Hononourable Destiny Enabulele is the Executive Chairman of the Ovia South West Local Government of Edo State who is also one of the strong henchmen of Governor Godwin Obaseki. Before his emergence as the local Government chairman he was involved in social development with an NGO.
He was the Director of Publicity of all the NGOs in Edo state, later Secretary and president. In this interview with BusinessHallmark’s AYOOLA OLAOLUWA and OLUSESAN LAOYE, he bares his mind about the coming Edo State Governorship election, why there is bad leadership in Nigeria and how Nigeria could move forward as a nation. He also spoke on other sundry issues. Below are excerpts.
You have been rated as one of the best performing council Chairman in Edo State despite the meager resources in your council, how have you been able to achieve this?
To me, governance has been part of me since the time I was involved in NGOs. So with this background, administering my local government was not difficult and strange to me. When I became the chairman of my Local government, what kept ringing in my mind was that I have no reason whatsoever to fail. So as a result and looking at the meager resources and allocation from the Federal government, I developed a template on how to judiciously utilised the allocation.
With this on my mind, I said to myself that first thing is to settle the workers’ salary. What also encouraged me to move on was what I learnt from my father, who strongly believed that the wages of workers should be paid as at when due.
You see, when the salary of a worker is regular, he or she would be credit worthy, because if he says he would pay at a particular time, he would be believed and since he has a financial base to handle the credit facility, they would offer him any time he wants because he has built that confidence of paying back. The second thing that came to my mind was that since I can’t employ, I asked myself that which legacy will I be leaving behind because when I ask the workers they would say this and that chairman employed them.
As a result I made up my mind that I have to leave a legacy and that was why when I receive my allocation, I will set aside a reasonable percentage of the allocation, rather than the usual ritual when the previous chairmen would sit with some leaders and share what was left after salary.
So I began to save and come up with ideas of projects to be executed. Whenever the allocations arrives, I will calculate the salary, set aside what I need for the running of the council and save part, for the project we want to do and that is why we are able to achieve what we have achieved so far, during my administration.
How in specific terms you got your funds for projects because what you claimed to have saved can’t be enough to execute some of the projects you did which made you outstanding and a performing local government chairman?
You see my local government is one of the oldest in the federation, but still it is rural. The people are predominantly into agriculture, so, we don’t have much internally generated revenue. When we came onboard our IGR was about barely N2million to 3million or there about. Then what can one achieve with this amount. As a result, we started appealing to the people that whatever they pay in form of taxes, would be used for the development of the local government and truly when they saw what we were doing with what collected from them, they started appreciating our efforts and they keyed in into our appeal.
At a point we were having N5m to N6m which was not also enough to do anything. At times we don’t even have impress to run the council but we always make sure that something is left in the council. As a matter of fact, I am a very prudent person and a child of history. I could remember that my mother used to tell me that I am a man who will not spend a kobo without proper calculations of how that money would be spent. You see, when I was young I developed the habit of saving and even if I have a thousand naira I would prefer to save it and I would not mind going hungry because I would have targeted what I wanted to do with that money.
My father died when I was in SS2 and that was the time I needed him most. So I had to shun luxury to be able to train myself through tertiary education. Today by the grace of God I have my Masters Degree. I had to shun drinking, going to parties and smoking. Up till now I don’t drink and or go to clubs and if my friends want to go I rather give them what I have than going with them. What has helped me in governance happens to be my cultivated habits of prudency which I put into it. You see, I must be very frank with you, before we can move forward in this country, we need a leader who will be able to see it as his own estate, so that he would say this is my estate and it must work
In this country there are companies that are still working. For instance there is a company in Ikomu in my local government which is working perfectly. Ikomu is a mini developed world of its own. Their company is like you are abroad; so, when you have a leader that is determined to develop the country, he would be able to take the bull by the horn and say this country is my personal estate and he would make things work for everybody. But unfortunately this is what we have been lacking in this country over the years.
