In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Ayodele Adewale, the former chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area in Lagos State, speaks about his successor, his aspiration to become a federal lawmaker under the All Progressives Congress, and the party’s decision on Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
PT: Despite the APC’s much-touted achievements in Lagos, how did APC lose some state and federal assembly seats to the PDP?
Adewale: It is about the personality. The party has been magnanimous enough to give you a platform to contest. You rode on the good pedigree of the party to get to office, then the onus is on you, as an individual, to implement the programmes of the party. If you fail to do so, then the condemnation will come to you, and rub off on the party. A lot of APC candidates rode on the back of the party to get to office then get lost with the convenience of the office. I have left office for the past four years as the executive chairman of Amuwo Odofin LGA, but when I go round, the way people throng around me, you will think I am still in office. I still organise meetings here with over 300 people in attendance every Monday. So how many politicians have the capability to do that?
PT: Are you saying the people don’t come around because of what they benefit from you?
Adewale: No. They are not induced by money. They are coming because of what they have seen before, also, they believe that through the platform of APC, we can achieve more for our society. If you don’t add value to people’s lives, they won’t vote for you. Like the last local government election, it was on my pedigree the character in office was voted. If same character goes to contest in election on his own again, you will not vote for him. If you came here with your car, you would have fallen into numerous potholes. Go round FESTAC and environs, you see heaps of refuse all over. Our gutters have become a forest.
PT: Are you saying your immediate successor has failed?
Adewale: He has failed. I won’t shy from stating the obvious. He has been given an opportunity and he failed. He has been in office for 13 to 14 months, can you point at any meaningful projects? Are they not generating IGR? When I was voted into office, I met IGR of N30,000 per month and left the office with an IGR of N240 million per annum. We grew the economy of Amuwo Odofin which made the Central Bank of Nigeria to rate our economy as the fastest.
PT: What about now?
Adewale: You can verify yourself. Can you buy a property where there are potholes everywhere? Can you rent a house here when the whole area is dirty?
PT: Are you saying he may not get the party ticket for a second term?
Adewale: Definitely not. If we give him, that will be suicidal, we will lose the election.
PT: But won’t his alleged poor performance affect your chance of winning the National Assembly seat?
Adewale: It will not because I am in tune with my people. I have made a positive impact in their lives. People are not goats, if you don’t affect their lives positively, they will stay away from you. The roads, hospitals, and schools I built are campaigning for me. The people are saying “Ayo, please, come back.”
PT: How do you see the PDP lawmaker currently occupying the seat?
Adewale: We met at a tennis club function one day, he openly begged me not to come for Reps but Senate. He knows his time is up. You are a reporter, how many times have you heard him speak at the National Assembly? How many bills has he sponsored? How many motions has he moved? Has his presence attracted any federal project in our constituency? The people too don’t want him because he cannot perform. They have seen a performer like me, taking upon his shoulder to throw a hat into the ring. Just wait for 2019 election, you will see an avalanche of votes that will come to APC. We will defeat him square and fair.
PT: You are seen campaigning for Babajide Sanwoolu against Akinwunmi Ambode, the incumbent governor of Lagos State. Considering your closeness with Bola Tinubu, your party’s national leader, did he really anoint Sanwo-Olu?
Adewale: For six months now, I have not sat with Asiwaju Tinubu to discuss about any anointed candidate. What Asiwaju is simply saying, let the democratic space be fully autonomous and democratic. Come to think of it as human beings, if you have a chance to be governor for four years and you are still running around for second term anointing, don’t you have a problem? Is it not the people that will freely vote you in any democratic election? You asked me if I can defeat PDP in my constituency and I said I would beat them square and fair because of my legacies and ability to carry my people along. If you are carrying party chieftains and members along why panicking for primaries? In fact, right now, he should have upper hand if he has served meritoriously. Even if you have 20 contenders, you will still win the election. He should not be globetrotting from Lagos to Abuja, Abuja to Katsina. Even with the travail I am facing in the local government here, opposition orchestrated by the person I put in the office, I refused to be bent because I know what I am doing is right. So direct primaries should be a thing of joy for Mr Akinwunmi Ambode.
PT: Is your party dropping Ambode because he was not carrying party chieftains along or because he underperformed?
Adewale: Don’t be beclouded. Ambode rode on the platform which is APC. Lagos people voted for the platform not Ambode. What made you think Babajide Sanwo-Olu will not perform better? Sanwo-Olu is part of the top principal actors behind the Lagos success. He is part of the team bringing ideas while Ambode executes. So, whatever decision I take, it is my conviction, having gauged the three aspirants, that Mr Sanwoolu can do more and better for Lagos. He has campaigned to me, and his vision for Lagos is superb. Just the way I am campaigning to my people here in Amuwo Odofin. We have about eight candidates, it now depends on the people to choose their preferred candidate. Let’s wait for the primaries and see if we will win or not. I have not said Ambode has not performed to the best of his ability but my conviction on Sanwo-Olu is that, he has better programmes and ability to surpass that of Akinwunmi Ambode.