Forty-four-year-old Olajide Adediran, aka Jandor, emerged the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos State months after he dumped the All Progressives Congress. The Lead Visioner, Lagos4Lagos Movement, tells KAYODE OYERO how he was able to pull the feat and his mission to take control of Lagos from the grip of ex-governor Bola Tinubu.
What does your victory at the PDP governorship primary mean to you?
It is a victory for the party and victory for the people of Lagos. It is a victory for all those who we represent in Lagos.
Some candidates withdrew hours to the primary on Wednesday. Was their withdrawal part of a consensus arrangement?
That was not consensus; if it was consensus, I am sure nobody would be running with me, but after several withdrawals, we had just one person who ran with me. It was not a consensus arrangement. We had meetings twice and those who withdrew believed that we should put our best foot forward and I am a beneficiary of that. That was what transpired, not consensus. A consensus arrangement would mean that all of them withdrew and left me in the race. We were six in the race, but Olanrewaju Jim-Kamal, Adedeji Doherty, Ade Dosunmu and Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour withdrew, while David Kolawole contested with me.
Have the other aspirants reached out to you?
Yes, I have also reached out to them. We’ve spoken.
As a leader of the Lagos4Lagos movement, you moved from the All Progressives Congress to the PDP in January. How were you able to get the governorship ticket of the PDP within such a short time?
The leadership of the party saw believability in what we brought in and they saw that at this point, the best thing was for them to support us. Also, members of the party at the grassroots agree with us across the 245 wards. Because politics is local, in a situation whereby you are a PDP member and you know a particular APC member within your ward who normally gives you a problem during elections, but who then decides to leave the party to join you in the PDP, you can’t disregard his contributions, because it means victory for your party. We enjoyed this everywhere.
The only place where we encountered a setback before that election was from those who said we couldn’t come to take their home and you can’t take that away from them. But after the primaries, we will resolve all our issues. We had a lot before the primaries and all that but we will resolve all the issues. Though I am hearing now that one of those who ran with me is heading for the NNPP, that is not a problem; it is a constitutional right, which nobody can fight anybody for. The PDP in Lagos has come to stay and we have many Lagosians, who are now looking at us with a second eye and saying let’s look at it again, and trust me in 2023, we are going to deliver the state for the people of Lagos State.
By next year, it will make it 24 years that the other camp (AD, AC, ACN and APC) has been ruling the state, while the PDP hasn’t had a chance. Do you think you can break the jinx now?
Yes; if you look at the number of years that the opposition has been in power, it is the same number of years that a child will be leaving a higher institution to go and look for something else to do. So, we are at the terminal point of the APC-led government in Lagos State; 2023 is the terminal point for the APC. The PDP is coming. We have never had it so good in the PDP. Lagos is leaning towards the PDP and in 2023, we will give the APC a run for their money.
Are you working on some sort of alliance with other smaller parties?
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Absolutely. We’ve had other political parties trying to see how we can work together. They have come even long before now to tell us that irrespective of where we came from, they were ready to align with us. There are about four of them that are aligning with our interest, because our aspiration is the same thing: how to we rescue Lagos from those that have held it by the jugular for over 20 years.
Do you want to mention the names of these parties?
Yes, Accord (Party), ADC (African Democratic Congress), YPP (Young Progressives Party) and one other one.
The APC has announced the incumbent, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, as its candidate. Do you have what it takes to challenge him?
Maybe you want to turn the table and ask if Sanwo-Olu has what it takes to challenge me, because this election is beyond Sanwo-Olu. Sanwo-Olu is not even in the picture at all, even as a sitting governor. Just remove what makes Sanwo-Olu and you have nothing. In our case, we have a huge support base at the grassroots. This is something no one can take away from us, if not, they would have bought it with their moneybags. It is just like a penalty shootout for us. It is good news for our people that they are returning a lame duck. It is a good thing that they are bringing back the badly damaged sitting governor. It makes the job easier. Let’s see how they go about it in the coming election.
What makes Sanwo-Olu a lame duck as you described him?
All of us know. The truth of the matter is that what do you make of a sitting governor who can’t on his own say that he wants to run for a second term until somebody asks him to declare? The moment you remove that from him, he is nothing. Also, the others that just came out to run, is like somebody said to them why are you keeping quiet? I think governance is beyond all that; you must have conviction and first believe in yourself before people will believe in you. All of these guys never envisioned to govern; never envisioned to be in office; they never prepared to be there, somebody just called them and said, ‘You, come and be’ and that person kept controlling them. For us, I want to be an independent governor, not the one that will require an approval before we get something done. Those are the things that differentiate us from them. Our own aspiration is to give Lagos that breath of fresh air. It is about time we do something else in the city of Lagos and not just recycling failed politicians.
What exactly is different that you are bringing on the table for Lagosians?
A breath of fresh air. The moment the PDP gets the stage, the moment I emerge as the governor of the state, there is this thing that will speak in the heads of all Lagosians that we have something new and fresh. Fresh in the sense that our system is badly damaged as it is. It is at the behest and mood of an individual who will say and everybody will do. We want Lagos State to return to the people of Lagos. That alone is a whole lot.
