Hon. Jude Idimogu represents Oshodi/Isolo State Constituency II in the Lagos State House of Assembly. He speaks in this interview on the 2023 presidency and perceived bid of a former governor Bola Tinubu. WALE ELEGBEDE reports
What is the rationale behind the BAT/ Obasa Movement?
The rationale behind it is that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Hon. Mudashiru Obasa are people we know. Sometimes, it is easier for you to work for the people you know, not strangers. On the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Obasa, I can tell you that I know a lot about him. He is somebody I feel and touch almost every day. Don’t forget that he is our direct boss at the Lagos State House of Assembly. On his part, Asiwaju Tinubu is the National Leader of our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
His antecedents as the governor of Lagos State are there for everyone to see. These are people you can beat your chest that can deliver, and they are service-oriented people irrespective of whatever it is. Look at Speaker Obasa, when you rate legislators in Nigeria, he is one of the most famous and experienced today. He started from the grassroots as a councillor and from there he came to the state House of Assembly. You cannot take that away from him. You don’t buy experience from the market.
It is not a classroom or certificate thing, you learn it on the job. That is why if you watch the way Speaker Obasa relates with the people, you will understand what I am saying. You may not like his face, sometimes his face might be tight, but he has a good heart. He has a heart for the people. He has a heart to work for the masses; he is a very privileged person if you consider the luck for somebody to be in governance for that period. So, people like these just want to serve the nation. If you look at his constituency, go and see what is happening there.
You can see the Pen Cinema Roundabout in Agege, we all know how the place was before now. It is a different ball game now and he is the architect of that. If he did not push for it, it would not have come to pass. At least, he used his position to get something good for his constituency.
All Lagosians who pass through the place will understand what I am saying. This is coupled with the other things that he has been doing including his relationship with his colleagues. Like I said before, everybody might not like him, but over 80 per cent of people here appreciate who Speaker Obasa is and he is a kindhearted person no matter what people may think. When you take problems to him, he listens. One thing is that he is frank and bold; he will tell you the truth. You may feel otherwise, but that is the kind of person Speaker Obasa is. For me, I think we should learn from him. If God gives him an opportunity to go higher, he will impact more and collaborate with his colleagues to make the system better.
There are agitations by your people in the South-East to produce the next president of Nigeria; how do you feel supporting a Yoruba man against their quest?
Every region has the right to vie for the office of president; even the North has the right to the presidency. But some of the parties have agreements that power should rotate between the North and South; you may call it a gentleman agreement. I am an Igbo man, I cannot deny my tribe but what are we doing as regards having the presidency. The so-called big men and women in the East, who have the political clout; what are they doing? What efforts are they making? How many of them are moving from one zone to another to canvass for support. Nobody will dash you power, you must show that you have the capacity, you must show oneness. Those who are politically conscious are not doing that. Since they know that power would come to the South, they should even be coming to the South West to lobby them. Are they doing it? You have seen the South-West going to the North. How many of them from the South-East even go to the North. Nothing is happening, instead they are having problem of insecurity in the South-East. I don’t hate Ndigbo, but I am telling them the truth. If you want power, work for it and pursue it. You should have the zeal and be committed. No region can get power on its own without collaborating with others. Are the easterners doing that? Asiwaju Tinubu is doing it, his boys are doing it.
What position is Speaker Obasa likely to vie for in 2023?
He is going for a senatorial seat from Lagos West District in 2023. We believe it will fly and most of us from the district in the Assembly are championing that cause. We are grassroots people no matter how you look at it. Also, he has started the race in time whereas most people have not started at all. That is to his advantage. He has moved ahead and he is gaining a lot of momentum using people like us and other people in that axis. Like I said, it is always good to work with people you know and those that have the capability. The result will also be good because he is capable.
How about Tinubu?
Asiwaju Tinubu is a great leader; people have always been talking about him. I see him as a talent discoverer. He discovers talents and nurtures them. Also, he is a detrabilised Nigerian. Irrespective of where you come from, he is always there to listen to you and when opportunity comes, he will always want to meet you to solve your problems. Even if he cannot solve it, he would direct somebody, and as God would have it, there is nothing much that after God, Asiwaju cannot do. He is a trailblazer and he is somebody that has tentacles locally and internationally.
He is well known in Nigeria and abroad and he is a blessing to Nigeria. The best bet is for Nigerians to give him the opportunity to deliver and to see how he can help us from these problems we are having in the country today. He is someone, who can always say his mind. He is knowledgeable. He is well-educated and well exposed. He is an accountant and he has worked with international companies and he has made a lot of friends internally and externally.
I believe that your friends are the people that make you what you are, not family; people who are willing to come around you to help you to do better. Look at the former Minister of Finance in Nigeria, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, when former President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed her, our foreign debts were cancelled. That was based on her relationship with the Paris Club.
That is what you can always tap from relationship. If it is about money, Asiwaju Tinubu does not need our money; he has enough that can take him though his lifetime. He is someone who has been agitating for a better Nigeria. Look at the role he played during the period of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) days and in the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.
I cannot forget the one million march he did with the current president then from Maryland area of Lagos State. That is a man who is passionate about his country and when there are issues and he speaks, tension usually come down. He is not somebody that speaks anyhow. He must have studied what is happening before he comes up with a solution. President Buhari wouldn’t have gotten into office if not for the support of Asiwaju Tinubu and his team. Buhari tried three times and failed. Even when former President Goodluck Jonathan tried to intimidate Tinubu, he insisted and stood by Buhari.
But Tinubu has not declared his intention to contest the 2023 presidency…
It is too early for him to declare and if he does not want it, he would have told his supporters to stop. But indirectly, his people are doing it. He cannot just come and say he wants to do it, he has to test the waters to know if the people want him or not. Asiwaju is a leader of leaders, he has a lot of followers who believe in him and they are campaigning for him. They are urging him to come out because they know he can do it.
What do you think is the cause of Nigeria’s problem?
Nigeria has the challenge of patriotic leaders. However, Asiwaju Tinubu is a selfless leader. That is why he has not faded away like other governors and senators. Today, people are blowing his trumpet all over Nigeria. Whether we like it or not, he is outstanding.
Are you saying that Tinubu has solutions to the problems of Nigeria?
He doesn’t have all the solutions but he is somebody who can do it. He has the political will. You can be a leader, but you may not have the political will to do certain things. I will give it to Obasanjo, there were certain things he dared and heaven did not fall. You know that Obasanjo came with military mentality, but Tinubu is a pure civilian, a democrat, who has been tested and can be trusted.
Many have said that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu instituted the Buhari administration and that he should have seen the complexity in Buhari…
The mantra he came with was that his government will fight corruption and it is a fact that he has been able to handle that. Yes, no single man can do it all, and Asiwaju Tinubu might not know that things would turn out like this but he is a sincere man who wants to help his country.