Dr. Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe is an aspirant for Kwara Central Senatorial District, the seat Senate President, Bukola Saraki, won in 2015 on the platform of the APC. In this interview, Oloriegbe, who is a medical doctor like Saraki, said Kwara will be liberated by the progressives in 2019. Excerpts:
What informed your aspiration to represent Kwara Central in the senate?
I am concerned about the situation of Kwara Central; socially and economically. As you can see from my curriculum vitae and my background, I am a medical doctor and I have practiced here in Ilorin and other parts of Nigeria. I had privilege and opportunity to be part of government of this state when I was elected as a member of the House of Assembly. Before then, and during the time, I was aware of how the state was, particularly Ilorin Emirate communities. The life of the youths of today is not like the one we had in the 60s and 70s when we were brought up on the premise of our values and heritage under Islam; which is not only a religion, but a way of life. Why we lost the values is because in the last 15 years, we have not had leaders who understand the values and imbibed and practiced same. I said 15 years because before then, we didn’t know anything about cultism, youth restiveness, vandalism and area boys.
Secondly, you also see our women around the town begging for money. Ilorin used to be a hard working environment, but the political leadership has changed it because there is no true development. The Ilorin I knew while growing up was the one that gave value to both Islamic and western education because we started attending Qur’anic schools in Ilorin at age three where we learned the tenets of life, but that has been eroded by those that do not go through the system and have rendered everybody lazy, making them to want to get rich quick without working.
And how is our resources being utilised? I have had opportunity to work in many countries. I just returned from Liberia where I went to help them put their malaria programme in shape. Kwara is number five in terms of revenue generation, but no development to match it. Our social amenities are zero with nothing in our primary and secondary schools.
I attended a community school and I was able to compete with my mates at the university. Our education has been bastardised that some of the graduates we turn out in the state are not employable. I just established a firm in Ilorin for my people to benefit from, but I discovered that 70 per cent of those who applied are not employable.
I am not vying for an executive position, but a legislative one so as so facilitate some of what we need in the state. I am not contesting because I want to enrich myself and I can prove it because I don’t have anything I want to spend money on; all my children have graduated.
Why did you choose APC to vie for the senate seat?
I got elected as a Member of the Kwara State House of Assembly on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) between 1999 and 2003; and you may also wish to know that in 2011, I was the senatorial candidate of the ACN and people of Ilorin voted for me massively and I won the election; but I was not declared the winner and I went to court to challenge it because during that period, the vote from within the urban area was about 40 per cent but only 20 per cent were said to have turned out in rural areas which could not be justified with the reality on ground. I have always been a progressive and I have been consistent. There are other parties, but I believe in the manifesto of the APC and in the performance of the President of Nigeria because of his integrity.
I happened to be an adult during his time as a military head of state, I knew what happened then and what is happening now and I believe that the platform I could use to pursue my ambition is APC; and people of Ilorin also want change because they demonstrated it during last year’s local government elections. I am presenting myself for the job so as to be the person who will facilitate the change that the people are yearning for.
How do you see APC’s chances at the national level and in Kwara state in particular in 2019?
God gives power to who He wishes. The will of God will prevail, but let me add here that God does not support the oppressors. The people of Nigeria know who their oppressors are and have seen what is happening. Has PDP changed? The answer is no. The so called rebranding of PDP is being done by former looters who feel bad about the situation now; those who need to get power back to continue with the looting and those who lost privileges and want to get same back. The true people and the progressives are the ones who are still in APC. Kwarans demonstrated that they wanted change since last year and those who remained in PDP are opportunists.
In my view, APC will still win. Remember that Buhari has always won elections in Northern Nigeria, and with the defections, APC is getting more support in the South South and South East. Look at those defecting in the North, they are mostly those who are not popular at home. Some senators who defected cannot go back to their constituencies since then because many of them cannot win elections on their own. They won in 2015 because majority of them rode on the influence of Buhari. APC is much stronger and will win.
How do you think the issue of personal interest can be solved among the progressives in Kwara in order to take power from the current leadership?
I agree that ambition always beclouds reasoning…I was a victim of such in 2015, but I can say that lessons have been learnt from what happened in 2014, because then, there was an opportunity like this when progressives came together but could not manage it. During the rebirth of the APC in Kwara State after the defections, we agreed that everybody’s ambition is subsumed within the objective of the party and the main objective is to liberate Kwara, win Government of Kwara and deliver Kwara for President Muhammadu Buhari because there is only one seat for every position we are vying for and whoever gets it should be supported by all; I subscribe to that.