Despite the odds against him, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party for Lagos State, Olajide Abdul-Azeez Adediran, popularly known as Jandor, is confident that he would deliver the state to his party. In a recent encounter with Vanessa Obioha, he highlights the benefits of having a PDP governor in Lagos and PDP presidency
How do you reckon your desire for an inclusive government will play out in Lagos?
Obviously, Lagos4Lagos is a mantra that got everybody’s expectations embedded in it, irrespective of where you are from in Lagos. Whether you are from the east or anywhere. It simply means a Lagos that works for everybody, as against what we currently have, that is working for a privileged few. A Lagos for all. A Lagos where you see the wealth of Lagos working for everybody living in Lagos, as against the current state of the world which is only rich on paper. We want the one that is wealthy in truth as against the one that we can only hear the amount of money Lagos is making. We can’t see it anywhere. So this is what we want to do the best with our Lagos4Lagos. Irrespective of who you are or where you are from, Lagos must work for you.
What are those things that you intend to give immediate attention to if you are elected?
First is education. You know it’s a foundation, a bedrock for development. And currently, unfortunately, we have about two million of our children out of school. So when we come in, we want to see as quickly as we can reduce that embarrassing number of out-of-school children by making sure that I engage private school owners and see how many of these students we can spread across in their schools. We’ll give them uniform, we’ll give them learning aid, we will give them everything that they need in exchange for tax incentives. We also see how we can make use of the churches and mosques, because during the school hours these spaces are always open, and see if they can give us some of these spaces to unbundle some of these children and have a resource person that will be taking them during the school hours. That way, we would have reduced the number of out-of-school children without investing a fortune at first and we’ll do that pending when we now have embarked on infrastructural development, an aggressive one across the length and breadth of the states to make sure we have infrastructure where we can then accommodate these children. That’s the very first thing we are looking at.
And again, we’re also going to look at the very unfortunate thing that is considered to be Lagos peculiarity, which is traffic. And we have about 12 flash points in the centre of Lagos where we can quickly use government policies to resolve, not necessarily embark on infrastructural development or a renewal or expanding bridges. Where we can enforce the law not minding whose ox is gored by telling the people who are causing traffic by creating levies where necessary to quickly fill the space where I have 12 flashpoints we can address.
Also the issue of flood. Of course, it’s not in one day that we can resolve everything but we can mitigate the impact and ameliorate the suffering of the people, you know, in this area. So these are the things that we’re going to quickly look into. Aside the fact that the moment we come in, it shows that wealth of Lagos is off one man’s pocket, and we can now use it for the people of Lagos.
Do you have plans to improve the standard of education in public schools?
One thing I know is that it’s about time that we paid serious attention to the ones we call teachers. Because today, what we have is somebody who has refused to do well in some areas. They are the ones that we push to teach in schools or to go and teach our children. It shouldn’t be. It is one profession that we have not paid attention to. It is one profession that we must make very, very competitive. That is where we should deploy our best hands.
And the foundation is from even the structure itself where you have to score 300 to go to university, score 200 to go to polytechnic and if you score 120, you can now go to NCE and come back to become a teacher. It shouldn’t be. These are the things that we have to come up with, a policy to change in its entirety so that we will have those who are qualified to really impart this knowledge on our children.
With the scarcity of Naira, there is a school of thought that it is a contrived situation by politicians to enable them mop up cash. Are you concerned that money (vote buying) could play a major role in the coming election?
Well, I think if the CBN is able to prove through with this policy, that would have reduced to the barest minimum, the issue of vote-buying in this election. And as you can see, we have one political party and their candidates, the only one shouting and suddenly turning themselves to the messiah of the poor. The same poor that they actually created. They are going to court, asking for extension and you will be wondering where were they when ASUU was on strike for nine months? Hey didn’t say anything. Where were they when — it’s going to be six months now that we have been battling with fuel scarcity. They didn’t say anything. The moment the government is coming up with a policy that will ensure that we avert vote buying in this country, that is when you see them coming up and shouting, you know, crucify. It speaks to their character. And for me, I think that the things that CBN needs to do is to make the new Naira available for those who you know depend on daily earnings so that they can get it. If they’re able to do that, I don’t think anybody… I’m sure the poor are not crying foul because they don’t even have old Naira notes to stockpile at home. What they need is availability of the new Naira so that they can get a little change and I’m sure CBN is up to the task to make provisions for that. So those that are crying foul is because they have stockpiled cash everywhere to use for this election.
Do you foresee any other threat that will pose a challenge to the election?
No, I think ordinarily, the issue of insecurity, which is normal but you see, we’re happy that all the heads of formations have expressed their readiness for this election, even INEC has expressed the readiness for this election. And we believe with such assurances, of course we’re good to go. So for me I think the elections should just come and go.
What is your thought on INEC’s decision to work with MC Oluomo-led parks committee for the distribution of election materials and personnel in the state?
