By Abiodun Alade
In this interview, Dr Abdul-Azeez Olajide Adediran popularly known as Jandor, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in Lagos State, speaks on his plans for the state as well as why Nigerians should elect a nationalist and not a regional president come February 25.
From what you have seen so far, do you believe we’re going to have a free and fair election?
Well, of course, with the preparation of INEC and expression of readiness by all the security formations, I believe that this time, Nigerians will make the choice of who will be the leader of the country. And I have no doubts that for the very first time, we will have an election that reflects the wishes of the people. We’re confident that barring any unforeseen situation, that INEC, if what has happened in off-cycle elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun is anything to go by, will get it right and our party is ready for the election.
There are calls by some politicians that INEC should jettison BVAS. And there have also been pockets of violence in some parts of the country as a result of naira scarcity, don’t you think this will affect the conduct of the polls?
Wherever the calls for cancellation of BVAS and the likes are coming from speak to the character of such a group of persons or organisation. If what we’re yearning for is an election that will be free, fair and credible; and we now have a technology to assist us in getting that right and you have some people calling for cancellation, it shows that these are the set of people that have been undermining democracy for a long while.
You also look at the issue of Naira redesign and the fact that we’re not going to have an election that will be monetized so to speak. And you see some set of people coming out to complain. It speaks volumes of who they are. And if you look at all of this sequence of happenings tilting to one side, the question you need to ask yourself is: “why the sudden love for Nigerian people?” ASUU was on strike for nine months, none of you came out to speak for ASUU and speak against the fact that our brothers and sisters were at home for nine months doing nothing.
But again, whatever it is that they feel they want to do or they’re trying to do, it will not change what is going to happen because the people of Nigeria now know where all of these are coming from. How come it is only one political party that is crying foul over this whole issue? How come it is just one presidential candidate as well as a set of governors of a particular political party that are crying foul? You can then understand that the pockets of violence that you’re talking about is from them.
People are wise enough to see all of these and they are not buying it. As far as we are concerned, we’re ready for the election.
Why should Nigerians vote for the presidential candidate of the PDP on February 25?
Because as we speak, nothing is working in our country. The economy is terrible, insecurities here and there, massive unemployment in this country. And we need someone with experience and preparedness to recover this country and get things done. If you look at his message, let me pick just one of his messages and you can see what that can do for the country.
He said when he comes to power, he is going to set aside $10 billion for youth and women empowerment. This will curb insecurity because the majority of the people involved in all of these things is because they have nothing to do. So, if we have that huge amount of money to empower our youths in making sure they have means of livelihood, it will resolve insecurity issues to a very large extent. And the issue of women empowerment will resolve the level of poverty that we have in the country. Now, let’s put that N10 billion aside. If he sells the moribund refineries that are not useful to anybody as we speak, at a rate of $10bn and the money is channelled into youth and women empowerment as he said; don’t forget the organised private sector or a consortium of companies that bought the refineries won’t just leave them like that. They would have another $5bn if not more set aside to invest into resuscitating the refineries. And in doing that, it will create jobs and you can imagine the number of employment opportunities it will generate as well as other benefits to the country. That alone will reduce unemployment, insecurity and poverty in the land. That is the man who’s got a plan and is always coming forward to provide solutions on how to revive the economy and recover Nigeria from those who have held it by the jugular.
There is agitation for a Southern presidency and some people are clamouring that Yorubas should support one of their own?
In the South West, we are very sophisticated. I’m sure you know we’re blessed at that. And we’ve looked at what we have in the country, the hardship that we have in the country, we’ve looked at it holistically, and we have been able to identify that it is a hardship that doesn’t even recognise your tribe. It doesn’t even know where you’re coming from.
On this presidential election, you need to look at each candidate based on their merits, integrity, character, track record, and see which one of them can actually take us out of the issues confronting us as a country. It is not about where you are coming from.
So, when people are shouting about a Southern president, I don’t want it and I don’t want a Northern president either. What I want is a Nigerian president. Let’s have a president that is a nationalist, and this is what Atiku Abubakar represents. He has tentacles spread across the country; he is one man that has roots everywhere, and he has the experience. This election is not your regular election (like what we’ve been having in the past). This will be the first popularity test of APC in the Southwest, especially in Lagos State.
How do you respond to the position of the ruling APC that you have not held any elective position in the past and so don’t have experience to lead a sophisticated state like Lagos?
It all depends on their definition of experience and the job at hand. What has their own experience given us in Lagos? The experience that has not been able to curb Lagos traffic for 24 years or the experience that has 4.2 million Lagosians living in extreme poverty under four years. Experience that has 1.8 million Lagosians unemployed as against what it used to be in 2019 or experience that has over 2 million of our children out of school? The experience that gave us collapsed buildings every now and then because the regulatory agency has no clue of what to do. Experience that has gotten our state ravaged with flood every time it rains. So, they are missing the point because they don’t understand the concept of experience.
What we’re bringing to the table that they don’t have is that we have experience on how best to run an economy unlike them. For close to two decades, I have been an employer of labour in this economy, contributing a whole lot in this economy. I’ve had cause to look for funds, turn it around, and make profit not to stay afloat but pay salaries and more. Same with my running mate, unlike the man there now, he has been a salary earner all his life and that is why he does not have what it takes to run an economy.
Your thinking, as a business owner, who has gone to a financial house to source for funds, invest it in business to be able to pay back the loan, pay salaries and make profit will be completely different from a man who waits every 30 days to get salary. So, it is the business-like experience that we are bringing to the table. So, they are inexperienced in this case because they have not had cause to employ five persons.
What will you do if elected as governor of Lagos State?
We’re first going to birth a government that people can call their own. We’re going to have a governor that people can beat their chest and say ‘we put this man there’.
It is about time we make Lagos a wealthy state indeed, not just on paper. What we hear today is that Lagos makes N51bn monthly but you can’t see it reflecting in our daily living. We are changing that by giving Lagos a breath of fresh air, where they can see the fortune of their state. Is it not troubling that with such monthly IGR, there are no iconic projects in Lagos?
We would look at issues that are currently giving us bad names and fix them. It is unacceptable that we have about 2 million out-of-school children. I don’t need to build new schools before I proffer solution to that. We will engage the private school owners – about 5,000 registered private schools in the state, and I will inform them that I have about 2 million children that I need to spread across your schools in exchange for tax holiday or incentives as the case may be. By doing so, I would have put some of my children in those schools. And I would also engage churches and mosques that have spaces they don’t use during school hours to let the government use them to put some of the children there. If I do this within three months of coming into office, we would have reduced the number of out-of-school children drastically. And I would do this pending when I can embark on aggressive infrastructural renewal across the local government areas.
Is Lagos PDP still one? Chief Olabode George has not been part of your campaign?
I have a rigorous campaign strategy of visiting every ward in the state. Our leader is close to 80. I can’t possibly be dragging such an old man to every ward. But we don’t have any problem, he is our leader and he is supporting us in everything we are doing.
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