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Ex-APC chieftain launches Iyepe 2023, quits party

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Lagos State House of Assembly


• Says Platform For Political Reawakening Of Lagos
• Lagos Assembly Speaker Axes Convener

The cosmopolitan nature of Lagos makes it both a commercial hub and strategic socio-political city. Being the most populous city in Nigeria with about 21 million residents, its 6.5 million registered voters helped to determine the outcome of the 2019 general elections.

Surprisingly, in spite of the fact that it is largely inhabited by working class population, records show that Lagos State had just 1,006,074 accredited voters or 15.5 per cent of the entire registered voters, during the last governorship election.

Some informed observers say the scenario does not augur well for democracy, stressing that there is need to change the trend moving forward, especially during the next general elections. It could be perhaps in a bid to change the narratives that a political platform, Iyepe 2023 was unveiled on Tuesday.

According to the promoters of the new political group, the movement is aimed at mobilising the people and raising their political consciousness. Speaking at the launch of Iyepe 2023, the convener, a former Lagos State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dr. Abdulhakeem Abdullateef, explained that it was established to galvanise residents to register and vote during the next general elections, noting that people’s apathy to the political process has posed the greatest challenge to turning things around positively for the country.

According to him, many Nigerians are poor and the country is not experiencing development, because votes do not count, just as the citizens show apathy towards the political process. While urging the residents to make a u-turn from being apolitical and demand that votes count, the former commissioner said only by so doing would Nigeria experience development and have truly responsible leaders.

    
He, however, contended that the people couldn’t be solely blamed for the widespread apathy to the political process, noting that those elected in the past have not truly delivered the dividends of democracy to them. Iyepe 2023, he explained, is not to drive political campaigns, since it is not yet time for electioneering, but to serve as a movement to raise the people’s consciousness to take their destiny in their hands.

Driving Force
ABDULLATEEF provided some insights on why the political forum was dubbed Iyepe, explaining that the Yoruba word Iyepe, in English means sand. He stated: “The choice of the word was guided by the philosophical meanings of sand. Sand is a symbol of unity, which reminds all humans that they are all from one man, Adam, who was created from sand. Therefore, a leader, who bears sand, will bring about unity among the people.

“One entire life story can be summarised in Iyepe (sand). The food, we eat is from Iyepe (sand) and it is returned to it. The books we read are from trees and the trees are from sand. Our accommodation and clothing are made from sand. Animals are from sand. This means we are nothing, but sand.

“Iyepe (sand) is the platform for the growth and development of everything in life. Without it, there can be no houses, no roads, no bridges, no plants or trees. Therefore, by being called Iyepe (sand) is to provide the platform for Lagosians to witness growth and development in their lives, as seed grows on sand and yields different fruits and crops. It becomes the host creating an enabling environment for people to realise their potentials.

“We are all created from sand and shall return to it. Iyepe (sand) reminds us that our stay in this world is temporary; therefore, we should do well in preparation for our hereafter. Every leader who understands that he or she is from sand and will return back to sand should dedicate the period in office to bring happiness to the people before returning to his or her grave.”

Abdullateef also stated that Iyepe (sand) is a symbol of humility, noting that when a Yoruba man says Yepere ara re, it means behave like Iyepe (sand), be humble. Also, when a Yoruba man says Re ara re nile, it means lower your pride like the sand. “A good leader who knows that he or she is Iyepe (sand) will always be very humble in his or her conduct.”

The former commissioner added that Iyepe is a sign of tolerance and accommodation, because the sand accommodates and tolerates all manners of things. “You walk on it, you defecate on it, you urinate on it, and you vomit on it. Iyepe (sand) accommodates. A good leader must accommodate people of all religions and tribes, regardless of their economic and social status.”

Further, he said sand is uncountable, therefore when the leader is good and has the fear of God; his followers will multiply and eventually become as uncountable as the sand. “Iyepe (sand) is also a sign of grassroots participation. It reminds the leaders of the downtrodden and the need to interact with people at the grassroots, because the sand is always on the ground. You are not far away from the people you are governing,” Abdullateef said.

After providing the basis for which Iyepe was picked as the forum’s name, he said the end destination of the mobilisation would be to aspire to govern the state to bring development, happiness and prosperity to the people.

Fairness, Balance
THE former commissioner said it is time for an Awori indigene to be given the opportunity to govern Lagos for the first time, remarking that people of Awori origin also have the requisite skills and experience to govern the state. Calling on Lagosians to join his political movement to turnaround the fortune of Lagos, Abdullateef assured that his leadership would represent justice and fairness for all, irrespective of tribe, ethnic or religious affiliations.

Speaking on his interest in the 2023 Lagos State governorship race tagged: “Iyepe 2023 with the slogan: “We fit do am”, Abdullateef said the thrust of his declaration was to create a movement aimed at reawakening the political consciousness of the populace. He said the menace of voter apathy was across the country, stressing that most Lagos residents seem to be losing interest in voting. He declared that time has come for residents to experience the best of what Lagos could offer in all spheres of human endeavours under his leadership as the governor.

His words: “Not so many people are involved in voting these days. You can see that the rate of voters has been going down in Lagos State. Out of about 24 million in Lagos State, less than 1.5 million voters participated in the last general election. So, there is gradual level of disinterestedness by the populace.

