Exclusive Interview With Ogun East Senatorial Aspirant, Dr Adewale Adenaike - AMEBO ONLINE NEWSPAPER

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Exclusive Interview With Ogun East Senatorial Aspirant, Dr Adewale Adenaike

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Can you let us in a bit about your background before you came into politics?

 

Ans: I’m a civil engineer by training and that is an area where I have developed competency over the years since I left the university in the UK. My engineering background has prepared me substantially for a life in politics because there are quite a number of similarities in the principles of civil engineering and political engineering, which is where I am today. 

 

What are the most compelling reasons that informed your decision to contest for    elective office?

 

Ans: The most compelling reason that has driven me into politics is Service. Today, I am like our forefathers who went abroad to school and came back to our fatherland with an insatiable desire to turn their fatherland into an Eldorado through service. Today, in Nigeria and especially my Senatorial District, there is deficit of service. Ogun East is bigger in geographical size and richer in natural resources than some States in Nigeria, yet it is one of the most backward in terms of development. Even if we cannot become a State now because of the constitutional provisions attached to State creation in our beloved nation, are we unable to galvanize the natural resources we are endowed with? Are we also unable to mobilize national resources to which we are entitled, to turn the district around? Can anyone point to any meaningful constituency project in Ogun East Senatorial District that has been attracted from the Federal Government of Nigeria in recent times? Yet, our people pay taxes, they are industrious and we have forest reserves that are exploited on a daily basis so much so that our forest reserve is now seriously threatened.

 

Why the Senate specifically?

 

Q3: Thank you for this question. I am a man of the people. The Senate is the place to be. Democracy is about the people. I love it when people engage at the intellectual level. I love it when we have to consult with our people to know what they want and we go to the floor of parliament to argue our position and convince others on the need to see things from our perspective. A Leader does not only take his people to where they want to go, you lead them to where they ought to be. That is the engine room of democratic governance – the parliament is the place to be. I have heard people describe it as the old people’s home. I beg to disagree with respect. Parliament also provides a wider circumference of operation. If there is one thing we need as a people in this country today, it is the ability to know ourselves and understand ourselves. When I get to the Upper Legislative Chamber in 2023 by the Grace of God and the power of the good and progressive people of Ogun East Senatorial District, I will have the opportunity to synergize with other great Nigerians from other parts of Nigeria. This type of synergy is the type you get in international relations – the synergy of mutual benefit for all the state actors. In the last four decades, i have watched with keen interest, robust Parliamentary debate in the UK with the interest of the citizenry being the focal point. The Upper Legislative Chamber is certainly the place to be, my brother.     

 

 

Many will insist that democratic governance has underperformed generally since 1999... why do you think this is so?

 

Ans: Again, I want to disagree with profound respect to those who put forward that view. In the 1st instance, I need to see their data for comparison. Part of the challenge that is fueling that conversation is beer parlour gossips and conversation that is lacking in empiricism. Let the critics provide their data and let us run the numbers scientifically and see where the scale tilts. Are we talking about military system of government that is 100% dictatorial, a take it or leave it situation? Are we also in romance with monarchy, anarchy or fascism? I align here with the late sage – Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who was one of my political mentors, who said  “that of all systems of government man has developed, the most reasonable and viable amongst them is democracy, the shortcomings notwithstanding”. Coming back to your question in terms of underperformance of democracy. Again, you want to find out what the people expect in democracy which has not been provided. I recognize the fact that we have some challenges but let me tell you this, the western democracies that we are using as a basis for comparison today fought bitter destructive wars to get to where they are. Read the history of Europe, America, Japan etc and you will see the number of wars they fought before they got to their current location in life. What we are going through are all pangs of nation building. It is an inevitable stage in nation building. The need to lessen the burden of nation building is what has driven persons like me into politics so that with our experience, education and exposure, we can reduce the down time in our march towards an egalitarian society.     

 

As an insider now and based on experience...why is Nigeria unable to fulfill the vast potential for which she is widely acknowledged?

 

Q5: 1st is to adopt my answer to the last question as part of the answer to this question. The 2nd point to be made in response to the question is that society has become very large and we have not exploited other natural resources, which has pleased God, to endow us with. Instead, we have concentrated all our attention on just one, which is crude oil or the black gold as some people describe it. Unfortunately, because of error of judgment and associated issues, we have not taken full advantage of this black gold, it has now become for us what scholars have described as the resource curse. It is also important to mention here that we have also allowed too much of divisive mundane issues to come to the fore, much more than the things that unite us. But as I said, all these are indicative of our growth and development as a people and as a nation. With a little bit of perseverance and cross-border synergy, all these things will become part of our history and those alive then to tell the story will wonder how we were able to exist as a people with all the challenges that came our way. Post internet and GSM children are still wondering how we were able to cope without those facilities. I am still wondering myself.

