Politics

PDP Has Messed up the Country

He is referred to as the most experienced and the legislative encyclopedia of Lagos State House of Assembly. Hon Kolawole Taiwo known as HKT is the Deputy Speaker of the House and the longest serving state lawmaker in the country, having been elected into the house since 1999 and still gunning for another term. In this interview with AKINJIDE AKINTOLA, Political Editor and ALADE TASMA at his Alausa office, he speaks on his staying power and the new phase of smear campaigns in the polity amongst other issues. Excerpts:
Election campaign is on now and we have continued to see different kinds of things which were never seen before in the history of electioneering campaign in the country. Where would all these things lead to as we approach the elections?
I did not see it as a new thing, I’m a politician and politicians are usually ready for the unusual things when it comes to electioneering campaign. We prepare unusually for election but the surprising thing is that the ruling party is the one leading the smear campaign. I think it should be the other way round, the opposition should be the party leading this campaign and doing all sorts of things. As the main opposition, we resolved to engage in an issue-based campaign and to tackle the issue from an idealistic point of view, to discuss what Nigeria needs as well as to expose the inefficiency of the ruling party.
I’m particularly not surprised, immediately after the postponement of the election they started all these smear campaigns and we know one of the reasons they struggle for the postponement of the election was because according to the information at our end, they hired a consultant to handle their election campaign who told them the time is short but instead of them to face the reality, they pushed for a shift in the date of the election. You know this type of thing has happened before in America but it was not as porous and as dirty as this, because over there, when they accuse you, they are able to prove it because the electorate over there are highly informed and keep records.
Take for instance, several things that were said about Asiwaju Bola Tinubu that could not be traced to him. They said he owns Oriental hotel but I can tell you that Asiwaju has nothing to do with the hotel but when they continue to say these things they made them look as the truth but you can easily verify these things from the Corporate Affars Commission. Again they said Asiwaju dashed and shared state houses to his former commissioners and some people shouted oh! this is ridiculous and terrible what this administration meant by leading economy. You don’t appreciate someone by the quantity of the activities he engages in but by the success he achieves from it. Even when they were unable to make any success out of these, yet they kept claiming that we are the leading economy in Africa. Like when they said they performed in agriculture and went ahead to put it on paper by saying grain importation is falling but information from the farmers on ground rubbished their claim. Even at that, I started to think why would fall in grain importation be as a result of their activities in the ministry of agriculture and I arrived at the theory of a sharp reduction on the purchasing power of average Nigerians which led to changes in their eating habit. For instance, some people now engage in formular 1-0-1, 0-0-1 etc. With this adjustment, there is bound to be fall in the importation of grains contrary to the government claims.
There is no way we can perform in the area of agriculture without electricity, a typical farmer will go into the bush and cultivate lands for cassava for instance and for him to be able to get to the optimal profit margin, he must get to the finish or semi-finish line and to turn the cassava to garri. For instance, he will need electricity and if he decided to go on diesel, there can never be profit and if he decided to sell on the farm, N30,000 is what they pay for a cabstar -load of cassava. How many cassava loads would such farmer sell to make a million naira? These are the problems.
There was a standing order specifically in Cross River State that whoever clamours for change be stoned. What is your take on that?
If change is not popular nobody would say they should stone anyone clamouring for change, it is because change crusade is getting to those unexpected areas of the country. Take for instance: they said they do not want card reader, PVC but TVC. We know why they are saying all these, go back and check the history of Presidential elections in Nigeria. Bayelsa State has always turn out over a million votes, but this time, after the registration and sorting, INEC has come out to say the total number of votes expectd from Bayelsa State is about 600,000 and change crusade is now in Bayelsa. People want change in Bayelsa even more than we in Lagos because their son being the president has not resulted in anything positive for them therefore, the clamouring for change in Bayelsa is louder. So, you should not be surprised if someone said stone whoever clamours for change. The fact remains that they are being threatened to their root but this hate campaign is not logical just an expression of idle minds.
I was in Abuja recently and i realized that the PDP is not tolerant at all, you can never see the posters or flex of the oppositions hanged on electric pole on major roads, it’s mostly of the PDP. But look at what they are doing on Lagos roads, they would use soldiers to come and hang them up at night and I said: you could only paste your poster at night where you are not popular, if you are popular you will do it in the daytime.
