Hon. Kayode Akinmade, former commissioner for Information in Ondo state, is the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Idanre/Ifedore Federal constituency. He expresses optimism that the PDP is returning to power in the next year election. In this interview, he speaks on his plans for his people among other issues.
Q: What do you think is your party chances in winning the forthcoming election in the Idanre / Ifedore and the country as a whole
A: I can tell, you that the chances of PDP is getting brighter by the day and not only in Idanre/Ifedore and Ondo state but in Nigeria as a whole. As you can see the current administration in the country came in with a lot of promises but very unfortunately, none of the promises they made were met. They promised to provide security and we know what is happening around the country. In Ondo state, we know what is happening now, kidnapping has become the order of the day, everybody is afraid to go out even during the day. We never experienced this when PDP was around, though I cannot say there were no security challenges but the PDP government took critically measures to nip it in the bud. When you look at the issue of employment in the country now, many people who are gainfully employed in 2015, have lost their job as a result of no fault of theirs. It’s simply because the economy is badly run. We know the price of food items before they came on board, even the price of petroleum has gone astronomical. The cost of living is very high and Nigeria is now ranked top of the poverty-stricken countries in the world. This is an unfortunate situation. Today, many Nigerians have woken from their slumber and many are of the opinion that there will be change of guards not only in Ondo state but at the federal level because what we want now is good governance and quality development.
Looking at my federal constituency, what we are experiencing today is what I can refer to as poor representation. A situation where year in year out, federal government votes several trillion in budget proposal and it does not translate to better life in my own federal constituency is something of concern to me and it’s no longer acceptable. For instance, between 2015 and 2017, the only fund approved for my federal constituency in the federal budget of N7 trillion to N8trillion, was N55m. And this fund came in 2015 under the heading “purchase of motorcycles”. Isn’t it laughable that the only provision in National budget for our people is to motorcycle riders? We have qualified and competent graduates who are seeking employment that could not be found. We have dearth of infrastructure, no federal government project or federal government presence, no road and we are just left in the lurch as if we at not part of the federation. How can we have a representative and there was no single Kobo appropriated to the federal constituency in 2016 and 2017, this is unacceptable. What the people of the constituency are saying now is that we don’t want armchair representation that will bring underdevelopment to our area and what we want now is quality representation, someone who can lobby and attract better things for the people. That’s why the people of Idanre/ Ifedore federal constituency are unanimously rejecting this present regime and they want government of PDP who will be able to make life better for them.
Q: What are the things you hope to do differently for the people
A: If elected by the grace of God, I will provide quality representation and also defend their interest at all time. As a member of House of Representatives, l will provide quality representation to the people and in the course of doing this, one must be able to defend their interest and must be able to stand against injustice that may be melted to any member of your federal constituency. You must also be able to participate at the plenary and the Committee level to ensure that quality development are brought to bare in your federal constituency. Apart from this, you must represent them appropriately at different fora and identify their needs and ensure that their needs are taken into consideration in policy formulation and implementation in the country. Take for instance, because of the way we are running this federal system in the country, it is difficult to get a license for a quarry, you have to go to Abuja. We have so many rocks and other mineral resources deposit in this area, but very unfortunate the people cannot explore these resources because they cannot get the license in Abuja. Regrettably, the federal government, without due consideration on the environmental impact of the activities of these industries gave licenses to some people but by the grace of God if elected, we will protect the interest of the people living in that area so that their properties and lives are be secured. The other responsibility of a lawmaker is to also ensure that he contributes meaningful to debate in the National Assembly. That l will do. The National Assembly has the right by law to appropriate fund for all the ministries and parastatals of government and in the cause of this, due consideration must be accorded what comes to your federal constituency. I have said this in different fora that what we have presently is unacceptable, a situation where there is no federal road in Idare / Ifedore is not acceptable. A situation where we don’t have functional hospital, where our people are not given due cognizance in terms of employment opportunity is not acceptable to us, so this time around we are going to ensure that our people get what they deserved and we will also try as much as possible to ensure the injustice melted to us are reversed. Again, as a member of the House of Representatives, you’re also to ensure that you participate in oversight function, this is to ensure that the money allotted to specific projects are not diverted elsewhere.
Q: But don’t you see the State APC chairman from your area as an impediment to your election.
