By Ishola Balogun& Ebun Sessou
All Progressives Congress, APC chairman in Lagos State and former Commissioner for Special Duties, Otunba Henry Ajomale has berated the Oodua People’s Congress, OPC over the rally carried out by the group last Monday in Lagos calling for the removal of INEC chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega, adding that it has destroyed its own principles and have become very unimportant in the Yoruba circle just as he disclosed that the construction of fourth mainland bridge will begin soon with the possibility of the road being tolled. Excerpts
How would you compare the 2015 elections with other past elections in terms of preparations, campaign activities, and technology?
I can only say that there is more tension this time than the previous elections. We have participated in elections since 1999 and I have played a very prominent role in the both 1998 and 2003. As a matter of fact, I was the Chairman of the Campaign Committee in 2003 before I became the Chairman of the party in 2007. So, this is the first time that I will see more tension which has never been witnessed before in the political firmament of Nigeria. To me, I think, we are getting to the age where people now understand their freedom, their voting rights and they consider them to be very crucial and important. Although there are still some who are still behind in their thoughts and deeds, collecting money from politicians and hoping that, after all, they have taken their own share of the cake. The case is better now.
Why has this development not translated to issue-based campaign from both parties?
For us, everything we have been rolling out is factual. There are statistics of what the government has done in terms of development. If you look at the economy, it is unstable. If we say also that electricity is still epileptic, that is also a fact. If we say agriculture made a little rise in terms of development, you cannot dispute that. . But, where you don’t perform, people would say so. These are issue-based campaigns that we have been running. On their own part, they run television documentary, maligning our candidate and the party. They talked about certificate, they talked about age; these are not issues at all. Poverty and religion do not mean anything when you don’t have food on your table. The most important thing is who can provide food on my table.
Do you think that kind of leadership exists only in your party?
Not only in my party. Such leadership exists everywhere. There are thousands of people in this country who can do the same. But, we are now talking of platform. I believe Buhari is one of them who can do it. He is now on the right platform to be able to get there. It is not because he is the cleverest person in Nigeria. It is because he is in the right platform.
What would you say Lagosians would see differently if your party wins the governorship race?
I don’t see what is wrong with what we have right now. What we are trying to do is to consolidate on what we have done and complete them. Ensure that the blue and red rails are working from Marina to Badagry. It is our wish to continue the 4th Mainland Bridge that would go from Lekki to Ikorodu. We will continue and ensure that there’s electricity supply by putting in place so many IPP in Lagos. These are part of the consolidation. Asiwaju Tinubu laid the foundation and gave it to Fashola who improved on it tremendously and Ambode is coming to improve on what Fashola has built. We will not choose someone who will not go ahead to beat the next person. The same pattern is what Ambode will be running after, to beat Fashola too. So, it is rather a competition and that is how Lagos will continue to beat any state in Nigeria.
Today, we are opening up the Ikorodu and a lot of people are moving to Ikorodu now.
How do you intend to do the carry out the construction of the 4th Mainland Bridge, do you have the financial muscle?
It is not a question of financial muscle. There are so many ways of killing a cat. It is not necessarily the financial muscle from the state government. The world has gone far more than that. There can be international consortium that is going to develop that. Maybe, it is going to be tolled and they will make their money. But, they will make it convenient for you. When you are leaving Lekki, you don’t have to come to Ozumba Mbadiwe before you get home. So, it is not a question of having money before you can do it.
So, what is stopping it all this while?
It is because the money and the arrangement of those who are going to be interested in taking up the challenges were not ready.
Are they ready now?
Yes, some consortium are showing interest.
So, Lagosians should be expecting soon?
What is the position of the concessionaire and will there be additional toll in the Lekki-Epe Expressway?
For Lekki, there is only one toll. After the second toll gate was constructed, we found out that it won’t be convenient for the people living in that area. That was why they didn’t put the second toll.
Recently, your party was quoted to have said that if you lose the election, you will form a parallel government, why did you say that?
I don’t understand that. I don’t know about that. Because if the election is free and fair, why should we form a parallel government? I am not aware of that statement.
There is also an allegation that your party has established a private radio, how true?
People can say all sorts of things. I won’t take it behind PDP. But, I can assure you that there is nothing like that. There is no private radio. It is not part of our culture. Our party is not known for that.
Recently, we saw a protest they staged in Lagos against Jega, does it not worry you that it was carried out by OPC which is supposed to be a Yoruba Cultural Organization?
I am worried because when OPC was established, it was a cultural organization defending the interest of the Yoruba. They were not even supposed to be in politics at all. If PDP is now enticing people and groups with Dollars and Naira to bring them into partisan politics, it is a disgrace. Because OPC was supposed to be defending the interest of the Yoruba and not to be partisan. They are not supposed to be in politics. Today, they have disgraced themselves because of a pot of porridge. It is unfortunate that their leadership, starting from Dr. Fasehun and the man I respect so much to Otunba Gani Adams who claims to be worshiping the Yoruba deities now got themselves entangled and trapped in this mess. I really do not understand, but money cannot do anything. It shows clearly that all along we have been thinking that this man is a saint, after all he is not. They are not doing it in the interest of the Yoruba; they are doing it in the interest of their pockets. What is their business with the removal of Jega? The same thing with the Igbo cultural group, MASSOB led by Uwazurike. It is unfortunate that they have allowed money to blindfold them from the original concept of the organization, it is a shame and that is what money can do.
What is the implication of this?
The implication is that they have destroyed their won principles and they have become very unimportant in the Yoruba circle. You can’t come and tell me about OPC, I will tell you to go to hell. Because the respect that people paid them before for defending the Yoruba interest is no more. So, nobody will respect them again because they have been bought by a pot of porridge. And they have forgotten that this election will come and go. They have also forgotten that too that money will finish.