Ladi Adebutu, a grassroots politician currently represents Remo federal constituency at the House of Representatives. He shares his hopes and challenges in politics with the Editor, FOLORUNSHO HAMSAT in this interview. Excerpt…
What is the latest about your rumoured ambition to rule Ogun State in 2019?
I can assure you, if the good people of Ogun invite me to be councilor today and they feel that is where I can serve them best, I will accept their request. If I’m invited to be their governor, I will answer them. Ogun State is so blessed and endowed. And if I am called to be president, who am I to say no?
Your party is now in the opposition. How would you compare it to when PDP was the ruling party?
The essence is for democracy to be viable. There has to be ruling party and opposition party. Any genuine democrat must be able to play on both sides. If you are in the opposition, it gives you room to sit back and think of how you can do it better, PDP is in that mode now. We are now building against the failings of the APC. And we thank God that we are succeeding. As a party, I can assure you that we will do better in 2019.
What is your take on President Buhari’s fight against corruption?
Buhari is just creating a scene; he is not doing anything new. The BVN was a product of the last administration. I can assure you, anybody trying to move money out now is easily identified. The single treasury account is the creation of the last government. These are the tools that control the process of fighting corruption. If you developed an institution that makes corruption less attractive, then you are on the way to combat corruption. But if you simply undermine those institutions, you will find out that you are doing very little. For example, I am sponsoring a bill to assist the EFCC becoming more independent. So, if you are able to do that, we will reinforce the EFCC and judiciary, and it becomes less open to persuasion from government. Those are the institutions that can guard against corruption. There is no way you can handle corruption; if these institutions are not properly in place.
What have you done to empower the people in your constituency?
We came in June last year and the truth of the matter is that, except for a programme that has been ongoing, the budget we have now is a budget with question marks. It is coming very late midyear 2016, and a lot from that budget will have to continue for the sake of continuity, our personal and input directions will not even come into this budget except we tidy up things first. However, we were able to start pushing in bills that will access the way and quality of life of our people. I’m currently processing a bill for e-library which I believe seriously, unless we have access to knowledge we would not have freedom from poverty. One of the constraints our farmers have is capital. I’m also processing a bill where we would have a land registry that can confer the ownership on individuals, and are quickly translated to a kind of collateral that can help farmers do a kind of advanced and extended agriculture. Twenty thousand naira will make a lot of differences in some people’s lives. I have used my personal assets to empower people; I provided transformers for communities in Remoland. It’s a shame that in 2016, you hear that a transformer has been faulty for the past two years and there are over 10,000 inhabitants people living in that community without electricity. We have large expanse of land that are suffering from serious erosion because lots of water have not been diverted to the right channel. A case study is Agura in Sagamu local government area. I have been able to move the water to the right channel, and life is better for them. Anybody travelling to Ogijo, Ikorodu, Isawo, the old Trunk A road, you will see the situation of that road, I have pushed for its inclusion in the budget and we are hoping on God, and many more.
Is PDP strong enough to take back power at the centre in 2019?
You must recall that one of the beauties of the PDP is an opportunity for politicking and dialogue; these things are normal, the only abnormal aspect is when they reconverted a deliberated attempt of the ruling party. You find it as a policy to engage most people to stabilize the party. However, most of these people don’t have the interest of the party, they are businessmen on account of machinery arrangement; they come and foster disunity in the party. So, when this happens, that is when things go wrong. We know them and at times we have the choice of going to APC or PDP, otherwise, we have a beautiful party, argument in our discussions, but we would arrive at the best consensus for our party.
You are a son of a billionaire businessman. Why did you choose politics and not managing your father’s mega business?
I want to assure you that what I do is a calling. That I come from a wealthy background is a privilege. I pursue this part because I believe it’s a calling. Some are called to be priests, lawyers, some medical doctors; this is a calling, I take it as such. I believe in the necessity of life that some of us must leave our comfort for the betterment of all. It has not been an easy process, I have had to sacrifice great resources, most importantly I had to sacrifice my upward mobility as well, it has cost me time and money that could have made me a more affluent person today, but however, I made that sacrifice because if good people don’t make such sacrifice, we would be left in a situation where the dirty people will pursue the dirty governance and the good people will be slaves to the dirty people.
How did your father react when you shared the dream with him?
When I first got the idea, my father rejected it with passion. He said he had always steered clear from politics or anything that could rub negatively on his image. He gave me an option that, if I must continue, I must go and build my own house and be playing politics there. But a very good friend of his, Chief Bayo Ayoku, helped me to convince him. That was how I became a member of the Third National Assembly.