A candidate in the Saturday, July 22, 2017 local government election in Agege, Lagos popularly called ATM, has said that he is confident of winning the race. ATM, who is running on the platform of PDP, in this interview with GLOBAL EXZCELLENCE, boasted that in spite of the dominance of APC in Lagos State, he is not intimidated. Excerpt…
What has the feedback been like after your months and weeks of campaign?
It has been an awesome experience so far. There is no particular rule that guides electioneering aside the electoral law and the constitutional laws that guide us as a people in a country. There is no certain rule that guides how you work your way to victory aside these laws I have mentioned. You have to work hard to reach out to the people and sell what you have to them. But after all these months and weeks, the feedback we got has been very encouraging and we have so much trust in the people.
So, how sure are you about victory at the polls on Saturday?
Well, I am a Muslim and a man of faith. I know victory comes from God and we are sure that through hard work and prayers, we can achieve whatever we want in life. We are so certain that come Saturday, we are going to emerge victorious. I am certain that by Sunday, July 23, I would have been declared the elected chairman of Agege Local Government.
You are contesting in one of the councils that have been drawing a lot of attention. The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly is from Agege, how sure are you that you have garnered enough muscles and support to defeat the Speaker, his party and their candidate?
God gave David victory over Goliath and I know that there is not power or might that is bigger than that of God and the will of people when it comes to matters of election. The Speaker and his people only have one vote each. And we have gone around every nooks and crannies of Agege and we know what the people want. The people said they are tired of failed promises from the same people who have been coming to them every election year. Majority of our people have also said that they are tired of the meaningless handouts these people always give them around electioneering periods. It is time to take the bull by the horn and I think we are getting to the time whereby people are no longer deceived by those things. How will a politician expect people to continue to sell their votes for things like noodles, sachet of milk, N500, etc? We want to take power from these people and give it to the people. This is not just about me or my party; it is about the common people of Agege. This is the message we have sold to our people, it is time for them to get leadership that is going to be there, just for them. Some people are trying to force themselves on the people just to get to office and be serving the interests of their godfathers. To them, politics is a business whereby you have to give returns to some people. The people of Agege, Yorubas, Hausas and Igbos are agitated about these things and they have expressed their readiness to change the status quo on Saturday.
There have been cases of some strong candidates in the history of Local Government elections in Lagos who were so close to victory but they were allegedly manipulated out on Election Day. What are the arrangements you have made to secure that victory you are so sure of at the polls on Saturday?
When there is a revolution, you cannot stop the will of the people. No man can stop the sun from coming out when it is time for it to shine. It is time for a change of the system in Agege. The people are resolute. There is a general saying that once you know what is wrong with you, your problem is half-solved, at least you can go to your doctor and he knows the medicine you need. We know everything their plans, we know all their machineries that they may want to employ to rig the elections and we have sounded the warning loud and clear that we will not accept rigging. That is why we have reached out to the media to also ensure that every aspect of this election is duly monitored, in order forpeace to reign. The people have already made up their minds not only to vote, but also to ensure that their votes are well counted and recorded. We are set to match them might for might. And even the chairman of LASIEC (may God be with her and give her more strength) has already told her officers ‘rig and go to jail’. And she is not compromising in any way, They have tried so many times to postpone this election, they tried so much to intimidate the chairperson and even wanted to replace her, but she has been so strong.
Your party, the PDP has been rocked with a lot of crises, until the Supreme Court resolved the leadership crisis last week. Going into the elections this Saturday, will you say that your house is in order and are you certain that there won’t be future problems as regards candidacy even after you might have emerged winner?
I have been asked this question a lot of times and my answer has always been that; we have a country and the country is not a Banana Republic, there is rule of law that guide all that we are doing. There was an appeal court ruling that said Sen. Alli Modu-Sherif was the authentic chairman of the PDP and LASIEC said that we are going to recognise the candidates presented by the Sherif leadership for the council elections. What Sherif did then was not a crime and that is why after the ruling of the Supreme Court over the party leadership, he cannot be charged to court. Which means what he has done before the latest court verdict was right. So, during the time we had our primaries for this election, PDP as a party, with Sherif as its chairman presented candidates and LASIEC said those are the candidates it duly recognised. No other lists of candidates were presented to LASIEC by any other faction. Our primary election was witnessed by constitutional authorities and our names were taken to LASIEC, we were screened and fully accepted by LASIEC to stand for the polls. The Supreme Court judgement last week was basically for the national leadership of the party and the state organs, as well as other structures of the party remains intact. The convention is coming up and then, maybe we may come out with some new developments. Although some people pulled out of the party along the line, we have remained in PDP. Just like we worked with Sherif when the court said he was Chairman of PDP, we are now under the leadership of Sen. Markarfi. We are not the courts, but we are bound to follow the rulings from them. So, PDP in Lagos is united and we have a common purpose to serve at the poll on Saturday.
Agege has a massive population of the Hausas and many will believe that you have maximum from them. But how have you been accepted among the Yorubas and other tribes?
Our movement has no ethnic colouration. We are united in purpose as far as this election. This is not about any tribe, it is about the people. We appreciate the support of the Hausa population, but it is not only for them. We are for everybody. We have large support from the Hausas, the Arewa community, we have massive support from the Yorubas (the Vice Chairmanship candidate is a Yoruba man) and all the Igbo people in Agege are behind us. We have the youths, the elderly, the women and even the children who cannot vote behind us in this movement. You can check this from all our rallies. But more than anything, we have the Almighty God behind us.
What are the cardinal campaign promises you have made to the people of Agege?
We have 4 cardinal points on which we have based our campaign; the first is security. We have to secure Agege. I have done my research well. Apart from the 8 major entrances into Agege, there are about 18 other entrances. We are going to cover all these entrances with CCTV Cameras and we are going to have a control room inside the local government. We will be using this to assit other security bodies within the state to achieve effective security, which is paramount to us. At the beginning of this movement, we had a meeting with some youths who used to foment trouble in Agege, the Awawa Boys, we were able to achieve peace with them. These are the things that are very important. With security, we are going to have investments coming and with that our second cardinal point, which is development will now come to play. With development, there will be employment. When there is employment, people will now be empowered to pay their children school fees and so on, which will now bring to fore, our third cardinal point, which is educating our people. Then the fourth cardinal point is having a clean environment, which is key in achieving healthy living. We are keen about the help of our people.