Look at the serious incident in the #EndSARS protests. If the governor of a state was not able to make a decision on his own and somebody behind needed to tell him, ‘You are a fool, is that what I told you? My friend, go and do this’, and then the governor came back and said, ‘Yes, I called soldiers but I didn’t call them to go and shoot’. But one wonders whether soldiers will go and clap at the protest ground in Lekki. Several kneejerk policies that speak volume to the kind of people we are electing into offices, because they never envisaged governing, but somebody just brought them up and said go and fill that role. That is what differentiates us. There is nowhere I haven’t been to in the last few years I have been on this journey. There is no local government that I have not been to, but we have a state governor who does not know the state he is governing. It is embarrassing.
How would you have handled the #EndSARS riot if you were Lagos governor?
First, I will continue to give them the initial credit as I said. They started well by identifying with the protesters and taking their letter to Mr President. That was fine, but at a point when you didn’t realise that things were getting out of hand in places, especially the blighted areas, which are not even around the metropolis like Lekki, Alausa and all of that. What I expected him (Sanwo-Olu) to do before imposing that curfew was to return to Lekki and address them and tell them, ‘You know what, what we started together has been hijacked by some hoodlums’. He could have mentioned the number of police stations burnt in Ajegunle and all of that and say to them, ‘Guys, as the chief security officer of this state, I need to take a decision on this. I need to do something. I will want you to go home between so and so time so that I can deal with those miscreants. When I deal with them, you can come back and continue’. You can’t just say take soldiers to Lekki. There were no issues in Lekki; where they were burning houses, killing policemen, you didn’t send soldiers there. That is what I would have done differently.
Also, after setting up a panel, the fact that there were soldiers at the protest venue, all I need to do is to take responsibility and apologise to my people and return to find out what went wrong. Of course, it is possible that the governor may not know everything that happened, but you can’t shift blame. After the #EndSARS panel, there was a report, which indicted the state government saying there were killings in Lekki, which they called a ‘massacre’. A government pathologist also spoke about a death in Lekki. For me, I won’t argue whether it was a massacre or no massacre, but the fact that a government pathologist reported a death in Lekki, I would have considered that one death too many, apologise to the people and take responsibility. That is what I would have done differently.
Do you think the #EndSARS riot will count against the incumbent in the 2023 election?
There is a section of the community that is still not happy about that and there is no closure on the matter yet as far as I am concerned. There must be a closure; if you don’t have a closure, it will keep coming up. Now, you want to reopen the toll plaza without closure on the matter? And the governor is asking people to come and work with him? Work for what? I am not saying the government was totally wrong and I am not saying the people were totally right, but I am saying that we have a position of responsibility and we must be able to take responsibility. We are here to serve and if anything goes wrong, we should be able to acknowledge our failures and do the needful to the sophisticated residents and citizens of this state.
What is your plan for the youth?
My government is going to be a tech-driven government where you have a lot of young people being given opportunities, because these are those I share the same frame of preference with. They will be given opportunities, carried along, be involved and have a whole lot to do in a space that has been occupied by octogenarians and septuagenarians for over 20 years. Lagos needs somebody who is physically and mentally fit. It is our government; the government of the young generation. I am not saying there won’t be space for the older generation; of course, they will be there because we need their experience, their advisories and all these things to carry on.
Can you become Lagos governor without the anointing of the APC leader, Bola Tinubu?
Of course. If I have come this far without having anything to do with him, if I implode his party and take it away without having anything to do with him, of course, I can become the Lagos State governor without having anything to do with him, and I will become Lagos State governor without him. It will be the first thing he will see to know that democracy has returned to Lagos when somebody emerges as the governor without him. He won’t be there forever.
Much has been said about a consulting firm, Alpha Beta. What will you make of the company if you emerge as the governor?
There are some things that are legally right but morally wrong. If you want to speak about Alpha Beta today, yes, you will say it is a consulting company, it is registered under the law and all of that. Yes, it may be legally right, but morally wrong. For us, we will focus on the fact that we are representatives of the people and we should not hide under the law to rob the people that we are representing.
Will you scrap Alpha Beta?
What I am saying is that the consulting firm that this government is using is morally wrong and I won’t do something that is morally wrong even if it is legally right. I am trying to paint a picture to you and I think you have your answer.
Who is your preferred presidential aspirant?
All the people aspiring to be President under the Peoples Democratic Party are qualified to be President of this country and they are better than others. Whoever emerges among them is my leader and my President.
Do you support the call for southern presidency?
(The President, Major General Muhammadu) Buhari (retd.) and his nepotism have made someone like me believe that what I need is a Nigerian President, a nationalist to govern this country. What I need is a Nigerian President.
Do you have the blessings of royal fathers in the state?
Of course. I can beat my chest that I have their support. In fact, when I was in the APC, they had a course to do an open endorsement for me. They didn’t even mind most of these gods, they did and that for me is something. Yes, we have their support.
What are your last words?
Lagos needs a breath of fresh air and that is what Jandor represents.