Ibrahim Babajide Obanikoro beards his mind in this interview with ABEL LAZARUS and BOLA OGUNGBAYI on issues evolving around politics and his ambition come 2015 elections in Lagos State.
Can we meet you sir?
My names are Ibrahim Babajide Obanikoro, a Lagosian living in Ikoyi, a graduate of political science, and Masters in Public Administration a businessman and a politician under the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Are you married?
No, am not.
What is life like coming from a strong and humble family such as The Obanikoros?
I will say it’s the grace of God upon the family, it’s been beautiful and I thank God for the family of Obanikoro. It’s a very humble family and am sure you will testify to that because we started from the grass to where we are today. We are just at His grace.
How have you been coping with the political and other pressures?
Eh! It’s so enormous though and unmanageable, but we have been able to keep our heads above the waters. With a State like Lagos with a population of about 17 million on records and estimation of up to 20 million which a good number of this number know you or must have heard about your family, it could pose a serious pressure.
PDP seem to be reclaiming its lost states from the APC in the west from the results of the Ekiti elections, what do you have to say?
I will not say PDP cannot take Lagos and will not say we can’t take Lagos, Lagos is out for grabs! And with the recent changes and developments in the Villa, I think this is the best time to take Lagos from the hands of APC.
How would you rate the fifteen years of AD, ACN and now APC in Lagos State?
Am always careful in answering this type of questions because I don’t want to sound nor seen speaking as an opposition but nonetheless, the truth of the matter is that we are still where we were because I see no major difference in the life of Lagosians at large, if there is difference in my life, that’s good but none in the people of Lagos. Let’s take education for example, I went to Kings College and I know and had friends that also attended State owned schools like Jubril Martins and the rest of them then, the standards of education of these schools were either non –existence or quite slim compared to what we have today. Our state schools are practically dead and not any better from what it used to be. Lagos State University, a state owned University buttresses more on my point as students fights the government for abnormal increase of tuition. Sometimes, I drive to the public schools at the express- Folawiyo School, you see the pupils sleeping, counting passer-by cars at their admiration or playing while they are supposed to be learning. It’s sad. Look at Lagos and her inner roads which are quite important roads, they are not attended to; be it on the Island, Surulere or anywhere, these roads do not reflect nor justify the income the state earns. Hence I cannot score them a pass mark for the fifteen years.
One of the major achievement of the APC includes the creation of additional 37 LCDAs from it’s former 20 Local Governments thereby bringing government closer to the governed, what is your opinion on this?
In as much as I think the Local Governments were fine the way they were, if we decide to create additional ones, it should be done objectively. If Local Governments like Alimosho, Surulere, Eti-osa and Mushin are divided into additional two or three that would be fine, but for small LGs like Apapa, Epe and Lagos Island it’s unaccepted. These additional LCDAs has succeeded in hampering operations of the local governments as they now complain of lack of fund to embark on any meaningful projects.
In your opinion, what would you rate Governor Raji Fashola 1-10?
Laughs! Fashola is my guy; I like and respect him so much, never the less from the little I know of governance, I would not want to rate him as a person rather his administration which include the civil servants, I will rate him 3.
During your father Campaign in 2007, he said he will destroy the BRT lanes, with the incident of last week where Soldiers went on rampage due to the death of their colleague on this lane as reported, would you support PDP if and when it gets there in 2015?
First of all mass transit is done all over the world to ease transports traffics on the roads, but in the case of Lagos, our road are not wide enough for a special lane to be carved out specifically for BRT and this has increased the traffic instead of reducing it, secondly these lanes have turned to death traps as I have seen car run into them on several occasions. In United kingdom where they have such buses, line are marked and motorist are advised to keep of these lanes for certain periods say 6am to 9 am known as rush hours, and defaulters are penalised. Also the purpose of these mass transits is defeated because they are not convenient, not comfortable, not timely and very dirty. In one of my many experiences, I boarded the bus from Anthony Bus stop just to feel what the masses feel but I had to alight at Ilupeju due to the smell from the bus, in fact I felt I was in a soak- away. If and when we get in 2015, we are going to do a holistic refurbishing of the mass transit and its personnel, also the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) will be reoriented as they are supposed to be people friendly than what we have today.
What are the immediate changes your party will introduce if and when it assumes power in Lagos State?
In my opinion, I think the budget need to be re-addressed as the percentage allocated to health is too small and unacceptable, currently the allocation to health in this year budget was a mere 7.72%. I strongly believe that saying that says “health is wealth”. Education cannot perform better with just 15.81%, no wonder our schools are dead, and the teachers exhibits their lackadaisical attitude to teaching, also like I said before, the mass transit (BRT) will be refurbished.
People still believe that the PDP led federal government has not fared well in all areas, what is your take on this?
In all fairness as a Nigeria I would agree that there are areas the federal government efforts are not adequate, but still its been good enough. In the last fifteen years of the PDP led federal government, so much has been achieved and more are been achieved on daily basis. For instance, the communication sector received the boost ever body is enjoying today under PDP; the energy sector which has been privatized last year is going through her teething period and am sure in a short while we will all be reaping the gains. In the Aviation sector we have recorded a very huge success by the upgrading of the airports to the international standards, we now have about seven fully operational International Airports. The Federal roads are at their best form for many years now. The PDP led Federal Government has created level playing ground for other political parties; it is only during this period that a ruling party will allow its major oppositions to merge, freedom of speech, association which am sure none of these opposition parties ACN and CPC would have allowed.
In employment, the SURE-P programme is employing youth on a daily basis thereby reducing the rate of joblessness in the country, the PDP led federal government has empowered more women than the previous administrations put together; this is evidenced by the appointment of the first female Chief Justice of Nigeria and many more. The health sector is not left alone, visit any of the Federal hospitals in Abuja, you will appreciate their upgrades. The security challenge that the oppositions are shouting on is not a Federal issue. It involves every Nigerian no matter your religion, ethnicity, sex and political background. Worldwide security is every citizen responsibility and am convince that the federal government is making good progress towards this direction. More so, I will want to state that it’s a major achievement for any government to keep this country united.
What are your plans for 2015 with your last experience in 2011?
Yes, the never say die is the right attitude in life. Am gearing up to contest for the Lagos House of Assembly one more time come 2015 and this time around am sure the result will be different, insha Allah.
The PDP seem not to having a good presence in the state, what could be the reason?
I disagree with you, APC is not on ground but we are. The case here is like that of a Chicken and a Duck, when a chicken lays one egg it makes a noise while duck had laid up to ten eggs and yet no noise.
What has been your empowerment programme to the grassroots?
Well, my tentacles are not in Alimosho yet, but in my own little way and resources I have been able to assist some youths in various ways, for those in music, I have been able to link them with friends who are producers, those that are interested in football, I have been supportive in my own little way by encouraging them and motivating them with the little I have. Sometimes when I have money, I used to buy hair dressing equipment and distribute to some of the hair dressers within my jurisdiction.
Any challenge this far?
The major challenge is that I am in an opposition party contesting against the incumbent; another is the challenge of meeting with the financial obligation of politics.
Are you aware if your father will be contesting for the office of governor in 2015?
Am sure he will be in better position to give you an answer to that, though I have feeling that he will.