Before now, the practice has always been INEC collaborating with NURTW. And when that happens, of course, they take logistics to places that they need to get to. But unfortunately, there is a peculiarity in the state of Lagos. The man who is in the eye of this storm has presented himself to be a partisan person, especially in this election. And I don’t think it will be sensible for INEC to go ahead with such a person and say we’re still going to give him control of logistics and movement and all of that. Without anybody saying, I think INEC can do its own due diligence and get the facts right. Now, if you look at it, it is not that he is the owner of the buses in Lagos. Of course, private owners who have these buses and all of that, anybody can call them to deploy and get things done. Not necessarily him. I think it’s unacceptable. And INEC will look into it.
There are still a few persons who think you shouldn’t have been the governorship candidate of the PDP in Lagos State.
There’s nobody in the PDP that is unhappy with my emergence as the candidate of the party. All the people that contested with me are already working together asides from the only one who left for the other party and he didn’t even go with his wife. So what’s the point if he decamped and your wife didn’t follow you. What do you call that? So we don’t have issues with anybody.
With the G-5 governors taking a stance against your party’s presidential candidate, would this in any way affect the overall performance of the party, particularly in Lagos?
It won’t affect even the states where the G-5 are governors, let alone Lagos State. Because all of them have stakes in the presidential election. Three of them are running for the Senate from the G-5 and they know that it would be impossible for them to tell voters, majority of whom are literate to say, vote for this or not vote for this in this election where they will be given three ballot papers. Any attempt to do that will spell doom. That is why they can’t even pronounce anybody else as their presidential candidate upon all the threats. They can’t announce it because announcing it will amount to a death penalty. Atiku Abubakar is going to win and he will win with a slide.
What is the most apparent advantage of having a PDP in the presidency and in Lagos?
Having my president win at the centre and me also winning at the state by His grace shows that Lagos is good for you. You will now see that the hypocrisy of this current government in Lagos, who for over the years has been promising and saying they are fighting for special status for Lagos, which they have been accusing PDP of not giving their local government of which was even created, for not enlisting it in the Constitution. Now, they’ve been in power for eight years. With one of them as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the have not been able to give Lagos special status. They have not been able to give all these local governments, enlisting them into the constitution. So you can see the hypocrisy. They don’t mean well for this state. If you have used eight years and still unable to give Lagos a special status, you were unable to ensure that the constitution recognises the newly created local government areas, it shows hypocrisy and they don’t mean well for Lagos State. So our own president has promised to devolve the power to the state, and we believe he is going to do it. Our own president has promised to set aside $10 billion, you know, for women and youth empowerment. I mean, look at that thinking, and they asked him where he is going to get this money from. And he said, “I’m going to sell the moribund refineries that are not even doing anything as we speak. If I sell them, I will raise that money and use it for youth and women empowerment.”
That money will reduce poverty, that money will ensure that our youths get work and the majority of them that are now carrying arms today will have something to do and it will reduce insecurity.
Whether it is a consortium of companies or one that pays that money to buy the refineries, they will not just be watching the refineries. They would have set aside another five billion to resuscitate them, so the money will also come into our economy. And before you know it gives some people job and when it is completed, it still gives room for more job opportunities. That is how to think. That is a president that has a clear cut policy and he goes everywhere saying it, speaking it, preaching it, unlike the other ones that will just go anywhere and all they do is abusing people. They don’t have anything, they don’t have any plans. You can’t even pick whatever it is that they’re saying. So this is it for us. It’s going to be a good deal for Lagos if we have a president like Atiku Abubakar and I’m here as governor of Lagos State.
What winning edge does Atiku have over Peter Obi and Bola Tinubu?
Politicians understand that election management requires coordination. It requires spread. Yes, there is this frenzy about which is good for our system, which is putting those in other political parties on their toes. But it’s not something you do nine months to the election. Remember when we started this Lagos4Lagos movement, this is going to be eight years now, and we didn’t do anything in those eight years. We didn’t contest for any election because we were building. Until we were done, we did not throw our hats into the ring. So it’s a good one but it’s going to be difficult. The president of Nigeria in 2023 is going to be Atiku Abubakar. I’m very confident that people will vote for him.
Is there any iota of truth in the speculation that Tinubu reneged on his promise to make you a governor, that was why you fell out with him and moved to another party?
I have never sat down with Tinubu before.
Never? Not even a phone call?
Never. I have never been to his house, never stepped foot in his abode.
Was that deliberate?
Of course, it’s my choice not to. They have sent several emissaries but it’s my choice not to. It’s my choice to follow this route. I don’t want to be that governor that, you know, I don’t want to be that locked up person in office. That I won’t be able to do anything until I take a second level of approval. Doesn’t it worry you that the two governors that came after him were rubbished that they can’t even speak to defend themselves. And I don’t want to be that man. The other one ran away and disappeared into thin air. That’s not the kind of governor I want to be. I want to be a governor of Lagos state not a governor of one man that will be pushing me up and down. No. We never sat together, never.
What will a PDP win in Lagos mean for the party?
PDP win for Lagos is not really for the party, it is for everybody in Lagos. If PDP is announced the winner today, the kind of jubilation that we will have on the streets of Lagos will be more than when Abacha was pronounced dead at that time, and you will then see that truly people want to leave this bondage that they find themselves in. They are praying hard, hoping that we get it right this time and I can assure you, we’re going to get it right.