We have the numbers to win next election in Lagos – Adediran
Olajide Adediran is lead visioner of Lagos4Lagos, a political group within the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State. In this exclusive interview with INIOBONG IWOK, Adediran speaks on a number of issues, including the state of the party in Lagos; his gubernatorial ambition and how he is fighting to right supposed wrongs in the party and in the state. Excerpts:
You have been on this fight to reshape Lagos politics for some years; from where exactly do you draw the courage?
First from self-belief, you need to believe in yourself. Believe in your ability and back it up with all the necessary actions. You know some of us do not believe in stereotype, status quo. If you liken this to what is happening in Lagos; it is unfortunate that everybody just feels comfortable. When I say everybody, I mean, including the poor and the rich. Everybody is just comfortable and things cannot just work that way. Some of us choose to do something so that something would shift; if we refused to do something we would pass on the baton to even the next generation.
We can’t just be comfortable with everything. What we hear is that Lagos State is the most sophisticated state in the federation. If our level of exposure and influx of people from all over the world is anything to go by, you would agree with me that it is the most sophisticated state, but unfortunately, the situation in Lagos is best likened to a herder and his cow.
How can somebody tell us to go there today, come here tomorrow and all of us are obeying, just one person for two decades running? Some of us believe we should not continue that way. What is that fear holding us back? If we don’t face that fear headlong we would not conquer it, which is what we are doing with Lagos4Lagos.
Breaking loose from the norm in Lagos politics is not an easy task; what would be done to break from what you call the establishment?
What we are doing today is a product of thorough research. I am not an outsider; I have been around, even though I have not been elected, but I have been around understudying things and the way it is. And one thing I would say to you is that an outsider cannot fight this war. He would have been defeated because we are using the tools of the status quo to fight against it. In the circle, they don’t even know who is Lagos4Lagos because all of us are in the same party. It is difficult to know, because the man sitting next to you, you don’t even know he is the one doing the whole thing, and it is only us that can fight this cause.
Today, we are dragging the structure of the party. We of the Lagos4Lagos are one part, and the Tunde Balogun-led group is another part. But the question I am asking from them is; this structure that you are dragging from us, when you had it hundred percent, did it ever work for you?
You own all your structure in your LGA, but it has not happened that the structure is the one that would throw up candidates that represent your people. Somebody would foist persons on the party; so what is the point fighting over that structure? If we have it, then we have given election choices to the people; if you are popular in your locality, why can’t you get the ticket? For instance; the party chairman could not produce his local government chairman in the just concluded local government election.
We were tools in the hands of the status quo and we are converting those efforts to ourselves.
It is that bad. They had to impose somebody; in fact, they removed somebody in the eleventh hour and put somebody else that never purchased nomination form and that person is the chairman today. Look at that impunity; nobody could challenge that; just for one person to challenge that in court they are gone.
But because everybody is comfortable, even those in the media, when Jandor comes out to talk they will say what are they looking for? Some of us are not wired that way. We need to end the current dynastic system so that Lagos can move forward.
After the recent ward congress; you said there were many registered APC members under your control. What is the assurance that these numbers would amount to electoral success?
Let me tell you that we have the numbers; we did a pre-congress rally. It was everywhere, this is practical, you see us, and we see you. We asked all of them to bring their PVC slips, and we can say this is the party members; we have the numbers.
For the ward congress that we did, we provided all executives, including delegates across 245 wards, across our structure for Lagos4lagos in the state and that is what we submitted. It is verifiable.
Speaking about winning the election; don’t forget that all these numbers that I talk about are within the ruling APC. Those are the same people that do all the things you are talking about if at all they exist.
You think it is by error that I did not go and join the Young Political Party? No, I know that we need those that are part of the shenanigan that you are talking about to take that power for us. Like I said, it is not a fight that an outsider can fight. So, we are part of the game. That is what I started by saying that we were tools in the hands of the status quo and we are converting those efforts to ourselves.
Are you confident that INEC would conduct a free and fair poll in 2023?
We are comfortable; let me tell you; don’t liken INEC-conducted elections to the charade that we just witnessed in Lagos State, conducted by LASIEC. In Lagos that has been governed by APC for many years, we have some councilors’ seats won by the opposition. It shows that where those PDP members had won they are popular and they have the numerical strength, because even if you want to rig, you can only do that where you are popular. When you are not popular you cannot rig.
So, what we need to do is to do a whole lot of work mobilising the people and getting the job done. Look at what we have done in the APC now; it used to be one hundred percent, meaning that some of their foot soldiers that would do the hundred percent job for them is depleted; it is no longer one hundred percent.
And some are resolute to say except you are ready to do our bidding that is when we are ready to do it together; if you are not ready we would do it here. So, doing it here means that your hundred percent is not hundred percent anymore, that would ordinarily affect the system because it is the structure that wins elections. We need canvassers to go out and call people out. Someone like you would not come out except someone comes and knocks at your door. So, that is the structure we are putting in place. I mean people who understand the nitty-gritty of the game. So, it is where you are popular that you can rig. That is not where we are going; it would not be business as usual.
Despite public outcry, the National Assembly did not pass the aspect of the Electoral Act that gives INEC powers to electronically transmit election results. Don’t you think this would affect the credibility of general elections in 2023?
We would still win, but giving us electronic transmission of results would have given us advantage. We do not want things to continue the same way.
Like I said, it would have been to our advantage. We said if you want to change these things it is we that would go in there and do the reforms; these guys would not do the reforms because the moment they do the reforms they would shoot themselves in the leg.
They would not, but can we populate the political landscape with our numerical strength and see how we can hijack the party from within and get it done? The problem we have today is not a problem of APC or PDP; it is a problem of the same people. If they leave and collapse PDP today and we have another party, the same people would still come back and we still have the same behaviour. So, the party is not the problem, it is the individual and what we should be thinking is how to retire these people so that the country can move forward. APC is not the problem. But it would be hard for any party to come from outside and take power from the APC.
What is your plan B?
You know, I am not acting like your typical politician; there are one million and one people in Lagos APC today who want to be governor of Lagos State, but have you seen them come out to declare their ambition? But no, this is what I want to be and I am not the type that wants to say; I want to contest for the House of Representatives or Senate before saying I want to be governor. We have people like that.
What we need is to truly change something in Lagos and what we need is executive power and without having that executive power you can’t achieve anything. Let take for instance, the bill that we are talking about now, if the President refuses to assent to the bill it is returned to them, nothing happens. That is the kind of power we are saying. So, we need executive power to get things done.
I don’t have a plan B; my only plan is to be the governor of Lagos State and what I can assure you is that my name would be on the ballot.
The Plan A, is also the Plan B, to be the governor of Lagos State in 2023.
What is your take on the spate of insecurity in Nigeria?
It is not news that a lot is going on in the county today. But rather than playing games we should see it as an attack on the sovereignty of Nigeria. We sit and criticise our security agencies, but I am sure some people are waging war against the country. I want us to unite and fight this. And I want to appeal to the government that they need to do more to put an end to the insanity going on now. And I believe they will do it. All they need is to develop that will to get it done. So, I want us to see it as an attack on all Nigerians. We should find that voice and speak on this madness.