People Won’t Vote Along Party Line

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Hon. Lolade Waheed Shonibare, former Chairman of Conference of Local Government Speakers is  contesting for the Federal House of Representatives in Ikeja Federal Constituency under the Peoples  Democratic Party (PDP). He spoke with Political Platform. Excerpts:

People have accused politicians of vying for public offices to amass wealth, why are you vying for the  position?
I want to say it is an erroneous impression that people go into public office to amass wealth. I want  to borrow a word from Socrates that the greatest punishment for the wise who refuse to rule is that he  would suffer the rule of idiots. A lot of people before now preferred to sit back and just complain  instead of doing something. I will rather get involved, do something about it and offer myself for  service than sit back at home and complain. That is why I feel that the time is ripe for me to give  quality representation to my people. Before now, we have had people representing Ikeja Constituency,  but if you go around, you will realise that there is nothing to show for it. People collect N39  million as constituency allowances every three months and the people of the constituency have nothing  to show for it. Where is the money meant for your constituency going? You see many of them sinking  boreholes. Is boreholes the only problem of the constituency? .

How do you hope to win in a state like Lagos, where the ACN is the ruling party and you are in the  opposition?
I want to correct the impression that one political party is progressive and one is conservative, they  are all like centrist parties. If you are not centrist, you will not find someone coming from the ACN  to PDP or PDP to others. There is no party that has clear cut progressive or conservative ideologies.  Most of them are a little progressive and a little conservative. Talking about ACN being in  government, the situation has changed in all the states.
But if it was a PDP government that did that, I am very sure it would be all over the papers. These  are some of the issues we must resolve, look at the market women, look at what happened in Tejuosho  and Oshodi. We are not saying they should not clean up the environment, but those market women are  being taxed by local authorities, after paying taxes, you wake up one day and say this market is no  more, and you level up the market without providing an alternative. I can tell you categorically that  majority of the voters in Lagos State may not vote long party line, but along personality line. Having  been Speaker of Ikeja Local Government and Chairman of Local Conference of Local Government Speakers  in this state in 2002, I am telling you that majority of the voters in Ikeja will vote for me.

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Can you tell us more about your pedigree in politics?
I want you to know that first of all, I am a politician.  Secondly, I am fully integrated in Ikeja  politics. I have been in politics in Ikeja at least for fifteen years now. I was a delegate during the  zero party election in 1996. After then, I was the Assistant Secretary of Democratic Party of Nigeria  at the local government level. After that, I was a Councilor under the Alliance for Democracy in 1999  and I was the Speaker of Ikeja Local Government between 1999 and 2002. I was also the Chairman of  Conference of Speakers in Lagos State for that period.  The issue of legislating is what I have been  doing for long. I have done it before. If you go round my constituency, especially the most populated  areas; Ipodo and Isale Awori, go there and ask about me, they will tell you that was the best  councilor they ever had before or after.

What can you say about godfatherism in politics?
I have leaders in politics and I respect them. What most people regard as godfathers in politics is  one arrowhead leader, that is adamant that he will never change his opinion. It happens in some  states, but godfathers are those who impose people on others. I went through party primaries, all the  rudiments of internal democracies. I emerged as the party’s candidate based on the love that the  people have for me. So, I have a lot of leaders. I can’t really say I have a godfather except God.

Do you think it would be easy for the PDP to wrest power from ACN in Lagos State in April?
It is very easy. You see, people talk about performance, do they talk about the IGR. I am sure that  they get over N22 billion IGR monthly and a percentage of the money goes into a company that doesn’t  do anything for Lagos. You see, people now know the fact, they are discussing everyday on the  facebook, nairaland, online social media. They are more enlightened. Why would you give N250 million  to NBA, for what? How does NBA add value to Lagos, people know and people see. Where is the traffic  situation, you say LASTMA, they are not doing what they are supposed to do. Look at INEC junction for  instance, what they ought to put there is a fly over, if you put one million LASTMA officers there. It  cannot solve the problem. That will make it easy. Look at Abuja, it does not have as many population  as Lagos, look at the number of bridges and fly overs there. If they must make Lagos a megacity  because of the commercial nature, then you must be ready to spend on infrastructure. Look at our  street lights, they are powered by generators, that is not a lasting solution. Do you know how much  they spend on diesel to keep the generators working. There are better solar powered street lights and  it is working. All the projects they have been doing in Lagos, do they ever tell you the amount the  amount they spend on them, but the federal government will always tell you the amount they are  spending on any project. Have you ever had that in Lagos? it is not a transparent government and  people are not going to vote for them. They don’t have programme for the masses. The BRT project they  have for the masses, they have increased the fare; from Maryland to Fadeyi, they have increased the  fare to N70 when you can enter an ordinary bus for N40. Okada riders will not vote for them, market  women will not vote for them. They dislodge these people from their market. Do you think people will  vote for those who put them out of business.