Recently, I engaged the Secretary to the All Progressives’ Congress Lagos State Chapter, Hon. Hakeem Adisa Bamgbola on our interview segment Facing Facts. The soft-spoken former Executive Chairman of Itire-Ikate LCDA spoke on APC’s preparation and readiness for the 2019 general election, the reign of endorsements for Akinwunmi Ambode’s second term, PMB’s efforts to reposition Nigeria economically and a host of other salient issues, please enjoy an excerpt from the interview:
Lagos Panorama: Please introduce yourself to our readers in your own words with particular reference to your political background and antecedence.
Bamgbola: My name is Honorable Hakeem Bamgbola, State Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Lagos State. I started my political career years back. In 1998, I applied and vied for the position of House of Representatives under Alliance for Democracy AD, but at the end of the day we were appealed to by our leaders to pick a consensus candidate that was how late Olokodana was picked as the candidate of our party for Surulere 2 then, about then I was made the Supervisory councilor for Health under the old Surulere Local Government. At the advent of the creation of additional Local Governments, I was elected the vice-chairman of Itire-Ikate LCDA and later acting Chairman for 10 months while the Chairman was on suspension, so between 2007 and 2011 I was the Chairman of Itire-Ikate and 2011 to 2014 I was also the chairman of Itire-Ikate. In 2015, I emerged as the candidate for House of Rep of our party although we lost that election so after the former party secretary won an election into the Lagos State House of Assembly I was directed by the party leadership to occupy the party’s state secretary position.
As the State Secretary of APC and member from Surulere Federal Constituency that produced the longest serving member of the Federal House of Representatives, Hon Gbajabiamila , what are the value-added advantages of this connection in relation to your duty discharge.
He is a friend and a brother, he has done so well, he was onetime minority leader but today he is the majority leader of the Federal House of Representatives, he has done so well for both Surulere constituencies 1 and 2.
When we lost the constituency 2 to the PDP in the 2015 election in Surulere, he has been able to connect the 2 constituencies together because there is need to carry our members in the other constituency along, so I always tell him the responsibilities of both constituencies rest on his shoulders to take care of both constituencies, because when you look at the voting pattern, we in the constituency 2 have more votes than the constituency 1 because that is where more people reside. Also, Surulere has the highest votes in the Central Senatorial District and when take a look at the state as a whole we are usually 3rd or 4th but the last time we came 5th so there is need for us to work more against the factor that worked against us the last time because it’s either you’re for or against Buhari and we have lots of Ibos residing within our constituency that voted PDP because of Jonathan. We never lost the constituency before the 2015 general elections so it was a surprise that we lost both the House of rep and State Assembly – a replica of what happened in Ojo, Ajeromi, Amuwo and Oshodi but we’ve done our research to forestall what happened then in the next election.
In political party administration the secretary is very important what specific roles do you have as plans or what roles have you played to improve the administration of the Party against the background of forthcoming general elections and the recent elongation of your tenure in office.
As the State Secretary of the party I am the backbone in terms of administration and policy direction. After the last election, we noticed there was in-house wrangling among members even up till the last Local Government elections, what we did was to setup a reconciliatory committee headed by some of our leaders to look into some of the problems we having in various local governments. They’ve done so well coming up with some of the report. We need to analyse it, we felt there is need to bring all members together as we approach the next general election in 2019, lots of members have shown concern and as a party we’ve tried to reconcile every member.
The issue of tenure elongation is a proposal as the NEC will be meeting to determine the party’s direction, elongation was a proposal by some people so the party executive will be meeting to give a final directive on that as some prefer the elective congress and convention so as not to run foul of the constitution. Very soon the party will come out with a position on this.
Please express your opinion on the recent Lagos State APC displeasure indication on the extension granted the National Chairman of the party realizing that Asiwaju Tinubu is a member of the NWC that resolved to elongate his tenure.
Our national leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was not at the National Executives Council (NEC) meeting where the issue of tenure elongation was discussed but he was at the caucus meeting and he said since the tenure would end the party should conduct an elective congress and convention as stipulated in the party constitution. But you know in any organization other people may have different view as was suggested at the NEC meeting but if there will be any changes in the constitution you still need the congress/convention to ratify such changes. So like I said there will be another meeting at the national level to look at the pros and cons of the issue and take a final decision.
