The approaching 2015 elections is no doubt the most interesting and historically unique democratic process that has ever happened to this nation, what with its series of topical issues and attendant comic reliefs (apology to the First Lady). It is so interesting in such that, it has built up so much suspense in the air and on the other hand, it is historic because of the fact that, no opposition has taken up the incumbent this much while by the side, there are archival comical skits students of history won’t forget in a hurry. Still on this election, whether win or lose, the verbal and physical wars of the two candidates vying for the nation’s largest senatorial district, Lagos West, in persons of Hon. Olamilekan Adeola Solomon popularly known as Yayi of APC and his arch rival, PDP’s Hon. Segun Adewale of Aeroland would remain a point of reference in the political terrain for a long time. It has been a tug of war between the two political gladiators. In our facts finding mission, having published the exclusive interview of the APC candidate weeks ago, we bring you that of the PDP candidate, Hon. Segun Adewale. You would enjoy the explosive chat with our crew led by News Editor, Faith Irabor.
To start with, we would want to congratulate once again; we all know that the leading party in Lagos is the opposition, and for you to be involved in the race to lead your constituency takes a lot of courage. So let’s start with your journey into politics, at what point did you realize that politics is your calling?
Politics is not my calling. I just want to serve, I am a philanthropist and I have been doing this for more than 20 years now. In 2007, I discovered that the people with the so called power who should help us enjoy the dividends of democracy are not doing that, rather they are only using the platform to make the rich richer while the poor are getting poorer. Every return that should come to us in Alimosho is taken back to the leaders on the Island. I went into politics because the poverty in my community can be physically touched even the blind can see it. There is nowhere to hide in my community as far as poverty is concerned. Initially, I felt within myself that for you to make it in life you must really have strength, you must be strong enough to hold a garage. However, some of us were lucky to go to school and our orientation changed, making money is not actually by strength or power but you must have the right attitude and you must be skilled in a particular profession. It took me about four or five years of university education to realize these things. The people representing us at the state and federal level are not really representing us well they are not responsible for the people that voted for them in the first instance, they are only responsible to the leaders that gave them the ticket. I discovered that most of the constituent allowance that should be used to alleviate the poverty is being given to the rich. That is why I am in politics. The second reason is this; a large percentage of our underdevelopment in this nation can be attributed to the youths and the elites. The elite and youths are not interested in politics, all they do is to go on the social media and start criticizing the government. They begin criticizing Fashola, Ekiti state Governor, President Jonathan, that is all they do. They are not involved in politics and governance. So I said to myself that if these people are not participating, I have to go in.
What are your educational qualifications?
I have a first degree is Geography. I got into the University of Ibadan to study Economics, but when I realized what I wanted to do with my life, I changed to Geography in my third year. In 1992, I went back to school and studied for my Masters in Public Administration with emphasis on Project Management & Evaluation, in 1996 while working, I went to the University of Lagos to study Law and Jurispondence, I was busy with my business and the Professor kept taking us back to the medieval periods, 1880, 1700 and I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to know, I had to leave during second semester…
But you were paying school fees?
Yes, I was, but that was not what I wanted, so I left the class. I was thinking of the future and he was taking me back.
You talked about your philanthropic nature; can you please tell us about that?
Yes, let me say this first; a lot of my colleagues in this business do not live on the mainland, they all live in Ikoyi and I am actually one of the top three travel agencies in Nigeria, in fact I would have gone higher if not for politics. I can boldly say that of all politicians in Lagos, none has touched lives like I have done…
At all levels?
None, I am not talking of the things they did with government money this time, I am talking of their own personal funds. I have been involved in charity since 1994. I did my first borehole in 2004 at Oki Primary School, the same school YAYI went to. YAYI was in the National Assembly for eight years while I was doing that.
So, is it correct to say he did not give back to his alumni?
That is what I just told you, I didn’t go to Oki primary school, I went to Seventh Day Adventist. That borehole still remains the only one in that community as we speak. I did the borehole because I saw the rate at which typhoid was dealing with them and I knew they needed potable water. I also built a toilet for that same school, donated chairs and tables…the facts are there, you can go there to confirm.
Was that when you contested for the House of Reps?
No! I wasn’t even contesting then. YAYI’s father still lives in that Alagbaa community where YAYI grew up…even the only borehole relied on in that community was donated by me in 2007 and it is being sold by the Baale of that community. So when people talk about YAYI, they don’t know the type of man he is. He is a man who is only working for the oligarchy.
So, what went wrong? Given how you have contributed immensely to your community, why did you lose when you contested? What went wrong? Did they not see you as a green light that should be followed?
Excuse me, in a community that had been in darkness for two years and I intervened by giving them a transformer in 2006 when they approached me, how can I lose an election in that place? How can I lose an election in Baruwa where I donated a block of classrooms? I tarred roads, opened several communities to civilization…
So what went wrong?
