Morenikeji Malizu is a former banker, an eventpreneur seeking election into the Ogun State House of Assembly to represent Obafemi Owode Constituency on the platform of the Labour Party (LP). In this interview with JOHNSON AYANTUNJI, she talks about why she is going into politics, chances of LP among others. Excerpts
Can you give our readers a brief introduction about yourself and the post you are contesting for?
My name is Malizu Morenikeji, I am contesting for the post of Ogun State House of Assembly to represent Obafemi Owode Constituency under Labour Party.
Why are you running?
I have always been an advocate of good governance and believed that our governance can be better. There is a lot of gap between the ways they rule us. Our people deserve better. The people that are supposed to be our servants are lording it over us. We are the ones serving them and it ought not to be so.
Why the Labour Party and not the other established political parties?
We have seen what APC (All Progressives Congress) and PDP (People Democratic Party) have turned the country into since 1999. We have seen their precedence since the return to civil rule over 23 years now. It has not been better.
The same set of people defecting from one party to another and going back to the party they defected from. When the opportunity of the Third Force came, I felt it was a good one, to ask for the people’s power to serve them. Power belongs to the people.
There is a popular saying among the people that the Umbrella has no brain, the broom has no brain. But the Labour Party is the Party of the people where you have the father, the mother and a child. They have brains and it is the time to vote for people who have brains and can think in order to serve the people well.
What and what in concrete terms do you intend to bring to the people as dividends of democracy?
We want to bring roads, motor-able roads. Road is our major challenge in Obafemi Owode LGA, among many other things. We do not have a network of roads, no good roads.
We are battling with floods. I live in Magboro. Early this month (September) it rained and flood took over the whole place. We had to bring out Canoe with which to ferry people to cross the road. If your car is not strong enough and you pass through the river and not the flood, you can imagine what will happen to the vehicle. You cannot imagine it. I do not think it should be that way.
Day before yesterday (Sunday, September 18), one of my team members was coming to join us to go and have a meeting with the people. He boarded an Okada from which he fell inside the water. It was not the fault of the Okada operator; he was trying to maneuver his way through when the water took over the wheel from him.
The man told us it was a normal occurrence. To me it was a surprise because we have a representative in the State House of Assembly and could not attract a project to repair or reconstruct the road. We have always had representatives. Is it that there is nothing they could do? Are we going to continue like that? I believe I can bring a change.
People would talk about experience or say what is your antecedent? What are you bringing on board?
Those who are talking about experience in politics or career politicians, what has their experience brought to us or done for us? To the glory of God, I have worked as banker, I run my own company. I am into oil and gas. I left there as an administrator.
For those of us who are familiar with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, I was the administrator of Team Nehemiah for 3 years. I know what it is to administer such an organization. (Team Nehemiah is responsible for controlling traffic of the RCCG during its international programs such as the Convention and Holy Ghost Service), where millions of human beings and vehicles come. Before then, I had administered my own company. I am an eventpreneur.
So when you talk about experience, my experience cuts across different sectors of the economy. That is what I am bringing on board in whatever I am going to do. If they say she does not have experience in politics, how has she been able to excel in the sector of the economy she has played?
Naturally, the average human being is a political animal. If one has been able to excel in all these areas including the church where there is also politics, one is able to navigate all this, I do not think there is any sphere I will not be able to play and play well.
In Nigeria, stomach infrastructure is the way to attract people’s votes. We have the E dibo ke s’ebe (Vote and cook a pot of soup) Euphemism for vote buying. What is your experience with this?
We have started reorientation with them to let them know that it is not to their own advantage. We in Labour Party we say We no dey give sisi (We do not give money to anyone). It will take time and a lot of education before they can change.
The people ruling us have institutionalized poverty and pauperized the people.
The people naturally gravitate to where they can get bread (food). We have started telling them that the food they took four years ago, they are still eating till today, is it enough for you? Is it what you want till rest of your life? Is that what you want your children to depend on? N1, 000 with a Derika of Rice you collected 8 years ago, are you still feeding on it?
Some of them would say Olorun maje ki a je’ya.(God forbid us from suffering). The education is ongoing and all the places we have been to. The question they ask us is what do you want to improve? You should ask me what I will do for you when I get there and not what you have for us now.
An average human being is a businessman. If I give you N100, 000 now, and I give the same amount to every place I get to, multiply it by the number of places I get to. If you multiply it and you get say N10 million or more, the first thing I will do when I get there is to recoup my money. Is that what you want?
Before the person makes the N10 million, if you call him, he would not pick his call or change his number. It is a business. Is that what you want? I want to encourage you to embrace change.
The power is in your hand with your PVC (Permanent Voter Card). If you send me there for 4 years and I do not perform, pick up your PVC and vote me out. The power is in the hand of the people, it is that they have not realized it. It is time you start calling your leaders to account.
This is the time. Now is the time. The wave is on and the wind is blowing. The populace should latch on it to get those who will work for them into office.
You are going into a male dominated environment where women folk are not given the chance. Women form the larger percentage of the populace. How do you intend to get them to vote for you?
I have always told women that power is never given, it is taken. It is time for them to arise and be counted.
The Beijing Conference in China in 1995, it was agreed that 33 percent would be affirmative and inclusion in government. But the thing is that if the women do not come out, they would not go and give it to them in their closet. We need to come out, start engaging the men folk; we need to start matching them, not with strength, but in deploying our God given abilities.
Women are powerful, not physically, but very intelligent. We know how to get things done in our way whenever we are determined without getting physical. We need to start using that God given power to start engaging, to start taking power and no matter the intimidation, we should stand our ground. I believe with time, we will get what we want.
Women do not support women, how do you intend to get them to support you and vote for you?
I have heard that before. But things are changing now. Whatever is happening in the country, women and children are the victims. It is believed that women are more empathizing than men.
That is what we are telling them in our interaction with them, especially at the grass roots. They want somebody who can identify with them and feel their pains. They want a voice who can speak on their behalf and that is what we are going to do.
You are a wife, a mother and a politician, meetings, rallies and what have you, how do you intend to joggle these without one suffering for the other?
I have a very good support system in my husband who is my manager. I have had the vision long ago, and the person who really gave me the push to come out is my husband.
He is my strategy planner and we attend meetings together. As I am here with you for this interview, he is somewhere putting some things in place. He has been a politician before and he is bringing his experience to bear.
I also have a strong spiritual cover. After I told my husband, he asked me to tell my pastor and if he encourages and gives me the go ahead it means God is in it. That is exactly what happened when I told my pastor and he gave the go ahead.
What are the chances of Labour Party in the forthcoming election?
We are very hopeful, highly positive because this time around the youths have decided to take their destinies into their hands. Politics this time around is no longer what it used to be.
The games are changing, youths are challenging their parents. How can the same government under which they have been kept at home for nearly 8 months due to the ASUU strike want to come back for their votes. If you say PDP, they have not fared better.
They see Labour Party as the Third Force, like the youths would always say they say Labour Party has no structure, we are the structure. They are all out to make the difference. The elders, the middle age have seen and they will join hands with us to make a change.