Sunday, December 9, 2018 6:12 pm
Mr. Kayode Akinmade, a former Commissioner for Information in Ondo State and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party for the House of Representatives election in Idanre/Ifedore Federal Constituency, speaks on the 2019 polls and his agenda
What is your motivation contesting the House of Representatives seat?
My motive principally is to be a good representative of my people. For a period spanning two decades, l had worked as a practising journalist and media manager, particularly in the field of politics. l rose to become the Group Political Editor of the Nigerian Tribune. I also served as the Lagos Bureau Chief of the newspaper. During the period, l traversed the length and breadth of Nigeria as a newshound, interacting with the high and the mighty. This experience was to later catapult me to the National Assembly, where l was appointed Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Dimeji Bankole. That position gave me a lot of opportunity to really appreciate what is going on at the National Assembly and realise the challenges some members are facing in terms of providing quality representation.
I was able to understand the dynamics of Nigerian politics and its diversity. I realised that everybody at the National Assembly was fighting for their own interest. We have about 360 federal constituencies in Nigeria. Ordinarily, there should be equal rights among all members to the patronage of the Federal Government; but what I personally observed is that our people, especially in my constituency, the Idanre/Ifedore Federal Constituency, have been short-changed in the past years. Also, I witnessed, firsthand, the real politics of NASS and I can understand the problems confronting many that have hitherto got the people’s mandate to serve at that level. No doubt, my Idanre/Ifedore constituency has been short-changed.
In what way are the people being short-changed?
Perhaps due to the inability of some of our previous representatives to understand the dynamics within the National Assembly, we have been cheated. I can say without mincing words that between 2015 and 2017, the only money allocated to my constituency was N55m. That money came in 2015 and it was for the purchase of motorcycles. When you look at that, it is very ridiculous that my people were reduced to motorcycle riders in a federal constituency where we have competent and qualified graduates roaming the streets. At this critical juncture, there is a need for us to change the status quo and ensure that we get our rightful place in the country’s scheme of things.
You are contesting against the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, among others. What chance do you have, considering the fact that the Ondo State APC chairman is from the Idanre Local Government Area?
Everything is in the hands of God. The APC chairman and I are not from the same political party. He is well-respected in the community and I have a great regard for him. Nevertheless, if you look at the political history of Ondo State, the APC is just a new entrant. We were all aware of the happenings in the state two years ago that brought about the emergency of the APC. The people of Idanre and Ifedore, the two local government areas that constitute the federal constituency, have a rotation arrangement and if you look at those who have been representing us since 1999 to date, Ifedore has spent 16 years while Idanre had only four years. Most people in the federal constituency are of the opinion that this is the time for Idanre to produce the next person to represent us at the House of Representatives. This is to ensure equity and fairness in both local governments, established for decades. All political parties honour and respect this unwritten agreement.
The PDP had this in mind while presenting aspirants for the primaries and it is well-positioned to win any election. At the national level, we are ready. We have learnt from our past mistakes. We are well-repositioned and now using a template that will be difficult for any party to beat. Besides, election is about people. You will recall that our people have expressed some regrets in voting for the APC in the state, particularly when you look at it from the areas of infrastructure, unemployment and security. I can speak for Idanre/Ifedore and I know that on February 16, 2019, we shall be victorious by the grace of God.
Why do you think Ondo State has had poor representation?
As I mentioned earlier, some parts of the country got it right in the area of representation. I can talk about our friends from the northern part of the country. If they want to send people to the National Assembly, they look at their pedigree and they make sure they are the people that will protect and defend their interests. I can tell you that irrespective of their political divide, northern interest is northern interest. In the South-West, in 1999, we did very well during the period of the Alliance for Democracy when you look at the calibre of the people that represented us at that time. They were people who understood what the Yoruba wanted and they went for it.
What is your view on some lawmakers defecting to other party and abandoning the party on whose platforms they won elections?
I believe there should be stringent laws to prevent this type of thing from happening. When you are elected, you are not elected as yourself, you are elected under the platform of a political party and party supremacy is so important. We should try as much as possible to develop our political culture in such a way that money will play very minimum role in our party system. What we have now is people moving away from one political party to the other to pursue their political ambitions and there is no clear-cut ideology and philosophy. As a result of that, money bags, who believe that if they are not given space in a given party, will move away with their money to another party and try to take over power there. In that sense, they can’t have any loyalty to the party. If such attitude is not stopped, we won’t move forward politically.
•Credit: The Punch