‘Sanwo-Olu’s government will ensure performance of councils’
Mr. Seye Oladejo is Publicity Secretary of Lagos chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC). He spoke with SEYE OLUMIDE on how the party hopes to build infrastructure and improve administrations of local councils
How do you see your new appointment having served as a local government chairman, commissioner and special adviser to a governor in the past?
It is a call to service at another level of partisan politics. I actually started serving as a member of the executive of the party at the grassroots way back in the days of Alliance for Democracy (AD) in Ward H1 as the secretary of the ward and later publicity secretary for Mushin Local Government Area. I have been in government, serving as Secretary and later Executive Chairman of Mushin Local Government Area, Special Adviser on Commerce and Industry and Commissioner for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Relations and now this. So, it is a call to serve on many levels. It is an opportunity to further contribute to the growth of the party, to leverage on the success of my illustrious predecessor who held this office with honour and good performance.
Is there any synergy between your office, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, and Chief Press Secretary to the governor?
There is a very thin line between those offices to the extent that you realise that the roles are intertwined. Part of my duties is to also promote the policies of the government, market their policies, programmes and projects with a view to enlightening the general public and also drawing the attention of government regularly to those electoral promises that we made that gave us victory and the same thing applies to the House of Assembly.
For instance, as soon as we were done with the inauguration, the very first telephone call I made was to the Commissioner for Information in the state, Mr. Gbenga Omotosho, requesting to meet with him for us to have a heart-to-heart discussion about things in governance and the importance of regularly briefing my office about activities with a view of disseminating information, not only to party members but to the general public as well. Let me say, each governor or head of government has his own style of doing things and it reflects in the government’s activities. Our governor is not known for propaganda and stuff like that and I want to see him as someone who will want the performance to speak for him.
There is a perception that local governments are not as effective these days, as it used to when you served as Mushin Council chairman…
Interestingly, the Ministry of Local Government has a supervisory role to play in the local government administration in the state and I am sure the body is doing that. Local government remains the closest to the grassroots; so, the impact remains germane in our kind of democracy. If at any time in the past we found them not doing so much, it could also be a function of availability of resources. Lagos State Government, to the best of my knowledge, has not in anyway hijacked the roles of the local government and I believe they will also be privy to this interview and they will be up and doing in the days ahead.
But people at the grassroots also have a duty to bring the attention of their local government chairmen to issues and problems in their various localities so that they can be addressed. But you will also agree with me that the enormity of the problems confronting the local government oftentimes is beyond what the local government chairmen can handle. So, you found out that sometimes they need to approach the state government for assistance but that should not be misconstrued for hijacking their roles in any way.
The activities of non-indigenes are gradually becoming a challenge the party must address carefully. What are your plans to ensure that you drag more people into the net of Lagos APC?
Clearly, you will agree with me that APC is a national party. We have presence in every nook and cranny of this country. We have presence in every state. In Lagos State cabinet, we have cabinet members who are from the Northern part of the country. My immediate predecessor, Mr. Joe Igbokwe from Southeast is also a member of the cabinet. All those appointments send a very strong signal by giving a sense of belonging. And we will continue to engage and appeal to people from other parts of the country to let them see the reason why we all have to be in the progressive family to move the state forward. The state government has been doing well even before now and we remain a benchmark for assessing good performance in governance over time and with this conviction they will also see the reason why we also need to work together way ahead of the election. The relationship shouldn’t be about the election; it should be a relationship that has to be continuous and we need to build that understanding as we build-up to the next coming elections and you see that the results will be different.
How is the party managing the influx of defected Lagos PDP members into its fold?
If a party is successful, you will find such things happening. We have a party here that claims to be a national party that has finally been in opposition in Lagos State; there is nothing to celebrate. The party is in disarray; the leadership is not cohesive. They cannot bring the members together; they cannot motivate and inspire people toward continuing to be members of that party. And here we have APC that enjoys widespread acceptance and state government is performing in leaps and bounds. So, naturally, that will attract more people into the party and those people too will come with ambitions, naturally. You won’t find politicians who don’t have ambitions. There is a template within the APC family through which we will be able to manage whatever is going on in the party so that we will ensure that we do not have any crisis. And you know for primaries and elections, it is either open primaries or through consensus, and overtime, we have been able to manage all these and earned the success stories we have. So, we will continue to encourage people to come to the APC squad.
What is the party doing to build its youth wing in Lagos State?
The youth wing of any party remains the strongest part of a party because those we referred to as youths constitute the majority of people within the voting age. So, any serious party will want to pay attention to ensuring that we are able to successfully persuade those youths to take politics from our own angle, so to say, and make sure we bring them into the fold. Oftentimes, people say the future belongs to the youth. I am not an advocate of that; the future is now. A good number of us were opportune to start a bit early coming to public life, political struggle and the rest of it. A good number of people you find in positions now started with student unionism way back and definitely I should be at the forefront of the advocacy for more youths to come into the fold. Coming to the fold also means that we need to provide opportunities for them like empowerment and ensure that through the various programmes of government and policies, we are able to inquire and motivate them that this is where hope lies and they can see it in physical terms, with people of their generation benefitting. That will encourage them and inspire them to want to remain within our fold.
What can be done to improve and strengthen the performance of INEC?
INEC is part and parcel of what I will call Nigeria’s problem, problem by different strata of the society. And I think at whatever level any Nigerian finds himself, the commitment to nationhood, to patriotism at any time should not be compromised. INEC, having conducted several elections and gone through different scenarios, should make this experience come into play in conducting elections. You will agree with me that some of the pitfalls can be avoided, like not collating results knowing fully well they don’t have certain powers and somebody ending up in court and the court having to intervene. All these issues could have been avoided. But you will notice that all these errors were not deliberate to the extent that they favour any of the political parties. You find the situation in Zamfara and Rivers states and now Imo State; I think they need to learn from those errors so that we can have the confidence of the major players in the electoral process and, of course, the general populace to know that moving forward our democracy is growing. But whatever the case may be, we can only learn from past errors and build from there.
What is your take on the agitation for zoning, which is currently generating issues ahead of 2023 presidential?
It is too early to start discussing zoning toward 2023 elections. But there is something that is not too early; it is not too early to start looking at Nigerians with pedigree, Nigerians with a capacity based on experience and exposure to move this country forward. We know the country is in need of very critical surgical operation and it is not until 2023 that we will start identifying individuals who have that capacity to give us what we want and ensure that Nigeria fulfills its potential. So looking at zoning, I am not talking about zoning here. I am talking about identifying that person that can take us there.