Hon. Seye Oladejo, a former Commissioner for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Relations in Lagos State, was recently elected as Publicity Secretary of the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview, he speaks on his new assignment, governance in Lagos and the 2023 elections, among other issues. TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE reports
How do you see your new appointment as the Publicity Secretary of the Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC)?
It is a call to service at another level of partisan politics. I actually started serving as a member of the executive of the party at the grassroots way back in the days of Alliance for Democracy (AD) in Ward H1 as the secretary of the ward and later publicity secretary for Mushin Local Government Area. I have been in government, serving as Secretary and later Executive Chairman of Mushin Local Government Area; Special Adviser on Commerce and Industry and Commissioner for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Relations and now this.
So, it is a call to serve at another level. It is an opportunity to further contribute to the growth of the party; to leverage on the success of my illustrious predecessor, who held this office with honour and good performance, and to make sure that we build the party towards the next elections and make sure that we continue to enjoy the confidence and the trust of not only the party members, but the general populace in Lagos.
Having served before as a local government chairman, special adviser and commissioner, and now coming to serve as publicity secretary of the party shows a kind of humility. How did you take your new assignment?
Like I said earlier, it is a call to service. You just feel at some point that you also need to give back to the party. Basically, APC still remains a new party if you agree with me and with the new party comes teething problems and there is always a price to pay for success and failure on the part of the party. And the leadership and membership of the party feel we can do with some of our best and experienced hands to bring stability and experience to ensure the general wellbeing of the party. So, I am home and very comfortable here.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, seems to be delivering on his campaign promises, but some people are not aware of what government is doing in terms of building infrastructure and delivering of dividends of democracy. How do you intend to address this?
As soon as we were done with the inauguration, the very first telephone call I made was to the Commissioner for Information in the state, Mr. Gbenga Omotosho, requesting to meet with him for us to have a heart-to-heart discussion about governance and the importance of regularly briefing my office about activities with a view of disseminating information, not only to party members, but to the general public as well. Let me say that each governor or head of government has his own style of doing things and it reflects in the government’s activities.
Our governor is not known for propaganda and stuff like that and I want to see him as someone who will want his projects to speak for him. You will find out that unlike in the past six months, when we had people raising dust about the condition of the roads, environment and the rest of it; that agitation has really gone down. Let me also emphasise that the governor has remained focused on governance; he is not distracted by politics of forming political groups, witch-hunting whoever, which largely always brings distraction to the governance of the state and also negatively influence the choice of products and execution of those products.
With my coming to office now, I will leverage on the experience and competence of those holding other offices in the office of the Commissioner for Information and same thing with the House of Assembly to make sure that we work together as a team to promote our party and government.
When Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was governor of Lagos State and during your tenure as chairman of Mushin Local Government, councils in the state were very active even at party level, but today, it seems the state has hijacked the councils. How will you ensure that party monitors the affairs of the local government areas?
Interestingly, the Ministry of Local Government has a supervisory role to play in local government administration in the state and I am sure they have being doing that. The local governments remain the closest to the grassroots, so their impact is germane in our kind of democracy. If at any time in the past we found them not doing so much, it could also be a function of availability of resources. Lagos State government, to the best of my knowledge, has not in any way hijacked the roles of the local governments.
But people at the grassroots also have a duty to bring the attention of their local government chairmen to issues and problems in their various localities, so that they could be addressed. You will agree with me that the enormity of problems confronting the local governments, often times, is beyond what the chairmen can handle. So, you find out that sometimes they need to approach the state government for assistance but that should not be misconstrued for hijacking their roles in any way.
The APC has received many leaders and members of opposition parties to its fold in recent times. Don’t you think this will create crisis within the party when it comes to election period due to ambitions?
If a party is successful, you will find such things happening. We have a party here that claims to be a national party that has finally been in opposition in Lagos State, but there is nothing to celebrate as the party is in disarray and its leadership is not cohesive. They cannot bring the members together; they cannot motivate and inspire people towards continuing to be members of that party. And here we have APC that enjoys widespread acceptance and state government is performing in leaps and bounds, so naturally that will attract more people into the party and those people too will come with ambitions naturally.
You won’t find politicians who don’t have ambitions. There is a template within the APC family through which we will be able to manage whatever is going on in the party, so that we will ensure that we do not have any crisis at the opportune time. And you know for primaries and elections, it is either open primaries or through consensus and over time, we have been able to manage all these and earned the success stories we have. So, we will continue to encourage people to come to the APC squad.
With the defection of many chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) like Senators Seye Ogunlewe and Musiliu Obanikoro and Hon. Moshood Salvador to APC, do you think PDP is still a strong party in Lagos State?
Without been immodest, I am sure that the party only exists on paper and maybe on social media. So, you just find them once in a while issuing statements to serve as a reminder to the public that the party is still on life support so to say. PDP doesn’t look like a party that can give APC a run for its money in any election in the nearest future. And that is the reality on ground.
What is your take on the Supreme Court ruling that declared Senator Hope Uzodinmma as Imo State governor? Do you think the judgement is plus to APC, which now has a governor in the South-East?
What transpired in Imo State was democracy in action and I must also commend the judiciary for having the courage and boldness to take landmark decision. I am not a lawyer, but I went through the judgement and it has to do with the results in some 388 wards not being collated and that the umpire has no power to refuse to collate those results and that formed the kernel of the plea of the matter that our candidate then and now governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, put before the Supreme Court and they factored it and he won. Let me also sound this note of warning that it is dangerous for democracy for any national party to condemn the judgement of the Supreme Court, whenever it is not in their favour and they celebrate at the rooftop whenever it is in their favour.
It is a very dangerous trend; it doesn’t show responsibility and that is not the kind of party that will make our democracy grow. So, I want to congratulate the people of Imo State for coming back home. Imo State has always been APC; the last governor was APC though they have some storm, but despite that the governor has been able to retrieve his mandate. So, it was a landmark judgement, we should congratulate the people of Imo State for coming back to the progressive family and I can assure you that the state, in the years ahead, will be better for it.
What is your take on the controversy trailing the launching of the South-West regional security outfit code named Amotekun, which has been declared illegal by the Federal Government?
On the Amotekun controversy, my position is that I believe a political solution would be found to it in due course and that solution will serve the interest of ensuring the security of lives and property of the people and residents of the South-West region.
How would you react on the agitation for zoning, which is currently generating issues over the 2023 presidency?
It is too early to start discussing zoning for the 2023 elections. But there is something that is not too early; it is not too early to start looking at Nigerians with pedigree, Nigerians with capacity based on experience and exposure to move this country forward. We know that the country is in need of a very critical surgical operation and it is not until 2023 that we should start identifying individuals who have that capacity to give us what we want. I am not talking about zoning here; I am talking about identifying that person who can take us to the Promised Land..