A: Everything about election and election victory is in the hand of God, and on election, nobody can play God and more importantly you will recall that when the APC won the last election , the Chief of Staff to the governor of the state, who is a PDP person, the commissioner for information, the Senator representing Ondo Central and some other government functionaries who are in PDP are from Idanre and when the APC won there was nothing anybody could do. Though the APC won by default , I can say I have a great respect for the APC chairman in the state but, the federal constituency belong to us and what is important is the development we can attract to our people. The question is, what have they done in the last three and half years that would now make our people to vote for them again. Even when our people mistakenly or erroneously through brainwashing voted for the so-called change in the last election, their expectation is that they will see positive change but what they are seeing today have shown them that they made mistakes and they are convinced that these people in government cannot cater for their needs and interest. I also want to stress that in this constituency there is a mutual understanding between the two local government areas that constitute this federal constituency. There is a power sharing arrangement on the House of Representatives . The arrangement is that we must rotate it between the two local government councils. If you look at it from 1999 till date , the Ifedore people have occupied the post for 16 years while Idanre only had four years, so everybody within the political arrangement of this federal constituency have agreed that it is Idanre turn. So, it is an agreement and not acceptable for anybody to present a candidate outside Idanre now, this will alter the arrangement that had been on ground and when you look at it , Idanre had conceded the slot to Ifedore for 16 years and collectively we agreed that now is the turn of Idanre and I believe that everybody from the constituency agreed with this arrangement. The PDP in Ondo state put all these into consideration when fielding candidates for elections and I believed that God willing, our party will be victorious in the next February general elections.
Q: The call for restructuring of the country seems to have taken the centre stage, do you think the country needs to be restructured at this present moment
A: For Nigeria to move forward, there is the need for us to sit down and look at some issues that have hindered our growth and development as a nation. One of the things that accounted for our underdevelopment is this pseudo federal system of government we are operating, when you look at it, you will observe that what we are operating today can be best described as unitary system of government. Looking at the nation’s 1999 constitution, it was drafted by military and foisted on Nigerian people and till today, there has not been any patriotic effort to rejig the constitution to meet the present reality. Federalism by definition, is the coming together of central and federating units, and what constitutes the federating units are the states. Again, there are certain functions that should be exclusively reserved for the government at the central. Matters which border on national security like currency, immigration, defense and a few others but matters of education, certain taxes and wages, agriculture and all others currently on the exclusive list ought not to be of concern to the federal government. The state and local government must necessarily take over such powers. What that means is that, currently so much money that should have been available to states to finance the education system have been given to some federal agencies. It is not acceptable, what is the function of federal government on agriculture? Agriculture is principally domicile in the local government areas, and communities that states preside over, and each state has its own comparative advantage in terms of agriculture produce, because there are some areas that are good for the planting of cocoa, some areas for yams, cotton, cassava, groundnuts and we must take comparative advantage of all these. But in a situation where some functions that should have also be shared between the federal and the state is exclusively given to the federal, does not make things work. For instance the issue of security, the best security is community policing, because if new people are coming into a community, people in that community know themselves and will be able to identify strangers and inform the appropriate authority but when you look at what is happening now, we have a situation where people in charge of security architecture in most states being people who are not from that state, with little or no understanding of the culture, the topography , chemistry of the environment. They can hardly speak the language of that community, and you want them to be efficient and effective . So, there is need for us to have a form of state police, many people have argued that if we have, state police that it is susceptible to abuse but are we saying that even with the present unitary cum federal police, some are not abusing the security apparatus at their disposal, or should we wait until when there is crisis? When we are talking of restructuring we are talking of a situation where every state will take advantage of their God given potentials and develop at their own pace.
Q: Solution to the security challenges the country is facing.
A: l think one major step for viable solutions is for us to embrace new security strategy model of addressing security issues. The new strategy must involve new technology that has helped other countries to curb crimes and other criminalities. A situation where the security agencies are not properly equipped to perform their obligations, these security men are not Angels and should not expect them to be everywhere but if they are equipped with modern equipments that will assist them to combat crime, it will go a long way in reducing the rate of crime such as kidnapping, armed banditry that we are experiencing now in our society . More importantly, we must also domesticate security by involving traditional institutions, landlord associations and our communities. This takes us to the issue of community policing, we can recall that shortly after independence in Nigeria when we have community policing, our society and environment is secured and safe, there is no stranger that can enter any community without being identified or traced to a particular person or place and if that person has sinister motive, it would have been nip in the bud. So there is need to domesticate our security, and more importantly we must also as much as possible remove nepotism, favoritism in our security architecture . A situation where somebody who cannot speak a particular language or dialect of a particular environment would be posted to the area as the head of the security, you have missed it from that point because for him to communicate and understand information he needs to understand the local language of that community. So, we must try as much as possible to change all this things in the interest of the country and one major thing is that our border is porous, we observed that most of the people that are committing these crimes are not Nigerians, some of them are from Chad, Mali and others but how did they come into this country and grow to become so ruthless with our people? Taking over the landscape without our security agencies having knowledge of it. It is therefore important to also motivate and provide technology that can assist the immigration authorities to do their job effectively because our internal security mechanism must be reviewed to be able to meet this present security challenges.
