Razaq Aderibigbe, a Chartered Accountant, Business Advisor, Compliance Professional, Policy and Public Affairs Analyst is the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) candidate for Ikorodu Constituency 1 seat in the Lagos State House of Assembly. In this interview with OLADIPUPO AWOJOBI he spoke on why he wants to serve the people and why NNPP is the party to beat in the 2023 general elections. Excerpts…
You are contesting for Ikorodu Constituency 1 seat in the Lagos State House of Assembly. What exactly informed your decision to take this step?
There are just about one thousand and one things that would have informed a candidate to take this demanding decision, but for me, the urge to change narratives about how things are done in the country, state and especially in my Ikorodu Constituency, calls for attention. Living and moving around Lagos today is terrible. When you drive, you must struggle with other road users, law enforcement agencies and then, the traffic. It looks like we are not paying enough attention to the lost man-hour, productivity and businesses at a time when pandemic cum Russia-Ukraine saga had reduced and shrunk the size of the world economy and hiked the prices of goods and services.
You are contesting under the platform of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), a relatively unpopular political party in Lagos State. Why the choice of NNPP?
The mantra that I have shared and told people often is “Let’s change the narratives together”. There are so many political parties in the country today, but we have been used to two major parties. One party had amazed Nigerians with the auction of the Expression of Interests and Nomination Forms being procured at one hundred million naira (N100,000,000) and yet, one could have expected that such move would have been countered, but it was purchased by many like buying akara (beans cake) at a popular junction in Lagos. Meanwhile, NNPP did not make life difficult for candidates to get on board. It should be noted that the party is not new after being registered 21 years ago, it only recently gained traction with the welcoming of the leadership of His Excellency, Engr. Rabiu Kwankwaso and The National Movement (TNM) into the party, making it a party to beat in the next general elections.
You just said that NNPP didn’t make life difficult for its candidates. Does it mean nomination and expression of interest forms were given out free of charge?
Obviously, the Nomination and Expression of Interest forms were not issued out free of charge, but they were made so affordable and were much more accessible for the youths, women and persons with disabilities by making the Expression of Interest forms free while discounting the Nomination forms fee.
Do you think you have what it takes to challenge the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ikorodu Constituency 1, who happens to be a son of a former deputy governor of the state?
This is an interesting one for me. I have met so many people who had doubted me at first until we got talking about how connected I am to the residents and realities about how issues affected them. I am very convinced that I do not just have what it takes to challenge the candidate of the ruling party or former deputy governor’s son of the state but I have got what is required to assume the Assembly office as the mouthpiece of Ikorodu 1 Constituency come 2023. I have been privileged to serve people reputably in all areas in Ikorodu as a way of connecting and understanding them. That relationship earned me their hearts and in return, they have deposited their trust with me.
Talking about serving the people in the past, in what capacity are you referring to?
I had worked with public and private organisations as Ikorodu coordinator and relationship manager, availing me the opportunity to offer Ikorodu residents exceptional service.
The business of the legislature is about representation, making laws and oversight, what are your plans for Ikorodu 1 Constituents?
I am not coming to chorus the common narratives of I will build roads, provide 24/7 electricity and so on. My main plan is to be an enabler. I want to represent the constituency to enable business and my people to carry out businesses more conveniently. I want to represent the unemployed, youths and women to be employable and viable for employment opportunities and entrepreneurship in a sustainable manner. This could mean promoting bills to establish Institutes or creating initiatives that would be designed to lift people out of idle state to become contributors and employers after being trained. Ikorodu is a viable area for agriculture with a value chain that provides so many opportunities for the people. All these and others like ensuring education is tailored ensure every child gains access to learn would be followed through to get the best for the Constituency.
Contesting for this kind of office requires a vigorous electioneering campaign. Do you think you have the financial war chest to execute this?
It is not a one-man quest, but I believe my team and party is resourceful enough to withstand the vigorous requirements of the electioneering campaign for the office.
The present Majority Leader of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, had been representing Ikorodu 1 since 2007. As a stakeholder in the constituency, would you say he has represented the area well? And if not, what do you hope to do differently?
I must say he has done so well as a representative to the point that so many people looked up to him. He had procured tools for some members of the constituency. He had also tried in the area of security and peace maintenance in the area to mention a few but yet, there are other areas that deserve attention. Basically, when we solve or fix or unsettle a problem or issue, the coast becomes clearer showing us others to be bothered about. Meanwhile, we may need a different way of thinking to solve a new problem after tackling the old one. That is where a younger innovative Assembly member like me comes in. I want to create initiatives that would provide equitable chances to the residents of the Constituency.
What are the chances of your party, the NNPP, in the general elections in 2023?
It is believed that NNPP did not waste time to show its worth the moment the party unanimously announced former Governor Kwankwaso as its consensus candidate. Having proven to be a force to be reckoned with, it allegedly dictated the tune for the old parties to become cautious of their choices of standard bearer. I am not surprised the party is proving a similar force in Ikorodu. As we speak, NNPP has proven to be the current Agbani Darego to other political parties. Parties and politicians all respect and want to be associated with the national leader and brand of the party. This is sufficient to prove that the party has brighter chances in the general elections come 2023.
As a youth who probably is coming on board on the “Not Too Young To Run Bill”, what do you have to say to the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) respectively?
We had thought the duo would have paved the way for us youths to become the flagbearers while they serve as our political fathers, guide, and peace negotiators when crisis and agitations erupt at different levels and regions. This is one of the reasons why I am in the political space to change the narratives. They have told us that “Power is not served a la carte”, hence we must wrestle for power by contesting to win and to take a place in government. Nevertheless, if we must take a cue from Albert Einstein, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”. The oldies can not match us in the technology space at the rapid pace things change today. We are the new thinking that will build the new Nigeria.
What are the chances of your presidential candidate, do you think he has what it takes to challenge Atiku and Tinubu?
First and foremost, none of the two candidates has served in Nigeria more than Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso. He had served as a Governor, Senator, Defence Minister with a blend of Executive and Legislative experience. Testing his national popularity, we would recall that he came as a runner-up to the current President at the primaries of the political party prior to his emergence where Atiku was behind him. He is also from the majority region of the country where the national votes are mostly polled. It is also believed that his Kwankwasiyya movement accounted for a huge proportion of the KKK states, Kano-Katsina-Kano PDP icebreaker. He only needs to pick a Southerner with a worthy political profile to grab a good representation of the south to earn the Certificate of Return as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The chances are glaring and obvious to Atiku and Tinubu.
Looking at the new Electoral Act, do you see the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducting a credible election next year?
The new Electoral Act is not just promising Nigerians a credible 2023 election but should be one of the motivating reasons why Nigerians from every nook and cranny will troop out to phase out inefficient and or ineffective government. This is because the Act now legalizes the use of smartcard readers and other technologies for accreditation while election results are also transmitted electronically.
This should promote reasonable credibility in the electioneering process. I really want to urge INEC to deploy more technologies like drones and other gadgets to monitor the election in addition to the officials. The only rigging or disrupting factor in the election is the Human, hence, human interference in the process should be reduced further. Technologies will be very unbiased unless INEC wants to be.