An official of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) in Oyo State and chairman of Atisbo Local Government Area, Honourable Wasiu Owolabi Akogun, in this interview speaks on the candidature of Honourable Olajide Olatubosun for the Speaker of the House of Representatives, pointing out that it will be in the country’s interest to have a temperate, open-minded lawmaker as Speaker of the ninth House of Representatives.
The member representing your federal constituency, Honourable Olajide Olatubosun is running for speaker of the House of Representatives position but your party, All Progressives Congress (APC), appeared to have zoned the post out of his reach. How do you respond to this?
When and where did the APC say that Honourable Olajide Olatubosun cannot become speaker? Nothing like that was ever said, so there is nothing like the post being zoned out of his reach. Let me tell you, the election of principal officers in the National Assembly is first and foremost a legislative affair and there is little that external forces can do about it. Having said that, I want to make it abundantly clear that Hon. Olatubosun is well-qualified to lead the ninth House of Representatives by virtue of his sound educational background, legislative experience and temperate nature as a bridge-builder and open-minded individual.
But an individual has been identified as the choice of the APC…
I have told you that the election of speaker will be a legislative affair. But let me state categorically here that the entire people of Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State are solidly behind Hon. Olatubosun to become speaker. He is qualified and prepared to lead the House of Representatives to collaborate with the Presidency to move Nigeria forward.
When you say the APC has a choice, you are being unfair. Who is the APC? We all are the APC. I speak for 16 local government and LCDA chairmen from Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State and we are all behind Hon. Olatubosun. Our party won all the three House of Representatives seats and the senatorial seat in the area and we have been a stronghold for the APC since 2015. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is our leader and father and we believe solidly in the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, so we are the APC and we are supporting Hon. Olatubosun.
You said the National Assembly election is a legislative affair, why are you dabbling in it?
A lot of people have asked us what our interest is in the speakership race and we have been telling them clearly that Hon. Olatubosun’s aspiration is not only for himself. It is for over 1.6 million marginalised people of Oke-Ogun area. Our area has no good federal road, no single tertiary institution, no federal presence of any sort. So, if Hon. Olatubosun becomes speaker, we believe that it will bring federal presence closer to Oke-Ogun and to Oyo State. Our region needs that speaker’s post more than Lagos or Niger, two states that have never failed to have a huge share of federal presence either through occupying elective posts or appointments as well as projects.
Let me tell, Oke Ogun region is one of the most marginalised in the country, it has 10 local governments and a landmass that is larger than Bayelsa State and many others, but it has never produced the Oyo State governor or any principal officer of the National Assembly. So, Hon. Olatubosun is not seeking to become speaker for himself but for over 1.6 million deprived people of Oke-Ogun. As I said earlier, I am speaking on behalf of 10 local government chairmen and eight LCDA chairmen as well as traditional institutions, market women, artisans, students and youths. Any attempt to deprive Hon. Olatubosun of that speakership slot will be met with fierce protests. We will mobilize our people; about 1.6 million youths, students, traders to Abuja to protest the injustice.
Are you not misplacing your anger by saying you will mobilize protesters to Abuja, knowing that your party should be the one you are addressing?
No. We are not angry yet; right now, we are pleading with President Buhari and the national leadership of the APC. The time is still there to correct themselves from meting out injustice on Oke-Ogun and Oyo State. If you are zoning the speaker’s seat to the South-West; we believe that Oyo State should be given a look-in. Today, we are making an appeal to the president and the party to consider Hon. OIatubosun in the interest of peace, equity and fairness.
Look, Oke Ogun gave 100 per cent support to President Buhari and the APC in the 2015 election and the 2019 election. It is a stronghold of the APC. But if we are denied this speaker’s post, we the chairmen of local government and all the leaders of the area will have no choice but to rethink our loyalty to the party
My appeal is also to the members-elect. They should be courageous enough to line up behind justice, equity and fairness by supporting Hon. Olatubosun. Apart from his wealth of legislative experience and competence, members should know that Olatubosun’s candidature will bring about a sound, robust and temperate House leadership, because, apart from having no moral baggage, he is more open-minded and well-positioned to lead his colleagues at a critical time like this.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and others have been complaining about alleged religious imbalance in power sharing ahead of the next dispensation, with some saying Hon. Olatubosun’s candidature can correct the imbalance. What is your take?
We should not reduce the issue to religion; no, we are not echoing religious sentiments. We, the people of Oke-Ogun, are pleading with Nigerians, especially National Assembly members, to support Hon. Olatubosun, because we believe it will end our treatment as second class citizens in our country.
But if some people argue that his candidature can be used to balance whatever is perceived as being wrong in power configuration, why not? If by supporting Hon. Olatubosun, the APC-led Federal Government can encourage religious harmony and avoid distrust, then it should urgently do so.
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