Ambode for second term is already in the air given that the party across the three senatorial districts have endorsed him, can you candidly justify this position or do you have a contrary position.
Apparently the governor have done so well. Some people thought because of his background as a civil servant he would not be able to perform but between 2 and half or 3 years he has done very well in implementing the policy of the party and the government. We know what he is doing in terms of infrastructure development, health, education, and in terms of road projects it’s evident for all to see. So the belief that if he’s doing so well, why not give him a second chance. That is the reason the leadership of various senatorial districts are given him the endorsements, not only party leadership that have endorsed his second term a lot of groups and individuals, market women, Igbos, Hausas and lots of reputable individuals have also joined in the endorsements of Akinwunmi Ambode for a second term as governor of Lagos State for him to complete most of the laudable projects. Take look at Ajah and Abule Egba flyovers, the ongoing Agege flyover and Airport road and several other sustainable developments projects so the endorsements are coming on the basis of his performance.
We thank God that Asiwaju laid a good foundation that Fashola built on and Ambode is consolidating and in 2-3 years he has even surpassed Fashola’s achievements. I think he deserves the endorsements.
Members of the National Assembly from Lagos State have pioneered porting to another State in pursuit of certain political ambitions. A case in point is the porting of Hon. Faleke to Kogi State and recently similar move by Senator Olamilekan Adeola. This phenomenon is peculiar to Lagos State APC members. What is your take on this?
Yes I think we should be proud of such feat that we are developing quality people to vie for political positions outside Lagos because Lagos State is multi-cultural and multi-ethnic state, and that is why at the last general election we have issues with the Igbos because of their dominance is some areas of the state for example Igbos are dominant in Ojo, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Amuwo while Hausas too are dominant in Agege so experience gained in Lagos politics and governance is quite tremendous. Today we have lots of our products today in the Federal Capital like the Vice President who was a commissioner under Asiwaju Tinubu, Fayemi, our former governor Fashola even governor Aregbesola and a host of others so as you can see Lagos has a peculiar status when it comes to poli-thinking which you rarely find in other states. You don’t have people from other state coming to contest here but we have people from Lagos move to other states to contest. Another good example was Asiwaju’s former chief of staff Alhaji Lai Mohammed who later went to Kwara state to contest for governorship after which he became the spokesman of our party and today he is a minister. So most of our products are very good products that is why some states are even coming to learn in terms of governance, increasing revenue generation even in terms of how to run party administration. Yes parties would have crises but they come to learn on how do we manage it that it doesn’t snowball and majorly it is because we recognize the leadership of our party who coming in to mediate among members and that have really helped APC in Lagos state. And Lagos aside from being the former capital, it’s the commercial hub of Nigeria so we enjoyed when our members want to go to other state to impact the sustainable development. Like you mentioned Hon, Faleke; we were colleagues when I was Local Government Chairman and he vied for the Deputy Governor of Kogi State. It was just unfortunate that our governorship candidate died Faleke could have become the deputy governor of Kogi state. So we are proud that we have product that we can sale to other state.
As a very important officer of the ruling party, what do you think of the issue of security nationwide? Please touch specially on the herdsmen’s recent rampages and Boko Haram decimation as evidenced by the timely Dapchi girls rescue especially that the 2019 general elections are fast approaching?
The issue of security is concern for everybody, it does not rest solely with the president, we must all come together to deal with issues of security in our various and respective states. We appreciate what is going in Lagos state today, a situation where the governor has immensely supported all the security agencies in the state. He continues to give them vehicles, equipments, even insured the lives of officers at the cause of duty so their families will be taken care incase they lose their lives on duty. That is why security situation has improved in lagos, when move at night you could see the patrol van here and there, it has reduced the incidents of bank robbery, snatching of cars. At the federal level we need to do more especially with the issue of herdsmen, I think ranching be allowed in some of the states. In developed world ranching is allowed to be able to control the movements of cattle. I believe the federal government should partner with states to curb the notorious activities of the herdsmen. We are not happy with some developments in some northcentral states but I think the federal government is doing their best to cub the herdsmen. It require the federal government, states and even the local government to come together to find a lasting solution.