With what you have just said now, what do you now think is wrong with the leadership and governance in Nigeria?
What is wrong is the fact that our leaders are not sincere, and the followers too are worse off. People believe that government money must be shared. The notion in Nigeria is that when a person has got to the leadership position, it has become his or her turn to share the national cake. This is where all got it wrong. The problem we also have in Nigeria is that we don’t love ourselves because I don’t see the reason why people amass so much wealth forgetting that if they die today it is just six feet and that would be all. Just imagine what is happening now during this COVID-19, you will agree with me that the only thing important is food and every other thing is secondary.
What I also see as the attitude of Nigerians is that they believed that anything government belongs to all of us and in that case it always ends up not belonging to anybody. But when we have the orientation that this thing belongs to me, it would be taken care of and that is when it would eventually belong to all of us. We must have a leader that is bold enough to protect the common wealth of the state and that is when we can move forward.
This is what the Governor in Edo State is doing. When you ask them what has done, the only accusation against him has been that he did not give the share of the revenue of the state to the Lions and the Tigers. They will also tell you that he is not settling the Godfathers. To be honest with you is that what governance is all about?
You will agree with me that Edo is a civil servant state and what Governor Godwin Obaseki is doing now is to take it out of the civil servants status to the next level, with the coming of Modular Refinery and the Osiomo power plant. By the time all these are in place, government and the people would benefit from them and it will be better for all of us. I am not saying this because I am serving under Governor Obaseki but because I believed he is doing the right thing.
To be sincere with you, the kind of leaders we need in Nigeria is Godwin Obaseki. It is not that we don’t have the resources, but the moment one person wants to have it all, that is our greatest problem.
Take for instance the issue of these 774,000 jobs for local governments. You can’t imagine that they came to my local government with only 200 jobs and told me that they have shared the rest to Senators. Members of House of Representatives and the rest and even me who is the Chief Executive of my local government, got nothing because I am not from their party. This issue of partisan politics is also our major problem in Nigeria. People believed that when it is their party the party is right but I don’t subscribe to that. We should be able to stand up and speak up as well to criticise the party, if it is doing something wrong and we should be able to come out boldly to criticise the authority when the authority is not getting it right.
The problem also is that we refuse to talk because we believed that once I am benefiting from the authority it is well with me. To me this is bad and very wrong. We need to change from this attitude. Before we came on board, the IGR was regarded as chairman chop money or booty, and for the boys. They just collect some boys to go to the main roads to collect revenue and whatever they collected was chairman’s booty, but today, there is a system that controls it. As the chairman, I don’t even see it talk-less of handling it. They only tell me what they generated at the end of each month.
I think we should be able to build a system where the institutions are stronger than individuals.
In a situation where one person is stronger than the institution, that is a big problem. So when the strong man leads the system, the system would collapse and we would come back to square one.
With your position on the role of the party in the political set up and governance, are you not telling us that party is not supreme. Because in the first and second Republics party was known to be supreme and all party members toed the lines of the party irrespective.
We have not developed to that level. During the periods you were talking about, people paid dues to the party. I could recollect that my mother and father were making contributions to the party. But now that is not the situation. In a situation where the party is at the mercy of one man who comes to control the party with his corrupt and ill-gotten money, makes the nonsense of the party supremacy because what he says makes him the lord, based on his money. See the way Adams ran the system of APC. It is very sad.
He disqualified the man that worked in NPDC for 35 years before he retired, this is sad. Again you pick on the governor and started accusing him, when you never had a primary six leaving certificate. Here in the state an Agbero will send a professor on errand. It is as bad as that in Edo state. Why those people are angry with Governor Obaseki was just because he has come to change the narratives that it can’t continue to work like that anymore. He is trying to bring value to education and want educated people to be respected. What is happening politically in Edo state is between the literate and the ill-literate.
