Former minister of state for defence and Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Ghana, Musiliu Obanikoro, in this interview explains why Lagos people should dump the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on whose platform he seeks to become the state governor in 2015.
PT: Why do you think you lost the 2007 gubernatorial election?
Obanikoro: Well I guess the other side wanted it more than us, it’s all about who wanted it most and they went out and took care of business. Well, I don’t want to cry over spilt milk, they had an advantage and took advantage of it and the rest is history. So we just have to ensure that the same doesn’t repeat itself again, that’s all.
PT: In your resignation letter, you said Lagos is in political and economic bondage, what do you mean by this?
Obanikoro: We have a man who has kept us in bondage for almost 16 years now, and I think it’s high time we liberated our state from him and I’m committed to that, no doubt about that. If you know the amount of tax payers’ money that goes into servicing one person, it’s grossly unacceptable and there is no doubt in my mind that the whole of Lagos will rise against that and usher in a new era in Lagos.
PT: How do you intend to liberate Lagos and Lagosians from these bondages?
Obanikoro: You see, the people are ready to free themselves. Everybody is talking about it, all we have to do is to encourage to work with us them and I believe they are ready from what we have seen all over Lagos.
PT: PDP lost at the Osun election and won the Ekiti election, what do you think was responsible for the loss in Osun?
Obanikoro: Well I think we were rigged in Osun and we will do everything humanly possible to prevent that from happening in Lagos. And if you look at the number of voters that were transferred from Lagos to go and vote in Osun, its criminal, and in addition to that, we have to close all the available loopholes to ensure victory for our party.
PT: You have praised and criticized some actions of the present Lagos government, do you think the administration has done well?
Obanikoro: They have tried their best but we have to move Lagos beyond the best that’s what the challenge is all about. Let me tell you, I know I have sufficient exposure and experience in life to take Lagos to another level; all it takes to change the face of Lagos is the commitment and the exposure I have over the years in terms of what is achievable and what is not.
PT: Some have described some of the projects of these administration as elitist, you share same belief?
Obanikoro: To some extent it is correct, and then we have to return government to the people. Look at the Lekki-ikoyi Bridge, N29.5 billion, how many of that do we have in Lagos? Just that one and then it is the most expensive one in the world. It is expensive because the lord in bourdilon, Bola Tinubu, who these projects must go through before they are done and that is why people like us are in the race to ensure that we eliminate the third force in government which is making life unbearable for the good people of Lagos. The burden he has already inflicted on this state is already huge that we cannot allow that to continue for another four years.
PT: Your campaign slogan is “Greater Lagos”, how greater will Lagos be should you become governor?
Obanikoro: Well I have said it’s going to be greater, let me tell you, Alhaji Jakande is the father of modern Lagos, yeah Fashola has also tried but what we envisage in our first 4 years, honestly, will be unparalleled in the history of development in Nigeria. We recognize that we are going to inherit a huge debt, but we have the thinking capacity to restructure some of these debts so that it doesn’t become a burden towards development.
PT: The debt management office in Abuja has put Lagos debt at 1.2billion dollars, do you think Lagos should be in this kind of debt?
Obanikoro: I think our debt is more than that, it’s more than $1.2 billion and I am sure that the infrastructures in Lagos are not commensurate with the debt. And it is so because there is a man in bourdilion that must be factored into any project that is executed here in Lagos. That force must be removed so that people can have value for their money.
PT: If you are not given the PDP ticket, who would you rather see become the governor come 2015?
Obanikoro: Well with the people, I don’t have doubt in my mind that I would be elected as PDP flag bearer and eventually has governor of Lagos state.
PT: Do you think the political history in Lagos will favour you in your quest to become governor?
Obanikoro: Absolutely, I have always been for Lagos, I served Lagos meritoriously as chairman of a local government, served meritoriously as a commissioner, served meritoriously as a Senator and I don’t see how I wouldn’t be a better governor than AC or ACN’s governor.
PT: President Goodluck Jonathan has declared his ambition to run for a second term, do you think he has performed well enough to get the peoples vote for a second term?
Obanikoro: He has done very well, he deserves it.
PT: You resigned as the minister of state for defence to join this governorship race, why do you think Nigeria has been unable to win the war against Boko Haram?
Obanikoro: Well, war against terrorism is not a hundred meter dash, it’s a marathon, and we want all Nigerians to buckle up, for a long fight against terrorism. It’s a war without boundary , it’s a war that the perpetrators are faceless, so with that kind of war, you can’t determine when it’s going to be over, but what is gratifying is we have the capacity to end it.