2019 will be more about personalities than parties—Abejide
Elder Leke Abejide is the House of Representatives candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) for Yagba Federal Constituency. He told RALPH OMOLOLU AGBANA that only candidates with good vision would win in 2019.
With your success in business, why did you go into politics?
I felt having taken it upon myself to help my people, I should be able to do more through direct participation in politics. This was after so much pressure from home that I should run for election, so as to liberate them. I yielded to the pressure in 2015, and contested for the
House of Representatives ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Unfortunately, everything went wrong, as I found myself in an unfamiliar terrain, where deceit reigned supreme. I lost the ticket. Everyone close to me knew what went wrong. I decided to quit because of the level of insincerity that I experienced in my first attempt. I am not a politician in the real sense of it. So, I decided to retire from politics, but my associates at home would not let me have my peace. They said things like: “You cannot just quit like that.” “You cannot afford to abandon your people and watch them suffer.” “You are part of the problem if you quit.”
Personally, I hate lies. It is a straightforward deal where I was coming from. Unfortunately, politics is all about lies. You can see why it is not complimentary to call someone a politician. As a politician, everyone thinks you are a liar. That is why when I promised to pay WAEC fees for the students; people thought I was lying, until they saw it. Thank God I was able to fulfil my promise, even when I am not yet elected.
So, I am not fully a politician. I am an entrepreneur. I only know how to grow businesses. But now that I am in politics, I am not in it to make money. I am in it to better the lots of my people.Some of your opponents have criticised your gesture (buying WAEC forms for 2, 000 students), saying you did it for electoral gains…
Those saying this don’t know me very well. If they say it is because of election, let them do their own too because of election. In my manifesto, I included free WAEC fees for all final year secondary school students. But I decided to pay this year so that they won’t think that when I get to office, I won’t fulfil my promise. It was to show that when I get to the office, I would even do more.
I did this because of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s words that said, “If you want to help somebody, don’t give him money, give him education. Because whatever he knows how to do, he will do it better. The N40m plus spent on WAEC fees and administrative charges this year alone would have been a leakage out Yagba’s economy. But now, it was an injection. For the parents, the money they would have spent on WAEC fees can be used on other needs.
You chose to contest on ADC platform. What are your chances against the more established political parties like APC and PDP?
This time, elections will be more about personality, not party based per se. Depending on the way you look at it, it is either in practice; Nigerians have let down party politics or party politics has let Nigerians down. In 2019, the electorate will vote for only candidates with good vision and who will add value to their lives. Prior to 2015, a lot of us were looking at one party as the party to beat. But look at what has happened now. APC came and changed the game.
Unfortunately, the so-called game changers are not different. For instance, in my state where we condemned PDP’s misrule and voted APC in 2015, is it not APC that is in government now and our complaints are even louder than when PDP was ruling? Some are even saying yesterday was better than today.
I would advise the electorate to look at the person contesting an election. ADC is seriously making waves in Kogi State. As a party man, I wish ADC candidates win in all the elections, but that does not foreclose the right of the electorate to vote for the candidates of their choice in whichever party they may belong. As things stand today, I have supporters from across all political parties.
Do you think the conduct of 2019 polls will be an improvement on 2015?
No, I don’t think so. From its posture, the government of the day is not prepared for any improvement or for a free, fair and transparent election in 2019. In the few instances when we had local elections, there were cases of intimidation of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials, intimidation of voters, violence by hired armed gangs, as well as open display of partisanship by security agents.
We had a begging opportunity in our hands to improve on the electoral process through the electoral amendment bill, but see what happened. We are simply not ready for free and fair polls in Nigeria; it is mere lip service. We will continue to work hard and hope that people’s votes will count.
My appeal goes to the international community to show more than a passing interest and monitor the 2019 election closely. What we are hearing is not good news at all. But Nigerians must rise up to the occasion and defend their votes. I am optimistic that the rigging machinery put in place during by-elections and local elections will certainly not work during the general election. The 2015 election was not perfect, but it showed a good direction and a foundation to build upon. If we cannot improve on 2015, we must not slip backwards. If we miss it this time, only God knows when we will ever get it right again.
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