And we are happy the federal government took a decisive action to rescue the Dapchi girls except for one which I pray should be rescued soon. Unlike during the former administration of Goodluck Johnathan that believed that the girls were not abducted so they left the situation too late, until the intervention of America before they realized the girls were abducted before they now put plans in action for their rescue but they couldn’t rescue until when President Buhari assume office that he was able to rescue some of those girls. So it take a responsible government to be responsive to situation like that, which is the case with the Dapchi girls, so Federal government have done well in terms of security but they need to do more with the herdsmen issue to secure lives and properties.
The color of APC in Lagos State is changing by the day given the spate of influx of new members. Some of these new members are prominent political personalities so what specific steps has the party administration taken for seamless stability?
It’s a thing of joy that people are joining our party, people will move into a party that is doing well so the influx is expected, some of them were part of us before and they’re coming back while some are coming in new, we have likes of Moses Sashore, Musilu Obanikoro, former chairman of Lagos Island Ajose. Even at the Lagos State House of Assembly, out of 7 non APC members 6 of them have joined our party it shows that is a party that is widely accepted. We are happy they are coming back and the issue of elective position we will handle it when we get there. Everyone is allowed to test their popularity it is now left for the party members to make their choice. So we are happy at the influx and we are still expecting more people.
The reconciliatory role given to Asiwaju Tinubu by PMB is of strategic importance in view of the approaching elections. In Lagos APC, are there any reconciliatory requirements in Lagos State for harmonious coexistence in the party?
Yes, in Lagos APC we have setup our reconciliatory committee headed by Governing Advisory Committee (GAC) members and other notable party members. They have being going round all the senatorial district to know the situation in various local government especially fallout from the last local government election because we allowed those who had 1 term to come back and need to carry others along. And the reconciliatory committee have been reaching out and some of them have submitted their reports. In the next one year will be having the general election so there is need to reconcile everybody because we don’t want a divided house into the election because we want to increase our votes more than the last general election.
The only man that can reconcile all at the national level is Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, we are aware of the major role he played in bringing all the parties together in forming the APC which enabled us to win the last general election. I think he is the right man for the job, he is doing well moving into major problem areas solving issues and reconciling members. That is why the President felt he is the right man, and they have started with Sokoto, Kano, Kaduna and some states in the east to talk to various stakeholders and members of the party on the need to work together. There have been fear that some aggrivied members may want to leave the party but with Asiwaju coming in to reconcile definitely they will stay in and all come together to form a formidable team before the next general elections.
Recently the Vice President ‘Yemi Osinbajo alluded that the Goodluck Jonathan administration siphoned over N150 billion which seriously affected the economy, when revelations like this are made the opposition quick to say we shouldn’t be referring to the past but President Muhammadu Buhari should proffer solution what’s your take on this?
There is a Yoruba proverb that says ti omode ba subu awo iwaju, ti agbalagba ba subu awo eyin wo (when youth falls he/she looks front but when an elder falls they look back) they look aback as to know the reason for the fall and know the right measure of solution to proffer and with situation now we must look at the past, to know what went wrong and how do we curb it. What is happening in Nigeria today didn’t happened in one year or recently it was 16 years of mismanagement of the country’s resources and what magic do you expect within 3 years, however we thank God things have started picking up again in terms of our International image, looking inward for agricultural produce some states are now investing in large scale rice farming which was not the case during the PDP led administration. Internally generated revenue is picking up because it’s not business as usual as it used to be during the PDP when ‘big men’ will import goods and get tax wavers of which in other countries if you don’t pay your tax you’ll go to jail. This administration have been able to consolidate revenue more on the IGR, customs are generating more money since the crash of oil price worldwide. So you have to reflect on the past to be able to know where we are going to. Within 2-3 months before the end of Jonathan administration N150 billion was looted and shared. You can imaging the huge amounts of money discovered from individual’s resident 10million dollars, 100 million dollars it shows how the economy was bastardized under PDP administration, it was terrible so there is no magic President Buhari can do in 2-3 years. Our people should be patient with this government things will get better.
Thank you, it was an honour having you on facing facts.