On April 29th, 2014, the Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, elected a 35 member state executive committee with the erstwhile interim state chairman, Chief Henry Ajomale returning as the substantive chairman of the party in the state.
A week later, Ajomale in an interview with Vanguard spoke on his plans and prospects, the zoning of the governorship to Lagos East Senatorial District and other sundry issues. Excerpts:
By OLASUNKANMI AKONI
It is believed that you and your executive were selected and not elected?
The present EXCO to me is very solid at this time, this is because we have 14 women among the executive members of the APC in Lagos state. This is the first time we are having such high number. In the last EXCO, we had four women and that means that the party is shifting its strategy towards women and youths.
First, women are the largest number of voters and this is followed by the youths. It showed clearly that without this set of people, there will be problem.
Aside that, we have programmes for the physically challenged, something that has not been done by any other political party in the country. We consider them as human and whatever they do, they must contribute to the development of the country.
What is your plan?
My plan is to ensure that we win Lagos in the next election, to ensure that we have 6 million registered voters and to ensure that 45 percent of them cast their votes on the day of election. We must galvanize them, we must bring them out through sensitization to ensure they cast their votes on the day of election. The last time, we had an average of 1.5 million out of 6 million voters, so where are the rest?
This is because they weren’t convinced that they need to come out to exercise their rights to change what they consider as bad omen for this country. Then, they did not have a sense of belonging, but today we are bringing them in to be part of that revolution we are planning. The revolution is to ensure that the country becomes a better place for us all, if one is indifferent and sit akimbo looking at those who are doing it, you cannot achieve anything by that.
Allegation on hand picking of the new EXCO
That isn’t true, this is because a lot of things have gone underground that someone who isn’t a member may not be privy to. APC is a disciplined party.
I had three people jostling with me for the post but they withdrew before the date. But if they weren’t satisfied, they would have come out and we would have battled it out. That was what happened in Ondo and Ogun States, when they didn’t agree among themselves, they went to the polls. That is what the party constitution says.
Zoning of governorship to East Senatorial District
Yes, it is obvious. Let us be human, you have three senatorial districts in Lagos and when Asiwaju finished his administration, it went to the central, so the obvious thing is that if we don’t want these people to be isolated, it is obvious that it should be their turn if one has to be fair.
In democracy, one must be fair, they have been voting since the last 16 years, it is obvious that it is their turn, certainly, if we don’t get anyone from there, who is capable to take that leadership, it can still be taken away from them to a place where we can find someone who can do the job. Ours is to look for the best, and one who can do less than what Fashola has achieved today cannot be the governor of Lagos state.
The person must be able to perform better, and that is the promise we made to Lagosians that Lagos will continue to be developed to the extent that it can rival any countries in the next 10 years. So that when they come to Lagos, they will see the wonder of what has never been achieved before, we will continue to lead the way and allow other states to take a leaf from us.
On religious consideration for right candidate
We are not considering religion aspect. Honestly, can we put someone who cannot work because of religious sentiments and lose the election? We are looking for the best and only the best is good for the state.
When we chose Asiwaju and Fashola, we didn’t consider religion, it was based on intellect.
We are going ahead with that, the flag bearer for the party may belong to any religion but what we are concerned about is getting the best from the East senatorial district, and if we don’t find, we go to another place.
What about gender
Yes, are they (women) not human beings? In Lagos, we always lead the way and sentiment apart we can have a female president in the future. To me, religion is not my priority I am not in the best position to criticize any religion.
I am satisfied in as much as we are at same wave- length when we are discussing on the way forward for the state. Residents of Lagos will not accept anything less. For me it isn’t an issue of religion, if it is a Muslim that can do it, I don’t care, the important thing is for us to choose the person first. We need to get the best man from that side.
We will go for primaries and anyone that emerges will go. This applies to the East, for instance if the leadership in the senatorial district agreed on one person and someone says no, the person has the right to contest.
Will you be applying Ondo State formula here in Lagos
The same thing is possible here. I cannot say it is not possible. If we get the best person for the job from Ikorodu or Ibeju-Lekki, so be it. To us it isn’t the issue of where the man comes from but what can he deliver? It isn’t about religion. If because we want to field a Muslim and we introduce to the residents of Lagos a man who cannot perform, the residents of Lagos will not accept that from us.
PDF’s prediction on APC falling apart
When we started the negotiation last year, I was part of the merger committee, they prophesized that we wouldn’t last three months, they said that the name will break us into pieces. We agreed on the name and there was no problem.
Source of disintegration
Later they said that the new party constitution and the flag will be source of our disintegration, during that period, they said that things were going on as God has wanted it. They begin to move against us again.
They said that the position will destroy the party, we went into the position process, and nothing happened.
And someone mischievously went to INEC to register the name of the party, they did everything possible but they couldn’t hold us back. So if they are saying that, why do we believe them? We continued to wax stronger.
During the registration of the party members, our critics made several allegations against us, we did the registration even without the presence of INEC, this was better than what INEC would have done for the party, there was no problem. We went from there to ward congresses, there wasn’t any problem; except little hitches.
Our critics have been saying that before now. I believe someone has to justify the huge fund they are collecting from the Federal Capital Territory, FCT Abuja.