The All Progressives Congress member, representing Lagos West Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Olamilekan Adeola, speaks on the controversies surrounding his current political endeavour among other issues
Why do you think you should represent Lagos West Senatorial District again at the federal parliament in 2019?
I am seeking a second term in the Senate because the business of lawmaking requires a lot of experience, exposure and ideas. The legislature is a major instrument that gives democracy its definition. Without the legislature, there is no democracy. There is the need to deepen our legislature and the only way we can achieve that is to ensure that only the experienced and exposed people are sent to the National Assembly. I was a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly for eight years; I also represented the state at the House of Representatives before I was elected into the Senate. So, the experiences that I have gathered over the years, qualify me above other contestants to give the people of Lagos West a quality representation at that level. Looking at those indices, and my reasons, it will not be a bad idea if Lagos West, which happens to be the largest senatorial district in Nigeria, in terms of population, has somebody of over 20 years of legislative experience, represent them at that level.
Your opponents claim that since you are not from Lagos State, you don’t have the right to represent Lagos West at the red chamber. What is your reaction?
I am an Awori man by extraction. I hail from the Yewa Awori axis of Ogun State. The headquarters of Awori is in Ado Odo-Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State. It was there that all the Aworis started migrating to areas like Idimu Awori, Igando Awori, and to other places. For that singular reason, being an Awori man, there is no way that anybody can claim that I have no lineage that has to do with Lagos. Apart from that, I hail from Ishaga in Ogun State. We have Iju Ishaga, Isolo Ishaga and Ipaja Ishaga in Lagos State also. Indigenes of all those places are migrants from Ishaga in Ogun State, who decided to settle in Lagos.
By virtue of the constitution of Nigeria, your state of origin is still Ogun….
I was born in Lagos State. I don’t think the issue of state of origin should be our major concern for now. The issue should be to find out whether the person seeking to represent Lagos West in that capacity is competent or not, to carry out the onerous assignment. The people of this senatorial district know who has the competence and capacity to represent them and they will surely determine that through the ballot. Our aspirations are still at the party level for now. It is after the issue of primary has been concluded that we will know the candidate.
Why did you attempt to contest the governorship election in Ogun State since you claim Lagos by virtue of the fact that you were born in the state?
I never attempted to contest governorship election in Ogun State, I only consulted. There is a difference between consultations and the actual contest. I have to declare before I could contest. I have not declared for governorship of Ogun State but I have carried out wide consultations across the length and breadth of the state. However, after my consultations, I did a review of all that transpired. I sat down and pondered whether to forge ahead with that aspiration or remain where I am. I chose to stay where I am and contest the Lagos West Senate seat again in 2019. Since that is my position, I have not run afoul of the law of the land.
What did you gather in the course of your consultations that made you abandon your governorship ambition for a second term in the Senate?
Consultations are at different levels. It happens at the top, middle and lower levels. Maybe consultations at the lower and middle levels are okay, it might not be okay at the top level. As for those who are insinuating something else, where were they when we stood our grounds and defended Lagos State with all our powers? At a point, those who are claiming to be Lagosian than any other person once threatened to sacrifice Lagos. They even, at a point, offered to hand over Lagos to non-Yoruba as governor but we stood our ground. We fought the battle against all odds. It is now that we have successfully fought and won the battle that some people are now claiming to be more Lagosian than we are. I have always been in the progressive camp throughout my political career. I have never crossed to other parties with a different ideology. It will be difficult for anybody, who has once dumped the progressive camp, to return and hope to be accepted by the progressives because Lagos is the hub of progressive politics in Nigeria.
Since some members of your party defected to the Peoples Democratic Party in the Senate, there have been series of arguments on which party is now in the majority. What is the situation?
It is highly unfortunate that some members of our party had to defect to other parties. Their decision is more of internal politics. Some of the senators have issues with their governors. Their reason for defection has nothing to do with the performances or achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari. As of today, APC is still in the majority both in the Senate and House of Representatives.
We went to the APC caucus meeting after the lawmakers defected on Tuesday for about two hours. We did headcount at that meeting, using the list of the 109 senators. By the time we crosschecked our data, we noticed that 52 members are still in the APC, 50 members are PDP, as of that day, three members were ADC, two APGA members and there are two late colleagues. We were invited by the President on solidarity visit, the second day and it was there that one of the defectors, Senator Lanre Tejuoso, joined us and declared to the President, “Sir, your son is back.” That brings the total number of APC senators to 53. If we include his name. The vacant seats of the deceased lawmakers belong to the APC strongholds in Bauchi and Katsina states. The by-elections will he held between 25th and 26th of August. By the time the APC candidates are declared the winners. Our figure will shoot to 56. The fact that we are still in the majority is not controvertible at all.
Going by the gale of defections, don’t you think that the APC will lose the 2019 presidential election?
During the last election in 2015, APC failed in the South-East and South-South. We won in the South-West, North-West and the North-East while the North-Central was a battleground but we still won.
Before now, we only had one senator from the South-South but the number has increased to six. We had one senator from the South-East, but the number had increased to four and more people are still coming. I also agree that the incessant killings that are taking place in the North-Central might affect our chances there but I know that the President Buhari administration is working round the clock to, at least, put a stop to the killings that are happening in the country. Despite all these, the people of South-West, North-West and the North-East will vote for the APC. We would have our own share of the electorate in Niger, Nasarawa, Kogi, Plateau and Benue states while we will win convincingly in Kaduna State. When we put all these into consideration, by and large, I still see APC winning the election. It is, however, very important that our leaders in the APC should leave the politics of the National Assembly the way it is and take it that the 8th National Assembly has gone. We should all go back to the electorate and campaign, based on our performances.
The three senators from Lagos State rejected the nomination of Mr. Muiz Banire (SAN) as AMCON board chairman. Is it because of his disagreement with the leadership of the party in the state?
Our rejection of his nomination is based on principle. It is purely the decisions of the senators from Lagos State based on a petition that was laid before us. After a careful analysis of the contents, we believe that more investigations should be carried out before taking a position on the slot given to our state in particular and the South-West region in general.
What if the Senate leadership and the party overrule the position of the senators and clear Banire for appointment?
We are not in support of his clearance for now. The rule of the Senate is very clear on this. For any appointment, irrespective of the position of the nominee, senators from his state of origin must sign to show their approval for the appointment. The Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges is currently investigating the petition alongside the three senators from Lagos State.
Will you support his nomination if the Senate panel clears Banire of any wrongdoing?
Why don’t you wait and see if that will be the order of the day. We respect the rule of law and we are guided by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. As such, we cannot impede or stampede the constitution or the rule or law of the land.
What if the President asks him to resume in acting capacity pending your probe of the petition, just like he did in the case of the EFCC chairman?
The President will not do that because the law, which established the AMCON board, is very clear. It states that there will be a chairman whose appointment shall be approved by the Senate. I agree that the EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu, was rejected by the Senate and the President appointed him in acting capacity, renewable after six months but such arrangement has a limit. These are part of the crux of the matter between the legislature and the executive.
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