A Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain and former deputy governor of Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore in this interview bares his mind on his Osun 2018 governorship ambition, his coming into politics among others. BAYO AKAMO was there for New Nigerian. Excerpts:
What do you think will be the way out of the prolonged leadership crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)?
Omisore: The party is in court at the moment. There are two factions: the Sheriff and Markafi-led factions. But I belong to the Makarfi faction. I think the case will end at the Supreme Court, where the final decision will be made on the leadership issue. There is no other solution, unless we go to the Supreme Court for pronouncement.
What is your dream for Osun State, as the 2018 election approaches?
My dream for Osun State is the one we had in 1990, where poverty will reduce, where infrastructure will be optimal and citizens will enjoy the dividends of democracy.
Any regrets of your going into politics in Nigeria?
It’s not a mistake; it’s a call to service. When I joined politics, I learnt to come down to everybody’s level. Some say that I am arrogant, but it is abstract. I see politics as a game to assist people. Most politicians are jobless! Check out their backgrounds; they want to retain power by all means because they don’t want to come back and mingle with the masses. Those are the kinds of people who have flooded the Nigerian politics. But for me, whether I am in or out of politics, I am doing my job.
Are you contesting for the 2018 governorship election in Osun?
Yes, I am, but the election is still far off. So, we are making our plans, in order to make every move become a reality.
Are you into politics to make more money?
It’s not about money. When we started in the Social Democratic Party (SDP), People Progressive Party, PPP, and Alliance for Democracy, AD, we spent less. Later, people brought money into it and it became expensive. When we were in government, our allocation for Osun State was N153million before it was later increased. So, it’s a call to service and not because of money.
How do you manage your business with politics especially in a country like Nigeria?
As a businessman and a professional, every business must be handled by different people. I have partners who run the business, while they give me feedback. I am just a principal partner, so the managing partners do the jobs on management and smooth running of the business. Before politics, I was active in my business, but when politics came in, I had to let people handle them for me.
You bagged a Ph.D in Infrastructure Finance from the International School of Management, Paris, France, did you make any sacrifices to bag the Ph.D?
As a core professional in engineering, the higher you go, the more you master your skill. At the Bachelor’s degree level, you are an engineer; at the Master’s level, you specialise; and when you go further, you become an authority in your area of specialisation. It is not like Law or accountancy that you have to be a chartered accountant or a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, at the end of it. Engineering is a day-to-day course. It involves invention; you can’t invent without research and you can’t research without a Ph.D. It makes you more exposed and get professional jobs more than your colleagues. So, the more you study engineering, the better for you. The Ph.D. class is in two parts: the course work, which comprises the seminar and dissertation. A Ph.D. holder is a body of knowledge. The Ph.D. means doing things that nobody has ever done. It took me about eight years (2006- 2013) to complete it. Luckily, when I left the Senate in 2011, I was already half-way, so I worked two years fully on it. For my course work, I had about 16 courses. It’s so difficult to lie! Getting a Ph.D. is not so easy. I am sure in Nigeria; it is also the same rigorous process. You must account for yourself, you can’t pass by chance. I read three hours a day. For a Ph.D. student, any book is a material that can be useful.
As an altar boy in Catholic church in your youthful day, in what way does it impacted your lifestyle?
As an altar boy, it was very difficult to play pranks. I attended the morning mass with the Reverend Father at 6.00a.m. Then, I would move from church to school. On Monday, I would attend altar rehearsals; on Tuesday, I would attend choir rehearsal; on Wednesday, I would go for the Bible service… So, there was really no time for other things because I was always pre-occupied with church and school activities. But trust me, it was very rewarding.
Catholicism is a very strong creed. There is no way you are raised in a Catholic family that it will not show in you. In those days, some parents would take their children who were stubborn to the Catholic Church in order to change their ways of life. But today, everything has changed. It’s just a normal creed, and that is why you would find Muslims in Catholic schools in those days. They would learn faster because most of the teachers are Reverend Fathers who are not married and the students are their children. They apply their own lifestyles to their students. It gives you some orientation and determination while growing up.
Being an alter boy then, did you ever see yourself becoming a Reverend Father ?
Of course, yes. It was a common thing among young Catholic kids then. I wanted to, but my mother resisted. I lived with Reverend Fathers and was involved in Holy Communion, altar management and so on. I wanted to follow that trend because my role models were the Bishops and Reverend Fathers. I attended a seminary school and a number of Reverend Fathers now were my classmates .It’s like a family thing.
What are the greatest lesson you learned from being an alter boy in the Catholic church ?
One of them is hard work. It taught me that there is no short cut to glory; and I also learned the virtue of dedication and determination.