Still talking about smear campaign, the PDP led federal government had been accused of corruption and they have never come out to deny the accusation rather, they have turned around to say the opposition is also corrupt which is a matter of saying we are all corrupt. How do you see this reaction?
They are changing tactics, they realised that going ahead with their unidealistic based campaign would be their greatest undoing, they decided to change tactics. This is also their political style to paint others bad but it’s left for Nigerians to look at the two and see which one is correct. Are we talking about Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who left government about eight years ago? And for once he has not been arraigned for corruption. When he was in government, they said he has immunity but now he did not and nobody has taken him to court for corruption. They forgot that Asiwaju was a treasurer at Mobil before he became governor of Lagos and he had a lot of investment home and abroad before coming into government.
He was part of those sponsoring of NADECO activities abroad which was why NADECO gave him 100 percent support for the governorship of the state. The PDP forgot that this man, Asiwaju can smell investment some killometres away and he had proved it as governor. For instance, when Econet came into Nigeria when Obasanjo liberalised communications, when other governors were busy buying beautiful and expensive telephones for their girl friends, Asiwaju was thinking of making investment for Lagos and invested in Econet. Some few years ago, the N5b investment turned N19b, if somebody had used his money to invest N5b and made N19b, what do you think he would become? He can buy the entire Lagos, is it not possible?
If he (Asiwaju) could smell investment for government, just think of what he might have smelt for himself. You can not compare Asiwaju with Jonathan. Jonathan was nobody before he came to government, imagine Tinubu financing his own election as governor of the State you know how much he would have spent all alone, therefore, you don’t paint people just for political reason. But I’m not surprised, if they could query the certificate of General Muhammadu Buhari, somebody that started as nobody in the army and rose to become the Head of State, if somebody that was a former minister, a former governor and a former Head of State of this country is not educated, then who is educated? You now begin to imagine what is going on. They are just exhibiting their ignorance and senseless nature; I hope Nigerians would be wiser.
Again, the electoral law stated that there must be maximum amount on what you can spend on election, what do you want to say on the executive recklessness on the part of President Jonathan who has been going round the country dolling out money even in dollars, are you saying those spending would still be within the expenditure permitted by the electoral law? We are deceiving ourselves but I know with the sign I’m seeing, Nigerians are determined for change and that is why you are seeing this unusual quietness and people are particularly waiting for the election date to effect the change.
In 2011, people particularly from the southern part of the country supported Jonathan to see if he will be able to perform, but after close to four years he had exhibited enough inefficiency and inability to really tackle the challenges of the country. Imagine as a President, a single person in your government bought N250m car, someone in your government decided to be flying a rented jet which is costing the nation billions of naira and you keep quiet that will surely rub on you, Nigerians are not fools and to make it worse, the President himself now started sharing cash even in dollars round the country among the traditional rulers to gather support for his re-election bid. Would any Oba come out to say vote for a particular party or candidate? It’s not possible.
The election is barely two weeks and the opposition particularly the PDP has declared that it would take over Lagos from the APC at all cost the more reason the President has been frequent in Lagos in the last three or four weeks. Do you see APC retaining the state considering the fact that Musiliu Obanikoro is back as minister?
Lagos is everything to Nigeria and it can not afford to lack behind in development, the state is the economic hub of the country and therefore, when you are talking of Lagos you are talking of the state that has the largest concentration of intellectuals and knowlegeable people and APC had turned around the state the fact nobody can controvert. In the last 16 years, we have turned around Lagos and it’s only those who don’t know where we are coming from that would not be able to appreciate us. I remembered my first motion as a member of the State Assembly is for LAWMA to get rid of the state of heaps of refuse and called on the government to reform LAWMA. Look at our roads now unlike when we first came to government, we construct roads that would last for years, let me give you an instance, look at Kudirat Abiola road here at Oregun, it was constructed by Tinubu about 10 years now and ever since there has not been any repair work on the road and you know how busy the road use to be, look at Badagry road now and imagine what it will look like when finally completed, these are the kinds of infrastructural development we are talking about.
When Fashola came on board in 2007, they called him an actualiser because he actualised the projects and the blue print of Asiwaju but I call him actualiser 1 because we are going to have actualiser 2 in Akinwumi Ambode who will take it from Fashola to the next level, therefore, Lagosian would stick to APC.

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Ihesiulo Grace

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