Engineer Femi Babalola (FNSE), popularly known as Jogor is a governorship aspirant in Oyo State on the platform of People Democratic Party. In a chanced encounter with him at Lagos state television, Alausa Ikeja, Lagos few days ago, the amiable socialite cum entrepreneur shared his vision and why he wants to unseat the incumbent governor of Oyo State, Gov. Ajimobi…
What do you mean by key figure? I wasn’t in government.
During his tenure, your name always cropped up as his backbone?
Yes, he’s my brother.
Now you are a PDP governorship aspirant and we learnt he has decided to come back, what is your relationship with him?
It’s still cordial. Nothing has changed and don’t forget that he has not really come out to say that he wants to contest but I have his blessing. All I am doing, I have his blessing. He’s our leader in the state.
If peradventure he decides to contest, what will happen?
He’s our good leader. And once the leader is good, he is good and a leader will not want to harm his followers.
FB-2015, can you tell us what is all about?
It’s a forum put together by my friends and I to support and resuscitate Oyo State. Let me say, it is a special purpose vehicle for my election that will be coming up next year. It’s supposed to drive everything about that election.
You are vying for the governorship of Oyo State, what and what should people of Oyo be expecting from you?
They should expect development, good government, security of lives and property. They should expect good life and good future for their children.
People believe that APC have a strong hold in South West, especially Oyo State. So, what exactly do you have to edge out the sitting governor?
It’s all about your belief and vis-a-vis the performance of the government and the needs of the people. You will ask yourself, is the government meeting the needs of the people? And I will tell you that the answer is No! And I will ask you a question, are the people looking for an alternative? I will tell you that if you go to Oyo State, the answer is 100 percent Yes! My people are expecting a new government. When you say performance, I keep telling people there is absolutely nothing that Ajimobi has done that is out of the ordinary. He has just done roads, Akala did more roads than Ajimobi. Akala did housing estate, hospitals, he did inter-state roads. The only thing Ajimobi has done is just intra-city roads, that is the road within the city. Akala dualised more roads in Ibadan than Ajimobi. Akala did inter-city roads, that is the road linking the community to another community like Igowo, Igbono, Igboowere Ile and others like that. Aside that, he built hospital, at Ogbomosho. The College of Agriculture, he started from the scratch and it’s one of the best colleges of agriculture in Nigeria now at Igbo Ora. Akala did Kolapo Ishola Housing Estate. He started from scratch with about 700 plots. If you go there now, you will be amazed.
What will you do differently that you feel the incumbent governor is not doing?
The incumbent governor feels that governance is all about infrastructure, it is not. Governance do not begin and end with infrastructure. What about the human capital development. They are not doing that.
And those are the things he needs to do now. Will I do a road for example before schools? Will I dualize a road in Isehin, a community where there has never been any traffic and where people are dying of water diseases. Will I dualize a road in such a town and leave what works? You can answer all these questions. Will I dualize a road in Oyo where there is no traffic and in front of three schools without roofs. I won’t do that. I know the needs of the people. But I don’t blame Ajimobi because Ajimobi had never been an Ibadan person. He lived virtually all his life outside Oyo State. So, he’s not actually used to the problems and the needs of the people. I’ve spent all my life in Oyo State and I know their needs. I know how the people want them. I know the sequence by which we want them.
Over the years, I have interviewed people in your own position…
(Cut in) No, you have not interviewed people in my own position because if you want to tell me that you’ve been interviewing people in my own position then you have to tell me that you’ve interviewed someone that wants to be a governor and has spent all his life in that state, that has a growing concern, that has investment in that state, that has his family in that state, that believes so much in that state, that is employed before going for any elective post. So tell me one?
Ordinarily, what really stands you out?
I have just told you. The only way you believe in a stranger is if you know that this man is one of us. He’s suffering as they are suffering. Definitely he’s most likely going to solve their problems. He’s one of them and he’s on ground. He knows where there is traffic, he knows where there is flood. We all suffered the same problem and my family is here. Even when everything goes bad, I will still remain there.
So why did you stay this long before coming out to contest?
I had never wanted to go into elective offices but after sometime, I found out that our generation will not forgive me. It is like the society has done so much for me. I’m sorry to say this, there are so many people on my scholarship scheme. I was going through their bills recently one particular morning and I said my God, ninety thousand (90,000) up to N270,000 as fees for government schools and I said to myself that, If this amount was charged when I was in the university, then I might not have graduated. The reason is that when I was in the university, three of us, my immediate elder brother, myself and my immediate younger brother were in the university at the same time. And despite the fact that education was almost free, it was tough for my parents. So, I just said to myself. If it was now, maybe one of us or two will probably wait for one person to finish. And I keep saying that, a time will come that the generation coming behind us will ask that the things we enjoyed, how come they are not enjoying them? You guys broke the link, so we shouldn’t allow such a period to happen. And I said to myself, I can rescue the situation. I’m in a position to rescue it. I enjoyed good life and good education. I virtually had free education all my life. So, why should people be paying so much? I never knew what was called a well in my life until the 90s and I went to primary, secondary school and university, I didn’t see a well in my life. So, why should people not have potable water in their houses? Why should it be difficult for a graduate to be employed? Why can’t we plan? People that are going to the university now you know that it will take three years to graduate? I need to create things for them. I created job from the scratch, so I know what I am saying.
There is this belief that Nigerian politics is dirty and game of money and godfatherism?
If you want to hear the truth, it is a myth. I had that belief too but when I entered politics – by the way I’ve been in politics since 1991 – I just decided on my own that I will not seek elective office. Anybody can win as long as you are popular. As long as people like you, you will win your election. People are just saying that to deter people like you so that you won’t join them. It is a lie. If you go into politics and you have good idea and you’re popular within your area, you will win your election. You don’t need so much money to win an election. The people that need money are the people we call Lagos politicians in Oyo State because they never lived in Oyo State and they want to contest. And when you come to the state where you don’t live, you will need people that will be taking you round and those people will extort money from them. We call them Lagos politician, now we’ve added Abuja to it. Nobody can scare someone like me away because nobody of my age has spent the length of time that I have spent in Oyo State. A lot of people probably did their primary and secondary then had their university outside or came back to work but I’ve been there all my life. So, I know all the nooks and crannies of the state and there is no local government in Oyo State that I don’t know inside out. There is no local government that I’ve not spent like a week or two there. I’ve done so many things in local governments. So, it’s not as difficult as they paint it to you.
Away from politics, you’re a successful businessman and owns the most popular event centre there, Jogor, how did it start?
A lot of our friends believe that Ibadan is a dead city where business does not thrive. And I got the inspiration from God to go into it. I did it and a lot of people have followed suit. But don’t forget, a lot of people only see that socialite aspect of me. I’m a Fellow of the Nigeria Society of Engineers. And I graduated in 1986 as a civil engineer. I became a fellow about seven years ago from engineering practice. And don’t forget that the money I used in constructing Jogor was gotten from engineering. And I’m still doing engineering because it is my first love. Jogor Centre was something I needed to use to create employment for the people of Oyo State. Out of the desire of my heart to make things happen in Oyo State. We can get things started and it is happening now. There is no regret each time I look back.
– FEMI OYEWALE