4th February, 2011
Hon. Lolade Waheed Shonibare, former Chairman of Conference of Local Government Speakers isÂ contesting for the Federal House of Representatives in Ikeja Federal Constituency under the PeoplesÂ 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 theÂ position?
I want to say it is an erroneous impression that people go into public office to amass wealth. I wantÂ to borrow a word from Socrates that the greatest punishment for the wise who refuse to rule is that heÂ would suffer the rule of idiots. A lot of people before now preferred to sit back and just complainÂ instead of doing something. I will rather get involved, do something about it and offer myself forÂ service than sit back at home and complain. That is why I feel that the time is ripe for me to giveÂ quality representation to my people. Before now, we have had people representing Ikeja Constituency,Â but if you go around, you will realise that there is nothing to show for it. People collect N39Â million as constituency allowances every three months and the people of the constituency have nothingÂ to show for it. Where is the money meant for your constituency going? You see many of them sinkingÂ 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 theÂ opposition?
I want to correct the impression that one political party is progressive and one is conservative, theyÂ are all like centrist parties. If you are not centrist, you will not find someone coming from the ACNÂ to PDP or PDP to others. There is no party that has clear cut progressive or conservative ideologies.Â Most of them are a little progressive and a little conservative. Talking about ACN being inÂ 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. TheseÂ are some of the issues we must resolve, look at the market women, look at what happened in TejuoshoÂ and Oshodi. We are not saying they should not clean up the environment, but those market women areÂ being taxed by local authorities, after paying taxes, you wake up one day and say this market is noÂ more, and you level up the market without providing an alternative. I can tell you categorically thatÂ majority of the voters in Lagos State may not vote long party line, but along personality line. HavingÂ been Speaker of Ikeja Local Government and Chairman of Local Conference of Local Government SpeakersÂ in this state in 2002, I am telling you that majority of the voters in Ikeja will vote for me.
Can you tell us more about your pedigree in politics?
I want you to know that first of all, I am a politician.Â Secondly, I am fully integrated in IkejaÂ politics. I have been in politics in Ikeja at least for fifteen years now. I was a delegate during theÂ zero party election in 1996. After then, I was the Assistant Secretary of Democratic Party of NigeriaÂ at the local government level. After that, I was a Councilor under the Alliance for Democracy in 1999Â and I was the Speaker of Ikeja Local Government between 1999 and 2002. I was also the Chairman ofÂ Conference of Speakers in Lagos State for that period.Â The issue of legislating is what I have beenÂ doing for long. I have done it before. If you go round my constituency, especially the most populatedÂ areas; Ipodo and Isale Awori, go there and ask about me, they will tell you that was the bestÂ 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 isÂ one arrowhead leader, that is adamant that he will never change his opinion. It happens in someÂ states, but godfathers are those who impose people on others. I went through party primaries, all theÂ rudiments of internal democracies. I emerged as the partyâ€™s candidate based on the love that theÂ people have for me. So, I have a lot of leaders. I canâ€™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 thatÂ they get over N22 billion IGR monthly and a percentage of the money goes into a company that doesnâ€™tÂ do anything for Lagos. You see, people now know the fact, they are discussing everyday on theÂ facebook, nairaland, online social media. They are more enlightened. Why would you give N250 millionÂ to NBA, for what? How does NBA add value to Lagos, people know and people see. Where is the trafficÂ situation, you say LASTMA, they are not doing what they are supposed to do. Look at INEC junction forÂ instance, what they ought to put there is a fly over, if you put one million LASTMA officers there. ItÂ cannot solve the problem. That will make it easy. Look at Abuja, it does not have as many populationÂ as Lagos, look at the number of bridges and fly overs there. If they must make Lagos a megacityÂ because of the commercial nature, then you must be ready to spend on infrastructure. Look at ourÂ street lights, they are powered by generators, that is not a lasting solution. Do you know how muchÂ they spend on diesel to keep the generators working. There are better solar powered street lights andÂ it is working. All the projects they have been doing in Lagos, do they ever tell you the amount theÂ amount they spend on them, but the federal government will always tell you the amount they areÂ spending on any project. Have you ever had that in Lagos? it is not a transparent government andÂ people are not going to vote for them. They donâ€™t have programme for the masses. The BRT project theyÂ have for the masses, they have increased the fare; from Maryland to Fadeyi, they have increased theÂ fare to N70 when you can enter an ordinary bus for N40. Okada riders will not vote for them, marketÂ women will not vote for them. They dislodge these people from their market. Do you think people willÂ vote for those who put them out of business.