What went wrong is simple, on the day of election, my party was missing on the ballot paper. I contested on the platform of the Labour Party, at that period, I never really liked PDP or ACN, I wanted to be on my own. ACN connived with the Director of INEC then and they removed my party logo so no one could vote for me, I couldn’t even vote for myself. I went to court, they apologized for the ‘mistake’ and after much plea, I forgave them. That was when they began to call me to join their party even Aregbe, I received nothing from anybody but I joined them…
You joined the ACN? At what point did you join?
I joined them sometimes in 2007 but I left, in Yoruba language, I will call them ‘Muwonleru’ poverty was deep amongst them. For instance, some of the leaders kept on putting on the same cloth every day. The chairman of the party (Adimula) would have to push his car to start it…then I got him a brand new car; Hyundai, but they ceased it, they said I wanted to spoil the party.
Did you have any encounter with Tinubu while you were there?
No, my stay was very brief. As I was saying, I donated a million to the youths and two million to the elders, I just needed a platform to alleviate poverty, I am not a politician per se, the party leaders called me to a meeting and asked why I was giving out money. They said I was empowering them and if I did that they would stop attending meetings. Instead of giving them millions, why not give them 200Naira each, they will keep coming. That was what broke my heart.
No fracas, no ticket issue?
No, we didn’t even get there. Ticket issue was still very far. Then I went to PDP and I won the election in 2011 but it was rigged and when I challenged INEC three days later, I was arrested and handcuffed for challenging INEC. That was how I lost that too.
That was House of Reps, now you are going for the Senate, a higher platform, are you not scared? What are you going to do this time around?
APC is a fraudulent party but we are working on it…what they do is to rig elections, the idiots.
What do you think of the card readers? Even the ruling party; at the federal level, some leaders are frowning at the idea, what do you think?
Let’s talk about the PVC, PVC is available in states where APC will win elections, even in the North where people are currently displaced, the collection there is more than 80%, in the south, its less than 60%, south west 66%, in fact before February 14 it was just 44%. Apart from that, PVC has been collected by unknown people.
Does this mean we are not ready for this?
My own opinion is; Jega should be sacked and prosecuted.
But the President says he has confidence in him and has no plans to sack him, a lot of people don’t see anything wrong with Jega…
Excuse me, what are we saying? I got my own PVC on February 18 four days after the initial date, including some of my family members. So there is a conspiracy somewhere.
The INEC Chairman was installed by the president himself, should he not be working for him?
The president has told him not to work for him, he told him to just do his job but he has refused to do his job. Let’s look at it from here, if in a ravaged area, 80% collection has been recorded and here where there is no Boko Haram we find it difficult to get our PVCs till now, what are the implications?
If you win what do you have in mind, what are the things you intend to put in place?
I want to tackle the issue of poverty.
Thank you. It is somewhere in our constitution, either section 22 or 24 that you have a right not to be poor. It talks about the social responsibility of the government that no citizen should be poor. All I want the government to do is to make that law compulsory. That is one thing I want to fight for. It is a pity that nobody is talking about it and that is what I want to work on and by God’s grace I will make it compulsory that something must be done for the poor. Whether monthly or weekly, they should get a certain amount from their government. The second thing is Accountability. I know this is very difficult. APC keeps complaining that PDP is corrupt, is APC not corrupt? Including Tinubu’s wife, Senator Remi Tinubu and Ashafa? Anyway, that is by the way. I do not see any one talking about the constituency allowance, when you collect billions on our behalf and there is no account for it, is that not corruption? Every quarter, funds are released by the federal government for every community and nobody talks about it, is that not corruption? From the House of Reps to the Senate, they are corrupt. YAYI has been there for twelve years now, what has he done? He goes on TV and announces that he purchased GCE forms, he must be sick. He also said he built a school in one community “with my own personal funds” he is an idiot. If he did those things with his personal funds then what happened to our funds? I am talking of the over hundred million released quarterly into the constituency. That is the point, we need to change these people. There is no accountability, if I have that opportunity, I will empower people, especially the area boys. I said on TV last week that most of the eHarea boys have been bastardized by the APC, you see area boys using brand new cars for hooliganism. From Lagos Island, Mushin, Alimosho, you see them using Jeeps, for instance, MC Oluomo, what can you do? Why would they want to go to school? What then are we teaching our children?
What if they are not ready to be skilled?
They are ready to be skilled, that is the point. There has to be a plan. I have some of them working with me; for instance I have Jubril, he was with Saula, then I was young, I was not in school, I just finished my school cert and I thought I needed to capture one garage too so I kept on fighting Saula and I was using that boy against Saula, but now, the boy has been trained, he now works in Dubai and earns about 800 dollars monthly. I have two or three of them in Canada as I speak with you.
Their orientation has changed from what it was?
It has changed.
Does that also buttress this, I have heard that the Lagos West constituency is under developed?
