The candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) for the Amuwo-Odofin Federal Constituency, Lagos State, Leonard Ogbonna, has said that people are not going to vote along party lines. Instead, he said the voters would vote personalities in the 2019 elections.
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What are your expectations for 2019 elections?
It is going to be so interesting because so many things have happened behind the scene. On daily basis, we continue to have what I call, ‘evolution of new political theatre within Nigeria’, cutting across all the parties – the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), etc. This has actually given Nigerians the opportunity to become more politically inclined. That is, if 90, 000 people registered to vote four years ago, come 2019, the number will be outrageous, as people are getting more enthusiastic about Nigeria’s politics.
The party primaries have been concluded and you have known your opponent’s, what are your chances?
I can beat my chest and declare that as far as Amuwo-Odofin Federal Constituency is concerned, I don’t have any competitor because my popularity didn’t start today. It was built over the years and now the society has come to say, this is a time to reward me. Don’t be surprised that at the end of the day, majority of APC, PDP and members of the other parties will converge and vote for me. This is no threat or boast, but I’m speaking what I’m very sure of. The gap is going to be so wide, and I’m going to win the election by a landslide.
I have told you that preponderate of those who are going to vote for me will come from APC and PDP. People are sick and tired of partisan politics; people have come to realise that there is no more ideology in party politics. Party is just a nomenclature and gone are the days when people joined party because of its ideology.
Today, what we see is promiscuity in party, therefore, people are looking at personalities, individuals; people that can be responsible and responsive to the needs of the electorate; people who will go over there and still remember those that took them there. That is why I said, because of my pedigree and antecedents, the fans I have already are tremendous, and they are eagerly waiting for February 16, 2019, the day of the election.
After the primaries, some aspirants that didn’t get the party ticket always feel aggrieved, how have you been able to reconcile with them?
There is nothing like mirage or fiction in my party. What is happening is a reality. On the day of our primary, because of the personality involved, it was as calm as where husband and wife are joyfully dinning because everybody queued behind me; because everybody believed in my project; because everybody believed in me.
Before that time, there was consensus that this man was the person they were going to vote for, so there was no time to imagine unrealistic evil will happen in my party; in my constituency because of the personality involved. But then, should it happen, that is where maturity and diplomacy come in, and there is nowhere I can allow it to affect the party. I have what it takes to reconcile and bring everybody on the same page.
PDP and other parties are crying that the way INEC is structured, it may not deliver credible poll, do you share in that sentiment?
Everybody is entitled to his opinion, makeup, suspicion, but all I know is that people are getting ready on daily basis waiting for 2019, and they are not ready to be cowed into submission, whether it is the ruling party or anybody or promoters of confusion. Those who are ready for this election will get themselves well positioned and ready with all forces and potentiality to contend with any manner of excesses.
You have been talking about ‘your pedigree’, what is it all about?
I said earlier, my popularity is not of today because Amuwo-Odofin is preponderance of trading community – those in commerce, and greater percentage of Igbo extraction. I have served them over the years and have understood much about them – the management, what they need and what they do not need.
Those years I served them, I was able to leave laudable footprints.
If you go to Trade Fair, where I served as the president of one of the biggest markets, there was a tremendous positive transformation. I turned International Trade for Commerce into another Dubai shopping mall in Nigeria, where I provided all facilities to international standard. I affected and effected serious behavioural pattern in the lives of businessmen and businesswomen.
My attitude to issues, my relationship with people and of course, people of good character groomed me, added to that. So what I do is in my blood because I have mentors you can say they are good. So, nothing I’m going to do come 2019 that will be a new thing. I was coming from somewhere and my track record is fantastic.
Coming to antecedents, if you go to other associations or unions I have led whether as president, chairman, secretary or treasury, etc, I left wonderful footprints that they would always want me to come back – very accountable, transparent and high level of managerial acumen. So, I can beat my chest and say, I’m synonymous to those concepts of pedigree and antecedent.
Unlike some people who one day find themselves in a position like this, they will try to conceal and hide facts about themselves; and they will be afraid should their records be opened, but I can tell you the places I have served for you to go and find out the kind of record I left in such places. At any point in time I make a speech, I always refer to my pedigree and antecedent.
You talked about the trading community – Balogun, Trade Fair, as your strength, but most of the traders don’t reside within Amuwo-Odofin, they live in Okota, Ojo, Wilmer, etc?
Oriade LCDA is in Amuwo-Odofin? What is the distance between the area and Trade Fair? Don’t forget majority of them are Igbo and they know how best to economise; they don’t leave far away from their businesses. In 2002, when the market was relocated from Island to this place; they have already started relocating to this area so as to save cost. So, most of the settlements in this area are occupied by people that I can boast of.
What, will you be telling the electorate?
They should be happy that the long awaited good representative is coming on board. Somebody that can speak on their behalf; somebody that understands their yearnings; somebody that can take their message to the House; somebody that can compel the House to look into the trading community; somebody that will impact on lives within the community, and somebody that understands that constituents should be taken care of.