HON. Mudashiru Obasa was one of the All Progressives Congress (APC) members that won in the Saturday, April 11, 2015, House of Assembly elections. He won Agege Constituency 1 seat of Lagos House of Assembly for the fourth time. Hon. Obasa, who is currently the Chairman, House Committee on Economic Planning and Budget, told ENCOMIUM Weekly in this interview the factors that were responsible for his victory at the poll.
He threw light on his ambition to be the next Speaker of Lagos House of Assembly and more…
How easy was it for you to win?
Alhamdullilahi. At the end of the day we have cause to smile. It wasn’t that easy, it was tedious and tasking. The competition was so keen particularly for me who was contesting for the same office for the fourth time. There was a lot of mixed feelings because of this. Those who are enlightened among the electorate could understand that for a legislator there is no tenure limit. The more you represent the people, the more benefitting is it for them.
But to others, as far as they are concerned, going for the fourth time is depriving some other people their own opportunity. So, this issue made the election a tough one. But we thank God at the end of the day I emerged victorious.
Did you have the confidence that you would emerge victorious before the election?
Yes. For once, I did not nurse any fear that I would lose the election. I was sure I would win. I don’t know where the confidence came from but I had the confidence that I would win. It was a very familiar terrain to me and this is what I have been doing for a long time now. So, I knew what I needed to do and I did exactly what I was supposed to do. I appealed to the mind of the electorate to understand why I should be re-elected. That was what we did and it worked.
So, what would you say was responsible for your victory?
Certainly, the election had ethnic tone depending on the side you were. Ethnic coloration favoured both parties. While the Northerners were in favour of APC because of the presidential candidate of APC, the Easterners were in favour of PDP because of its presidential candidate. The Yorubas were neutral to a certain extent. While some of them (Yoruba) voted for APC, some others voted for PDP. I think there is no doubt I am one of the beneficiaries of this ethnic coloration of the election.
However, my long time relationship with a lot of people also added to my advantage.
Which means you benefitted from the votes of Arewa who reside in your constituency?
Of course, the Arewa voted massively for the APC while the Easterners mostly around Iyana Ipaja, Cement, Mangoro voted for PDP. Like I said, what came to play eventually was my goodwill with a lot of people in my constituency.
What was the difference between your votes and that of the PDP candidate?
I think we have about 6,000 votes.
Isn’t that close?
6,000 votes is not close for a constituency election. It is not close.
But compared to 2011 elections…
You are right but the factors that came to play in this election were not there in 2011. Those factors changed a lot of things. Some areas we took for granted in 2011 turned round to be something else in this election. Don’t also forget new eligible voters would have emerged between 2011 and 2015. These youngsters’ perception is quite different from that of the grown-ups. These youngsters were the major deciders of this election because they are large in number.
Has your PDP opponent congratulated you?
No. In fact, I don’t think I know the guy. I am not sure I have seen him.
So, throughout the electioneering campaign, the two of you did not meet?
We didn’t. I didn’t see him. I saw him afar but since I don’t have interest in getting close to him, I didn’t bother myself. This is because the way and manner PDP went about the campaign was terrible. It was strange to our own terrain. They were so violent in their campaign to the extent that we lost two of our supporters. One of them was our exco (executive) member at the ward level. The other one’s mother was very close to the party. That alone will not allow any kind of relationship between us.
Have you also called him to extend your hand of fellowship?
I don’t think it is necessary.
That means you are practicing politics of bitterness?
I don’t have any cause to be bitter. Even if I lost the election, I don’t have any cause to be bitter. I have been supported by the same people three times. So, why should I bitter? It is just that there was no room for us to interact so it didn’t happen.
Can you tell us how much it cost you to win this election?
That will be very difficult to calculate because being a veteran on the field, the strategy we used was to meet people one-on-one. We know where they are and where we can find them. So, because of the existing relationship the cost was drastically reduced. The only area where we incurred cost was the printing of posters, handbills, souvenirs, etc. That was a bit expensive. But it is very difficult for me to quantify it. For someone who has been doing this for sometime now, we know what to do to reduce expenditure.
I will tell you it was not cheap running a campaign of that nature though it was not too expensive either. We didn’t need to sell any of our property or borrow from anywhere to do the campaign.
Now that you have won the same seat for the fourth time, what are you going to do to compensate the people of your constituency who have been voting for you all this while?
I will first want to show my appreciation to them for supporting me all this while. All I can assure them is they have in me a good representation, qualitative representation in the House of Assembly. That the interest of our people and that of the constituency will be of paramount consideration to me. I also want to assure them there will be improvement in our infrastructure. I will make sure I attract and influence more development within the constituency. Those infrastructures that are ageing would be renovated and where necessary replaced with new ones.
There is this rumour that you are gunning for the office of the Speaker. How far is this true?
You say it is a rumour. So, it remains a rumour.
But it is a rumour that did not go away. Many are saying being one of the high ranking members of the Assembly now, you want to take a shot at the Speaker’s seat.
As I told some people, Speakership is not a decision one can take individually. It is a collective decision by your colleagues in the chamber, the party and the leadership of the party.
You must first convince your colleagues in the House and get them to support your ambition. That is the paramount thing. It depends on what they want and who they want. The party also has a major role to play. The role of the party certainly would be played by the leadership of the party. So, it is not out of my radar, I count on Almighty Allah. I count on my colleagues and the party leaders.
As it is now, it is when we get to the bridge we will cross it (laughter).
What if the bridge is no longer there by the time you get there?
Insha Allah, the bridge will be there.
– TOLANI ABATTI