Next Year's Election Not Realistic


Mr. Hakeem Masha, an Action Congress of Nigeria, Lagos State House of Assembly hopeful in  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 of  Lagos State. My schooling year stated on Lagos Island at Jinadu Anglican Primary School,  Ikoyi, from where I proceeded to Government College, Victoria Island. I left Nigeria for  England, France and other European countries and later came back to the country and went  to University of Lagos to complete my degree.  I studied French. I have a B.Sc in  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 of  Lagos State and Isale Eko is my constituency. I was born and bred in Isale Eko and with  the way Lagos Island is going, I think it is time to inject the younger generation and  fresh blood into Nigerian politics.
Part of what I’m going to do if voted into office is human development and service. I’ll  render what is called human relations. I will create a representative community forum, a  platform for interaction between my humble self and people of my constituency, this I  believe would help in finding solution to problems and enable them feel the impact of  democracy.

Recently, there was a change in leadership of INEC and an activist, Professor Jega is now  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 uphill  task for him, but with God on his side, he should be able to conduct a flawless election,  because of his antecedents. As an activist and former ASSU leader, he would want to  maintain the good record he is known for. We are expecting nothing but free and fair  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 don’t think it is realistic; we are now in September,  moving on to October. With all that are on ground now, it is not realistic. No party has  conducted primaries, no party registration and INEC is not certain if the voters’  registration would come up as scheduled. These are the things that have to be looked into  before conducting the election.

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What do you think INEC should do?
INEC should take thing easy and have a good plan, because what is worth doing at all, is  worth doing well. To avoid a repeat of our bad experience, it should plan things properly  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 people  and the little contribution I have made. My edge above other contestants is that I am a  grassroot politician and my people are solidly behind me.

What is the chance of Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN in the coming election, both in  Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole?
The chances of my party in Lagos State is a done deal, by God’s grace. In Lagos State,  there is no other party that can be seen or known except ACN, and in Nigeria as a whole,  with what we have on the ground and God by our side, ACN is going to make a difference in  the 2011 general election.

What should Lagosians do in the coming election?
Lagosians should avoid money politics. They should not allow themselves to be influenced  or intimidated by anybody. They should know who they want to vote in and resist any form  of electoral malpractices.

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