Akogun: My Plans for Share/Oke-Ode

Comrade Abdulrasheed Akogun is an aspirant on the platform of Social Democratic Party (SDP) for Share/Oke-Ode constituency of the Kwara State House of Assembly. He spoke with select journalists including HAMMED SHITTU about his aspiration, the SDP chances among other issues   

You served as the State Director of Media and Publicity of the Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq Gubernatorial Campaign Organization, why have you deserted the APC for the SDP?

I am firstly a citizen of Nigeria and indigene of Kwara State before being a member of any political party or groupings, therefore my utmost and absolute loyalty is to the country, state and definitely humanity as a whole. While I served as the Campaign spokesperson of now incumbent governor, we traversed the length and breadth of the state making pledges to the electorates. It was on the basis of such pledges that the party was overwhelmingly voted into power.

Sadly, the Governor, immediately after being sworn-in publicly disassociated himself from the party’s manifesto. That was in all ramifications, unacceptable to my conscience as the campaign mouthpiece. I can’t imagine why a government who campaigned criticizing the annihilation of the local government councils and pocketing of same by the Saraki dynasty, only to assume office, dissolved constitutionally elected Council executives and in their stead illegally appointed Transition Implementation Committee (TIC), a flagrant disregard of the nation’s constitution. In the same vein, our campaign was hinged on fighting corruption and abuse of office, sardonically, the O To Ge (enough is enough) government have not only sustained corruption and abuse of office, it has added prebendalism, murdered due process among others. In alliance with my conscience, I stood against all these and more, I registered my displeasure with the flagrant abuse of the trust, reposed in us internally. However, when all internal mechanism of critiquing the government were stifled and those with dissenting voices criminalized and ostracized, I was left with no choice than to start disagreeing with the government policies, actions and inactions publicly. It’ll be morally wrong to start canonizing the government for doing the same things we condemned the deposed Saraki dynasty of, that’ll be hypocrisy and inconsistency.

With all these, the governor and his men weren’t happy, so they illegally engineered de-registration of those within the party not on his ‘Caesar is always right voyage’. Therefore, we didn’t leave the APC, rather we were chased out of the party illegally through the active connivance, indulgence and endorsement of the party’s governors across the country and the Buni led National Working Committee. It’s ironic, that they ended up sending away the majority within the rainbow coalition that came together to champion the Otoge revolution that berthed the government.

Some people said that the reason behind the defection of your members to SDP from APC in the state was due largely to sharing and the spoils of office, what is your take on this?

In fairness to Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, if anybody fought him because of sharing spoils of office, then my case is different. He on his own, without being under any obligation to, offered me two juicy appointments which I humbly and respectfully turned down, due to personal reasons. So if anybody is fighting him because of lack of patronage which I doubt, I don’t fall into that category in whatever form.

My grouse with the Governor and his government is purely on governance and the deliverables to the electorates, vis-a-vis our campaign promises, which the governor disowned from his first day in office. I can’t imagine myself being a part of a government that has raped the third tier of government ceaselessly for the last three years, a government that has consistently disregard enabling laws some of which it amended, yet still disregarded; a government that holds due process in contempt especially when it involves award of contract. A government that conducts its activities in secrecy, the transparency of the supposed O To Ge (enough is enough). I can tell you without fears of contradictions that majority of those that left the APC for SDP disagreed with the governance and not the person of the governor.

 You recently declared to represent Share/Oke-Ode State Constituency at the Kwara State House of Assembly, what prompted that declaration?

For some of us whose primary and major reason for joining partisan politics was for the entrenchment of good governance through being part of a constitutional ballot revolutionary change of guard, I thus went back to my job of being an investigative reporter. Three years down the line, nothing much has changed in the mode and manner of how government affairs and issues of good governance are handled in the State. Therefore, I came to the sad realization that even if we elect one of the celestial cum angelic beings to govern Kwara and leave the functions of law making, appropriation, oversight among others to people without commensurate intellectual know-how, then, we’ll have only achieve nothing other than a mere change of guard without attitudinal change.

Therefore, the State needs to populate the House of Assembly with citizens with the requisite intellectual know-how, competence, integrity and compassion towards driving all arms of government in ensuring that the interest of the electorates reigns supreme at all times. That is one of the major reasons I have decided to throw-in my hat into the rings. I want to bring onboard my almost 15 years of active practice of investigative journalism which has seen me consistently championing good governance, exposing corruption and sharp practices, questioning malfeasance and abuse of office in any form. My priorities as a parliamentarian would be to, relying on my experience of watching and exposing those in government and corridors of power, therefore those experiences will be brought to bear, in sponsoring the amendment of existing laws or enactment of new laws that’ll tackle corruption, abuse of office, malfeasance and other anti-masses tendencies prevalent in government, these laws and many more will help refocus the government towards prioritizing the interest of the electorates.

Imagine if the government had signed the Freedom of Information Act into law, we’ll have succeeded in berthing an institutionalized fight against corruption in Kwara State, as the citizenry would have been given the unfettered access to information about government and its activities. Sadly, the governor in connivance with the State House of Assemblies, have for the last 3 years intentionally ensured the law didn’t see the light of the day. One would have expected that a government that came aboard a popular uprising against the depose dynasty, will prioritize opening its books, sadly the reverse is the case. God’s willing, FOI bill will be one of my major legislative priorities if elected.

