Motivated by the dire need to restore impact-driven governance to Ibadan North federal constituency, Action Democratic Party, ADP, candidate, Hon. Idris Lapade, in this interview with OYO INSIGHT, said that the constituency has become deficient in terms of dividend of democracy since he left office as the caretaker chairman between 2011 and 2015.
Why did you decide to vie for a seat in the House of Representatives at this time?
I have always wanted to represent my people in that elective office. I started party politics in 2003 and first contested for the seat in 2011 but couldn’t secure the ticket under the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
I was later appointed caretaker chairman for Ibadan North local government, where my impacts were enormously felt within the short periods of three and half years.
In spite of these, there have been many projects and initiatives I had wished to actualize but the time frame could not permit such. Unfortunately, many of our laudable projects initiated then were discontinued after my exit.
To highlight some of them: social investment and human development programme was aborted. I used to distribute stationeries to the entire pupils in our 74 primary schools in the local government. Town hall meetings were usually held every year – to prioritize the needs of the people. This also stopped in successive years.
On social intervention programmes, as a caretaker chairman, a minimum of 150 unemployed youths were on our payroll for N5,000 stipends on monthly basis; boreholes constructions across all wards. All of these have ceased.
(Cuts in)… But, being a member of the House of Rep is primarily for lawmaking, how then do you intend to resuscitate these legacies you highlighted?
House of Representatives is truly for laws but it’s evident in Nigeria that you can drive impact in your constituency through project implementation apart from the laws being passed.
A quick example is Hon. Olatoye Sugar, a federal House of Reps member, who had obviously done more in his constituency than the LG chairman within just four years. I want to continue my social intervention programme and even increase the beneficiaries of the monthly stipends to a minimum of 200 youths.
Meanwhile, we would have provision for soft loans to traders. Ibadan North is largely surrounded by markets and predominantly occupied by traders. As council boss, I built modern toilets, boreholes in Sango, Oje, Bodija, Gbaremo, Mokola markets.
Now, my recent research informed me of how these market people/traders strive in their businesses because of the burden that comes with SEAP loans. I want to reduce this burden even if it will claim a part of my personal allowances as a lawmaker and also maximize the use of constituency allowance.
I will see to formation of cooperative societies among them that will be funded by interest free loan access. It will be gradual and they know me for this – my word is my bond. I want to consolidate on my past achievements. So, Ibadan North can get the glory back – restore the lost glory in spite of poor governance.
Sincerely, I want my people to feel me. They have felt me before. They should feel me again and more this time. That’s why I am contesting.
You’re contesting against ‘heavy weights’ – the incumbent lawmaker who has been there for two terms; you are contesting against your predecessor in Ibadan North LG. How would you rate your chances contesting against these strong opponents?
(Smiles). If you call these people ‘heavy weights’, then you should also know I am no ‘light-weight’. I am a heavyweight champion. First, I see no reason, Honourable Abiodun Awoleye is contesting again. He has been a legislator for 12 years and just as I rightly put it to him in one of our past debates, he has tried but his best is not half as good enough for the people of Ibadan North. Hon. Olatoye Sugar’s impacts have been felt under four years – in another constituency – with same allowances. We should question what Awoleye is doing with his. I challenge Awoleye to state any project – even if it’s human capacity project – he has done in the last four years. What people like these have done in the past evolve around a facilitation from Federal Government. How many of his bills have passed second reading? You see – there’s no need to deceive ourselves. These are people that promised our people and failed. We have been going around and have seen people they promised boreholes and others and they got nothing! We have facts for all these.
Some of them cannot even dare go to some places for campaign because they can be sure the people will not listen to them. People are now politically-savvy.
I can challenge any of these candidates in terms of achievements at all sectors – construction and renovations of primary schools, hospitals, primary healthcare centres, borehole drilling, drainage and road constructions among other enduring legacies I did in just three and half years.
On health, I built hospitals, healthcare centres, renovated several across all wards even the past abandoned projects. I employed adhoc staff; bought drugs from time to time for free distributions to people. On environment; we cleared drainages in markets, dredged streams after the historic flood of August 2011 and there was no such occurrence ever since because we solved the menace. I had tipper trucks for waste refuse in Ibadan North LGA.
Yet again, the skills acquisition centre in Yemetu Aladorin was revived in 2011; equipped with computers for ICT and other departments were made functional. Remarkably, the institute graduated over 2000 every 6 months for free. Nobody is doing those things anymore!
Let us compare what these two have done in four, eight years to what I did in just 3 and a half years.
Above all these, I maintained human interactions and sense of belonging with my constituents unlike other contenders.
I am undoubtedly the best candidate from Ibadan North for this position. I am passionate about the people and regarded as the man of the people. Everywhere I go, people are quick to narrate the impacts I brought to them.
On the primary role as a lawmaker, the first bill I will like to sponsor will be on town hall meeting for House of Representatives members. In saner countries like US, House of Representatives members or Senators have mandatory number of times they must see their people. I want it to be mandatory for serving honourables to see their constituents in Nigeria at least once in a quarter. We need to give them feedbacks. There has to be accountability. If you’re given constituency allowance, it came from taxpayer’s money and you must be accountable for it.
I know it may be hard in the country because the greedy politicians may resist it as it will outstretch their pockets but it’s expedient we create room for accountability. I don’t care whose ox will be gored. If we must deliver the change we desire, it will start from us.