Dr. Ade Dosunmu
In this interview with Anayo Okolie, the governorship candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the 2011 general election in Lagos State, Dr. Ade Dosunmu, expresses optimism that his party will unseat the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the 2015 governorship election. He also touched on new developments in the party. Excerpts:
Is it true that you may still throw your hat in the ring come 2015?
In politics, 24 hours is a long time. 2015 is about 36 months or there about. I believe it is too early to say I will contest but if you ask me, I will say that we are watching events the way they unfold and we are still interested in rescuing the people of Lagos State from the present hardship that has been inflicted on them through very harsh economic policies; very harsh environment. And to a very large extent, I believe that when we get close to that bridge, we will let the people know what our intentions are. But for now, we are watching very closely. We have seen all the pains that have been inflicted on the people of Lagos State through these harsh policies and we believe that there is no better time than now, to do something so that we can salvage the situation.
Can the PDP make an impact in the 2015 election in Lagos State?
The PDP is a very strong party in the country and you will agree with me that it is the strongest political party in terms of spread, membership and in terms of the states and local government areas it controls. And I feel to that extent, the PDP is strong enough to unseat the ACN government in Lagos State.
But the issue of unity is said to be your party’s undoing?
PDP is united. You see this is one thing that the people always say and I am beginning to think it is the thing the party in government uses to portray PDP as a divided party. As far as we are concerned we know ourselves and just like in any political party, there are people with different backgrounds; people with different ideologies and perception. The differences is bound to come to play in whatever you are doing but at the end of the day, the most important thing is that there is a collective goal which is to ensure that the party wins election in Lagos State and we have started it.
Nobody ever thought that PDP could win anything in Lagos State but we won five, went to tribunal, the tribunal gave us four and the fifth one is still pending and even the councillorship election, we won over 100. Their own ways, they gave us less than 30. If you look at that, from a point of zero to something and our not having any one before was because we didn’t participate in the previous elections. I believe that the PDP is strong enough to make very serious impact in the next election.
Is it true that your party might bring in Mr. Jimi Agbaje as its flag-bearer for the 2015 election?
There are lots of rumours in everything about politics. As far as I am concerned, I don’t discuss people. I like to talk about issues. PDP is a political party and anybody that is interested in joining the party is free to join. PDP is not like other political parties where somebody is endorsed. Anybody that comes into PDP definitely will come and fight for the ticket. I am not averse to anybody joining PDP. That the way I understand my own politics. The more people come into PDP, the better for PDP. Whoever is interested in coming to PDP, let them come. As long as the person will add value to PDP, why not? That is the essence of a political party. So whether some group of people are bringing in somebody, I don’t discuss people. So whoever wants to come to PDP is welcome.
If you are elected to fly the PDP flag, what difference can you make?
Well, I have always said it that I decided to come into politics to offer service to the people in an area I am very familiar with because all my life I have been in the public service; my orientation is about public service, my training is about public service. So I can deliver public good. I can deliver goods and services to the people of Lagos State in a way that will be affordable because that is the real essence of public service - public service that is to provide social service to the people.
Why do we call it social services? Because it must be affordable, it must impact on the majority of the people. The moment you provide something that only minority can enjoy or afford, you are no longer running government. It must impact on the majority of the people and that is why they say ’government for the people, by the people and for the people’. The issue of people is very central in democracy and that is actually the foundation of democracy itself.
Governance is a contract between the people and the government and not a contract between the elite or a few and the government. When you talk about the people, you are talking about the majority. So in public service, we are trained in such a way that our policies will impact on the majority and that is when you are seen to have succeeded or to have made impact but when your policies impact on the minority, you are not providing social goods or services.
Some of the problems we are having in Nigeria today are because you have people in government who don’t have orientation for governance and when you have people who don’t have orientation for governance it becomes a problem. Some people run government as if they are running a Limited Liability Company where the fundamental principle is profit and loss, whereas profit and loss is the aberration in government. Government business, especially when it affects the generality of the people, is all about provision of social services and that is why the cost of providing those services in public administration is referred to as ‘social cost’ because it is not anybodies money, it is tax payers money.
It is the collective patrimony of everybody that is been put before the governor to manage. It is not his money. So, you cannot say you want to turn Lagos to New York within four years and then subject people to unnecessary hardship. It has to be gradual and that is why they say, ‘Rome was not built in a day’. You have to do extensive planning, such that these things will not inflict too much pain on the people, otherwise, when the pain is too much, the real essence of that development is lost.
So to a large extent I believe that people need to have the right orientation to come into government. For instance, look at the issue of toll gate, the infrastructure that are being constructed that are supposed to be provided with tax payers money, and somebody is saying that you have to pay for it, going in and out of your house.
I can understand that you can build a road and toll it when it is inter-state but I don’t believe that you can build a road and toll it when it is intra - state. It doesn’t make sense because by so doing you have already created a form of inequality.
If I am living in Lekki and another person is living in Surulere and we are both working in the same place and the two of us are being paid the same salary and we are paying the same tax, the other one will also have to contend with spending about N25, 000 of his salary to pay toll whereas the other person is not paying anything and they are all living in the same state. It doesn’t work that way. The basic responsibility of the government is the welfare and security of the people as provided for in our constitution.
And one of the basic things the government can do for the people is the provision of infrastructure; public infrastructure like roads, hospitals and so on.
These are basic. Why are we paying taxes? What else does government do for somebody apart from these things? To me, it is strange that in this 21st Century, in an intra - state road, people are putting toll. I still can’t come to terms with that and I believe that government needs to look at it again.