I have the competence. I have character,” he told reporters in Lagos.
From that thriving career, he moved to another multinational, soaring higher and swimming in the pool of wealth.
Politics, which he perceived as vocation, has been in his blood. Yet, when he ventured into it, he initially met a brickwall, failing in his first bid for the House of Representatives. Undaunted, he remained on the firing line. When his time came, he served as special adviesr and later, Commissioner for Local Government. As senator, he is perceived as a loyal party man, a devoted community leader, a philanthropist and symbol of hope.
Buhari has two hurdles to cross. He would have to struggle for the ticket along other contenders, including former Senate Leader Teslim Folarin, Senator Femi Lanlehin, Prof. Laolu Akande, Sports and Youth Minister Sunday Dare, and Senator Soji Akanbi. Also, if he gets the ticket, can he defeat Governor Seyi Makinde, who savours the power of incumbency.
The aspirant refrained from firing salvos at the governor. He said he would like to postpone the scrutiny scrutiny of his score card till the appropriate time. But, much later, he raised the bar of criticisms. “Even, the worse governor will be called the best by his own people. What are the things the governor has done that are new and novel? He has done well, according to his team. But, what is the new thing he has done?” he queried.
Buhari added: “If Seyi has done well, he should come out with his score card and show what he has added as value. We will first tell him he has not done well and this is how to do it.”
In another breath, he attempted to concede to the governor that he accomplished some projects, particularly the infrastructure battle in Oke Ogun. But, in a fit of ambivalence, he added:”In Oke Ogun, we started the project (under Ajimobi administration). He came. He cancelled it. He rewarded it. Give him the credit. He finished it.”
But, what would Buhari do differently, if elected as governor?
The senator, who chairs the Senate Committee on Transportation, unfolded a robust agricultural policy, which he said would generate employment and boost food security. The innovation he proposed would make willing graduates to serve in the state for the second time after their mandatory service year.
He said agric facilities from the Central Bank of Nigeria, Bank of Agriculture and Bank of Industry would be made available to them, while agricultural officers would be engaged on the field. As a former banker, he ssid he understood the processes.
Buhari said those who might wish to continue their agricultural business after serving for the second term would be supported, stressing that the programme would herald employment, greater revenue and food sufficiency.
He said agriculture could also be developed through infrastructural development, particularly the extension of rail lines to rural areas, to facilitate the movement of farm produce to the market. What he forgot to add was that, since agriculture is rural-based, some recreational facilities should also be provided to keep youths in the interior and prevent unnecessary rural-urban drift.
The farms are mostly in the rural areas. The markets are in towns and cities. Therefire, the senator could not gloss over effective transportation system for easy movement of the farm produce to the market. He said “you need to create a via to the farms.”
“There will be mutual benefits, with 30 percent returning to the bank, 20 percent going to the state and 50 per cent going to the young farmers. After the year, you add what you saved for them to their money. They will them proceed,” Buhari stresed.
Ibadan factor is real. It is a threat to aspirants outside the city that boasts of 11 local governments. Buhari, who acknowledged the factor, said the people of Ibadan are not aversed to the ambitions of other indigenes. Besides, he said though he hails from Ogbomoso, he resides in Ibadan. “Not all the people who stay in Ibadan are natives. We have Hausa, Fulani, Igbo and other nationalities there,” he pointed out.
Buhari emphasised that ” competence is the key; what you have done, your score card.”
Although he never dismissed zoning with the wave of the hand, he said: “I am selling myself, not based on rotation, but based on capacity.”
If the criteria for choosing the best aspirant as candidate are work profile, political career and academic qualifications, Buhari, who holds a doctorate degree, said he has no rival
What has be done for Oyo State that would attract their endorsement of his aspirations? The senator said he is not a bench warmer in the hallow Chambers. He said he has attracted four roads to rural parts of the state, including Ikoya, Okerete and other communities.
Also, he said he had sponsored bills and resolutions in the interest of Oyo and in national interest. He also boasted that his empowerment programme is second to none in the Pacesetter State. “Not everybody you give money. Some want effective representation,” he added.
On Oyo State of his dream, Buhari said he would like to replicate the type of foundation laid by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu when he was governor of Lagos.
He added:”At a time, former Governor Abiola Ajimobi was moving towards it. He selected the best in his second term. Nobody has a monopoly of wisdom. He assembled people who can deliver.”
The aspirant called for a mandatory political debate that, in his words, will weed out 50 percent of incompetent people. He said the debate will bring out the strength and weakness of contestants.
Buhari, who represents 13 councils that constitute Oyo North District in the Senate, also urged the Southwest to always send its best to the National Assembly. Representation, he said, required experience, sound education, skill and competence.
Buhari acknowledged the role of money in oiling the political machinery, saying: “Election requires money all over the world, even in America.”
However, he said how deep the pocket is is not the yardstick, but how it is deployed. If not properly deployed, then, it is wasted.
But, generally, he counselled that “our constituents should not take money to vote.”
Buhari called for a free and fair primary to avoid post-primary crisis. He said: “When it is free and fair, people don’t make a fuse when they lose.”
Many believe that Oyo APC is in deep crisis.
The disunited APC family has been left in the cold, following its ouster from power and demise of its leader, former Governor Abiola Ajimobi, who was perceived simutaneously as a uniting and divisive factor.
Although the former governor was said to have performed, he failed to handover to an APV successor due to intra-party strife and rancour.
His successor, former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, who passed on recently, was not collectively accepted as leader. In the atmosphere of strife and rancour, the chapter fixes its gaze at 2023. What is the prospect?
Buhari acknowledged the extreme division and polarisation. But, defensively, he said it is not new, adding that crises are peculiar to political parties.
“In any election year, there will always be crisis in the parties. It is not limited to APC in Oyo. There are problems in over 20 chapters. In Akwa Ibom, the former caretaker secretary installed an exco. Three days after he left, the court voided it.”
However, he agreed that the protracted crisis could be counter-productive. Therefore, he urged National Chairman Abdullahi Adamu to look into the logjam.