Former Governor of Ekiti State and All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant Chief Segun Oni has unveiled the blueprint for the state if elected in next year’s election. In a recent interview, he explains how he intends to implement the blueprint tagged: “A New Social and Economic Order for Ekiti State.”
What is your blueprint for Ekiti, ‘Agenda for a New Social and Economic Order’, all about ?
People are interested in knowing whether what we are doing is just a slogan for election or a deep concept that is really capable of taking us to the next level. I want to repeat with confidence that it is a new social and economic order. You will see that it is not totally new; it is a repackaging of an old order that was jettisoned so many years ago. But, it represents the gap between the prosperity of the regions. When people remember the regions, they remember prosperity and that is why they are salivating and the poverty of the state. In the days of the region, there was prosperity and in the days of the states, there is poverty; the difference is the order we are trying to repackage now. So, if the regions were prosperous, Ekiti will be prosperous and we will not need anybody giving us money from anywhere before we can survive. Of course, whatever belongs to us, we will take but it won’t be the basis of our survival. I want you to picture government not as a receiving entity that receives allocations from Abuja and adds the little IGR that it can make to it as a basis of its spending and now spends the money to build roads, to construct bridges, to pay salaries and so on. I want you to look at government as an octopus, a trading entity that itself is a trader. If government is a trader, if it can stimulate productivity in what it can trade in, its own prosperity will know no end, because it is as much of production that it does that it will exchange for money either locally or internationally, that will determine the limits of its prosperity. So, what are we going to do? We are going to create first, productivity and this productivity will be in difference spheres. First, agriculture both crop farming and animal husbandry; we will have hundreds of people rearing goats, hundreds of people doing fisheries, hundreds of people doing poultry.
All these people government will ensure that first, they have the take-off capital and the training. Government will also organise for other services that they will require like veterinary services, extension services, so that they will get the right yield in what they are doing. Then government through the agent that will be appointed whose business it is to market will now ensure that these products are sold. The person who is producing poultry, if it is eggs will not need to know who is going to eat the eggs, because we have young people will control this business between the ages of 18 and 40. Those young people, some of them, their offices will be their laptops. They are receiving orders and they are making commitment based on what their own clients are producing. Government will therefore derive its own revenue from the agency’s commission that it would get on those turnover. These people we are saying will produce eggs, it is not only in agric; some of them will do kind of work that you call ‘agbede’ (blacksmithing) for example, I mean foundry business. When I was growing up, nobody was importing cutlasses but now we import cutlasses and these are products of foundry. So, if we have, for example, 20 or 50 people doing foundry business in Ekiti, the furnaces they will use will be supplied to them, the training everything. It will be the business of some people to design what the average cutlass will look like. Others will find market for the cutlasses within and outside the country and so on. It’s a chain; it is not only agric because we will also have pharmaceuticals. for example. When production happens, of course, profitability will happen and government will derive its primary revenue from agencies’ involvement, then taxation will follow. Each of these young people will own their companies. I was discussing with somebody a while ago and he brought an idea about registering companies which is being done centrally. It is going to be cheaper, but if you give a contract to a lawyer to incorporate 100 companies, what he will charge for 200 companies will not be up to double that.
What are the other benefits of the blueprint?
