The Lead Visioner of Lagos4Lagos, a movement within the Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Abdul-Azeez Olajide Adediran, is unrelenting about his desire to rule Lagos State as governor in 2023. In this interview with OLADIPUPO AWOJOBI, he speaks on what has kept him going over the years and why he is still in the APC. Excerpts
Your party is said to be contemplating choosing a consensus candidate for the 2023 presidential election, what is your take on that?
If all the leaders of the parties are able to come together and sit around a table and give the mandate to those who have electoral value, then so be it. It is about the party winning the election. If you give our ticket to somebody who doesn’t have electoral value, it will be so unfortunate for the party. I hope they will give the ticket to a marketable person that everybody can rally round for irrespective of party leanings. So, consensus is part of it if we are able to come around it. But it must be somebody that can fly the ticket of the party.
What is the idea behind Lagos4Lagos?
It’s a movement that seeks to do things differently within the APC in Lagos State. It’s a movement that wants to see everybody living well as against what we currently have, where Lagos works for some individuals.
We want to see a Lagos, where people can choose, who leads them, not a Lagos, where somebody makes a pronouncement and say people must follow that pronouncement. I believe that we should work towards rejecting an offer of another puppet in 2023 in terms of governance. Lagos4Lagos Movement is a Lagos for all.
We want a Lagos, where everybody living in Lagos, whether indigene or resident of Lagos, would feel the presence of Lagos. Lagos4Lagos is when we will not be reading on the pages of newspapers that Lagos is wealthy, but where everybody would have a feeling of the wealth. It is not about somebody saying Lagos is wealthy without the person having something that is bringing the money for him or her. We want a Lagos that everybody can say we jointly own not a Lagos that belongs to an individual.
What of your governorship ambition; how do you want to realise it?
We are doing it the way we should do it by dwelling on the issues and ignoring the obstacles. They keep saying we don’t have money; that we are not qualified but we are ignoring that. We are debating the issues, and what are the issues: It is that we can do it, and that we have the exposure to do it.
We have been going around talking and speaking to the people of Lagos rather than going to an individual.
For the past six or seven years, we have been reaching out to everybody from ward to ward in Lagos and we have been talking to them that for the first time, all of us can elect a governor that we can call our own in the state, not a governor that would want to go for second level approval. As you can see, the result is there for the level of acceptability. We believe that by May 29, 2023, we would be sworn-in.
Some people believe that you are being used by former Governor Babatunde Fashola to fight the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. How do you hope to realise your dreams if you are not a candidate of Tinu
bu? When you have the kind of image that we have, you are not known to have stolen like them or occupy a public office; they will say all sorts of things.
They will believe and tend to think that somebody is sponsoring you. It is part of the game; you can put whatever you want to put on the pages of newspapers. Unfortunately, for former Governor Fashola, he won’t be able to defend it because we have a relationship and for me, am I going to deny him and say we don’t have a relationship, no.
I’m an adult, a family man and I have also been in that corridor of power, where I have consulted for the government for over two decades. I am a Lagosian, so I know my worth. On the other hand, I see no reason why we cannot achieve what we want to achieve without an individual.
For the individual, he has been able to do it because God has allowed him, but this time, we want a shift, we want something that belongs to everybody, which is why we are doing everything humanly possible, so that we can reach out to the people of Lagos.
We keep telling them that if their votes don’t count they would not seek to buy their votes. We will do everything to ensure that we get it done.
You tried to field some candidates for the recent local government elections…
No, we didn’t have candidates for the local government elections. We had a discussion with our followers; we didn’t believe in the process they used, so we told them it would amount to waste of money and energy and that was what happened. I know them very well; I knew that they were not going to conduct any primaries.
We warned our people and some of them believed us. While they were doing their thing, once they see that anybody collected form against their candidate, they will say that the person is from Lagos4Lagos and the person is disqualified.
They used it for as many people as possible.
One of the people in the panel called me that all the petitions they had were against Lagos4Lagos. We knew from day one that it was not going to be credible and we didn’t participate in it.
But some of our members took Asiwaju Tinubu for his words and threw their hats in the rings, but they came back disappointed and we expected that.
What has kept you going and one wonders why you are still in the APC?
I have been a member of the APC for a very long time and like I said, we so much believe in the new APC via the Mai Mala Buniled National Caretaker Committee of the party. We gave them our proposal, which was approved and we said that we should have a membership revalidation, and we all saw what happened.
That afforded us the opportunity to inject fresh blood into the party.
After that, there are some other policies that we threw to them; we believe so much in the reforms going on the party.
Of course, if we smell any rat or see any foul play we can decide to do otherwise. We are still watching, the congresses are still coming and we will see how fair they will be.
What is your honest assessment of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration?
My honest assessment is that the governor and the government have not done well and that is there for everybody to see. I won’t say because I am in the APC, I will not say the truth even if it is bitter. In two years he cannot point at one or two signature projects.
Within the two years of former governor Akinwunmi Ambode, we saw Abule Egba and Ajah flyovers. We also saw the Oshodi Bus Terminal coming up, but that is not the same with this governor, we cannot say that this is his signature project.
Ambode delivered the Airport Road before he left office, these are the things you can point at and say this guy has worked. In two years, there is nothing and if you look at the amount of money that has accrued to the government, you wonder where they are going.
Last year, we did a revenue of N871 billion, and the budget, according to them, did over 90 per cent. This year, they have done Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of about N137 billion between January and March. We are already in August and you imagine what they have generated so far and there is nothing to show for all of these. So, it is there for everybody to see, we had rain a few days ago and you saw what happened to Lagos. This is the Lagos that has been under the control of one person since 1999. We need to change, we cannot continue this way.
What of President Muhammadu Buhari, has he performed?
I like to limit myself to my state. If all of us develop our states and local governments, it will affect Nigeria. Lagos is my major concern.