19th April, 2011
National Conscience Partyâ€™s governorship candidate in Ogun State, Ogbeni Lanre Banjo, in this interview with PAUL SANUSI, gives the reasons he is contesting for the seat the third time and how he hopes to govern the state if elected
This is the third time you are seeking the No.1 seat in Ogun State. Why ?
The Yoruba say that â€œif an iron bender keeps hitting iron at the same spot there is something he needs from that iron.â€ People have been oppressed for so long and we know that the oppressors do not want them to enjoy even a little comfort. And those of us with vision cannot fold our arms and say because we donâ€™t have the fund to execute campaigns, we have to watch them. We should continue to pass the message, even though itâ€™s not about political victory. I am glad that in 2003, I was the only one in this country that had a programme for the elderly. Also, I was the only one in 2003 that talked about the disabled persons. I also said that if I became governor, the making of vehicle number plates would be decentralized because it should be part of state functions. I am glad that the former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, did that. I am the only one today who dares to tell the electorate that it is because they collect money from politicians, that they(politicians) donâ€™t perform. So, if I donâ€™t win this time, I could decide to contest again in 2015. General Buhari has done it three times and there are so many people that have done so.
Is it possible for politicians to realise their ambitions without spending money?
There is no one who can assume office without spending money. Even for the logistics, paying those working with you, you still have to spend money but what I am complaining about is when politicians bribe their way through or when politicians engage in false philanthrophy because they want the peopleâ€™s votes. I am against that because people like that would not perform when they get to office. I want anybody that loves Nigeria to join me in changing this mindset. I thanked the electorate in Ogun State for voting for Action Congress of Nigeria, AC N. I believe that AC N candidates will perform if elected, but they must not allow a political party to control the entire House of Assembly. We have done that with PDP and we know how much problem they have caused Nigeria. We do not want that; we want the electorate to consider other parties so that there could be checks and balances.
What are your programmes for the state?
My plan is to have a state organ regulating electricity which would be produced by a private company. I will negotiate with the Federal Government to let me know the asset and liability of PHCN, then I will take it over.
Once we are able to generate electricity, businesses that have folded up will be revived and once that is done, the budget of Ogun State would triple; that means that there would be enough fund to execute other projects. If I become the governor, Ogun State will be the first state to have its own constitution. It is when a state has its own constitution that the people of that state can say this is what we want. If electricity is made a state function, the entire country will not be in darkness like we are witnessing now. Security is another thing; once the state has its own constitution, it would be empowered to set up its own security outfit.
Wonâ€™t states having their own constitutions amount to going confederal?
No, No, that would help to address the 1999 Constitution. The 1999 Constitution is only a deception, I have seen a situation where an Inspector General of Police gave an order and it was ignored but a state governor gave an order and the commissioner of police in such state jumps.
But if there is state police and the Federal Government has its own, that is fine. The people in the National Assembly have to make a law that any state government that uses police to oppress its opponent would be penalised . This would also bring checks and balances between the state and federal police. I have been saying it since 2003, that if I become the governor, within six months, Ogun State would have its own police. The other thing is the petty traders; I have a programme that once you get to age 62, my government would be giving you food in a month. That is how to take care of the aged and for the disables, I will also be taking care of them. We are also going to search for talents and develop them, we do not want to know where they come from because that is what we need to develop the state.
The stateâ€™s education system is appalling, students groan under high fees and several other problems. How are you going to address the situation?
That is why electricity is my priority, because we must ask ourselves, the teachers that want to teach in the school, how will they read what to teach the student.
Once you have electricity and money is coming, you can revamp the education system. The education system has to be revamped. The idea of changing education system every now and then is not good. An education system is supposed to be state function, the Federal Government is to orgnaise national examinations.
If you are elected, are you going to probe the past administration?
Well, you must ask yourself, probe on whose behalf; is it on behalf of those that were asking for money before they could paste posters or those that attacked campaign train? You must ask yourselves again, what is the essence of the probe? When Chief Obafemi Awolowo said he wanted to probe, he went to the grave with his brain. This is Nigeria for goodness sake, I do not believe in probes. I understand that there must be accountability, we can look into what they have done to discourage such in our administration and use it to make laws but to say that you want to probe anybody wonâ€™t work. There is an adage which says: â€œA small boy that says if he grows up, he would throw stones at a bigger person will never be allowed to grow.â€ I am going to review the policies of those who have been governing Ogun State since 1976; I am going to see where they have gone wrong in order to build up my experience and what they have done right, I would emulate.
Why do you think people of Ogun State should vote for NCP candidate as their governor?
This is the only party whose candidates did not pay money to get tickets. It is the only party that refuses to take money from people and we have sworn that if we get to power, we wonâ€™t behave like those people. Though, the purpose of voting every four years is to be able to give every party a chance and they have disappointed us. People should trust us because we are disciplined, they should trust us again because we do not have money to throw around. They should trust us because the leadership of our party would go to court against us if we misbehave.
Do you trust INEC to conclude these elections in a free and fair manner?
I commend Professor Jega but there is a lot of work to be done. This is the first time I see an INEC boss addressing Nigerians and being sorry for the mistakes they have made. Iwu never did that. This is the first time I see INEC boss say; â€œThis election has to be cancelled.” However, I blame him for one thing; the quality control is lacking. If I were the INEC chairman, I would have asked all the state commissioners for the ballot papers in their possession; we would review them and know if any partyâ€™s logo is missing. Also, the idea of going back home after accreditation and coming back to vote is a waste of time and it could discourage some people from voting. So, such idea should be stopped. Once the people have done their accreditation, let them vote at the same time. Iam advising Professor Jega to change that. He should work with the National Assembly to ensure that whoever is coming after him would have no other choice than to do what is right.