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Vote buying will destroy Nigeria quicker than a civil war – Lasun Yussuff

By Guardian Nigeria
12 July 2022   |   4:09 am
That’s a disaster. If what happened in Ekiti happens anywhere again in Nigeria, I am sorry to say it, I am not a doomsayer, Nigeria is probably running the last race.

Former Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun

…What I will do differently if elected as Osun governor
Former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Hon. Lasun Yussuff, who represented Irepodun/Olorunda/Orolu/Osogbo Federal Constituency in Osun State for eight years, is the governorship candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in Saturday’s governorship election. He spoke with TUNJI OMOFOYE and TIMOTHY AGBOR on his agenda for the state.

Vote buying is prevalent in recent elections, especially in the just concluded Ekiti governorship election. Are you not concerned?
That’s a disaster. If what happened in Ekiti happens anywhere again in Nigeria, I am sorry to say it, I am not a doomsayer, Nigeria is probably running the last race. Sad to note that it has come to the level that before people elect leaders, they have to be paid certain amount of money. The people collecting the money did not know the implication on the society but people who paid the money know the implication. They know that they are not going to do anything and they are not going to be accountable to anybody because people have collected money from them.

There is nothing that will destroy Nigeria quicker than vote buying, not even the civil war. Vote buying is horrible, obnoxious and insane. I’m in an election that a winner is expected to have about 200,000 votes and if you are buying a vote for N10,000, that is N2 billion, not talking about what they will give the police, the area boys and others? And we think we are running a normal society? If I had that kind of money, and I know that I want to go and face somebody who can spend five or ten times of it, will I go and waste it? I wouldn’t. So, the danger is that the only people who will be going into election are people who are currently holding government position. Even if they are mediocre, that means you have stylishly perpetuated mediocrity. If they are idiots, that means you want to keep idiots permanently in government because there is no way that chain is going to be broken. 

Election is supposed to be held under a conducive and peaceful. Do you have fears about the July 16 election in Osun?
I don’t do my politics with area boys or thugs. You are in my campaign office and you can’t see a sign of any thug here. This was the campaign office some thugs came to attack about one and half months ago. People who use thugs in politics fall into different categories. The people who don’t have anything to offer the public, they just want power at all cost; they want power in a do or die way. Why will you distribute cutlasses, axes, and guns to people because you want to go into government? Are we at war? If we are at war, let’s know and everyone will be ready. But they said we are doing election and it is by thumb printing, how is that related to guns, cutlasses, axes and broken bottles? Whoever uses thuggery to go into election is deficient in mental capacity and is not likely to offer anything good when he gets there.

So, I don’t talk about it because I don’t use it. Those who used thugs and are preparing to buy votes are desperate and mentally deficient. They don’t have what it takes to be in government. They have turned election to a game of might and it has been proved several times that might is not always right. 

My expectation is that the people of Osun State should come out on July 16 and vote for their choice candidate. And they should not be cowed nor exercise fear because the only thing that kills before death is fear. Many people don’t achieve their goals in life because of fear. Don’t let anyone intimidate you by money or thugs. They are mundane things and they are never solution to life problems.

Why did you decamp from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to Labour Party (LP)?
I was a former member of that party that I will resist to mention its name. We founded the party together and in 2018, I contested the governorship primary election on the platform of that party, and as at that time, the contest was heavily skewed against me. In fact, people have forgotten in a hurry that the issue of either direct or indirect primary started in Osun APC and simply because of me. At that time, it was obvious that if we were to do delegates election, I was going to win, so they concocted a lot of methods to make sure that the thing didn’t go my way.

People didn’t want to agree to the fact that because the primary was rigged against me, the party didn’t win that election on the first ballot. They pretended as if I was nobody.

I wanted to be Speaker of the House of Representatives, they said it was not for people like me; I didn’t know what they meant by that. They said I was a bushman. Some even thought I was not educated, when in actual fact, I am better educated than all of them put together. And that’s why I have always been requesting to have a public debate with these people who think they are educated. Let’s tell Nigerians what we know about politics and what we think we can do if we are in government.

They wanted to rule me out and lo and behold, I eventually emerged as the Deputy Speaker of Nigeria. And the Deputy Speakership of Nigeria is not about the Speaker choosing the Deputy Speaker, no, we both went through the same election. In legislative parlance, a Deputy Speaker is an alternate Speaker. It’s not that when the Speaker is not going to be around, he has to write a letter to you, no. 