 

Do you think Nigeria needs constitutional reforms to address the issues surrounding resource control, restructuring of the federation, local governments etc?

 

Ans 5b). I have heard that debate about Constitutional Amendment so many times and I align my humble self with the proposition that the Constitution requires amendment for the simple reason that as society grows, the regulatory instruments must also grow along with it, otherwise, there will be a distortion that can slow down our societal development. Take for instance the quest for State Police and Local Government autonomy. I think we have reached a stage in our nation where this amendment has to be done. Kudos to the brains behind Amotekun in Western Nigeria today. They may not be as sophisticated as we want that outfit to be but that notwithstanding, we have used one stone to kill two birds. One, we have increased the awareness on security. 2ndly, we have found for some persons a little source of income that can keep body and soul together. As my Ijebu brethren will say – were were witititi san ju witiwiti wape (meaning little by little is better than rushing and crashing). In the course of serving as the Special Assistant to the Hon. Minister of State for Education on Projects, I have come to see that Nigeria is truly large and as such we need to drop some powers so that the people can use it to their own benefit. Do you know how long it will take you to travel from Abuja to Kontagora or from Abuja to Ijebu or from Abuja to Calabar even if you are doing it by air or speed rail? We certainly need to deepen that conversation but it must be in an atmosphere devoid of witch-hunting. There is beauty in our size. it is intimidating, it is of immense advantage in terms of commercial value. Nigeria is the investor’s destination at any time of the day. But we need to get some things right and our laws remain one of those things we must deal with decisively for the investment space to be opened.

 

 

Looking at legislative performance...what areas can you say are lacking? Has the NASS being able to act as an effective check to the seemingly overarching powers of the executive? Some have said that the legislature is a mere rubber stamp...what are your candid views on this.

 

Ans 6: Now this is a cocktail of questions. I will attempt to respond to all of them briefly. On the issue of legislative performance, I think we must salute the legislative arm of government for providing the necessary support that other arms of government require for their optimal performance. One trap that we fall into easily is that the legislative arm of government is only effective when it is travelling on the opposite direction with other arms of government. This is not only erroneous; it is also fallacious. Take the issue of ministerial appointments for instance, but for the legislature, do you know the kind of characters that may have been brought into administration to run the government of the state or the federal? Arising from this position, the issue of rubber stamp is therefore a label that I consider to be unfair for the legislature. Take the Buhari administration for instance, even when the leadership of the lower and upper Legislative arm of government are from the ruling party at the Executive level, there are instances where the legislative arm of government has rejected some propositions from the Executive arm of government. A case in point is the nomination of Onochie as INEC commissioner. The legislature rejected the nomination for the number of times the Executive proposed the name.

 

On a personal level, what do you think makes you highly qualified to run for Senate?

 

Ans7: There are several factors that make me highly qualified to run for this position. The 1st that I have been constitutionally empowered to do so. 2ndly, I am not just a Nigerian, I am also proudly and happily of Ijebu stock. Furthermore, I have had years of service both locally and internationally. If I can excel in service in foreign land, then the least I can do is to replicate that good service that I delivered in foreign land in my own. What is more. I am better exposed and experienced more than before. The errors I made at the start of my public/working career can never be made again.    

 If or when elected, what would be your priorities? What sort of bills will you be introducing?

 

Ans 8: Let me set the record straight, I’m on a divine mandate to bring succor to the people of Ogun East, I have also paid my dues and I’m well loved by my people, therefore, there is no issue of if elected! It is when. Now to your question, there are quite a number of issues we need to deal with and some of them will include but not limited to what I will personally want to see done through legislative interventions. Some of my personal views are currently revolving around such things like Education Reform, Sanctions for any State refusing Local Government Autonomy, Compulsory Provision of basic amenities (portable water, electricity, healthcare, social housing et al), State Police, Restructuring of NYSC, Decentralization of Federal Powers, removal of the dichotomy between State and Federal roads – all roads are on State lands…. I can go on   

 

Looking at your constituency Ogun East...what are the key issues here? What sort of programmes will you sponsor to deliver the so called Democracy dividends?

 

Ans 9: The 1st thing that I will pursue vigorously is how to liberate my people from the strangulating shackles of economic and mental poverty. These two issues make other things thrive. Poverty of the pocket and the mind drive crime and several other anti-development issues in the society. Through a series of programs, I will pursue this project vigorously. In concert with the Federal / State governments and Private investors, I will light up Ogun East within 4years. I already have my blueprints. There MUST not be any child (5-17yr old) roaming the streets of Ogun East or at home during school time. Teachers’ welfare is also part of my priority – every TRCN registered teacher in Ogun East will be proud to be in the profession within my first 2years of being elected. Human Capital Development is the fulcrum of development. It is therefore imperative that a lot of premium would be placed on capacity building.

