24th September, 2010
Mr. Hakeem Masha, an Action Congress of Nigeria, Lagos State House of Assembly hopeful inÂ this interview with PAUL SANUSI speaks on the INEC election time table and sundry issues.
Tell us about your background
I was born into Akinyemi Masha of the Ogunloye ruling house, Eshintokun Royal Family ofÂ Lagos State. My schooling year stated on Lagos Island at Jinadu Anglican Primary School,Â Ikoyi, from where I proceeded to Government College, Victoria Island. I left Nigeria forÂ England, France and other European countries and later came back to the country and wentÂ to University of Lagos to complete my degree.Â I studied French. I have a B.Sc inÂ Linguistics.
Why do you want to contest for the Lagos Island Constituency 1?
Lagos Island Constituency 1, just like our fathers used to say, remains the heartbeat ofÂ Lagos State and Isale Eko is my constituency. I was born and bred in Isale Eko and withÂ the way Lagos Island is going, I think it is time to inject the younger generation andÂ fresh blood into Nigerian politics.
Part of what Iâ€™m going to do if voted into office is human development and service. I’llÂ render what is called human relations. I will create a representative community forum, aÂ platform for interaction between my humble self and people of my constituency, this IÂ believe would help in finding solution to problems and enable them feel the impact ofÂ democracy.
Recently, there was a change in leadership of INEC and an activist, Professor Jega is nowÂ the chairman, do you see him organising free and fair elections in 2011?
I think Professor Jega, with God on his side, though I know it is going to be an uphillÂ task for him, but with God on his side, he should be able to conduct a flawless election,Â because of his antecedents. As an activist and former ASSU leader, he would want toÂ maintain the good record he is known for. We are expecting nothing but free and fairÂ election from him come 2011, just as it happened in June 12, 1993.
Is the January 2011 election realistic?
To the best of my knowledge, I donâ€™t think it is realistic; we are now in September,Â moving on to October. With all that are on ground now, it is not realistic. No party hasÂ conducted primaries, no party registration and INEC is not certain if the votersâ€™Â registration would come up as scheduled. These are the things that have to be looked intoÂ before conducting the election.
What do you think INEC should do?
INEC should take thing easy and have a good plan, because what is worth doing at all, isÂ worth doing well. To avoid a repeat of our bad experience, it should plan things properlyÂ for free and fair elections.
What are your chances in the coming election?
In my constituency, I have always been a grassroots man, be it in the midst of my peopleÂ and the little contribution I have made. My edge above other contestants is that I am aÂ grassroot politician and my people are solidly behind me.
What is the chance of Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN in the coming election, both inÂ Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole?
The chances of my party in Lagos State is a done deal, by Godâ€™s grace. In Lagos State,Â there is no other party that can be seen or known except ACN, and in Nigeria as a whole,Â with what we have on the ground and God by our side, ACN is going to make a difference inÂ the 2011 general election.
What should Lagosians do in the coming election?
Lagosians should avoid money politics. They should not allow themselves to be influencedÂ or intimidated by anybody. They should know who they want to vote in and resist any formÂ of electoral malpractices.