Retired Justice Olamide Oloyede, the deputy governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in the September 22 gubernatorial poll in Osun, speaks with OLUWOLE IGE on what motivated her venture into politics, the agenda of the party for the state’s development, among other sundry issues. Excerpts
What informed your sudden interest in politics, bearing in mind the mudslinging, intrigue and character assassination that have become major features in Nigerian political turf?
My interest in politics can hardly be described as sudden, in view of the fact that I was involved with the administration of justice in one form or the other for about 20 years. I admit that the knowledge of administration of justice as a field of political science is still largely rudimentary, but let’s ask ourselves, what is politics? Unarguably, politics means different thing to different persons . For some, it means activities that relate to influencing the actions and polices of a government or getting and keeping power in a government, the work or job of people (such as elected officials) who are part of a government. Obviously, administration of justice is included in the first and original meaning of politics, unfortunately, many have narrowed down the word to mean competition between competing interest groups or individuals for public offices and political activities characterised by artful and dishonest practices, but it was not always so.
Besides, a lot of politicking is also involved in the appointment of judges. It is just that it is more closely related to the collegiate system and the general electorate are excluded. As a matter of fact, judges are also elected by the governor in collaboration with the relevant Judicial Service Commission and the National Judicial Council and usually in keenly contested races, so let’s quit the hypocrisy. Furthermore, there is no disputing the fact that the 1999 Constitution, as altered, is a political instrument. The document lists the major political offices in the land, prescribes how such offices are to be attained and delineates the function and powers of each office amongst such is the judicial office as established in Section 6 of the Constitution. This is the most potent proof that the office of a judge is political office. Beside, the remuneration of judges is also fixed by the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission just as are those of political office holder. The only difference is that judicial officers play passive politics, at least in Nigeria, whilst two other arms play active politics.
But, it hasn’t always been so. Don’t forget that Moses, Joshua and Gideon and even Deborah were judges in Israel. They all played active politics. It is a known fact that the origin of our judicial system is inextricably linked with those figures as we are reminded at each legal year. These figures fought injustice and oppression actively. In a nutshell, I have always been concerned with establishing Nigeria as an equal opportunities community and with positively influencing government policies for the greater good. God helping me, I intend to play my politics without intrigues, without character assassination and devoid of mudslinging.
Few years back when you were still a serving judge in state judiciary, you took on Governor Rauf Aregbesola regarding the finances of Osun State by writing a petition to the EFCC and House of Assembly. Part of the response of the government then was that you should take off the wig and join active politics. Are they not vindicated by your action with your foray into politics?
On the contrary, I am the one whose assertions have been established beyond any iota of doubt. Governor Aregbesola’s administration has consistently done me justice by proving that everything I wrote about his administration is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Being relatively new in politics, how did you emerge as the running mate of the ADC governorship candidate, Alhaji Fatai Akinbade?
It is the Lord’s doing and it is wonderful in my sight. Mr Adelakin Ajao, the chairman of the ADC in Osun State, claimed to have been reading about me. He said he was impressed by my candour and perseverance. The slogan of the party, ADC is ADC for women, ADC for youths and ADC for all. This shows the premium it places on women’s role in politics and as far as he is concerned, I fit the bill of the type of women the party longs to see participate in politics. Therefore, when the opportunity suddenly presented itself, he contacted those dear to me to prevail upon me, not to reject public service in a more active role, and subsequently contacted me and ensured my emergence without having ever set eyes upon me.
There is no doubting the fact that your party, ADC, is still relatively new in the political scene. Are you not worried that making an impressive outing regarding September 22 governorship poll in Osun may seem difficult?
Not at all. David has overcome Goliath in the past. I am undaunted.
With the present debt profile of Osun in the region of about N170 billion, some stakeholders are of the view that nobody should be interested in vying for the governorship seat. How would your party cope if you win the election?
Part of development we are bringing is to bring self-consciousness to solve problems, even when the problem is not directly created by you. My principal, Alhaji Abdulfatai Akinade Akinbade, the gubernatorial candidate of ADC and I have accepted Osun’s debt burden as a challenge that we must innovate in other to solve. Besides, my principal is not an uninitiate when it comes to such matters. Osun State’s immediate past governor Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola makes it abundantly clear that part of the success of his administration is due to the experience and expertise of Alhaji Akinbade who was the Secretary to Osun State Government (SSG) and the power house at the relevant time. That administration also successfully cleared the debt hangover that Osun inherited from the Chief Bola Ige’s defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) administration. I am positive that he can repeat the feat.
What is the fulcrum of ADC manifesto or its blueprints for the development of Osun State?
Our development plans also includes a versatility of empowering and skills acquisition programmes for women and youth. These will include scholarships both within and overseas for both academic and skills development programmes. Osun is largely an agrarian community, as such we intend to partner with the IITA to develop our agricultural resources, as part of our revenue generation drive. We also intend to move from manual subsistence to large scale mechanised farming. We shall also invest in small scale and cottage industries that engage in food processing. Our solid minerals will also be explored and exploited. We shall also complete and press into active use our abandoned export processing zone.
Another area of priority for us is the rejuvenation of our almost comatose educational system. We shall restore the individuality of our elementary and secondary schools, pay attention to the welfare of all categories of educational staff and as such put an end to incessant strikes and industrial actions. We shall upgrade our schools facilities and support our children in their quest for globally acceptable standard quality education. We shall facilitate the training and retraining of all categories of workers and support entrepreneurs to ensure the return of prosperity to our languishing State.
Affordable health care for all is also on menu..Our inter-city roads will also be given due attention, the Iwo/ Oshogbo Road, the Sekona/Ile-Ife Road, Gbongan/ Ile-Ife, Orile-Owu/ Gbogan, Idominasi/ Ilase/Ibokun, Osogbo/ Ilesa, and the Eti-Oni axis roads are all begging for attention. Last but not the least is our plan to put up affordable dignifying houses in all the communities, so that we may no longer be derided as living in huts. These are some of the activities we have promised in our manifesto and given the opportunity and God helping us, we shall keep faith with the people of Osun.