Yes. I am trying to wake people from their slumber, when you collect money on their behalf and the money is not seen, where is the money in Alimosho, Agege, Iju, Ojoo, Badagry? There is nothing to show for it…emphasis is on Lekki where Tinubu lives, it is on Surulere the hometown of Fashola and on Ikoyi that’s all. Every year we have Christmas decorations from Ikeja to VI, never to Badagry or Ojoo or Agege or Mushin…development is keyed to the city centre. Till now, call any local community, if you can get a single pipe borne water donated by the government, then I don’t need to contest in this election, I will resign, it means they have tried. The moment YAYI and the others start coming out to declare what they had in the quarter and what they did with it; there is no need for people like us in politics. I am an Entrepreneur by birth; I have been involved in business since my school days. When I was in UI, I was a Barber, during my masters in LASU, I was a ‘Kabukabu’ driver, my route was Iyana Iba to Iyana Ipaja.
Do you have a god father? We have heard your opponent admit that he has a god father, do you have a godfather?
Yes, I have GOD the Father.
Yes, we know GOD the father, but do you have a political godfather?
See, if I had a political godfather, by now I would probably be the governor of Ekiti state or somewhere else. But I have just been taken my time…
Do you think anything is wrong with having a political godfather?
No, there is nothing wrong with the phenomenon; I tried having Obasanjo as godfather at a time, then Bode George…
People still think Bode George is your godfather.
He is my leader. If he was my godfather, I wouldn’t need to fight and contest against Salvador who has always been there. Chief Bode George is my leader, more like a father than a godfather to me. The reason why I changed my mind about choosing Obasanjo as my godfather was because of inconsistency. Today this person is in PDP, tomorrow its APC; that was the problem I had then. But the person I am aligned with is Chief Bode George and Obanikoro, they are my leaders and those are the two people I have aligned with but with my independent mind. They don’t impose anything on me. I seek their advice and support, that’s all. Even when it is financial support, I just meet them and talk to them, but they have never imposed anything on me. In fact initially they talked to me about Salvador. That he was the one that has been there all this while. I didn’t say anything I just continued my own thing underground and when they saw it, they could not do anything about it they supported me. PDP and APC on the issue of ‘godfatherism’, in PDP you have this person talking to the president anyhow, the governor of Ekiti saying his own, the thing is PDP gives you the leverage; you can be what you want to be and do what you want to do. However, reverse is the case in APC. If you do not wash and kiss the feet of the leader, lick his boots; carry his bag when you see him, you cannot move on. That is why APC likes to empower the poor, they do not empower the rich or the Entrepreneur. And even when they empower the rich, it would be a rich man that has been made rich initially by Tinubu. Look at Ashafa, he worked at Housing, they arrange CVs and then they move you to the next level…Ambode was the Accountant General of whatever, they will say “oh he knows how to keep the state’s account and to keep our records, ok move to the next level, oh you Osinbajo, you were the attorney general at a time and when I had an issue with Chicago certificate and the rest you defended me well, so we promote you, move to the next level.” So there is never any fresh entry in APC. It is not possible. And why did I choose PDP? Our congress is an open one, anyone can be a direct or indirect delegate. APC can never say come and join our party they will only say come and vote for us. There can’t be people like you in APC, you can only see people who got there through a leader or through an indirect delegate…you know we have direct and indirect delegates. Direct delegate means, I Segun Adewale wants to be a Senator, I get my form and because you know me and want to support me, you get the indirect delegate form to choose me. Of course there would be some influences from the party but it is relatively open. However in APC, the leaders choose the delegates, so Tinubu keeps on choosing and selecting.
We have heard of assassination attempts from you and your opponent and we are confused; now who is trying to assassinate who?
See, that is just propaganda. You have seen YAYI, you can see how big and fat he is, anyone who works for money cannot be fat. If you are fat, it means you did not work for it, you stole it and you don’t know how to manage it. You eat everything. Bill Gates has been the richest man in the world for decades yet he isn’t fat, because he exerts physical and mental energy.
So who is trying to assassinate who?
He said I tried to assassinate him, why would I do that? In as much as they don’t change the figures, I’ll win the elections easily. He said I was in his office, he is a billionaire, yes he is rich, a man who drives a 70 million naira Jeep should be able to afford CCTV, so where is the camera showing that I was in his office? There should be a picture of me, but in my own case, I have a picture of him with criminals and murderers. I will give you the pictures before you leave. One of the guys in the picture came to my office to attack me with a gun, he was arrested and taken to SARS, (Special Anti Robbery Squad) I don’t know if you heard of that but I have his picture with YAYI. He empowers them by giving them guns, the guy confessed but the case is stalling…in fact I need to follow it up immediately and ask them what is going on with the case.
Have they made any arrests on the other side that was traced to you?
No! It’s just propaganda. That’s all.
Thank you so much sir.