*Reveals major fear about election
By Charles Kumolu
Mr. Lanre Carew is a grassroots politician and successful businessman, who seeks to represent Kosofe Constituency 1 in Lagos State House of Assembly on the platform of Social Democratic Party, SDP.In this interview, he discusses his prospects, stating reasons he would emerge victorious next Saturday. Carew also reveals his major concern about the election.
How confident are you of victory and do you foresee a tough race?
My name is Olarenwaju Carew. I am representing the Social Democratic Party, SDP, the white horse. I am vying for Lagos State House of Assembly, Kosofe Constituency 1. My prospects are 90 percent bright. I am a grassroots politician and grassroots philanthropist. I was a member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, but left because of the games they play there. It wasn’t that I just left like that, my people asked me to go to another party for us to prove a point that we are on the ground. We are in charge. We have done our homework having been close to the grassroots for many years.
You are a successful businessman and you are now in politics, a field considered dirty and murky. What inspired your move into politics?
It started a long time ago. I have always been a people person. In my secondary school days, I was a science student. Back then, there were school positions, like the Head Boy, Liberian and others that were reserved for science students. But when they were talking about Social Prefect, the person selected was from the art class. But in their wisdom, in my set, when the school wanted to pick the Social Prefect, I was surprised that my name was announced. I have always been a people person. I am very friendly and easily accessible. By my nature, I am not known to be proud or shy. I can relate with anybody. I am a natural giver. Any little money I make, I share it with friends and colleagues. It kept on going like that. When I went on my own in 2002, as I started making money, I started taking a certain percentage to help people. It has continued like this. I ran into a friend in 2013, who was running for a position, and invited me to support him. When I came to support him, I found that I could do more for people. I saw this genuine need from people. And they were not asking for much. Someone would tell you he has a problem. And you would be expecting to hear a big problem, but he would say it is just N10,000, N5000 or N20,000.
That made me know I could do more. And I started doing more. I was helping from outside until some of the leaders of my former party, APC, called me and said I was good material. They said I should contest for this same position in 2018. I agreed to give it a shot. The members of the caucus picked me but our former leader at the time, the late Senator Pepper, said I was a greenhorn. He said I should step down for the incumbent, which I did. Two years ago, I came out for local government chairmanship. I actually won the primaries and I was announced the winner. But when I was supposed to collect my certificate of return, they said our leader had picked another person. I didn’t want to cause problems, so I left. This last election, there was no primary because they changed the list of delegates. The delegates protested that there was no primary. But the party said the incumbent was going back. I felt that instead of rocking the boat, it was best I left the party. That was why I went to SDP. I enjoy good followership from my community.
You just told a story about how your former party, APC, twice denied you your rightful place. What could have been responsible for that?
It was more of fear and envy. Most of them believe Lanre is wealthy. They are scared and weren’t sure if they could control me if I am given power. It was just about envy. You know politics is dirty. Without you knowing, some people close to you would backbite you. It is all about competition and envy. That is why we are trying to prove a point with this election by insisting the people must pick their representative.
Did your supporters also leave APC for SDP with you?
If you see my supporters, they would say they are not engaging in anti-party activity, but anti-candidate. They coined the word, meaning that this time, they are not voting for a party but an individual. And they feel the individual given to them by the party isn’t the person they want. That is the reason they remained in APC. They have been voting APC. They are not joining another party. My supporters are mostly APC people. That is why this election is going to be very funny. It is just like APC against APC.
Apart from your conventional supporters, who you said are APC members, did you also reach out to other prospective voters beyond your support base?
Yes, I did. I am a man of the people. I am the owner of Farmcity Admiralty Way, Lekki, Farmcity Ogudu and Farmcity Dubai. I have broad-based followership. With me, it is what you see that you get. In politics, you have to reach out to people. I did different programmes for people at the grassroots. I regularly help people I don’t know in my constituency. I don’t just help because I am in politics. I help because I am a giver. I think my compassionate nature has to do with the way I lost my mother. I lost my mother and father at a tender age. I know the pain. I have been in the trenches and I know what it feels like. That is why my support base goes beyond my party.
What are those critical needs in your constituency that you will prioritise if elected?
There are some major concerns. One of them is access to drinkable water. It is alarming in my constituency. The roads are also in bad shape. There are some areas in my constituency where they just have only access roads. When you go in, you won’t find tarred roads. The other one that is quite painful is the absence of skills acquisition centres. I want to have skills acquisition centres where we can train our youths to be gainfully employed. Many of the youths who are not employed need to acquire skills. We would establish as many as possible. In my oversight functions, I will ensure government does things it should do for my constituency. For me, politics is all about service and I am willing to serve. I want to lift my constituency. I want Kosofe to be known as a pacesetter in Lagos State.
What are your fears about the election?
I am concerned about intimidation and harassment. We are already seeing it in APC. They are harassing people, threatening them for liking another person. They go about threatening my supporters. They threaten them with their jobs and harass them where they live. Those are the kind of things I am concerned about. They go as far as using traditional rulers to harass people who stay in some areas. They threaten them to vote for a particular party. We hear rumours that they want to cause mayhem because of how the “Obi wave,’’ swept everywhere. The truth is that we are not scared. We believe we have done our homework well. It is the other party that is scared. My major concern is security. It must be top-notch. Everybody must be protected. Nobody must feel intimidated.
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