“We have started this movement to begin to raise political awareness, to begin to encourage people to have hope that we can have a transformation. I am the lead visioner. The vision to transform Lagos economy by the time we encourage more people to participate in politics, we believe things will change for better.”

On his capacity to tackle the multifarious challenges facing Lagos, Abdullateef expressed optimism, saying there is need for residents across the state to experience what Lagos could become when managed by good manager of human and material resources. He maintained that that confidence necessitated his intention to lead the state and give Lagosians pride of place in the management of their affairs.

“So, ‘We fit do am’ Foundation has been releasing several videos to encourage people to believe in the rule of law, to empower people, the youth, the elderly, the women, and widow; we have so many empowerment programmes,” he stated.

Cross Expectation
WHAT demands is Iyepe 2023 making on Lagos residents? “We expect Lagosians to know that nothing is impossible. We want them to know that a time is coming votes will begin to count.

“And when votes begin to count, we want them to ensure that they support the idea of bringing to leadership, people who have what it takes in terms of competence and commitment, as well as fear of God, that is what I represent.

“I believe I will have the support of the people when the time comes. Right now, it is not about campaign, it is a movement when we get to that we shall cross the bridge.”

On the clamour for an Awori indigene to govern Lagos, Abdullateef said the people of Awori should be given the chance to govern Lagos State, since according to him, “there are competent and committed indigenes, who can deliver on electoral promises, if given the opportunity to oversee the affairs of the state.”

He stated: “For a very long time, the Aworis have been disenfranchised. Nobody thinks of them, the questions have always been what do they know? Which school did they go, but which schools are they going that we have not attended? The Aworis are competent and qualified can deliver on electoral promises. Is it a sin to be an Awori? So, I believe an Awori will be given opportunity this time around.”

Voices Of Support
AT the event were residents, cultural and religious groups, who came to show solidarity and be part of the new movement.
Earlier in his keynote address on the occasion, Director, Muslims Rights Concern (MURIC), Prof Ishaq Akintola, said in Islam, leadership is responsibility, adding that the leader is a representative of the infallible God. He noted that some people erroneously see leadership role as a reward for hard work, honour or favour, while in essence, leadership is about being responsible, as according to him, a leader’s aspiration is to make the weak to be strong and the poor to be rich.

Akintola argued that since Lagos had gone to Epe, Surulere, Isale-Eko, it is now time for Lagos to go to Awori land, adding, “We are here to identify with a worthy Awori land son, who has all it takes to provide leadership.”

The MURIC Director stated that Lagos would never have any friction, if the Muslims support Christians, when it is their turn to govern Lagos and Christians support Muslims, when it is their turn to govern the state.

The launch of Iyepe 2023 raised eyebrows within the All Progressives Congress (APC). It was gathered that some APC leaders were not kindly disposed to the move, such that not long after the launch, the Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, fired its promoter, Abdullateef, from office as his Special Adviser on Religious Affairs.

But, apparently unperturbed by the development, Abdullateef, in a swift show of confident swagger, announced his resignation from APC. And, in a goodwill message to mark Nigeria’s Independence Day, he expressed gratitude to all his leaders, especially Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, whom he described as a great leader that fought tenaciously for democracy. 

“When I joined politics, he was there for me and assisted me greatly to occupy every enviable positions in the government. He has developed so many other individuals in very many capacities. May Allah, reward him abundantly. To all other leaders of our party too numerous to mention, may the good Lord continue to be with you.”

While extending his appreciation to all past governors he worked with, Abdullateef also apologised to those he might have offended, while switching support due to party loyalty.

“I appreciate the current governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who is really working hard to make Lagos State better. I urge all Lagosians to join hands with the governor to move Lagos to a greater height. 

“Speaker of the House of Assembly is a personal friend and brother, who has been very generous to me. Rt Hon Mudashiru Obasa, may the Lord continue to bless you. I appreciate your support and we shall remain brothers. 

“To all other members of our party including my mentor, Otunba Oladele Ajomale and the state Chairman of our party, Alhaji Tunde Balogun I pray that may our Lord continue to be with you.”

He explained that the Iyepe 2023 movement was launched because of his belief that the Nigerian Constitution allows freedom of expression and the rights of all citizens to participate in bringing about the needed transformation in all sectors of the economy. 

“I am an indigene of Lagos State and an Awori by birth. I therefore have a bounden duty to take positive steps, including admonitions and practical reorientation of our people towards the ideal society we crave for. My desire is to win the pleasure of my Lord, which no political position can replace and that is why I am not desperate.

“I will be totally fulfilled when I am able to make efforts to enlighten our people about good governance, welfarism, the growth and development of the youth, the care of the elderly, the growth of the private sector, the ideals of constitutional democracy and better lifestyles for the leaders and the led.” 

The Iyepe 2023 exponent observed that since some close leaders he respected rejected his movement, he decided to quit the party in order not to create disunity within APC.

He therefore pleaded that his followers left behind in the party should not be persecuted or victimised, saying, “I leave them all in the care of the Lord. I am more concerned about paradise and I am not afraid of death. I will continue to preach the word of God and invite all Nigerians regardless of their religion, colour and race to be determined to be different. We cannot continue this way.”


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