I also fought for governorship and they denied me and I told them that they were not going to win that election without my hand in it, and they didn’t win the first ballot. People didn’t know that on the Monday that followed that Saturday’s election, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu talked to me twice using Senator Musiliu Obanikoro’s phone. He begged me to work for Governor Gboyega Oyetola. And he was the one who told me directly that if I did not know, that Oyetola is his brother and that ‘me that has been installing governors all over the country can’t even install my brother’. Those were the words of Tinubu.

If the man said he is too big now and can’t talk to people like us, I wonder. Gen. Alani Akinrinade (Rtd) called me and told me to go and work that he didn’t want other party to win in Osun. Former National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie Oyegun called me and said they pushed me out of the party but I shouldn’t worry, I should work for the party. But people are just grandstanding now and I don’t know why they are shoulders high. Very few people who are occupying the party now are true co-owners of the party, we have a lot of strangers there. 

How did I find myself in Labour Party? The top hierarchy of the party has been in constant talks with me for the past five or six years. And so, this time around, they came calling again. They actually came to offer me the governorship ticket. It was not that I left APC and was looking for where to contest. LP came to offer me the ticket after I left APC to be the candidate of the party and I know by the special grace of God, I am going to emerge victorious.

What is your agenda if elected as governor of the state?
My agenda is very straightforward. It consists of qualitative education, affordable healthcare, agricultural revolution and massive industrialization. Infrastructure is attached to all the four items that I have mentioned because people don’t know that infrastructure does not stand on its own. Infrastructure has to be attached to something. Like, if you want to build road, you build it, either because of population, or because of economic activities.

The kind of education we received is not same with what our children are now receiving and I keep giving a particular example. I wrote my WAEC, 43 years ago in 1979, and I made a Division one. Where I graduated from in 1979, for many years, that school didn’t present candidates for NECO. Education is going to take a priority level by making sure that I return the quality of education to what it used to be and improve on it. I will also provide affordable healthcare. I am going to make sure that within the radius of one kilometer, there is primary health system that can take care of minor ailments before you go to secondary level. 

The only way we can get out of poverty is through agriculture; there is no other way to it. I am going to do what I call massive agricultural revolution but there are two major problems attached to that. You must resolve issues about land ownership because people are just unnecessarily holding on to lands. We have to also treat the issue of land allocation and distribution. In Yoruba land 80 per cent of the land is being held by kings, and the remaining 20 per cent by families and landowners. We are going to convoke a meeting of traditional rulers and landowners to chart a way forward on how to acquire the one we need from them. We will be looking at between 25,000 and 59,000 hectares of farmland in the first four years located in different places.

After that, we shall go to the House of Assembly to have a law that will back up that acquisition because one of the major problems most states have is that the House of Assembly is not actively engaged like National Assembly that is running the government of Nigeria. How many times have you heard House of Assembly engaging a governor over the budget? But you will discover that in the case of the Federal Government, there is always a face off between the executive and legislators over budget ad other matters.

How will you expect the state’s revenue to have resources to fund your proposals?
I am going to address the issue of funding by deliberately creating wealth. And when you create wealth, you create an economy or you create an economy to create wealth. That’s why I said if I take agriculture, I will make sure that my agricultural revolution in Osun can write a budget of N500 billion within the first four years and I will make sure that Osun economy in the next four years, can hit a trillion naira mark.

One thing about economy is that you have to know it but the people who are there now don’t know it. If they know, they shouldn’t be waiting for the Federal Government allocation to administer the state. You can only do that for a short period of time. For example, if Osun budget is N150 billion, out of it, as a government, you must be able to invest between N20 and 40 billion. When I am talking about investment, I am not talking of buying of shares; I am talking of core sector of the economy like agriculture in a value added chain. If you do that consistently, you know what it means. An investment of N10 billion by a state government should be able to generate a minimum of 10,000 to 20,000 jobs. If it’s well managed, it will create ripple effect and the multiplying effect on the economy will be huge.

About 15 parties are contesting the governorship election, what is the prospect of LP?
I, Rt Hon Lasun Yussuff, as the governorship candidate of the Labour Party, is going to win the July 16 election. People in other party, they know. This is thing is about what do you have in your head and what you have done in the past.

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