Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Kogi: Opposition desperate for power – Obalemo

Pastor Femi Obalemo is an ordained Minister of God and a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and Institute of Chartered Taxation of Nigeria. Until his appointment as Economic Adviser to the Governor of Kogi State in 2007, he was the Northern Regional Manager of Associated Discount House. He served as Senior Special Assistant on Due Process for four years before his current position as Senior Special Assistant on Debt Management. He is an Alumni of the prestigious Lagos Business School. In this interview,Pastor Femi Obalemo speaks about his politics and the forthcoming governorship election in Kogi State.
By Kingsley Fanwo
You are an accomplished technocrat and a Pastor. What brought you into politics?
I came into politics because my people are deprived and they need someone to speak for them and bring development to the community. It was a call from my community that was approved by my Pastor.
As a key stakeholder in the politics of Kogi State, what is your position on the agitation in some quarters for power rotation in the state?
Power rotation is a fair, reasonable and legitimate agitation. I am fully for it. I have actually been part of this struggle since 2005. In a State where there are three major ethnic groups that form the three Senatorial District, it is only fair and just to rotate power amongst the three Senatorial Districts. Unfortunately this is not the case in Kogi State. We are therefore making a strong demand for Power Rotation resolution of the National Conference to be implemented.
There are strong claims by the opposition that the future of the state has been mortgaged through debts. As a financial expert, how will you rate the debt profile of the state?
I discovered something about the opposition. They are too desperate for power. They have thrown caution to the wind and have gone on a wide campaign of calumny thereby lying and misinforming the public. The State is under borrowed. By that I mean the State has more capacity to borrow than what it’s presently owing. The House of Assembly approved N20 Billion loan to be taken. The state is owing less than N10 Billion . But opposition will tell you the State is owing over N100 Billion as though they are talking of Lagos State. Remember the potential of the State is yet to be tapped into.
Pastor Femi Obalemo
Pastor Femi Obalemo
Prior to the PDP primaries, the stakes looked really high. But the result showed it was almost a walkover for the governor. What was the magic?
The contest was unnecessary in the first place. You don’t change a winning horse in the middle of the game. The achievements of Wada/Yomi administration testify to their commitment to good governance. In spite of the drop in oil prices that led to a massive decline in government’s revenue, Wada/Yomi administration is still prudently able to pay salaries and carry out monumental development. The State is building a gigantic edifice in Abuja that will generate hundreds of millions of Naira annually. The candidate of APC was at the foundation laying ceremony and he, against the position of his party, commended and pour out praises upon Gov. Wada for the giant step taken in giving the State a face lift. The result of the primary election was as expected. It was a knockout.
How would you compare the chances of Prince Abubakar Audu and Gov. Idris Wada in the forthcoming governorship election in the state?
Capt Idris Wada in the eyes of Kogites is a better candidate than Mr Abubakar Audu. Only very few people like Audu are in the APC in Kogi State. People who know Mr Abubakar Audu closely can not vote for him. For example, fis Deputy Governors in 1992 and 1999 are no longer with him, they are supporting Capt Wada against him now. Many of his Commissioners are working against him right now. He will lose this election the same way he had lost the four previous ones.
…He is not a threa to Wada/Yomi at the forthcoming election.
But many have also accused the governor of failure to pay Local Government staff salaries. How will you react to this?
There are three tiers of Government. Capt Idris Wada is the Governor of Kogi State and not the Chairman of 21 Local Government Areas in Kogi State. I was privileged to be at a meeting he had with the 21 Local Government Chairmen last year where he openly expressed his disappointment at the fact that they were owing salaries. That very month all the Local Government workers got 100% salary. As I speak with you it is only September salary that has not been paid in Kogi State. Find out about other APC States in North Central and you will discover that Kogi State is the healthiest of all. Go to South West and you will be shocked at their debt profiles.
How will you rate the administration of the governor generally?
Efficient and Prudent managers of scarce resources. The Administration of Capt Wada is people-driven.
What is your message to the Kogi people as they prepare for the next governorship poll?
Kogites should not forget people’s antecedence. A leopard can not change its spots. Osun State is in serious financial crisis today partly due to foreign imposition, but has been left to solve it’s problems. We are the ones to build our state. The state has great potentials that will be properly harnessed by the God fearing, people-oriented Governor, Capt Idris Wada. No APC State is debt free. Vote for Capt Idris Wada to finish his good work and honour the power shift agreement.

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