The individuals working in these companies will also pay Personal Income Tax. So, in one fell swoop, we will increase the companies that are being taxed in Ekiti by as many individual production unit as possible. Through this, we put these young people on the road to prosperity. To get there, a lot of things will have to happen. First, you have to re-tune people’s mentality to be able to have the temperament to produce and to wait for returns. Not a temperament to want to grow it to a Dangote overnight; that is why we are going to insist that the quantum of business that will be in everyone’s hand must hand them N1 million profit every year, so that we cannot lead people from unemployment to poverty. We must lead them from unemployment to prosperity; so, we are going to mop up and take as many young people as possible from where they are now, the the waiting list, where they don’t know when God will answer their prayers to where they can become productive, make profit, dream dreams and can project. By God’s grace, a good number of them will become the billionaires of their own generation, because they will start making money quickly and then begin to dream dreams. So, when we say a new social and economic order, it’s not a slogan and it’s not a fad. It’s not something people will say and use to attract votes because people will be convinced that we can really turn around things. Chief Obafemi Awolowo did it in the days of Western Nigeria Marketing Board. We are not going to have a marketing board, but we will replace it with young people who will carry their laptops representing their companies. But now, the times have changed and we are looking at repackaging it, so that it can suit the mood, temperament and mentality of the times. I believe that Ekiti does not have business with being poor, struggling to pay salaries. No, that is not going to be our lot again.
How many youths will be engaged in the businesses you have just enumerated?
We want to engage a minimum of 10,000 to 20,000 youths involved in buying, selling and marketing of goods and services and so on and each of them making a minimum of N1 million profit a year.
How will you mobilise the youths to participate in these programmes?
The first step is re-orientation. When we were launching ‘The Youth Progressives’ (TYP), we said this is a training ground for young people to be able to affect their future. That is where the re-orientation will start, then other people will join. Next month, a training school will start, just for people who will start academics in Brazil; they will learn Portuguese (language). We are going to sponsor them, they will write exams for us to select those who will be going for the first batch. After six months of serious training, they will do a qualifying exam in Portuguese. Those who pass will be qualified for the scholarship, that is one aspect, because we are going to do many of it with as many countries that are interested in partnering us. But, that is for people who want to go into academics. For those who want to be entrepreneurs, they will have to clean up the cobwebs in their mentality that makes people disbelieve themselves; that make people see impossibilities rather than possibilities. We would train them, re-orientate them and we will now go to the specifics. The average person, if you want to go into the business of fisheries, may probably think that he doesn’t need so much training. We will never allow anyone to go into these schemes without a proper training and during the period of their training, government will be responsible for their upkeep, at least until the period they will start to earn revenue. So, this is where it differs; government will stand in the gap for them. But, of course, government will not do it for fun. Each participant will earn his own income and this is not Father Christmas; we are not doing it because we want people to be employed. If you want to do something for employment alone, it will not matter to you whether that employment is being done for the fun of it. We want to do it because we want entrepreneurship to take proper root and they will earn good profit. From there, they will be prepared to be on their own. So, we must train and re-orientate them.
How will you handle stomach infrastructure?
Who likes to beg? Nobody. If there is an alternative, nobody likes to beg. We are going to create alternatives that will be attractive to people; if you know that within a year, you can make a million, you will prefer not to stand on the road and be raising your hands to say baba ke. Because you know that one month, second month, you will be counting and seeing it grow; you know that the reality of you making money is there and it is in your hand. Why do you want to go on the streets. So, I don’t think that anybody likes stomach infrastructure.
The people who designed stomach infrastructure did not design it to be inclusive of their own friends, their own allies, their own children and so on. Because they know that it is not good. If you cook a soup and you know that it is a good soup, you will fight for your children to have their own portion. They know that stomach infrastructure is not a dignified meal for anybody; nobody will want to prefer it to what we are talking about. What we are talking about is dignity, earning a living and of course in their stomach infrastructure can they give you food worth a million naira plus in a year? Can it assure you of your future? So, there is no comparism between stomach infrastructure and this. Everybody who has an opportunity to be in this will not think twice, they will just stand up and go for it.
How will you fund the projects?
This is not going to be in government’s hand; I didn’t say that government will produce chickens or government will rear cattle. I said the individuals will do, the prosperity will be in their hands and no government can wrest it out of their hands. What government will be doing is to derive the benefits that will be coming unto government and if government cannot manage the benefit then, it will be left to it. But it will not be able to dispossess people of the prosperity that will accrue to their hands. So, once this starts, it can continue and it will continue.