Please take note of my promises and confront me with them as at when due. 

 

There's been a lot of controversy about constituency projects...main argument is that legislators have no business awarding contracts and that a lot of money is stolen...what will be your justification for the continuation of this regime?

 

Ans: 10: There is nothing wrong with the concept of constituency project. The project earmarked for a constituency is intended for the development of that constituency. Democracy is about who gets what, where and when. Constituency project is also supposed to help speed up the pace of development. What we therefore need to look at is how to make people become more accountable for whatever they have done in contrast with what the law states. 

 

Looking at elections proper, what ways do you think Nigerians can have free, fair and credible elections?

 

Ans 11: Free and fair election is a product of strengthened institutions. And democratic institutions include a free and responsible media, unfettered judiciary, an electoral umpire that is independent, a vibrant and effective communication architecture, etc. Once all democratic institutions are strengthened, elections will be free and fair. I must however say that we have improved in the area of electoral management. You don’t want to know what happened in the NPN/UPN days when ballot boxes where openly snatched. There has been immense improvement in our electoral management systems. I trust that in the years ahead, more improvement will be forced on us by our realities.   

 

I must mention the role of money. While acknowledging that campaigns are expensive, vote buying is a problem... stomach infrastructure as it is called...why is this a major strategy for winning by the political class? Is it a function of poverty or ignorance among the electorate?

 

Ans 12: In response to one of the questions you raised, I clearly stated that two major issues that I will pursue with unrestrained vigour are economic and mental poverty. Those two factors fuel money politics in our country. When a man has not eaten, his thinking is skewed, it becomes so warped that he or she is unable to have a clear-cut thinking. Until you cure him of that hunger, nothing else is meaningful to him.      

  

There's a lot of anxiety in the build up to 2023 as usual, how do we douse tension especially within party ranks as people jostle for positions?

 

Ans 13: Tension is an inbuilt feature in any form of contestation. As the day of the political contest draw near, gladiators and spectators become apprehensive and worried about their position not because of anything other than the fact that in any competition, humans get worried. Even on the day of marriage, the man and the woman are apprehensive – will she come or she has changed her mind? The woman too will be asking herself silently whether she has taken the right decision and whether the man will not change his mind over night and put her in a state of shame. In the case of Nigeria, our tension is further accentuated by the fact that we run an expensive electioneering campaign. Democracy all over the world – whether in the US, Great Britain, Germany, Russia, etc is not cheap. Therefore, when the reality of losing so much money as a result of the loss of the election hit you, there is bound to be tension. But we can douse this from different perspectives. 1st is that our language of campaign must be devoid of belligerence. We must also find a very creative and innovative way of cutting down the cost of electioneering campaigns. It is also very important for us to look at the process of how party flagbearers emerge. The idea of direct primaries looks like a strategy that will help remold some of these tendencies.     

 

Do you support direct primaries?

 

Ans 14: It has its own benefits that we can examine again and again. Allowing party flagbearers to emerge through direct primaries underscore the concept of power belongs to the people. I think it is an idea that has some utility embedded in it. 

 INEC has introduced lots of reforms to the voters registration and polling procedures...relying more on technology...do you see this as sustainable given that lots of voters are not tech savvy or even literate?

 

Ans 15: I have no issue whatsoever with the enovations that INEC has introduced into our electoral system. They are welcome developments. I fully endorse them. It is also important to state the need for INEC to continue to research into ways and means of further improving on the current height the body has attained. Give a few years more, some negative things commonly associated with election and the entire electoral process will be impossible in this country. So, we must give credit to INEC for their efforts to give us an electoral process that is error free, an electoral system that is so sound and reliable that contestants will find it unnecessary to approach the judiciary for any form of adjudication because the process will not only be transparent, the outcome will simply be acceptable by all and sundry. 

 

What sort of legacies would you want to leave behind as a politician given that a lot of Nigerian politicians are forgotten as soon as they leave office?

 

Ans 16: I want to do those things that will last from one generation to the other. In the next 50years, Chief Obafemi Awolowo will still be remembered in this country because of the positive ways he affected the life of his generation and future generations. The legacy I want to leave is the legacy of selfless service like that of the likes of Aminu Kano who was an apostle of talakawa politics, the politics and service that take people out of the dark ally of mental and economic poverty.

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