Adeola Adebanjo, UK-trained engineer, is the Labour Party (LP) candidate for the Surulere federal constituency 1 by-election on February 3 to replace Femi Gbajabiamila. In this exclusive interview with Iniobong Iwok, he spoke on his chances and plan for his constituency. Excerpts:
Why did you decide to join the race?
In 2022 I came out to contest the position of the House of Representative in this constituency for the Labour Party but other things and irregularities happened and about nine candidates of the Labour Party in Lagos including me were excluded from that general election.
I think Surulere was part of it; Kosofe was part of it, Ibeju Lejkki, Mushin among others.
I was unable to fly in that election, I was surprised that two day to that election when my people went to check the ballot materials at the INEC office in Yaba, my name was not there.
Shortly after that I went to court and tribunal to tender my case; I went to fight INEC and wanted to know why I was excluded and when the case was about to start was when Gbajabiamila withdrew after being made chief of staff.
I felt it was an opportunity for me to contest again and in 2023, I and two other people picked up the ticket and we went to the primary and I emerged the winner to become the candidate.
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There is a rumour of a crisis in LP in this constituency. What are you doing about it?
In every political group there is always a crisis once in a while, disagreement like that occurs especially from people when they think they are not benefiting from the system they tend to create faction.
In Lagos State as long as LP is concerned we only have one party under the leadership Dayo Ekong she is the chairman under the leadership of Julius Abure, the nation chairman all other factions are not recognised. The party also only has one national chairman at the moment.
Have you sorted the issue that led to your exclusion last time?
Yes. Presently, if you check the INEC portal a few days ago, my name was there. We have eleven people running for this election when I checked last time it was fourteen names that was there in 2023 election, but we were using court process to see that the complete names were uploaded but INEC originally uploaded the names, but with the court order we were hoping that INEC would upload the name which they did not.
But it is a different case now, my name is uploaded and I have gone for screening in INEC office, we have gone for a peace accord meeting. We are good to go, I am not sure we have any issue in court now.
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How confident are you of dislodging the APC candidate in the election considering that the party is in power?
Politics is a game of numbers and winning elections depends on how close you are to the grassroots, do you have what it takes in terms of numbers? Nobody is neglecting every vote count.
The former speaker has been there since 1999 but I believe there is always the need for new ideas and people for the development of the community.
The former speaker was there four to five times in which he did his best for the development of the constituency, but nobody has the monopoly of ideas and knowledge, I believe we the young generation have ideas to impact Surulere.
What ideas do you have to develop surulere?
Surulere is already a developed community, we have good light, roads and infrastructure, but one of the things I think we need to do in Surulere is to empower the youth.
Presently if you check the number of unemployment among the youth it is very high.
One of the things I want to do is youth empowerment which is leading to a high rate of crime and other things among the youth.
One of the basic things I want to do is to create jobs, if I’m elected I would help the youth in Surulere to be gainfully employed.
This should not be by the federal or state government alone, there are different ways they can be employed.
You can stay in your house and be earning money through technology and several other skill acquisition programs.
Through that you can stay in the corner of your house and be making money.
So, we would train youth, give them the material to use and create wealth so that when they are gainfully employed they too can train other people in that field and become excellent.
When you look at all these, ultimately we are finding solutions to the poverty in the country.
There is another LP faction candidate also in the race. What efforts are you taking to discuss this with him?
Politics is a number, as long as his posters and banners read Labour Party it is a plus because everybody has their followers and nobody is small and irrelevant in politics.
There is no small boy in politics, i have met him before and we talked, I told him anybody that emerged victorious with the INEC portal fine.
We all have to come together and work together. I know him, he is my brother when the appropriate time comes we would meet and talk things out.
What structure do you have on the ground to win?
I have structure on the ground here in Surulere, I am well known even my performance in the last primary, shows to the world that people know that I am consistent and my people have confidence in me.
I always believe that it depends on how close you are to the community, even my work so far to the people of this constituency has shown that I’m closer to the people.
What area of legislation are you interested in?
The legislature has a major role to make law that would have an impact on the lives of average Nigerians in terms of accommodation, job opportunity and tariff.
Also even in terms of engaging the private sector, electricity tariff reduction which is something our people are crying for, I would generally support law to make life better for my people.
People have said that Lagos should be given a special status. What is your take?
I believe the problem we have in Nigeria is status and class issues and is giving us problems. Until we get to a stage where everybody would see themselves as equal and that is when we would move forward, have equal rights to everything they are doing.
How are you going about the campaign?
We are ensuring that all our people will be touched. We are meeting with groups and with all the notable stakeholders and interest groups and the reception has been excellent so far.
We had an elaborate and colourful campaign launching some days ago, everybody was there including the party leaders and elected officials.
How can you convince people you are a worthy replacement for Gbajabiamila?
From my profile and what I have done over the years it is obvious.
Basically I have three critical points I am looking into if elected; Nigerians should look more and expect me to deliver purposeful representation if elected. We would look at health care.
Even if an insurance N2, 000 a year, it can be given to households in the constituency because it is not everybody that would be sick at the same time.
I am focusing on creating jobs, education and health care. I believe health is a major issue because health is wealth. We can work at making everyone have a health insurance scheme in the constituency.
We can also do work to empower the youth in the sport sector; we are lucky to have a stadium in Surulere. We can tap this to our benefit even the disabled people.
Also, there are different platforms we can use to discover talent among the youth; we can create sport festivals where budding talent is discovered.
We have football tournaments, we have stadiums in Surulere, we can use that to discover new talent.