Comrade Toyin Raheem is the Social Democratic Party (SDP) House of Assembly candidate for Agege State Constituency 11, Lagos as well as Chairman, Campaign Against Corruption and Bad Governance (CACOBAG). He spoke to EJIKEME OMENAZU on his aspiration and the need for change in the administration of Lagos State. Excerpt:
What motivated you to seek election into the Lagos State House of Assembly?
The interest of the people and the desire to contribute to the development of the country motivated me to be involved in politics. I have been involved in the development of the country in my little way. As a community leader and activist, I have been involved in several community development projects in my community in Agege area of Lagos. I belong to the Lions Club which emphasises selfless services. Thus, I have to be involved in political contest to be able to contribute of the society and people.
I discovered that most people in government do not use their positions to serve the people, but for personal aggrandisement. With political power, one can contribute to the development of the people. When I see that leaders lack knowledge, I have to be involved in political contest to change the system.
Why did you choose to contest under the SDP and not any other party?
I am a core Fawehinmist. I am a follower of the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi of blessed memory. I am also an activist. For you to be a Fawehinmist, you must first be an Awoist. All of us are Progressives, although we are in different political parties now. The Progressives want to make politics clean. We believe that the rule of law must be respected. For one to contribute meaningfully to the progress of the country, one has to be a progressive. I chose SDP as the only genuine progressive party in the country now. The word, Progressives, which is found in several political parties does not make such parties progressive.
Do you think that the SDP structure in Agege is capable of giving you the position?
Yes, what makes a political party is the people. SDP as a political party is populated by the masses. All of them may not be card-carrying members of the party. Most of the political parties are deceitful. Many people in some of the parties are there because of what they can get. But, those of us in SDP are committed people as seen from our manifesto. At every ward, we have enough people who believe that the system in Agege must change. People know me and what I represent. I have no fear that people will have me in their mind and vote for me.
What are your programmes for the people of Agege Constituency 11?
When you talk of governance, it is about the people. The constitution talks of security and welfare of the people. For me, the people come first. They are the beginning, the middle and the end of my aspiration. We will do things that will benefit the people.
My first priority is to tackle youth unemployment and empowerment. The population of the unemployed youths in Lagos in general and Agege in particular is alarming, especially of graduates. Many of them do not know what to do. The duty of a legislative house is to make laws for good governance. To reduce the effects of unemployment, government should be giving the unemployed some stipends. This will reduce crime and criminality and check hunger. I will raise a bill to the effect that people in Lagos should be getting unemployment benefits.
Secondly, I will influence the employment of people. I have been doing this as a private person. But, I will do more when I am elected.
How do you see the APC long rule in Lagos State?
Except for few individuals, APC is a conglomeration of strange bed fellows. Some people in APC are real progressives who could make the difference. But, they are not allowed. In APC, you have the rats, the dogs and the cats. If you put them together, they cannot be peaceful and cannot achieve anything. Look at how APC produces its candidates. The processes are farce and sham. APC, as a party, does not respect the rule of law and the constitution. It is not a political party, but an association of people of different ideologies, one of them trying to force itself on the others.
In terms of achievements, some of us disagree with the so-called achievements of APC in Lagos because there is no accountability. There is a lot of diversion of funds into private pockets. A lot of things going on in the state are shrouded in secrecy. No one knows the cost of projects. Even with the Freedom of Information Act, the government still does not make information available to some of us in the civil society. There is a lot of fraud going on in Lagos State government under the APC.
To what extent would you say the Agege people have enjoyed dividends of democracy under the APC?
The dividends of democracy people enjoy in Agege is one Derica of rice and tomato. Another dividend of democracy Agege people enjoy is watching European League matches free. The people in authority just established viewing centres for the idle and hungry Agege youths to watch free football every day. Why do we allow people to subject us to such an ugly situation? The roads are bad. Drainages are not working. Come 2019 elections, starting from Agege, the SDP government will bring real change in Lagos
Do you think Lagosians are ready to change the APC rule in the state?
Lagosians are ready for change in Lagos. But, there is a problem. The so-called ruling party believes in its “special strategy” of winning elections. Lagosians are now against them. We are working on their consciousness. In the past, people sit on the fence and allow people to rig. This will not be so in the 2019 elections. We are enlightening the people for everyone to participate in the elections. We must ensure that all votes count. Lagosians are tired of APC, its system, its lies and propaganda. APC cannot deceive people all the time. Look at the House of Assembly. It lacks dissenting voice. It is not in the interest of the people. We must put an end to that. An SDP government will practice social welfarism. It will check corruption in the system. Lagos government under APC has not performed. If you compare the amount being spent, you will see that a lot of fraud is being perpetrated in Lagos State.
How would you assess the President Muhammadu Buhari administration?
At the federal level, the APC got into power because of the war against corruption and several of its promises. But, a lot of fraud is still going on under the APC federal government. Look at the release of the abducted Dapchi girls. A large chunk of the ransom has been traced to a private account in Germany. The EFCC has been alerted. Yet, nothing is being done about it. A lot of fraud is going on. President Buhari may be trying, but the administration is yet to achieve anything. What will check corruption is good governance, which practically put, will entail good housing policy, good welfare policy for the people, free and qualitative education, among others. All these will reduce corruption. Most promises by the APC administration have not been kept, especially in the area of security, and the economy. Boko Haram and the herdsmen are still killing on daily basis. Government is yet to meet the yearnings of the people.
How do you see the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law?
The National Assembly has the power to override the president’s veto. Nobody has said the amendment was not in order. But, the government is talking of timing. The Lagos State government, which is an APC government, amended the state’s electoral law few days to the local council elections.
What is your last word to Lagosians, especially people of your constituency?
I appeal to the people of Lagos, especially the people of Agege Constituency 11 to vote for the SDP. SDP will make the difference in Lagos and in Agege Constituency 11. We will run an all-inclusive government. They should vote for me. The people at the House of Assembly now are not representing us. People should mobilise and vote and watch over their votes. Lagosians should not allow anyone to rig the elections this time around.