Q: Endorsement of the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku by Yoruba leaders
A: It is their prerogative and within their rights to endorse a candidate they know will be able to help to secure the future of their children. What we have in Nigeria in the last three and half years is a big tragedy where thousands of lives have been lost to the Boko Haram insurgency in the north east , the issue of Fulani herdsmen, kidnapping and others in a country that has a retired general as leader, with people in power and authority. If you visit the North Central, you will weep for the country called Nigeria. We had situations where some people were sleeping in their houses and all of a sudden armed men invaded their houses and torched it only to wait for them to come out and massacre them, when we are not at war, this is sad. We have also experienced a situation in Yoruba land when Chief Olu Falae was not only kidnapped but his farm was severally invaded and destroyed by these herdsmen and their cattles and nothing happened, if we don’t react to these, it is like sitting on a keg of gunpowder. So we want a government that will be transparent, a government that will secure lives and properties of the people, a government that will give equal right to every Nigerian, a government where people will have sense of belonging and not a government where people will be marginalized or will be killed and properties destroyed without regards to the law of the land. I am strongly of the opinion that the leadership of the Yoruba has taken the right decision and more importantly when you look at the calibre of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar , I think Nigerians deserve a leader who has a listening ear, a leader who has managed institutions and a leader who has contributed to the development of humanity and a leader that will see an average Nigerian as equal irrespective of where they come from and not a leader that will go out of the country and devalue and ignorantly de-market his own country . There is no country in the world that does not have its own challenges but a situation where the President believes every citizen is corrupt and always talks about Nigerians being corrupt any where he goes as if all Nigerians fall into that category, is to say the least, unfortunate. We want a President who will be able to address the issue of corruption and find lasting solution to it. We abhor corruption in all its ramifications, we have heard serious cases of allegations against senior officials in this government, but what happened to them? We have a case of a governor who was seen collecting bribe in dollars, what happened to him ? There’s is Maina case, the former SGF, and many others, what have we taken out of them.? We want a government that will be able to fight corruption and improve our economy and give Nigerians sense of belonging and the only government that can do it for Nigeria is the PDP government led by Abubakar Atiku.
Q: Refusal of Buhari to sign the new electoral bill
A: This is sending a wrong signal to all political parties in the country and even the international communities that the present government in Nigeria does not want free and fair election. The members of the National Assembly were elected by Nigerians to make laws and these lawmakers have seen some lacuna in the present electoral act, which l believe, the president has also seen and requested for amendment. The amendment is done and the president has refused to assent to it. I am of the view that the National Assembly should veto this bill to give Nigeria credible election, without the electoral act, it is doubtful and be very difficult for Nigeria to have free and fair election in February. A man who rode to office through credible election should also be able to give us credible election now that it’s time for him to leave office and the attempt to politicise this very act is unacceptable and should be challenged by all well meaning Nigerians.
Q: But some people are saying signing the electoral bill looks like changing pole during a football match, is not too late now?
A: It is not too late to sign the electoral bill. It is in the overall interest of free, fair and credible elections. Serious doubts have been expressed about elections so far conducted under this administration. From Kogi to Edo, from Ondo to Osun, all the bye elections were fraught with obvious malpractices. It has cast dark shadow on the ability of the APC government to organize and conduct credible poll. We are all aware what these amendments are. One of the major amendments is to ensure the use of card reader in all elections, if you look at all our previous election, 75 percent of people who voted in some parts of the country voted without using the electronic card, what that means is that those 75 percent votes are not genuine and could be challenged and for election to be credible the card reader must be able to capture everybody that voted in that election. A situation where we will be voting through other means other than the generally laid down legal arrangement, ie. without the card reader in some places is not acceptable, it gives room for fraud, rigging. The President has been briefed about this development at the initial stage and I am aware that in the last one year there has been friction between the National Assembly and the President, because they have sent the electoral act to the President more than three times and he was the one that requested for some amendments and I can’t understand the sudden volte face, why the delay in signing of the electoral bill, if he truly has the interest of this country and Nigerians and wants to bequeath credible electoral process to Nigerian, he must allow the electoral act as amended to stay.
Q: Do you see the National Assembly overriding the president on this bill
A: The law was passed by them initially and I believe they have the constitutional right and responsibility not only to themselves but the country to ensure that we have credible election come February 2019.
Q: Message to the people of Idanre /Ifedore federal constituency
A: Firstly I want to appreciate them for their support and to reassure that if elected I will not let them down, I will use the instrumentality of my legislative power to promote peace, stability, development and unity in my constituency and I will ensure that I defend their interest at all time.