• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Winning election this time around must be about competence and capacity – Bello

Winning election this time around must be about competence and capacity – Bello

Atinuke Bello is the current chief whip of the Ogun State House of Assembly and also a candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for Odogbolu Constituency seat in the 2023 general election. In this exclusive interview with INIOBONG IWOK, she spoke on the 2023 general election, APC chances in Ogun State and challenges as a female politician. Excerpts:

A few weeks to the presidential election, what is your reading of the situation on the ground and the likely outcome?

Tinubu will win Ogun State by a very wide margin. Let’s wait till then because even the people that are in the main opposition are not campaigning for their presidential candidate; they are only campaigning for the governorship candidate.

Here in Ogun State, we have a governor that is capable and campaigning for his presidential candidate. Also, our senatorial candidate, Gbenga Daniel, is from my constituency, a former governor who is campaigning for Tinubu. We are winning the election hands down.

Don’t you think the inability of the APC to fulfil campaign promises would affect Tinubu’s chances?

Politics is local, when Tinubu was governor of Lagos State, even without the revenue of the state not being given to him, he did so well. In fact, he raised the revenue of Lagos State; he raised it to a point that till now the standard has not been met by any state. Tinubu has been tested and trusted. He is a man with ideas and he is a man that knows what to do at a certain time to make things work. He is a man that knows how to make things work. Why would Nigerians leave such a man and vote for a man that failed at the federal level? Tinubu was tested at the state level and he did so well at that level, we expect him to do more at the federal level with the resources that would be at his disposal. He created the LCDA in Lagos and they are still there until now. Lagos State has local government autonomy and that is something that differentiates that state from other states. I know that in this coming election people are going to vote more for the personality and what you have achieved than the party.

What is the chance of Governor Dapo Abiodun against the PDP governorship candidate, Ladipo Adebutu in Ogun?

There is no opposition in Ogun State, when you talk about competence, we need people who did well as a professional. If you say Ladi is popular in Ogun, I would say no; if you say his father is popular, I would say yes. We don’t want a man that wants to ride on the achievement of his father to be our governor; we want a man that has been tested; a man that has achieved in his private life; someone that has competence and that has shown capacity. To be governor of Ogun State is not a family entitlement, it is not a family inheritance. It’s the collective decision of the people of this state. So, someone cannot say because of my father I want to be this. We want capacity and character, which he has shown as a private manager of his life; which he has shown as father and husband. Dapo Abiodun is a good father and a good husband. Let see what he has done when he was elected to a lesser position earlier; is it about carrying the family name up and down? No, it is about competence and capacity.

What has been your experience as a female politician in Nigeria?

It has been challenging. Yeah, we have some men that think intimidating a woman makes them feel great. We face constant checking of men in our entire decision making. It has been very challenging and interesting as well. You know, the challenges are the things keeping us going in the discharge of our duties.

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According to statistics, there has been a reduction in the number of women contesting the 2023 polls, compared to 2019. What do you think is responsible?

There’s a significant reduction in women contesting the 2023 polls, this is due to all the things that they see on the field while being in office; you just want to get out of it and say; please I am doing no more. You know, Nigerian traditions and culture support male domineering, most females don’t want to stay in a place where their voice doesn’t count. Most females don’t want to stay in a place where they are always challenged in any speech they make, if you’re not strong-willed and careful, you may end up breaking down emotionally and losing it. Also, as a female, you have the task of being in public office, and also the responsibility of taking care of your family. Taking care of yourself as a female, you know taking care of yourself as a female is a job on its own; you have to dress up properly, you know the men don’t care when they wear their shirt and trousers they are good to go. But our own would take extra time. We have several things that are limiting our participation in politics, if the political environment is not too conducive for females to participate, they may end up giving up and going back to their shell. It takes a tough woman to say; I want to carry on. That is why when some of us get a ticket, a man would just come and take it away; I had a similar experience in my LGA, but thank God where we are today. To succeed as a female politician, you must have a husband that is very understanding, matching the home front work and the political work is not easy. But you must have a husband that would understand you and know when you are tired. Taking care of the children is not your responsibility alone, you need help. Most of all, the challenges are what makes a woman want to go crazy and give up.

Can you tell us how far you have gone in your re-election campaign so far?

We have been doing stakeholder consultation; thank God it has been great. We’re talking to wards, everybody around. We have done the first flag-off of the governor; we are carrying out the local government’s campaign flag-off. Very soon we would be doing the door-to-door campaign with our people. So, we are thinking of doing that for February, people have been responsive to the cause and we thank God for that. So, we’ve done a lot of things; we have done souvenir awareness programs. We have our posters. The things we are telling them are things they can see; our people have been responsive to a very large percentage. The reception has been great, so we are positive of winning the election.

Although you are a lawmaker, what are your achievements in your first tenure representing your consistency?

Yeah, let me start from the little things we’ve done before talking about what we’ve influenced into the local governments.

When we came into office, we were able to erect a borehole into several places in my constituency. We have been able to build toilets for garages and major markets within wards in my constituency. We have been able to reroof health centres which were in bad shape. For the back to school programme, we have 13 students who are on our payroll, that we pay their school fees per term basics; these are people who are not financially buoyant.

We have a program that distributes free books and school uniforms to students. There was a time we distributed chairs for students in schools. We have done electricity installation to communities; we have done bore holes to several communities. We have facilitated two blocks of classrooms in Odogbolu, we also facilitated transformers in Odogbolu.

In my LGA we gave a whole building of classrooms in the Catholic School. We have done solar installation in most parts of my constituency. In Comprehensive High School we also facilitated blocks of classroom. We facilitated transformers in communities among several other projects that space cannot allow us to mention here.

Is there any particular project that you are passionate about if you win re-election?

Yes, that is major empowerment of women in my constituency and maintaining existing projects.