Those that are ganging up on the other sides are ritualists. Please you can quote me, any day. But those on this side are those who want to lead the state to an enviable status and an egalitarian society. And I am assuring you that, the will of the people would prevail and we shall defeat them.
There was this school of thought that Governor Obaseki did not handle the situation well and there should have been a better way to deal with his former political god-father. What is your take on this?
What do they mean? They wanted him to mortgage his first tenure to favour an individual whom he was trying to clean up the mess the man created. I think that was wrong and not fair to the people of Edo State. If I were to be in the shoes of Governor Obaseki I will do the same too.
Don’t you believed that Governor Obaseki needs Oshiomhole’s support?
Don’t worry, we don’t need his support. Without his support Obaseki would get a second term. You will see that we are going to shame him. Gone are the days when one man will get up and would want people to turn him to semi God. That era is gone in Edo state. We are just warning that they should not do anything funny on the day of election. No man can be God. God is always God. We all knew how the man in question came to power. He was just a mere tailor and he wants to lord himself over people that have something up stairs because he can talk. He should forget it, the people of the state are resolute and are ready to show him that the era of noise making is over. We should allow history to guide us.
In Nigeria we don’t allow history to guide us, and not that we don’t have history but we never cared to follow it. We should be able to look at what we are today and what we were yesterday and what we would be tomorrow.
Contrary to your opinions about the governor the notion we gathered since our arrival has been that he has not performed. Are you not just singing his praises?
I stand to differ. I will appreciate you just take a ride round the town, you will see for yourself and hear what people are saying about the Governor. We have carried out our own independent survey and it is the down trodden people that are now in support of Governor Obaseki and they are ready to display their love for him come the election-day. They have realised that the projects he embarked on are for the generality of the people and not for the selected few. He built roads, the stadium, the state government secretariat, the civil servant training school, the Airport road and other projects, like the new Judges buildings and the Technical school. All these things are there for people to see.
Again it is believed that as the party in power at the federal level they may want to display what happened in Osun and Kogi; what is PDP doing to curtail that? Do you foresee any crisis?
Edo is going to be a Christmas day and nothing is going to happen. But Edo is not Osun or Kogi. We are the cradle of black civilisation. Although the Yoruba may want to claim that in terms of education and all that, but going back to history, the first tribe to interface with the British are the Edos. They should not try what they did in Kogi and Osun here. The people were prepared and would not allow their votes to be tampered with. Let us wait till that day. For us Godwin Obaseki would win the election.
You are now condemning the APC forgetting that you ruled for four years under that party and Oshiomhole ruled for eight years. Does it mean that Obaseki who ruled under that platform is a failure as well?
What I was trying to say is that we should not have a strong man but a strong institution.
Oshiomhole arrogated too much power to himself as an individual. The grievous mistake APC did was to bring him on board as the chairman of the party. He ruined the party, many governors, Senators have exited the party. It is a party which lacks mechanism to resolve issues. It was a shame for a minister and a Senator coming out to abuse themselves. That was what Oshiomhole turned the party into. Look at the case of Edo, what happened to Obaseki, I will not wish it happen to my enemies. He disqualified a sitting governor because he was desperate. We knew by December last year that he was going to disqualify Obaseki. He is a man who acts before thinking.
He is like Adolf Hitler. He does something without thinking only to regret later and will try to make a redress when it was too late. What they did to Obaseki they wanted to do that to Akeredolu in Ondo but because of the outcry they had to soft pedaled to give him a second term, ticket. That is why some of us are saying that Edo is not Lagos and no man can play God here in Edo State.
You said you are sure Obaseki will win he doesn’t control the House of Assembly. How will he survive with the enemies he has built around himself?
Let me be frank with you, Obaseki will not have any problem because right now all over the country, the people are fed up with the APC and they want a change so it could be the PDP that would change the change. The APC is a house divided against itself and with what is happening it won’t stand the test of time. The only symbol that keeps the party together is President Muhammadu Buhari and I can assure you that after the tenure of Buhari the party would disintegrates