Lagos State House of Assembly Majority Leader, Hon. Akeem Bello, in this interview, speaks on his experience as leader of the opposition party in the House of Assembly, crisis in PDP and other national issues. Excerpts:
As the Minority Leader of the State House of Assembly, how do you relate your experience in the past two months?
So far, I and my colleagues in the opposition party have not experienced discrimination from the ruling APC. We all have been working to affect lives and ensure that we move Lagos forward using our executive functions. I count it a great privilege to be a member of Lagos State House of Assembly because if you observe what is happening here in Lagos Assembly you would discover that we are far ahead of some state legislatures.
Your party was able to make unpredicted incursion into the state assembly in the last election, what do you think was responsible for the achieved feat?
It is because we came to work for the interest of the party in great number and was able to manage the crisis that emanated after the primaries in some constituencies. You know the crisis that always goes with primaries is not peculiar to PDP, it always affect all political parties, but we are able to manage the crisis especially in my own constituency and the result is the eight legislative seats that we won in the last general elections which have never happened in the history of Lagos PDP.
The feat is a great plus to the leadership of the party in the state. Despite the achievement, I believe we would have done better if some of our leaders were able to make more sacrifices and bury their selfish ambitions. The usual thing to do after primaries is to embark on reconciliation mission, but in our case our leaders could not do that effectively that to a greater extent contributed to our defeat in some constituencies. As you know primaries usually tear parties apart but we are grateful that eight of us were able to triumph in the last elections.
You represent Amuwo-Odofin state constituency II, what do you think your people lack that you would use your privilege position to attract to the people?
I am a grassroots politician for quite sometime now, and somebody in that position would know how to attract dividends of democracy to the people of the constituency. Though it is not possible to satisfy everybody but by the special grace of God almighty, I would try my best to ensure that I attract dividends of democracy to the people.
As one of the leaders in PDP, how do you think the crisis in the party can be resolved?
The crisis in PDP today has to do with leadership tussle which I believe within a short time from now it would be resolved. I wonder why we should be having leadership tussle when we are not the party in power or controlling sensitive positions in the country. This is the right time for the party to come together and become a formidable party that would serve the people even though we no longer control the federal power. As I said earlier, I believe within a short time the crisis would be over.
PDP has been accusing President Muhammadu Buhari of selective justice in the fight against corruption, how best do you think the present government can succeed in its fight against corruption?
If I may advice on the idea of fighting corruption in the country today I would say let us move forward because we have limited time to serve the people. For instance, we have only 48 months and so far three months is already gone, there are a lot of problems like unemployment that our leaders need to address fast. Many of our youths today are roaming the street without Job and the government must address that very fast. My advice for Mr. President is for him to concentrate on delivery of dividends of democracy so that he would not spend the whole four years chasing corrupt people only. He is not a young man anymore therefore; there is little he can do even though we have confidence in his ability to make mark within the four year term as president.
But it has been argued that the greatest challenge facing the country is corruption; people believe that if the country can deal with the monster every other challenge would be tackled. What is your view on the matter?
We have several ways of fighting corruption, we can checkmate corruption. If we spend the whole time fighting corruption, what happen to other areas that need urgent attention? We can forget about the past and see how we can further check mate corruption so that it would not jeorpadise our government. If at the end of two years in power and there is no positive impact in the lives of the masses, they may come out to protest. The problem of economic growth is very important and I know that President Buhari being an elderly man has a genuine agenda to tackle that.
Are you not worried that the governor of Lagos State has not sent nominees to the State Assembly for confirmation as commissioners nearly three months in the life of the administration?
We are not worried because when you have a new government, the man at the helm of affairs need time to study things critically like ministries and parastatals before making any appointment. Although I used to hear some people asking why has he not appointed commissioners but I used to tell them that the governor needs time to study things before jumping into action of making critical appointments.
You have been aspiring for elective positions for quite some years before you finally made it, what is your advice for other politicians in your category?
My advice for such people is that they should not relent, when you lose an election, don’t think it is the end of everything. When you lose an election, don’t insult those that failed to vote for you because you don’t know how things may turn tomorrow.
Do you think PDP could perform well than what it did in the last general elections in Lagos State?
I believe we can do more. This eight positions we won was unexpected by the ruling party in the state. If our leaders had committed more of their time and resources to the last elections, we would have achieved a better result in Lagos than what we got.