Knowing fully that Kwara State has always been a two horse race between the PDP and APC, how do you fancy the chances of your party?

Our democratic experiment is deepening on a daily basis, so is also the experience of the electorates. The level of sophistication and know-how the Kwara electorates of today can’t be compared to what was obtainable 10 years ago. The advent of social media has helped in upping the democratic knowledge and further widening the experience and expectations of the electorates. The O To Ge revolution that ousted the Saraki dynasty was inconceivable 10 years ago. Today, the political space in Kwara has been liberated, that’s why we now have arguably the highest aspirant turnover in the state’s history. The reasons are not far- fetched, it’s a confirmation of the growing trust in our electoral process, intellectual growth of the electorates and Kwarans in general and more importantly the belief that once a candidate is able to connect with the electorate and market his vision, he stands a chance. Therefore, majority of the politicians within the SDP fold are people of proven competence, compassion and integrity. Thus, almost 90 per cent of aspirants on display are people with track record of excellence, sustained and consistent advocacy for good governance among others. It’s no gainsaying that the SDP is the party to beat in Kwara State come 2023 elections. The level of acceptance of the party on street is electrifying, market women, artisans, civil servants, youths etc are daily embracing the party in their thousands, without any form of inducement whatsoever.

Teachers and entirety of the Kwara civil service are reportedly happy and solidly behind the State Governor, How do you fancy the chances of your party, knowing that Kwara is a civil service State?

One of the major campaign promises of O To Ge was the immediate implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage and that’s arguably one of the prime reasons why the workforce queued behind us during the last general elections. It’s elating that the governor has finally implemented the N30,000 minimum, even if he delayed the implementation almost 24 months after his assumption of office, thereby leading to industrial action and series of protests by the organized labour. As we speak, the court case instituted against the Kwara workers by the Kwara State Government still subsists at the National Industrial Court, Akure. In the history of labour/government relations in the State, this is the first time the government will be dragging the workers to court on sundry welfare issues. The reality of the day is that the N30,000 minimum wage is operational in Kwara State today, thus the Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq led administration deserves commendation. However, the minimum wage implementation which was supposed to be holistic is yet to be fully implemented in Kwara today. You’ll agree with me that any reform or welfare package within the civil service leaving out the almost 80% of the workforce can only create more problem than its solving for the reformer or government as the case maybe. It’ll be false and preposterous to postulate that the entirety of the Kwara workforce are happy with the State government.

The same scenario played out within the teachers when the government upon assumption of office sacked more than 2000 teachers who were employed by the previous administration and derogatorily tagged them ‘sunset workers’. This is a state where we have shortage of teachers, a State with almost 20 per cent unemployment and underemployment rate, yet the government could only think of downsizing and not rightsizing.

Furthermore, the government has successfully outsourced virtually all the core responsibilities of the workforce out to contractors and consultants, thereby rendering the civil servants useless and redundant. You’ll agree with me the workers won’t take that lightly when they have the opportunity of seeking a redress. Therefore, relying on how the deposed Saraki dynasty and the incumbent government have treated the workforce, one should expect a massive revolt against both parties by the electorates at the next polls.

Cult-related Killings and Kidnap for ransom is reportedly on the increase in the State, what’s your take on this?

Kwara used to be the state of harmony in all ramifications. It used to be the haven of Nigerians displaced by one form of crisis or the other. It’s sad that the once peaceful state has transformed to home for criminals who run riot unchallenged at will. The menace of cult-related killings has never been this bad since the return of democracy. No fewer than 40 young lives have been cut down in their prime due to the senseless inter-cult rivalry. It’s now almost a daily occurrence to see severed head of cult victims rolling on the streets of Ilorin, yet the government hasn’t initiated any systemic correctional measure. The government has simply turned a blind eye, while the blood thirsty cultists continue to run riot. The last reported incident happened on Sallah eve, where life was violently snuff out of a hitherto supposed promising Kwara youth, reported to be in his early 20s.

The Kidnap for ransom business is arguably the most lucrative and geometrically booming organized crime in the State. Since the coming onboard of Abdulrazaq government in 2019, Kwarans across the three senatorial districts have been living at the mercy of bandits and Kidnappers.

They’ve been running riot even in the state’s capital, Ilorin. A highly respected traditional ruler from Ilorin Emirate was kidnapped in his home and was not released until millions of ransom was paid by his relatives to secure his release.

Relying on whatever indices, it is safe to say the government has failed woefully in securing the lives and properties of Kwarans and residents alike. It is crystal clear the government is clueless on how to tackle the scourge of insecurity threatening the collective existence of the State, it is more interested in playing a manners of politics, not minding the resultant effect on the wellbeing of the citizenry. Taking into cognizance that the primary function and responsibility of government at whatever level is security of lives and properties, therefore any government that has failed in that basic and primary function can be convincingly said to have failed the electorates.

Related Articles