*says if he wins, he’ll teach people to fish, not to be fed fishes
An All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant in the Ekiti 2018 election, Mr Olumuyiwa Coker, an Accountant, Stockbroker, Tax Practitioner, Mortgage Advisor and a Politician in this interview with journalists, bares his mind on how he intends to transform the state by repositioning it to attract investors. BAYO AKAMO was there for New Nigerian. Excerpts:
Sir, you are aspiring to be governor of Ekiti in 2018,?
By the grace of God.
May we know why you are in the race?
I think Ekiti needs a change, we need to transform Ekiti from a cost centre to investment centre so that out people can enjoy and do business in a decent and conducive environment
But do you think APC can match Fayose in 2018?
Why not, if not, definitely yes.
What gives you the assurance ?
Is that government performing now? I appreciate there’d be some constraints the government is facing. But because the government seems not to be thinking out of the box which has reduced the standard of living to nothing, Ekiti people would, with ease, vote the PDP government out by the time they see improved-standard of living scheme that APC would be embarking upon.
So APC is very firmly on ground to take over government from PDP? What do you want to do differently from what is on ground now in the state?
Well, you see people are talking about restructuring, majority of the aspirants too in Ekiti are talking about it too, in the context of what is happening in Ekiti now. This is good. This clearly suggests that there’s a problem in the State. And these problems need urgent solution. Let me start from there since this is what is trending now.
This restructuring I’m touching on is not in the context of the present National discuss but in the context of the situation in Ekiti at the moment. No doubt many things need to be restructured there for the State to move forward in the right direction. This our restructuring agenda is likely to be different from other people’s idea of restructuring. Ours would be with a difference.
We would approach governance with business sense and on the strength of this our restructuring agenda, which is an integral part of our 3Rs (Recovery, Restructuring and Repositioning) agenda would focus on portfolio restructuring, organisation restructuring and financial restructuring.
We need to turn things around in the state especially in the area of economy and morals. For economy to be turned around, the state needs investors, be it foreign or local. Unfortunately, no investor will want to come to Ekiti State now bacause of the way the state is.
We need to attract investors, foreign and local to drive the economy of the state. With the potentials the state has in terms of resources and human capital, it’s indeed a shame to be having less than N3billion a year as IGR. Sometime ago I was analyzing the audited account of The Government of Kaduna State & saw its IGR for 2016 to be N23 billion & its total receipt for the year to be N110b, almost.
My mind quickly when to Ekiti State & said to myself that in every sense of fiscal discipline, we’d be able to do more than we’re doing at the moment in terms of IGR. So we need serious restructuring and topmost on the restructuring agenda is the restructuring of our finances, which will be the beginning of our Ekiti Project.
From information we are gathering here and there it does not look like that the state of the state’s finance is healthy. I want to liken the state to a company with poor financial position approaching a bank for facility; no bank will grant such facility with dodgy financial position.
Same would be the position of an investor towards any state where the fundamentals are not good. All investors want is good returns. Our first assignment would be to find a way of sweeping the state’s balance sheet with a view to repositioning our finance structure that will attract local and foreign investors.
To complement the financial restructuring is the organizational restructuring that will target upholding all the principles of good governance which will showcase Ekiti State as a place where business could be done with relative ease; this (organizational restructuring) will further give investors assurances of save investment environment.
We are looking at this as one of the things we are going to do differently because I don’t think such had been done before because if it has, we shouldn’t be where we are now. The state’s economy is not working and it has to work and work.
Secondly, what we intend to do differently is to massively invest in agriculture with strong emphasis on value chain creation. Our approach would be different. It’s not a question of doing elephant projects. We are going to introduce cottage agriculture system that recognizes areas competences.
For example if in Ido/Osi Local Government, where I come from, its core competence is rice production, why would we invest in beans production? No. We would focus investment on rice production in that area. We would in addition, in that locality, encourage the establishment of companies that use rice (as an example & it’s by products) as input for the production of other goods.
That is, we would bring companies very near to their source of materials. People in that area would enjoy it because that line of trade the government is investing in is in tandem with their culture and it is equally creating employment for their sons and daughters. This is the kind of program that we’d love to execute across the state. And all the necessary supports would be given to the farmer.
Another thing that we’d do differently is introducing a change to style of governance, which focuses on bottom-up approach. By this we mean that, subject to further critical analysis, out of 48 months to spend in office, almost 33% of the months would be spent at local government areas meaning that government business would be run from a local government for a month.
This strategy has its advantages. The main idea behind this is to see to the development of rural areas. When you are in an area consistently for 30 days local economic/investment ideas would be running in your brain.
Is there a sin for Ekiti to have Ekiti marbles or tiles with rocks that scatter all over the place or even tapping our massive clay deposit in the state to make plates, cups etc? God will help us. We are sitting on gold mine in Ekiti but seems we are not seeing them and in the process punishing our people.
You mentioned portfolio restructuring can you just expantiate on that sir?
Portfolio restructuring is a kind of business/product mix, the kind of products you want to see thriving in Ekiti, that is the meaning. I’ve indirectly touched on this in my views on agriculture. Each local government area is producing an agricultural product in which it has comparative advantage which will contribute into this portfolio. You can call it cottage agricultural system.
What is your own definition of restructuring?
Restructuring is repositioning to make sure that what is not right now is put right. Then good strategies should be put in place to ensure that laid down objectives are achieved.
What is your take on stomach infrastructure introduced by Fayose?
Well, whatever that means. But our own idea would not be by lining people up on the street to collect rice, beans etc. Our own strategy towards making people happy would be the creation of enabling environment for people to create food for themselves and make money for themselves by engaging in serious economic activities which are transferable to generation unborn and not most of this untransferable life threatening/standard of living downgrading economic activities that majority of our people are engaged in. Our goal is to preserve the dignity of people. This is not negotiable.
And you think that will replace stomach infrastructure?
We would be focused on our own programmes. But if you say this is a replacement of stomach infrastructure.