Adesina Salam is contesting in Saturday’s election to represent Ido/Ibarapa East Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives on the platform of the Action Democratic Party (ADP). He speaks with DAPO FALADE on his ambition, declaring that the party, in its first two years in office, would reduce, by 60 per cent, unemployment among youths in the state.
Before coming out now, what has been your level of political participation?
I have been into this for some time now. I actually joined politics from the Diaspora. I was the secretary of the then Action Congress (AC), Ireland Chapter, between 2007 and 2010. It was in this course of one of the conferences that we usually hold in the United Kingdom that I met Senator Bola Tinubu and former Lagos State governor, Mr Raji Fashola. After a brief interaction, Senator Tinubu advised that we cannot be doing politics abroad; that we should try to interface with our base at home. I thereafter visited my local government area when I came to Nigeria and I also went to see former Oyo State governor, the late Alhaji Lam Adesina. That was the beginning.
Between then and now, have you contested for any elective office?
I contested for the state House of Assembly in 2011 on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) at the primary level. I tried my best, but the ticket was given to another person. To compensate me for my effort, I was appointed as the SSA (ICT) to Governor Abiola Ajimobi. I was with him during his first term. Towards the end of that first term, I went to him to inform him that I wanted to contest for elective office again.
In-between that time, I have relocated my political base from Ibadan South West Local Government Area to Ido Local Government Area because that is the local government council of my mother. I am from the royal family there and my political consultants advised that I stand a better chance there than staying in Ibadan South West Local Government Area. I relocated to Ido, about three years before the 2015 elections and began interacting with the political leaders there.
I told Governor Ajimobi that I wanted to contest for the House of Representatives and that I needed his blessings. He gave me the go-ahead and that was the beginning of it. As of then, everybody believes that the position would go to Ido because there is an historical arrangement between Ido and Ibarapa East local government areas whereby each local government area is expected to spend a two-term of eight years. This was what was in operation until the recent time when the current occupant, after his local government area has been there for 12 years, decided that he would still want to go for another term to make it 16 years, at the expense of Ido Local Government Area.
Is that what informed your decision to now seek to contest on the ticket of ADP?
Yes and no. Yes, because I have always had this intention that I want to do youth empowerment and some other things, even without getting an executive portfolio. I felt that if I am able to get an elective office where I would enough budgets and enough political influence to drive my passion, I would be able to deliver more to my people.
Secondly, I see it as a big slap on Ido Local Government Area. I am sorry if I am a bit harsh about this, but if you look at the whole of Ibarapa East Local Government Area, the total voting population there is not up to one ward out of the 10 wards that we have in Ido Local Government Area: for example, the election result of 2015 revealed that we had 43,700 votes in Ward 4 alone and the total votes from the entire Ibarapa East Local Government Area in the same election. So, I do not see why the minority would want to seek to continue to dominate the majority.
You said you wanted an elective position whereby you will have access to enough budgets to implement your ideas, but it is a public knowledge that legislators don’t handle money. So why are you contesting to be a lawmaker, knowing that you may not have access to fund?
I said that with political influence and a lot of access to funds: it might not be my direct money, but as somebody that is holding a political office, there are a lot of interventionist projects which I can be able to attract into my constituency, as a federal lawmaker. But you need to know what to ask for, as it was stated in the Bible. For you to request, you should know what to ask for. That is my belief. Apart from projects by the World Bank, there are so many other projects, like the African Development Bank (ADB), which I know one can facilitate to drive a lot of agricultural projects in my constituency.
You are contesting on the platform of a relatively new political party against some established political parties like PDP and APC. What did you think are your chances against the entrenched system in the state?
That is a very good question. You see, some of us that came into politics as professionals and with a little bit of Western orientation, I came in with a mindset of what I feel I can do for my people: which aspects do I think I can add value, both in the short term and in the long term? On the basis of this, I came up with a kind of manifesto which, when I initially came out to contest, I was able to present to my people. I reached out to some certain channels which I didn’t even think then that people would easily recognise me. On the basis of this, I have the confidence that, even if I come out as an independent candidate, I would still be able to win the election.
Apart from this, I am coming out on the platform of ADP where our governorship candidate and a former governor of the state, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, is a major.
I believe that this would add a significant value to the realisation of my ambition. He has substantive antecedents and I believe that marketing at one side and marketing my own ambition at the other would give us a very good combination to appeal to mind of the people.
What is your view on recurring cases of violence trailing electioneering?
I believe most of the guys that are being used to perpetrate trouble did not realise the extent of trouble they are creating for themselves. We have made efforts to do awareness and anti-violence campaigns to let the youths know that they can make a better use of their time, instead of allowing politicians to use them as the instrument of fighting the opposition. There is going to be massive security surveillance and the awareness campaign that we are doing would still continue.
Unfortunately however, you would continue to find some of these guys in this kind of job until when government is able to find them alternative jobs. By the special grace of God, mass employment, which is the first slogan of our party, would take care of this problem. I want to tell you that 60 per cent of these guys would be taken off the streets within the first two years of the Alao-Akala-led ADP government in Oyo State. There is money in the state and there is money from the Federal Government. To make a positive difference depends on how you manage the resources. He has done it before and I believe he has a way to get it done.